Ten-hut! Puzzle Trooper is a puzzle-battler that closely echoes one of mobile gaming's current hottest tickets, Puzzle & Dragons.
But instead of training dragons and knights to do your bidding, in Puzzle Trooper you have to throw platoons of soldiers at one another. It's still familiar fare, but the game's slick animation and goofy sense of humour make it very easy to like.
Puzzle Trooper puts you in charge of a private army. Your mission: become the strongest, conquer the world, and do something about this "E.V.I.L." syndicate that's tromping around like it owns the planet (the planet rightfully belongs to you, after all).
Each soldier in Puzzle Troopers subscribes to an element. Red "Bull" warriors count as fire, green "Gorilla" fighters are forest, blue "Shark" soldiers are water, and so on.
As is the case in Puzzle & Dragons, each soldier has a strength and a weakness that can be your edge in battle - or your doom.
Bull warriors do double damage against Gorilla warriors (fire vs forest). Shark warriors take double damage from Gorilla fighters (water vs forest). Whenever you go to battle, a small illustration in the corner of the screen reminds you which element triumphs over which. It's pretty handy.
Orbs of death
Each fight in Puzzle Trooper begins with your troops on the left side and your enemies on the right side. Your group charges forward whenever you eliminate a group of baddies.
Surprisingly, Puzzle Trooper's animations and cartoonish sound effects help differentiate it from Puzzle & Dragons more than you'd expect. Defeated enemies go flying off-screen with a satisfying 'ping', echoing the old Game Boy Advance classic Advance Wars.
Inflicting damage on enemies involves matching coloured orbs on the bottom half of the screen. When you match-up three orbs of the same colour, the warriors wearing the corresponding colours launch an attack. Ideally, you want to make as many matches as possible in a turn, as your attack power multiplies accordingly.
You earn Soldier cards as a reward for creaming soldiers and bosses. You can recruit these cards into your own army, or use them to level-up or evolve your roster. Once you've gained confidence, you can throw your best men and women against real-live opponents via Game Center.
Puzzle Trooper is addictive. Knocking around orbs and lining up a bunch of sweet matches is gratifying, and the silly, self-aware writing will probably force a giggle or two out of you. How can you expect to remain stone-faced in the presence of Private Hulk Hooligan and Major Bone Jovi?
If you've utterly washed your hands of all things related to Puzzle & Dragons (understandable if you sold your property and loved ones to buy more stamina and keep playing for a few minutes longer), then there's nothing for you in Puzzle Trooper.
But if you're still a fan of the game and you want a fresh start in a different environment, Puzzle Trooper will sate you. And if you're new to this whole match-three battle game phenomenon, Puzzle Trooper is a good place to start.