Lacking the free-roaming central hub of Puzzle & Dragon Z, the Super Mario Edition is a more straightforward game, a series of levels lined up in a row. The puzzle balls feature Mario symbols. The creatures you collect are Mario enemies. The opening tutorial you play is the exact same set of tutorial levels from the main game with the Mario look.


The Super Mario Edition is fine for a quick fix, but the joy of discovering strange new creatures is replaced with uncovering familiar faces—not quite an equivalent exchange. Oh look, another Goomba. Let’s evolve it. Oh look, a winged Goomba. Yawn.

I thought a Puzzle & Dragons game without the free-to-play restrictions was everything I wanted. It’s not. It’s a fine puzzle game, especially if you’ve never partaken of the mobile version, but stripping away the microtransactions took some of the franchise’s shiny paint with them. I’m not shouting “Hooray for microtransactions!” here—I’m just saying that sometimes they can serve a purpose beyond making money.


Say as a young child you love ice cream, but your parents only let you eat it once a month. That limit adds to the allure of the ice cream. Then you grow up. One day you’re in the grocery store and realize “Hey, I can have as much ice cream as I want, whenever I want!” You stock up, and the next couple of days are the best days ever, but soon the allure starts to fade. It’s not as special if you can have it whenever you want.

So if you do buy Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Edition next Friday, give it to your parents with instructions that you only be allowed to play once a month. It’ll be much better that way.