What Puzzle Quest Mage Trainer lacks in social interaction, it makes up for it in puzzles.

Puzzle Quest 2 Mage Trainer on Facebook is the tasty appetizer holding us over until developer D3’s anticipated main course, Puzzle Quest 2, is available for Xbox Live and the Nintendo DS. Though this version has been released as a demo and emphasized for those new to the Puzzle Quest franchise, it also challenges the experts.

The Puzzle Quest series is similar to that of Popcap’s Bejeweled series, but expands the gameplay into a story all its own. It turns Bejeweled puzzling on its head by adding RPG combat mechanics. But In Mage Trainer, the story has been stripped leaving the puzzling still intact for those who want to jump right in, which consists of matching three or more gems of the same color. This activates spells you can use on opponents to diminish their health. For example, matching three or more colored gems will charge your mana energy. When your mana is at the proper level you can unleash spells (there are numbers to show you how much you need for each spell) against your opponent.

Yes, Mage Trainer is designed as a promotion for the full version, but if it had a bit more heart to it, it could stand on its own. There are the same types of puzzling, weapons, and spells, as Puzzle Quest 2, with one problem: there is only one character class compared to four in the full version. That being said, Mage Trainer is addictive enough to accidently hook you in for those lost hours throughout the day. After pounding out quite a few enemies, you’ll level up and expand your spells and weapons. For those new to the series, the timing of this is done beautifully. Just as your getting the hang of things and figuring out how the spells work, the more powerful spells are offered, which will drive you to play that next game or ten.

Puzzle Quest 2 Mage Trainer

Though Mage Trainer is played on Facebook, surprisingly enough it doesn’t have much of a social networking factor. Aside from having the option to invite friends to play and having their top scores appear on the leaderboard, Mage Trainer falls flat in the realm of extras. The most obvious was the inability to play in real time with other Puzzle Questers. I thought I was missing something as my eyes slowly scanned the screen looking for the missing link that would let me jump into ongoing games. But to no avail. Instead, Mage Trainer uses its friend invites as a way to have you invite other players to try it out too.

Although Puzzle Quest 2 Mage Trainer for Facebook is the mini cooper to the classic BMW that is Puzzle Quest 2, it hits where it counts by allowing players, new or experienced, access to the core gameplay that has made the Puzzle Quest franchise so addicting: puzzles.