Puyo Puyo Tetris is a crossover of two fundamentally simple but super addictive puzzle games into a single package – Puyo Puyo (referred to as Puyo Pop in the West) and the timeless Tetris – mashed together into a variety of modes in a colourful, anime style.
While I think it’s safe to assume that everyone is familiar with Tetris, Puyo Puyo hasn’t reached the same level of familiarity. Puyos drop in sets of two coloured blobs, and the aim is to connect four or more of the same colour together so that they disappear. The skill in Puyo Puyo is to chain these groupings in a way that clearing one grouping will result another grouping being cleared, and so on.
The game features a story mode, and while I don’t understand a word of Japanese, the plot clearly doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Commencing with Tetriminos falling from the sky, the main cast is based on Tetris blocks and Puyos – with other characters including a giant fish, a robot and a wonderfully cool bear with a scarf.
It’s easy to skip the dialogue and get to the action if you prefer, and you are left with 70 different stages (approximately half of which are battles with other characters). These stages provide an introduction to the modes on offer and you will notice a gradual increase in difficulty as you progress. Should you find something too tricky, failing a stage four times gives you the option to skip to the next level.
Each stage has three stars available, with the first awarded for clearing the level and the other two for beating a goal – typically granted for winning within a set time or reaching a high score. Each game rewards you with in-game currency which can be used towards unlockables such as alternate player voices or different puyo and tetrimo display types.
While you can just play standard Puyo Puyo or Tetris should you wish – you can select either of these directly from the start screen – the game offering standard Puyo Puyo, Puyo Puyo Fever and Tiny Puyo Puyo modes, as well as the typical Tetris options of 40 lines, marathon (150 lines with and endless option) or ultra mode (3 minutes), the greatest interest is in the variety of battle modes.
Battle modes enable you to either face a CPU opponent at a set difficulty (handily colour coded on a scale from yellow to red) or a consecutive mode – where you face successive opponents of increasing difficulty.
Versus mode is a standard competition (featuring the standard Puyo Puyo and Tetris) where you are free to compete against the same or different discipline, while Swap mode has the game switch between the two.
Big Bang is probably the weakest battle mode, with the player on the Puyo Puyo stage plays ‘fever mode’ – effectively a series of pre-set chains that require completing within a time limit – whereas on the Tetris side you are presented a series of lines to clear with Tetriminoes. When the time runs out, the better you performed, the more damage you do to your opponent. The problem is that the Tetris side is incredibly easy and effectively requires no skill at all.
Party mode is a standard in puzzle games – here you compete for the highest score in a set time limit and a series of power-ups are interspersed in the game field, activated when they are cleared. These power-ups provide a variety of effects, such as impacting your opponent or boosting your score.
A totally new mode for this game features a mixture of Puyo Puyo and Tetris on the same field, and is probably the most complicated to get your head around. Puyos sit on top of Tetriminoes, which drop through Puyos to the bottom. Clearing lines or forming Puyo groups within a short timescale enables you to build chains with either.
When you are facing Puyos against Tetriminos, the games features slight adaptations to balance them together – for example you can instant-drop Puyos to the bottom, while the Tetris side features a gauge to store attack drops. I found that you can build attacks with Tetris much quicker, however a high Puyo Puyo attack chain will do much greater damage, which helps keep things relatively balanced.
The game features 4-player multiplayer via either the internet or ad-hoc. While Puyo Puyo Tetris is compatible with the PlayStation TV, unfortunately the game does not support offline multiplayer, which is a shame, albeit an expected one.
There weren’t that many people online, but I didn’t struggle to get a game as long as I wasn’t too picky over the mode I wanted to play. I did find a very small amount of lag when clearing lines – although this is likely due to my competitors being based in Japan. A word of warning though, I found the typical standard online to be very high, so expect a challenge.
The game allows for a huge amount of customisation, however this is the main area where a lack of Japanese knowledge can be a struggle. Edit difficulty (handily colour coded), change game timers, starting difficulty levels, activate hard drops and edit visual setting such as the background or display of Puyos and Tetrimos are the variables available for you to change. One fantastic feature is that the game allows you to save replays of your games for reminding your victories, high scores or great escapes.
While the game is obviously in Japanese, I had very few struggles with navigating most of the game (aside from occasionally forgetting the standard Japanese switching of circle and cross for select and cancel) – the gameplay itself requires little explanation, and the use of pictures, typical menu layouts and occasional English words mean that this is probably one of the most import friendly games you will encounter.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fantastic combination of two great puzzle games. It looks great and super vibrant, offering a massive selection of modes, and competitive multiplayer. Unfortunately, a release outside Japan appears to have been blocked by Ubisoft obtaining the exclusive license for console and handheld Tetris games outside of Japan for Tetris Ultimate, however I’d definitely recommend picking this up on an import if you have any interest in puzzle games.