Title: Puyo Puyo Tetris
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Sonic Team / O-TWO
Release Date: April 25th, 2017 (NA)
Review copy provided by Sega
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a surprise for fans in the west, since it’s the first new entry in the franchise to leave Japan since Puyo Pop Fever way back in 2004-2006. After a decade, Sega have finally decided to localize the newest entry. But it brought a friend with it, and one very familiar to Nintendo fans; Tetris!
Puyo Puyo Tetris as the name implies merges the Puyo Puyo and Tetris gameplay styles into one nice package, and even literally in some parts. In addition to being able to play matches featuring Puyo Puyo vs. Tetris or the other way around, you can play both at once, and even in other ways. I’ll explain further below.
The game retains the art-style first seen in Puyo Pop Fever (though the gameplay is entirely in 2D this time), and many of the characters from Fever make a return as well, including a newcomer never before seen in the west due to her introduction in the Japan-only Puyo Puyo 7; Ringo, who actually more or less the main character representing the Puyo side in the game, but you also have the original duo Arle and her yellow partner Carbunkle from the original Compile-era Puyo Puyo games as well.
Tetris actually gets equal treatment here, with their OWN characters as well (did Tetris even have characters?). The Tetris team is lead by Captain Tee. I’ll avoid going into further detail about characters since that could risk spoiler-territory. There is a story (and a surprisingly lengthy one at that), and each part of the story is split into missions, each beginning and ending with a cutscene to sandwich it all together. Each mission has you taking on an opponent, or completing a solo mission. Solo missions have you attempting to clear a goal, such as earning enough points in a time-limit, getting enough chains, etc. Each mission in the game has a 3-star ranking system, and the better you do, the higher your rank is. If you simply complete the mission, you get one star, but clear the highest task (points, time, whichever), you get three stars.
At the end of every match, you are awarded credits. With these, you can spend them on goodies at the shop in the Options & Data menu. These goodies include new skins for your Puyos or Tetriminos, as well as alternate voice packs for characters. None of these seem to be required and are just things for you to collect as you gain more credits. The game also allows you to save up to 50 replays. These allow you to rewatch your fav matches, including in varying speeds up to 3x fast. These replays are also found in the Options & Data menu.
As for how each kind of play-style fares. Puyo Puyo is very familiar to those who’ve played Puyo Pop Fever, and even the earlier games Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Kirby’s Avalanche… which are just Puyo Puyo games crossing over with their respective franchises anyway! Tetris is also again very familiar to any who has played previous games like the original Game Boy game. The rules however do lend more towards Puyo Puyo (it IS a Puyo Puyo game first and foremost, in case that wasn’t obvious). When you score a chain, you send garbage to your opponents board, this causes their pile to grow and if it goes above the top; they lose! This applies to both styles. However garbage Puyos fall from the top, while garbage Tetris come up from the bottom on the board. You get rid of garbage by matching 4 same-colored Puyos or clearing a full horizontal line in Tetris. The goal is to not hit the top (more specifically the two X’s on top of the Puyo board).
Both styles are still utter classics and tons of fun, and they shockingly complement each other brilliantly, almost as if they were made to crossover in the first place. But that’s not all, far from it. There’s also FOUR additional play-styles.
- Fusion, where you fight with Puyos, and Tetriminos on the same board. Sometimes a Tetrimino block flip-flops between it and a bunch of Puyos and you can choose to drop the one you need. Tetriminos actually also squish Puyos. This is handy for clearing garbage Puyos and having colored ones placed higher up above the dropped block.
- Swap, where you still use both Puyos and Tetrimonos. However these are on their own board and are timed, and after said time limit on one (say, Puyos), they swap to the other style (Tetriminos, and vice-versa). Not a fan of this one honestly.
- Fever is back from Puyo Pop Fever where you go into this crazy mode where you are given a pre-set board (of either style), and you have to set either the Tetriminos in the right spot, clear the line, and then quickly get the next piece into the right spot and so on, or for Puyo where you try to start a long chain by getting the right color into the right place ASAP. After a time limit expires, you basically go all out on your opponents board, and depending how many chains or line-clears you get, you knock more health off of your opponent. When the opponent loses all HP, you win! This is my personal fav style in the game.
- Party is unique where in each style, you have these square blocks fall onto each style where your goal is to clear a Tetrimino line or a single Puyo chain while said clear in connected to a block. Each block features a special ability. They can grant buffs, obscure the opponents view of their board, prevent Puyo or Tetrimino rotation, etc. It’s very JRPG-esc when you think about it, especially with the symbols.
So there’s lots of different ways the game likes to change things up. As I’ve said I personally liked the Fever mode the most where it’s frankly the easiest and most rewarding to get so many clears in a row.
If you’re unfamiliar with Puyo Puyo or Tetris, luckily there’s a Lessons mode where the game will teach you pretty much all you need to know about how to play Puyo Puyo, Tetris, and the Fusion mode. I didn’t notice lessons for the other styles, which is odd in retrospect.
I want to comment on the Adventure Mode on the game, which is the main single-player campaign. I won’t spoil the actual story, but I do want to talk about some gameplay bits in it. To start, it’s pretty long. This isn’t just a story mode where you’re done in like an hour or two, oh no. This game easily takes MANY hours to each the credits. This wasn’t exactly a good thing for me, and there’s a reason why; the difficulty spikes. There were a few matches where I just had either no luck in beating the opponent, or I did based on pure luck, sometimes without realizing it and all of the sudden I’m like “oh, I won?”. The big issue is that even the match right before AND after said harsh ones, are sometimes quite easy and doable. This isn’t how it should be done. It should gradually get harder as you progress in the story. Even a few of the last bits weren’t near as hard as some of these matches. However, you CAN actually skip a match by losing four times in a row (you have to actually let the match conclude, so no starting over via the pause screen). That’s the only way I was able to beat the story. Frankly, it was a pain by the end.
There’s greatness and charm, but the difficulty at times made it a huge chore to get through. I won’t be harsh on the game since experts can likely beat these particular matches with relative ease I bet, so a lot of it is my own personal lack of skill.
As for the story; it’s charming. It’s fully voiced and there’s an auto setting where you just hit the Y button and the cutscenes (featuring your usual portrait multi-expression-style look) play out themselves. The voice-acting is a bit hit and miss, most of the main crew is well voiced, but there were at least a particular pair of characters (some might know who I’m talking about) who were really obnoxious sounding. Deliberately or not, it wasn’t exactly soothing to the ears. But the cutscenes ooze charm and the expressions and even some of the writing gave me a laugh here and there.
One note is that you need to progress the story to unlock characters, music, and stages in the multiplayer. So depending if that matters to you (far as I know, these are just cosmetic), then you could just not bother with it and just dive into the multiplayer.
Speaking of the multiplayer, it has local and online multiplayer, as many would expect these days! I gave the online mode a couple of tries. You arrange to have a room set up with friends and the host passes along a 4-digit password to let folks in the room, and then, it’s what you’d expect! There were some disconnection issues but me and my friend weren’t sure what was up with that. My friends’ quite experienced in the game so I would think this was just something to do with the third person in the group, so don’t pay mind to that. There’s also a Puzzle League with ranking, as well as the ability to download and upload replays of matches (you can also record replays in single-player also). For local multiplayer, there’s the Arcade Mode, where you can have 2-4 player matches, or you can just play on your own vs. the CPU.
Overall, if you love Puyo Puyo and Tetris, I definitely recommend it. Especially if competitive puzzles are your bread and butter. Same if you’re nostalgic for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine or Kirby’s Avalanche, as well of course of the millions of Tetris varieties over the decades. Just be cautious of the story’s difficulty and you should have a great time.
+ It’s pleasing to the eyes. Looks like it runs in 1080p and 60fps docked and 720p 60fps in portable mode. There’s colors galore.
+ The gameplay is fun as long as you know what you’re doing.
+ Six different gameplay styles to mess around with so it doesn’t get repetitive.
+ Characters are fun and engaging.
+ Voice-acting is mostly good, and the music is pretty decent, though nothing terribly memorable.
+ Local-Multiplayer, with you against the CPU, or for 2-4 player matches.
+ Online-Multiplayer for up to 4-players.
+ Lots to unlock and purchase via in-game credits earned from winning battles.
+ The ability to save replays of matches. However you can only save up to 50 max.
– The difficulty spikes in the story mode most of all.
– A couple of characters in the story mode were not pleasant to listen to.
– The story mode is way too long if you feel like its a chore to get through because of the difficulty.
– A few of the gameplay styles did not click with me. Though this may change once I get better at the game.
– No lessons for the other styles is odd, you just get ones for Puyo Puyo, Tetris, and Fusion. This might have helped with my issues above.
– Missed opportunity to not have Dr. Eggman in here somewhere, just saying!