GAME REVIEW | A Breath of New Life In "Puyo Puyo Tetris"
Tetris was the very first game I ever owned. (After all, it came packed in with every Game Boy back in the day.) I'd spend weeks playing the living crap outta the levels and challenges, with my family getting into it as well. Puyo Puyo, on the other hand, I have vague memories playing, with the only one I recall diving into heavily being its international incarnations Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Kirby's Avalanche. Still, there's a strong understanding of Puyo Puyo's importance in the puzzle gaming realm, which is why it's quite a big deal for both Puyo Puyo and Tetris to collide into one massive game.
And thus, Puyo Puyo Tetris was brought forth to the gaming realm. While Japan got it back in 2014, the rest of the world had to wait three years to see these classic titans meet up. What we didn't count on was just how epic this battle of the puzzlers would be.
One look at Puyo Puyo Tetris, and you'd think that it would be some sort of kiddie affair. Bright colors, adorable characters, and a goofy mentality throughout its run would make hardcore gamers quickly write it off. How shocking it was to dive deeper into the gaming mechanics and find one of the most brutally difficult puzzler titles around. Dare I say, I felt a wrinkle or two form on my brain while diving deeper into the lore of the Puyos and Tetraminoes.
The main attraction of this battle of the puzzlers is its Adventure Mode, where the characters from the Puyo Puyo series are recovering from the events of the Japan-only Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary. (Don't worry, you won't be confused by the tale at all.) Suddenly the famous blocks from Tetris start falling from the sky, with the cast being transported onto the spaceship SS Tetra. There they meet with Tee and his crew, where the two sides battle one another and evil forces abroad to save the universe and place their realms back into order.
Learning the ropes in both the Puyo Puyo and Tetris sides is fairly easy, with the former needing four of the same color placed together and the the latter requiring a full line to start clearing out their respective areas. With the two titles combining you'll find yourself battling one while playing the other, switching back-and-forth both games during a harrowing match, and even find pieces of both games falling onto your board. Sonic Team has taken these two older titles that haven't had anything fresh about them in years and have done the impossible: made both Puyo Puyo and Tetris feel fresh.
It's also shocking to see Puyo Puyo Tetris throwing one challenge after another. In Adventure Mode, there is no hand-holding when it comes to its gameplay. The AI will come at you with the skills of a master player, showing no mercy in its ways of combat. Often I found myself spending half an hour just trying to clear one level of the main story, with the opponent making a mockery of my skills. (I'm ashamed to admit it, but I had to use the Help Mode to skip a level or two in order to move along with the story.)
Speaking of the story, the tale of Ringo, Tee, Carbuncle, and the rest of the crews was wonderfully entertaining. While some jokes fell flat, it was when they were able to make fun of the absurdity of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris where the story got real good. Even the banter between Ringo and Tee had a lot of shining moments, capped off with some well-done voice acting. (I'm not exactly sure, but I'm almost positive I recognized some of the more well-known Bang Zoom! dub actors playing most of these roles.)
Outside of the Adventure mode players can tackle the regular versions of Puyo Puyo and Tetris. There are also Swap mode (switching between both games in the same round) and Fusion (one map, both games at once), both of which add a new level of challenges to these classic titles. You can also tackle the various Challenge modes, which include Tiny Puyo, Endless Fever, Marathon, and Ultra just to name a few. For two titles that have had little change in gameplay in the last three decades, there's a lot of freshness on display here. Through these modes, you can earn points that'll unlock new art styles and voice packs to use in the game itself.
However the real challenges begin when you take it online. Whether it's with friends or complete strangers, battling it out for the high score or last man standing is often fast-paced and filled with adrenaline-pumping intensity. It'll take quite a lot of brain power to fully master both puzzlers, but those who can tackle the challenges thrown at them have every right to steal the crown and become king of both Tetris and Puyo Puyo. Just don't be surprised if you soon find yourself thrown off your throne and tumbling back to the bottom of the ranks, something that I've personally seen happen to myself throughout my gameplay.
- Refreshing take on two beloved gaming classics
- Excellent Adventure Mode
- Online modes are loads of fun
- Later levels can get incredibly frustrating
Ubisoft may have showed us how to screw up Tetris, but SEGA has gone and rescued it by combining it with its other classic counterpart Puyo Puyo. With its entertaining Adventure Mode, challenging gameplay, and well-done online modes, these two retro games merged into one has made something old completely new again. Fun, satisfying, and slick around every corner, Puyo Puyo Tetris is an essential title for puzzle lovers everywhere.
Promotional consideration provided by William Chan of SEGA of America. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
Background Noise: Metal Resistance by Babymetal - Puyo Puyo Tetris is a cute-looking title with a surprisingly hardcore style of gameplay, so of course having it paired up with our 2016 Album of the Year pick was a no-brainer. The kawaii death metal sounds of "Road to Resistance," "Awadama Fever" and "Tales of the Destinies" fit perfectly with the mentality that this game presented throughout its runtime. Plus I'm pretty sure Yui-Metal would have her own Carbuncle if she had her way...