Brandon Boyer

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As I mentioned in December, Infinite Interactive’s sci-fi themed Puzzle Quest follow-up Galactrix is one of my most anticipated 2009 titles, based almost solely on the fact that the original game has wound up on nearly every one of my supported devices: I currently have dedicated characters on my DS, PSP, Xbox 360 and, most recently, my iPhone, and happily chip away at the same areas on each based on whichever I’ve got on hand.

But now I’ve got better reason: publisher D3 and Infinite have set a Galactrix demo live that lets you putter with the game’s match-3 battle interface, and already I’ve lost a good part of the morning to its hexagonal wiles.

Though I don’t quite have its particular vocabulary yet (the help gives only the briefest overview) It’s all too instantly familiar to a Puzzle Quest regular — each three or more pieces matched add to your equivalent bank of ‘mana’, purple for experience, white (presumably) for money, and blue for shield regeneration.

It’s that last bit that gives Galactrix its extra strategic kick: as a regenerable force, keeping your shields up becomes an utmost priority, as does moving in for repeat attacks once you’ve got your opponent’s defenses on the ropes. And the playfield’s mines, this version’s ‘skulls’, amplify their damage the longer they remain on the field (unlike PQ‘s randomly dropped/spell-amped flamers), so minimizing their effect on you by clearing them as soon as possible, or holding them to maximize damage to your opponent, also adds to the depth of play.

Whether Galactrix will garner the fast word-of-mouth cult hit status of the original Puzzle Quest, or — as Popcap CCO Jason Kapalka recently claimed, its very shape will prove a turn off for casual customers — remains to be seen, but I can say that even my brief time with the demo has made the game climb several rungs in my most-wanted ladder.

Play Puzzle Quest: Galactrix [Infinite Interactive, game site, via GameCyte]

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  1. Chungking Espresso

    This is looking stellar. I was a minor fan of the original Puzzle Quest, but for me

    Science Fiction > Fantasy
    Hexic > Bejeweled

    The idea that somehow the original wouldn’t turn off casual customers (who already had a copy of Bejeweled and probably weren’t looking to complicate things with light RPG elements) is a bit silly. I guess hexagons are a bit more difficult to swallow than straight rows.

    I never got the expansion to the original, anybody know if it’s worth the M$ points?

  2. I think it’ll take a while to get used to the hex movement. But I’ll sure enjoy doing it.

  3. The hex mechanic really isn’t like Hexic. You still swap rather than rotating. The thing that’s really hard to get used to is that gravity is based on the direction of your swap. Which goes perfectly with the zero g environment of space. Or maybe the tiles just move in to fill a vacuum.

  4. With Shmerker I am having trouble figuring out which way tiles will drop in from off-screen. It’ll take some getting used to.

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