App Reviewed on: iPhone 4s
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Puzzle Trooper is a free-to-play match-three puzzle game by Kabam where players build their own squad of cartoony, military misfits. As a free-to-play title, Puzzle Trooper (unfortunately) is fraught with upgrade systems, social hooks, and various currencies that try to have players shell-out cash or convince others to, and the result is a game that can feel clunky and cluttered in its menu system. However, despite these complaints, Puzzle Trooper is such a fun puzzle game that players can derive plenty of enjoyment regardless of how bothersome the free-to-play trappings may be.
Playing Puzzle Trooper is much like many other match-three games. Players must align three or more of the same colored gems on the play screen to score. Scoring, in turn, determines the actions of the characters at the top of the screen. Each score unleashes an attack, and each attack's power is dependent on the type and quality of the matches made. For example, if players match three red gems on the play screen, all red characters in a player's squad will attack. If that match also led to a match of yellow gems, then both red and yellow characters will attack, and bonus damage will be added for creating a combo. Players win when they string together enough matches to take out all opponents.
Unlike other puzzle games, players in Puzzle Trooper can rearrange gems in any way they want. Rather than switching the positions of two gems that are next to one another, players can drag and drop gems anywhere on the field of play as they please. Also unlike other puzzle titles, squad members can unleash powerful special abilities to cause further damage to enemies. Outside of each mission, players can customize their squads to meet their play styles and further help them achieve victory.
Between the customization options, upgrade systems, cartoon aesthetic, and snappy controls, there is little not to like about Puzzle Trooper. There is always something to be doing in the game, and advancement seems paced well enough for free players to avoid in app purchases for the most part. The only real problems with the game are that playing the versus mode can feel unbalanced thanks to the in-app purchasing scheme, and a network connection is required to play even if players just want to enjoy the game's 150 mission singleplayer mode.
At the end of the day, Puzzle Trooper is too fun for me to tell people to avoid it. It's free-to-play, and thus terribly heavy-handed in wanting players to either hook their friends or spend money, but it's also a quality game. I highly recommend Puzzle Trooper to anyone except those that can't stand free-to-play badgering.