Reviews April 24, 2017

Puyo Puyo Tetris

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Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PS4)
Genre: Puzzle
Rated: E10+
Players: 1-4 (2-4 Online)
Cost: $39.99 ($29.99 Digital)
Release Date: 04/25/2017
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
 
When I explained to friends I had purchased Puyo Puyo Tetris a couple years ago, they looked at me strange. Like “who would spend 50ish on a simple puzzle game and have it imported from Japan to the US? Hasn’t Tetris been released on everything already?”. Valid questions. My respond: This guy would! As someone who’s tired of the same old reiterations that have been released in the past few years (include the blunders from Ubisoft), I wanted something new…

Actually, I ended up purchasing Puyo Puyo Tetris for both Xbox One and the PS Vita, spending almost $100 in the process. Yeah…this isn’t a bad thing mind you. I love Tetris; I bought and rebought the classic game/new iterations on just about every console I’ve ever owned. And while that may seem odd to a few, my friends included, I definitely got my money's worth over the years! Basically it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that I planned on repurchasing Puyo Puyo Tetris when it came states side. That is until we received a review code from SEGA.

What I’m getting at is, if you haven’t guessed already, is that I love Tetris. Which means it might be in your benefit to take my adoration of this game with a grain of salt. I mean, you should do that anyone when reading someone’s opinion. I’m getting my bias out up front. Carry on. 

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Chances are if you are reading this, you know how to play Tetris, but Puyo Puyo is a bit different. For those who don't know, Puyo Puyo is HUGE in Japan. First released in 1991 for the MSX2, this spin off of Madou Monogatari found its way to multiple systems including the Mega Drive (though that version was turned into Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine), Game Boy, nad the Super Famicom to name a few. Each sequel added more modes and better graphics, thought the gameplay stayed the same. Similar to other games of this ilk, objects will fall from the top of the screen in order to fill up the allotted space below. In Puyo Puyo’s case, these objects are Puyo – cute looking slime monsters – that need to be placed in a way that four or more of the same color touch one another. Once that happens, all of the adjoining Puyos will disappear, freeing up some space and netting the player some points. Simple right?

Of course, the game was easy to learn but difficult to master. Because players are looking to obtain a high score, they’ll try to group multiple Puyo together to create a larger chain. This would rack up the points in less time while also clearing up larger sections of Puyo. Not only that, but it helps when comes to dumping “trash” on your opponents (more on that later). The same rules and such apply in this game, but now gamers have to also contend with Tetriminos.

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Like previous Puyo Puyo titles, Puyo Puyo Tetris has multiple single and competitive modes. The bulk of the fun will be had in the Arcade modes, particularly the ones geared towards local multiplayer. Fusion is exactly what it sounds: both Puyo Puyo and Tetris pieces drop into the same playfield requiring you to utilize strategies from each game to be successful. Swap Mode starts you in either a Tetris or Puyo playfield and after a certain amount of time, the playfield swaps to the other. In Party mode players can choose either Puyo or Tetris boards. The catch is the items that randomly fall on either side that, once cleared, will either help or harm your opponents. Big Bang mode has a preset field that you must clear as before your opponent does; they’re like puzzles with predetermined paths to being cleared.

The solo modes are more for building up your skills/high score by battling yourself or the AI. For instance, Endurance is all about going the distance against a stream of never ending CPU opponents. The Challenge mode offers special…um…challenges depending on your mood. There’s Tetris Marathon (40-lines that need to be cleared as quick as possible), Tiny Puyo (a regular match but with tiny Puyo), Ultra (score attack mode), and more.

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There’s also a single-player Adventure mode. The game’s story doesn’t offer the greatest of narratives – it unfortunately didn’t translate well and it shows. That said, it’s a puzzle game. No one is buying it strictly for the story. And at the very least the English-speaking actors tried to capture what the Japanese-speaking actors achieved in both inflection and style. The Adventure mode is worth playing through though. Completing each level will help unlock different characters to be used in the rest of the game. There are also level goals that act as optional quests. Most are pretty straight forward, like trying to reach a certain score within an allotted time limit. If you reach the goal, you’ll get three stars for your trouble. If you just beat your opponent and pass on the goal, you'll only get one star. After some practicing on the levels, three stars is a normal occurrence. Some levels will be harder or easier depending on your skills though. Being a game that mostly about getting a lot of points, the stars add a bit of replay value; there’s something else to chase.

The Online modes is where the game really shines! The portability of a puzzle game is great in itself, but when you tack on online multiplayer, well let’s just say this is the reason why I decided to spend the amount of money to import the game in the first place. There are five main game types available to play online: Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, and Big Bang. Leaderboards and stat tracking are also available, depending on if you play ranked or not. Because of how fun the game is, you will never be without an opponent – and yes, I say that knowing the game isn’t out yet. There was still people to play against thanks to the worldwide pool of players!

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The Nintendo Switch has absolutely taken over my Puyo Puyo Tetris addiction, by offering both portability and the home console experience. This brightly colored, animated mashed up of iconic puzzlers is truly made better on this console. I’d recommend to everyone, even if you’ve never heard of Puyo Puyo. Before you know it, you'll be clearing combos like the pros.

Gameplay: 10
Both Puyo Puyo and Tetris plays as expected by themselves, but combined, they overachieve. I especially like the Fusion mode!

Graphics: 9
The vibrant colors seem to literally pop off the screen. The animations in Adventure mode are reused over and over again, which kind of drags the story a bit…at least, visually.

Sound: 10
The soundtrack is amazing, Sonic Team still has not skipped a beat! The story in Adventure mode is undeniably Japanese in origin, but they hired pretty good voice actors to emulate what came before.

Replay Value: 10
I've been playing Puyo Puyo Tetris for over three years now. I don't think I'll ever stop.

Final Score:

9.8