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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Puzzle & Dragons on Nintendo: Quite Puzzling Indeed

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - What is this game doing here?

Have you ever played Puzzle & Dragons on a mobile device before? If the answer is no, or you're like us and have never heard of this game before, it's apparently super-popular in Japan. As in, 40 million downloads worldwide with most of them being in Japan, thanks to its free-to-play set-up (the money comes from micro-transactions). It's some sort of puzzler (Bejeweled) RPG from GungHo Online Interactive that is pretty much exclusive to smartphones, but there was a 3DS spin-off called Puzzle & Dragons Z that is priced like normal games are. Apparently that game is stuck in Japan though, with people crying out for it to be localised like people do with Mother 3 or Ace Attorney Investigations 2. Still, the mobile version is available in America, although it's apparently not able to catch the same popularity as the Japanese version.

Why do we care about this at all? Well, today there is an announcement that they're teaming up with Nintendo to release Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition for April 29, 2015 in Japan. Now before we freak out about that plumber deceptively trying to lure you into free-to-play, it appears as if it will cost money up-front.

This says the price is 4,000 yen for both physical and download, excluding tax.

So, what? Quirky Japanese deal, right?
Nope! It's going to come to America and be published by Nintendo. So you better get well-acquainted with it.


Something to notice is that by Super Mario Bros., they really mean a specific part of that series. The worst part in quite a while. Mario fatigue, indeed.

Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition logo
More like the New Super Mario Bros. edition instead.

While we do not have to worry about that evil plumber spearheading a new micro-transaction campaign (we do have to worry about him doing a lot of other nasty things, though), we should consider why Nintendo is doing this.

It's clear that GungHo benefits from having uncultured people like KoopaTV's staff now know about their game series. Nintendo benefits by... um... well, that's harder to say. If people think that members of the massive Puzzle & Dragons fanbase are suddenly going to buy a 3DS and this is going to be a system seller, I highly doubt that. It will work the other way around. "Hey, this $35 game [approximately 4,000 yen at the moment] looks pretty cool and it has Mario in it, but I can get it as a mobile app for free and it still has these nice original characters!" (Well, maybe not in North America if they never touch up the presentation.) If the Puzzle & Dragons mobile base would be persuaded to buy something just because that portly plumber is in it, don't you think they would've bought a 3DS already with all of the games he is already in? (For an example of a crossover where this doesn't apply, see Pokémon Conquest which uniquely blends gameplay concepts together instead of just being a skin.)

And that's how they hook you into starting micro-transactions. Yeah, that's right. Nintendo's "mobile strategy" is helping mobile companies sell things and then not actually getting royalties if consumers buy the "free" version. Wonderful strategy, right?

By the way, if the first thing Nintendo goes to when approached by GungHo to make a Mario-themed skin (although they claim it's not "just a skin") is to New Super Mario Bros.-ify it despite GungHo's leadership saying they grew up on the series, then that series should be dead to you. Nintendo doesn't even want to cash in on nostalgia anymore. To them, this franchise started with New Super Mario Bros.: A disgusting, soulless abomination. I wonder if they'll even take the New Super Mario Bros. music!

...Okay, so Mario Maker's primary graphic style are the games before 2004. Good point. Still, why is their first idea now for New Super Mario Bros. to be the representative graphics style for the series?


Ludwig hates the mobile gaming industry, and also hates New Super Mario Bros., so his stance on this is fairly obvious. What's yours? And have you ever heard of Puzzle & Dragon before today? Ludwig wonders why there is only one puzzle but several dragons.


For more rants about mobile gaming, check here for when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies got released on iOS.
Puzzle & Dragon Z IS coming to North America. It's actually bundled with Puzzle & Dragon Super Mario Bros. Edition. That news may or may not invalidate this article.
Ludwig got to play Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition since it was released as a demo. See his impressions here!
It turns out Nintendo really IS trying to bring 3DS gamers to play mobile games.

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