At long last, we have arrived at the final entry for my series of puzzle game reviews… And did I save the best for last? Let’s take a look at what we have here. Puyo Puyo… Tetris? Is that even possible?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first read the title of this (needlessly) Japan-only game. Is it a game that has both Puyo Puyo and Tetris in it as separate games? Or are we going back and forth between the two games somehow? Or are we actually playing a puzzle game that has both puyo and tetriminos falling down… together? Like best friends?
Turns out the answer to all of these is yes. You can play regular old Puyo Puyo if you want. And you can play regular old Tetris too. Both play great, so if you want to keep things simple you can. But–to everyone’s great surprise–modern-day Sega/Sonic Team uncharacteristically decided to go all-out with this game and packed it with new modes that effectively manage to combine the two games together in clever and engaging ways. In the opportunity they had to simply slap Puyo Puyo and Tetris together in one vanilla package and call it a day, they actually decided to create several new puzzle games. And they’re really good–like Rocky Road good.
Let’s take a look at these different modes. First up is VS, in which you and your opponent choose to play either Puyo Puyo or Tetris. The mode works whether you pick the same thing or not. The penalties that can be thrown your way are what you’d expect: a number of “garbage” puyo (squares) that you have to clear out if you’re playing Puyo Puyo, and a number of rows that appear at the bottom to raise the map up if you’re playing Tetris. For the latter, the game provides a nook to place a Tetris piece in so it’s possible to get rid of those extra rows.
Next up is Mix mode, which as it implies manages to mix both Puyo Puyo and Tetris together. Sometimes puyo fall; sometimes tetriminos fall. Whenever you get a tetrimino, it will pass through all the puyo on your board–meaning the tetriminos will go to the bottom, and make the puyo reappear on top of them. The tetriminos can also destroy the “garbage” puyo (squares) in their path. The mode is a fun one, but matches can last a really long time when both players are beginners. It’s a lot tougher to set up chains in this, and getting a tetris (four rows cleared) really takes a while.
This next mode might be my favorite–it’s called Swap mode. Pretty self-explanatory. You have two boards to work with: one for Puyo Puyo, and one for Tetris. A timer counts down at the top, letting you know when your two boards will switch. If you time your chains/tetrises right, you can send the penalty to your opponent’s other board following the switch. This mode requires you to be good at both Puyo Puyo and Tetris in order to win!
Party mode is a game where there are items you can activate in order to make things temporarily more challenging for your opponent. Things like freezing their puyo for a few turns, making their tetriminos be really weird shapes for a few turns, or having their board go dark for a little while (save for a flashlight moving back and forth). It’s a goofy mode just for fun, and you can choose to play either Puyo Puyo or Tetris for it. I suggest both players choose the same game though for this mode; I feel it’s a lot easier to activate the items in Puyo Puyo than it is in Tetris.
And last–and least–is Big Bang mode. Basically, you race each other to either set off a pre-set chain for Puyo Puyo, or quickly fill in the pre-set gaps for Tetris. Either way it’s kind of dumb, but I guess not bad for something random to mess with once in a while. I suggest both players choose the same game for this mode as well, since I think Tetris has it way easier than Puyo Puyo here.
So this game is most fun if you can play with friends, which can be managed either via ad-hoc or through online matches. Despite the game being in Japanese, it’s not that hard to figure out how to get the matches set up, and the more peeps you can persuade to import this thing the better. I’ve bought the game for two friends so far just to make that happen, LOL. Feel free to add me though if you want, random Puyo Puyo Tetris players visiting this site. I’m Reset_Tears on PSN.
That said, if you can’t find someone to play against there’s plenty of fun to be had still in one-player modes. There is, believe it or not, an extensive “Adventure” story mode you can play through, filled with classic Puyo Puyo, Puyo Puyo Fever, and BRAND NEW Tetris characters.
That’s right, they made each of the tetriminos into kawaii anime characters, including a robot, a dog-man, and a ball in a cloud. Along with a few other dweebs, they fly around in a space ship and, I don’t know, it seems they inadvertently made it start raining tetriminos on the Puyo Puyo world. My Japanese isn’t quite good enough to follow everything in this story, but luckily for all you crazed Puyo Puyo enthusiasts there are video translations of the whole thing on Youtube. It’s all very silly; I personally like the fourth-wall breaking for how they’re somehow playing these puzzle games against each other (and always for completely arbitrary reasons).
Also worth mentioning are the menus for this game. So colorful and bright! And they make chirpy sounds as you move from one thing to the next. The presentation in general is fun and whimsical, and the music for the game matches this tone perfectly. (And yes, a happy-go-lucky variation of the classic Tetris theme is included in all this.) I’m a big fan of the clownish HONK-HONK noise that sets off each match. Basically, this game was made with fun in mind from start to finish.
So how can you play this game? This title was released in Japan for a wide variety of systems: Vita, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, PS4, and XBone. But since 3DS and Wii U are region-locked (BOOOO), your best bet is with any of the other systems. You can buy the physical game for one of them and play Puyo Puyo Tetris just fine and dandy; all the menu translations are right here if you ever run into trouble on that front. I personally have the Vita version, and since puzzle games are perfect for handhelds I suggest going that route if you can. Regardless, the bottom line: This is a must-have for any fan of puzzle games, and well-worth the import price.