If you grew up on Nintendo’s Game Boy you’re probably already familiar with the long-running Tetris series, which has been featured on a plethora of handhelds and consoles since then. While not as widely know as Tetris, the Puyo Puyo series has been around for a while in Japan with some limited releases in western territories. If you have fond childhood memories of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine on the Sega Genesis, this actually was a re-skinned version of Puyo Puyo.
The mechanics of Tetris are the same you’ve come to know since the series’ inception back in the day. You have various differently shaped blocks that you need to piece together to create lines that will clear them from the field. Of course, the more lines you can clear at one time the better as it increases your score multiplier. Puyo Puyo is slightly different in that you have to match four or more colored beans to “pop” them from your screen, which makes things quite different from Tetris as once the pieces above fall if you set things up right you can cause chain reactions to occur for even more clearing reactions.
These differences become paramount when you go into Versus (more on the exact details of multiplayer later), as Puyo Puyo lets you setup those elaborate chains to cause garbage blocks which require a four-chain+ combo to remove, while with Tetris the most you can really do at one time is a four-line clear due to how the mechanics work. So with all these differences at play, how exactly does this matchup fair in Puyo Puyo Tetris?
Once you get into the game’s main menu, you’re presented with a plethora of modes. For newcomers, especially if you grew up on a Super NES and didn’t really get introduced to Puyo Puyo like I did, the Lesson mode is where you want to head to first. While there’s a lot of material to cover, SEGA did a great job at breaking up the lessons into chunks where newcomers won’t get overwhelmed if they learn things at their own pace.
If you don’t want to head straight into multiplayer just yet, there’s also two single-player focused modes: Adventure and Challenge. The former has the traditional Puyo Puyo cast of characters, accompanied by a new cast created specifically for Puyo Puyo Tetris, challenge each other. The English voiceovers are quite well done, but you can skip past the text and go straight to the gameplay if you so wish. The latter mode is your typical timed/score challenges where you have a specific goal you need to beat.
As mentioned earlier, there’s a multiplayer aspect present in the game as well. You have either offline or online multiplayer available to choose from between 2-4 players (you can add in AI “players” to pad out the numbers if necessary), with numerous modes to choose from. There’s Big Bang, which gives players a brief moment to get a better score than their opponent and if they’re successful, they’ll decrease their opponent’s energy to a degree depending on their success upon moving to the next round — with this continuing until the second-to-last person’s energy bar fully depletes.
Mix combines Puyo Puyo and Tetris into one game, which is interesting but is probably one of the more involved modes due to the increased difficulty of combined mechanics at play. Swap is probably much more interesting for players who want to have both games at play, as you continually switch between both games every 20 seconds. It’s frantic fun as you have to keep track of both boards at the same time to make sure you aren’t getting close to losing on either, and gets even more frantic when multiple people are playing.
While local multiplayer is still the most optimal route for these types of games (as it’s always fun to berate your “friends” for giving you those garbage blocks that lost you the game), the online multiplayer worked without any problems during our testing both on PS4 and Switch.
SEGA managed to pack a crazy amount of content into this game, and keep the roots of both franchises intact while still creating something new while providing a homage to the old. It’s a game that young and old players can enjoy, and the lower price point in western territories doesn’t hurt either.Puyo Puyo Tetris was reviewed using a PS4 digital copy provided by SEGA. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|The Lesson mode does a wonderful job at teaching newcomers to both puzzle franchises the rules.|
|English voices for story mode are well-done, but you can skip over them if you wish.|
|Online multiplayer works great on both platforms, but there's also local multiplayer for good old fashion trash talking with friends.|
|A few Versus modes, such as Mix, are not as fun as the others due to their mechanics.|