With the App Store taking a holiday break, we've been finally able to go back and play some games that have been on our to-do lists for some time.
One title that had previously drawn our attention is Vivid Games' Samurai Puzzle Battle [App Store]. This title debuted as a $4.99 game a few weeks ago, but with the competitive realities of the App Store, has since been slashed down to $1.99. In the meanwhile, Vivid Games has released an update to their anemic Lite version [App Store] to one that delivers a surprisingly full-featured version of the game.
Samurai Puzzle Battle is both a strategy game and a traditional Match-3 color game. The game places you in medieval Japan as one of several Shoguns looking to dominate the country. As a turn-based strategy game, you buy and deploy armies to take over adjacent territories. Each army can move one space per turn and is reminiscent of the game of Risk. Army selection, however, is a bit more detailed with a choice of a variety of creatures (see right), each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
In addition, each territory you take over may already be inhabited by native creatures which must be fought or others resources that must be won. Each time these battles or tests are settled by a Match-3 gaming session. Different symbols must be matched in rows or columns of 3 or more (like Bejeweled). Some symbols (fist) will cause damage to your enemy, while others will replenish your own resources (strength, mana, ki). Your match-3 skills are really put to the test as picking which colors/symbols to eliminate in response to your enemies will greatly affect the outcome of the battles.
Your goal is to overtake all of Japan, one puzzle battle at a time. The battles themselves are also intermingled with other Match-3 based challenges to increase your gold (match as many gems within a time period) or win over allies (remove all of one color from the board). These variants serve to break up battles and keep the action coming.
The game also offers an "arcade" mode that lets you simply pick up and play a single Match-3 session. This can also be used to practice battles outside of the campaign mode itself. Overall, the controls to the game are adequate, and the Lite version will give you plenty of opportunity to test it yourself.
Samurai Puzzle Battle comes in three versions:
App Store Links:
- Samurai Puzzle Battle Lite, Free - Surprisingly full featured version of the game. Several of the warlord characters are removed and many of your warrior types for your armies are also removed, but otherwise plays identically as the full version. Arcade mode also eliminates many of the game-types.
- Samurai Puzzle Battle Arcade, $0.99 - Isolates only the "arcade mode" as a separate game, so no campaign/strategy elements.
- Samurai Puzzle Battle, $1.99 - The full version with full campaign mode and arcade modes. For $1.99, if you have any interest in the Lite version, it's an inexpensive upgrade.
Some obvious comparisons are going to be made with Puzzle Quest which has just been released for the iPhone. We'll address Puzzle Quest for iPhone shortly, but with a full-featured Lite version, and $1.99 full version, you can easily judge the value of Samurai Puzzle Battle game yourself. Overall, the depth and replayability of this game make it a great value for $1.99.