Fall is the time of year when people throw down big dollars and all the AAA releases that publishers flood onto the market, your Call of Duty’s, Assassin’s Creed, Halo’s, etc, however for me this past weekend, the game I couldn’t take myself away from was Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign on my PS4. It’s an incredibly simple, yet extremely addictive game yet at the same time, it’s not the type of game that one normally dedicates their top of the line game console to play. It’s for that reason that I wish that I had the ability to play this game on the go and not on my PS4, but the funny thing is, I own two devices that could play this game on the go, just not how I want to consume the game, and that’s why I’m choosing to play on a dedicated console.
Marvel Puzzle Quest is not a new game, in fact it’s a port of an already existing game that has been on the market to play for two years, and completely “free”. I put the word “free” in quotation marks because the platforms this game has been available on: iOS, Android and PC, have been free-to-play, which is I model I absolutely detest. Call me a dinosaur, or old-fashioned, but I come from an age of gamers where you pay upfront for a game and get all its content and I’m not saying that model was perfect either, but I’d rather pay for a full game any idea than spend one minute learning about countless meters that need to be filled over time, or others that can be sped up by spending real world dollars. I always wanted to play Marvel Puzzle Quest, in fact I had it downloaded on my iPod Touch for a very long time, but once the reality set in that my gameplay would be truncated because I ran out of playtime, or I had to have X many widgets by Y time in order to get a character I wanted, I deleted it and haven’t looked back since. Which is why I love Marvel Puzzle Quest on PS4.
Long time fans of the game may scoff that my experience is less than their’s because they’ve already gone through the base Dark Reign story quite some time ago, and have since gathered numerous characters that I may never see or won’t see until many hours of gameplay, and frankly, I don’t care. Had Marvel Puzzle Quest came out on mobile platforms or PC and offered a model where I could’ve paid up front to not put up with the free-to-play nonsense, I would’ve gladly done so, but I didn’t get that option until now and I’m glad I waited. As much as I love the game though and am glad I can finally consume it how I want, I would still pay for it again should it come out on, say, 3DS, just as the original Puzzle Quest did almost a decade ago.
In 2007, the year when the original Puzzle Quest came out, had a remarkable different market for the mobile and portable space. Smartphones were just being unveiled, and the DS was the handheld to be beat in the market. At the time there was no DSi, just the lite and the original clam shell model, meaning that if you wanted a new game, you had to go somewhere and buy it on a cartridge. This was the same for the devices competitor, the PSP, where games were sold on Sony’s proprietary UMD’s. In just eight short years, the way we consume mobile games is completely different: Smartphones and smart devices are everywhere for people to either pay for a game, or download one for free and both Sony’s PSVita and Nintendo’s 3DS have options to not only buy games traditionally, but to download them from an online shop as well.
Marvel Puzzle Quest at least to me would be a terrific game to have on the 3DS, and I’m not just saying that because I already own one. I think it would make a great PSVIta game as well, and I don’t even own that device. As the game is promoted as a cross-buy on Sony devices, in that if you buy it on the PS4 you can get it on the PS3 free of charge and vice versa, having a PSVita version seemed like a no brainer to me. That also being said, I can see why D3, the publisher of Marvel Puzzle Quest, would keep the game off of those devices. The PSVita is on its way out, even Sony announced they’re pulling first-party development, and licensing the game for 3DS would probably be too costly, so why bother, especially when you can already download the game on smart devices. Honestly if they announced that there was going to be a full priced SKU of the game on mobile devices at the same cost as the console game, $14.99, I’d probably re-buy the game again just to have the ability to play it on the go without the intrusive micro-transactions, though I know that definitely won’t happen but I can dream.
I’m very thankful that D3 has put out a version of Marvel Puzzle Quest that is for people who have zero patience or tolerence for the free-to-play model of mobile games, and I say that because I sound ungrateful of the game’s existence, which I certainly am not. I’m logging just as many hours in Marvel Puzzle Quest as I have any in many games in recent memory and for the fraction of the cost of most major releases. I guess I’m just still nostalgic for the simpler times when playing a simple, fun puzzle game on the go didn’t feel so sleazy.