Retro Review: Pokemon Puzzle Challenge (GBC | 3DS)
There’s no stopping Nintendo when it comes to releasing great games from yesteryear, and Pokémon Puzzle Challenge is no exception. Having never played the game on the Game Boy Colour, I wasn’t quite expecting this to be a good game, in fact, I was prepared for the worst. As a massive fan of the Pokémon franchise, I was expecting this to be typical shovelware with the Pokémon name attached to it in an attempt to milk some extra cash. That image was shattered after about 30 minutes after playing the game. Not only is it great puzzle game, but it’s very challenging and super addictive.
It’s very similar to most sliding puzzle games, where you have to match at least three of the same coloured blocks to make them disappear. More blocks enter the foray as the platform moves up. Additional blocks are added, but instead of rising from below, the fall from above. The hardest part of the game is the matching itself. You can’t select any two blocks on the screen, you have to work with you courser, which only allows you to switch two blocks sitting next to each other. Because you’re only allowed to move blocks from left to right (and vice versa), you really need to act quick, especially in the later levels and even early on if you’re playing on hard.
The Pokémon aspect of the game feels like a gimmick, as it’s far from what you’d expect from the game franchise. The creatures and characters that appear in the game are all from Gold and Silver, including all the gym leaders. There isn’t really a story, but Challenge mode is probably the closest thing to one. The game features various modes, such as Challenge mode, Marathon mode, Time Zone, Line Clear, Puzzle (my personal favorite) and Garbage.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the modes
- Challenge Mode – a fairly campaign, where you tackle each gym leader from the main game, starting with Falkner and ending with Claire.
- Marathon Mode – It’s basically an endless game that puts your skill to the test.
- Time Zone – A mode where you are given a short amount of time to score as much points as possible.
- Line Clear – Beat the challenge by clearing enough blocks to reach the end of the line. This mode is particularly tough.
- Puzzle Mode – Clear all the blocks in a certain amount of moves.
- Garbage Mode – It’s the same as Marathon, but big slabs are added to the challenge.
The game features a second player mode, but since it’s not on the GBC anymore, the feature is pretty much useless. The controls are very simple; D-pad to move your courser, ‘a’ to switch blocks and ‘b’ to raise the floor faster so you can access new blocks if you’ve got the space. For a game that was released in 2001 on the GBC, it has aged really well. It’s not going to win any awards for its visuals, but it is great to so much polish in a puzzle game.
Like I said before, the game is very addictive. Tough as nails, but instead of making you rage quit, it makes you want to solve, much like game Catherine. Puzzle mode is my particular favourite as I like solving puzzles in a certain amount of moves. Both Line Clear and Puzzle modes have various chapters and stages included, so there’s actually a heck of a lot to play in the game. Couple that with the different difficulty settings and a few unlockable Pokémon, and you’ve got a puzzle game that will keep you entertained for hours. I honestly lost track of time while playing the game, but you can easily make 10 hours. And since there’s no real end to the game, the replay value is very high. It’s a great game for everyone and perfect if you’re on the bus or train. It’s great for both quick and long sessions depending on which mode you select. Don’t be fooled by the “Pokémon” in the title, if you like a puzzles then you should really give this one a try.