So, Square Enix teamed up with Pop Cap to create a game that mixes Pokemon with Bejeweled. I guess this means Kingdom Hearts is no longer the strangest collaborative effort in video games. But I’ll put my incredulity aside for a moment to talk about the important point: is it worth $15?
First, ask yourself this: do I like Bejeweled, Puzzle Quest or any other game that has me moving color-coded shapes to match three or more? If you’ve never played any of those games, do so now. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Back? Good. Anyway, given the millions of people who have fallen under Bejeweled’s spell, you probably like it and its brethren; which means you’ll probably like Gyromancer, too. Gyromancer‘s main gameplay component (moving colored gems) works exactly like Bejeweled Twist–instead of switching the places of two gems, you’re rotating a square of four gems clockwise. Each time you match at least three gems of the same color, they’re removed from the field and charge up your chosen monster’s attacks (the charge is much larger if the gem color matches the monster’s color). When one of your attacks is fully charged, a nifty graphical effect will be added to one of the gems on the field. If you use that gem in a match, your monster will unleash it’s attack.
Of course, your enemy’s attacks are slowly charging, too. Once one of their attacks is fully charged, a graphical effect, skull and countdown timer will appear on a random gem. If you don’t manage to get rid of the gem before the timer reaches zero, the enemy attacks your monster. You can also stop your opponent from charging by matching gems of the same color as the opponent’s color. If you defeat the enemy, you’ll get some experience (used to level up) and money (used to summon monsters).
In Pop Cap tradition, the game is very easy to learn but incredibly addictive. And for RPG fans, there’s plenty of stuff that should push your buttons. For example, when you’re not battling you’ll be exploring a world map to find treasure and new monsters to add to summon. Having a diverse stable of monsters is important, as each color is strong or weak against other colors; and since you can only have three monsters in your party, you need to choose carefully or your first trip to a new area could end in disaster. But don’t worry about doing any grinding. Every time you gain a level, all your current and subsequent monsters will be at that level (unless a monster’s level cap is lower).
If you enjoy puzzle games, Gyromancer is definitely worth your consideration. I’ve played it for about two hours now, and I’m having a blast. The strategic elements mesh very well with the gem-matching mechanic, and the art is gorgeous. You can find it on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. I can’t find information on a PlayStation Network release date, but it seems unlikely that it wouldn’t show up eventually.