In a surprise announcement today, Nintendo has revealed it has licensed Gung Ho Entertainment's mobile gaming phenomenon Puzzle and Dragons, and will be releasing a Super Mario Edition on 3DS at the end of April.
We're longtime fans of the original iOS version of the game that was released at the end of 2013. It's been a runaway success for the little-known Japanese company, which, on the back of $100m+ revenue a month generated its in-app purchasing system, saw its stock rise 6000% within a year, resulting in it having a market capitalization twice that of EA – and seven times that of Zynga. At one point, it even snuck ahead of Nintendo.
So what's all the fuss about? Well, Puzzle and Dragons is a simple match-three dungeon-crawling game. Basically, you match three gems to perform an attack on the monster(s) you're facing, and additional combos will further enhance your attack. Once your turn is over, the dungeon monsters attack you, and assuming you survive, you go back to matching three again. Like I said, it's very simple – but, fairly obviously considering the game has about 15 million worldwide players and the Japanese only 3DS version of the game Puzzle and Dragons Z has sold over a million copies, it's fiendishly addictive. Indeed, I put in about 180 straight days of play before I finally stopped playing it.
The upcoming new Mario-themed version keeps all the same features of the original, but this time out also adds RPG elements, includes a new overworld map and, needless to say, features plenty of Mario characters and enemies.
So far, there's no word whether or not the 3DS version will be monetized through in-game transactions, but considering that it's a premium-priced game, it's expected to be free of the type of micro-transactions seen in other versions of Puzzle and Dragons that range from a 99 cents to $49.99.
As of yet, there's been no official announcement about any release outside of Japan, but hopefully an Anglicized version of the game will be on display at E3 for release later on this year.