Puyo Puyo Tetris
Puyo Puyo Tetris first hit years ago as a Japan-only release. It was a pretty big deal, garnering PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One, and even 3DS support. This widespread release led to a demand for it globally that wasn’t fully announced until this past year. Fortunately, the game was saved from obscurity and is now available on fewer platforms overall – but still a high-profile release and easily the biggest puzzle game to get a physical release since Tetris DS over a decade ago. It combines Puyo Puyo and Tetris while throwing in online multiplayer and a few surprises along the way.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a bit more story-oriented than most puzzle games – if you want it to be. You can learn about the lore (of sorts) of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris if you so desire. The world of Puyo Puyo is being invaded by Tetrominos. The voice acting in the story is absolutely hilarious, with a great sense of humor throughout poking fun at the whole premise. The versus combat is framed around battles due either to anger, misunderstandings, or some mixture of the two.
The story mode acts as both a way to entertain with dialogue, but also as a more in-depth tutorial filled with challenging enemies and time attack-esque goals. One stage might have you just fight for survival, while another will require you to get X amount of Tetrises within a short time frame. Just reaching the goal at the maximum time will net one star and allow you to progress, while doing better earns you more stars and thus more bragging rights and more in-game credits.
The game’s plethora of modes are on full display here, with versus being the most obvious. Here, you face an AI rival much like you would in most Tetris games – but definitely did battle with if you ever enjoyed an Americanized Puyo Puyo like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine or Kirby’s Avalanche. These allow you to test yourself against someone else in some form, and learn along the way. They might stack things better or more efficiently, and with the Puyo Puyo-centric cast, you’ll definitely learn how to chain combos together far better.
Big Bang is one of the game’s toughest challenges and is a test of your proficiency and efficiency with each gameplay style. Patterns of pre-existing puzzle pieces are put on-screen, and your goal is to eliminate the pile in as few moves as possible. It’s a great way to show the differences between the two gameplay styles, because while the Tetris blocks all logically fit into a single space, that doesn’t hold true for the Puyos. With those, it’s about putting the correct pieces in place to form large chain reactions. Not doing so can still earn you a win, but it will be much harder to succeed.
Fusion is a tough mode where both tetrominos and puyos fall down and you have to play within both sets of game rules at once to succeed. It’s tough to move back and forth instantly, and requires you to know how each style varies to truly succeed. Swap is a less-intense game that still requires you to be skillful, but gives you a chance to play both game types in a single mode. The big catch is that a countdown clock signals the end of that particular screen until the next countdown clock ends. This means that you could start out with puyos, then a minute later have to play a game of Tetris, and even if you’re right in the middle of forming a perfectly-placed Tetris, that particular round switches over to Puyo-Puyo until that clock ends. It’s frantic, but a lot of fun and forces you to play efficiently so that if a worst-case scenario happens, you at least set yourself up for a chance at recovery down the line.
Online play is included and features both ranked and unranked play. The menus are bright, with large text showing your available modes – and every in-game mode is playable online. Much like playing Tetris DS online many years ago, it’s amazing how playing these games with other people across the world is both humbling, but also a great learning experience. You’ll get trounced a few times, but pick up tips and little ways to succeed.
An in-game shop allows you to use your earned credits for a variety of neat things. At its core, you’ll just get cosmetic changes to the puyos, tetrominos, or alternate voices, but each change gives the stage a different feel. The letters instead of puyo shapes in particular make things seem different, and mix up the graphics nicely. You can also go with larger Puyo Puyo Fever-style blobs, or even use classic tetrominos if you so desire. It’s nice to have the ability to change up the look of the game a bit, and you can even earn alternate voice clips for the story mode as well.
Visually, Puyo Puyo Tetris shines nicely on the PS4. Its graphical style is simple, but everything looks sharp. Character models have crisp outlines, as do all of the puzzle pieces. The more elaborate effects in modes like Big Bang all look good, and for a puzzler, it looks as good as one really needs to. All of the colors are bright and distinct, and you’ll never have to worry about certain puzzle pieces blending into the background and throwing you off your game.
Musically, the soundtrack is full of cheer and while it may lack the Russian songs that helped Tetris stand out years ago, the music is pretty solid overall. The sound effects are the real star here, with various tones being used to demonstrate just how many garbage pieces will be sent the way of either you or your rivals. The voice work throughout the adventure mode is pretty funny. None of the characters have much in the way of depth, but the cast has solid chemistry together and the writing is pretty witty for a battle of two different puzzle games.
Overall, Puyo Puyo Tetris is the best puzzle game package available on the market today. You get full Tetris and Puyo Puyo experiences in it, plus the amalgamation modes that bring both franchises together. The long-time kinds of puzzle gaming have come together and are giving Tetris its biggest retail release since Tetris DS – and this is easily the biggest Puyo Puyo game ever made. It’s a must-buy for anyone who enjoys either franchise, and a perfect gateway game given its many extensive tutorials. Hardcore and casual puzzle fans will find a lot to enjoy here, and it will give you years of fun no matter which console you purchase it on.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
This review is based on a digital copy of Puyo Puyo Tetris for the PlayStation 4 provided by Sega.