Puzzle Derby: Japan’s latest puzzle/RPG hit is a horse racing game



While the Japanese mobile gaming space can be quite formulaic at times, I can’t help but like many of the titles that it produces. The puzzle/RPG approach that has worked so well for Puzzle & Dragons is also used in other games we have covered like Tetris Monsters or Puzzle Trooper [1]. And this week, the top iOS game in Japan continues this tradition, this time combining the familiar match–3 puzzle mechanic with horse racing of all things.

Yes, say hello to Puzzle Derby.

The game is developed by Net Dreamers, and it contains most of the familiar elements of Puzzle & Dragons and other games from that mold. You play a race as a sequence of rounds, matching colored orbs to boost past your opponents, playing to the strength of the horses in your deck. If you can pull off elaborate combos you stand a good chance of winning.

There’s also a ‘gacha’ feature that lets you roll for new horse cards in the hopes of finding a rare one. Campaigns and events occur regularly as well, just as they do in Puzzle & Dragons.

Initially launched on September 28, the game is only available in Japanese. It has fared well in the iOS sports category since its launch, but suddenly surged to become the top free game and overall app in Japan on Wednesday, where it currently sits right now.

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  1. Whether any these games are actually an RPG in the strict sense of the term is, of course, very debatable.  ↩