The Best of Both Worlds
It is probably safe to assume that most people have either heard of or played Tetris. Puyo Puyo on the other hand has more of dedicated cult following and never received the recognition that Tetris created despite seeing iterations on most consoles since the 16-bit era. While puzzle game compilations are nothing new, this is the first time that Puyo Puyo and Tetris have joined forces into one game and it is super entertaining.
Next to Tetris, Puyo Puyo is my favorite puzzle game. Luckily, Sega has done right by providing a wealth of content and options to shift through when playing Tetris, Puyo Puyo, or a hybrid of both, either locally or online. Even though they are two different games, they share similarities such as the combination of four pieces, hindering your opponent by performing well, and connecting it all with addicting gameplay and a simple user interface.
Let’s breakdown the specific modes that are included.
Adventure – a single player experience that ultimately acts as a tutorial for the player, linked together with a ridiculous and nonsensical story. Contains ten chapters in each act and each chapter is awarded one to three stars as a grading scale. Yes, the story doesn’t make much sense but the cartoony nature is to be expected.
Solo Arcade has many options within.
Versus sets the player against one, two, or three AI opponents in Puyo Puyo or Tetris in either a battle or endurance match.
Fusion merges both Puyo Puyo and Tetris into the same game.
Swap changes the game board at set intervals between Tetris and Puyo Puyo.
Party features items with the goal of getting a high score.
Big Bang has the player attacking each opponent with preset Tetrimino or Puyo game boards.
There are six different modes found in the Challenge menu – three for Tetris and three for Puyo Puyo.
Endless Fever challenges the player to clear preset Puyo chains.
Endless Puyo is a single player version for how long can you survive while racking up points.
Tiny Puyo has extra Puyo fall from the top of the game board.
Sprint has the goal of clearing 40 Tetris lines in the shortest amount of time.
Marathon’s goal is to clear 150 lines while earning the highest score possible.
Ultra tasks the player to earn the highest score within three minutes.
Finally, there is also a Multiplayer Arcade option with the ability to play online or locally up to 4 simultaneous players. There are also a handful of tutorial videos to watch that explains basic to advance tactics in both Tetris and Puyo Puyo. The Stats screen also keeps track of tons of information, there is a Theatre option to rewatch saved replays or experience the Adventure mode cutscenes, Options to adjust control and volume options, and a Shop to spend earned credits from gameplay. Shopping can unlock different skins for Puyo, change other in-game visual aspects, and purchase extra character voices.
There are tons of modes to experiment with and some stand out more than others. For example, I didn’t see much difference in Tiny Puyo but think the merger of Puyo Puyo and Tetris in Fusion is simply awesome. At the same time, I can’t help but notice the lack of additional modes that were so prevalent in other ultimate Tetris compilations. For example, Tetris Party, a WiiWare title from 2008, stood out as a super high quality Tetris game thanks to creative modes like Field Climber, where you have to guide a little stick figure guy to the top without trapping or crushing him, Shadow mode that forces the player to think about every piece drop to fill a certain section of the screen perfectly, and Stage Racer that has the player spinning and dropping a piece through a maze-like board like a top down racer. There was even a co-op mode and mode that used the Wii Balance Board. Even though Puyo Puyo Tetris is a great game, it isn’t the ultimate Tetris collection you might think. Luckily, the merger of Puyo Puyo adds a whole new welcomed twist to the classic puzzle action but don’t expect to see anything out of the ordinary.
My other complaint comes from the lack of controlling AI difficulty. Sure, you can adjust handicaps before each battle but that is not the same that having a low, medium, or high difficulty setting. Even though I love Puyo Puyo, I have not played it in a few years so my skills have gotten rusty. Needless to say, I got smoked by the AI ruthlessly over and over in any Puyo related match. Sure, this forces me to get better, and I definitely have, but my Puyo skills are not as high as my Tetris skills, making me favor Tetris related battles over Puyo and even merged battles. At the same time, the best way to play this game is online against randoms or locally against your friends anyway. Also, the options screen is a little lacking as there is no option to turn of voice quips, which grows annoying quickly since each avatar says something as every line or Puyo gets cleared, and the option to change the visual presentation of the gameboard doesn’t change in real time. Instead, the player can simply select the “retro” look, for example, but won’t know what that really looks like until the player fires up a battle. Then you might need to back out, go back to the menu, and test out another theme before you land on something you like. This game also supports a max of 4 player, not 8 like in some other Tetris compilations.
Despite having a few minor complaints, Puyo Puyo Tetris is still a whole lot of fun whether you play it solo or with three friends. Of course playing against humans is the way to go but the single player challenge modes and ridiculous story mode can easily suck away hours of your life. While I was able to test out the PS4 version, Puyo Puyo Tetris is also available on Nintendo Switch. Given the nature of that console’s hardware and limited library of quality games so early in the console’s life, Puyo Puyo Tetris is probably the next must-buy title after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Seems like a perfect fit for the Joy-Con controller in combination of this game’s social aspect.
Don’t be afraid if you are new to Puyo Puyo, or even Tetris, as the tutorial videos do a good job explaining how the game works. The opening acts of the Adventure mode essentially acts as one big tutorial as well so new comers can get their feet wet comfortably. At the time of this review, the online community is very small and difficult to find a full game as I was playing through this pre-release. However, these issues should be eliminated once the game becomes available on April 25, 2017 in North America.
Honestly, I have not been this excited for a puzzle game… I think ever. My first experience with the Puyo series was actually hidden under the SNES sleeper hit Kirby Avalanche, eventually played Doctor Robotink’s Mean Bean Machine, then spread to the GBA version (published by THQ), the Sega published Gamecube version called Puyo Puyo Fever, and the stellar 8-player single card local multiplayer Altus version of Puyo Puyo Fever on original DS. Tetris, as you probably know, has been around forever and is playable on pretty much anything that has a screen on it. Merging this two franchises is a dream come true for puzzle gamers and luckily Sega came through by providing a quality title. Buy it. Play it. Make your mom play it. Get your friends together and just enjoy it. It is so good.
Now, if only Sega will give us Chu Chu Rocket 2 or at least a console port of the original…
Better Than: Tetris Dr. Mario (SNES)
Also Try: Puzzle League Dr. Mario (GBA)
Wait For It: Chu Chu Rocket 2 or Puyo Puyo Puzzle Fighter
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com