If there is a The bright side to take from this year’s Thanksgiving weekend is that four days of enforced loneliness has never met a better mate than two new video game consoles. On PlayStation 5, I continued my exploits as Miles Morales, and my wife and I spent some co-op time with Sackboy, the new title of the Little Big Planet franchise; on the Xbox Series X, I dove into Call of Duty: Cold War Black Opscampaign of. It was an endless sensory buffet of ray-tracing, 4K quality, new controller scent, and minimal load times – no lines, no distractions, and no sneeze guards needed.
Yet even with that huge digital cornucopia at my fingertips, why did I still spend so much time playing a free match-3 game on my phone?
Here’s the truth: since the first download 466 days ago, there’s nothing I’ve played more, or enjoyed more, than Marvel Puzzle Quest. (I’d share the data from Screen Time, but frankly, I don’t really need to be faced with this.) Not only am I not alone in this area, but I’m a relative rookie. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have been playing daily since the title’s launch in 2013. On the game’s official forums, on its unofficial subreddit, and in online chat rooms where groups of players micro-strategize in-game events, MPQ isn’t just a free-to-play mobile game – it’s the “forever game” of many people, one that remains a constant in their lives even as other titles come and go.
You have questions. Of course you have questions. And the first is probably “Wait, a match-3 puzzle? As Candy Crush? ”Yes, exactly. The basic mechanic of the game is absolutely the same: you have a board filled with tiles of different colors and shapes, each of which can be dragged to swap places with any tile above it. , below or next to it; if you make a row of three similar tiles, they disappear and the above tiles fall to fill the void. If you match four or five adjacent tiles, you deal more damage and can destroy one row or even get an extra turn.
These similarities are exactly why my wife loves to call him Candy Crush Avengers. But these are also the only similarities, because the joy and the magic of MPQ is the role-playing game based on High of the match-3 mechanic. For each round, you form a team of three Marvel Comics characters selected from your roster. Each character has a series of three powers that are specific to him: some are passive, with special tiles that can aggravate damage or protect a character from enemy damage; others can move tiles, destroy groups of tiles, or send characters into the air to escape damage.
The trick to building a team is therefore to find three characters with hidden synergies. (Whoever is popular right now is using Polaris, aka Magneto’s daughter; guardians of the galaxy‘s Rocket and Groot; and Kitty Pryde. All three have passive powers that combine to create an inescapable deluge of damage-dealing tiles that can overwhelm even powerful teams within a few turns.) It all sounds like a lot. It really is not. When you first start out in the game you have a single “one star” character with limited health and damage abilities – the one star version of Spider-Man is considered the best of the bunch – but as you add roster slots and level up, you amass more powerful characters from more powerful levels.