While a price point of $60 AUD might be a little over the top for some, Puyo Puyo Tetris combines some of the greatest puzzling elements from two vastly different universes for what is one of the best conventional puzzle titles we have seen in some time. While it’s clear that there are some slight imbalances when it comes to Puyo versus Tetris, there’s a tonne of fun to be had with a vast foray of game modes and truly wonderful coverage of both Online and Local Multiplayer battles.
At its core, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fusion of puzzling madness, combining full, uninterrupted experiences of both puzzle types, as well as providing options to sample both in parallel. Puyo Puyo, in its conventional sense, didn’t take the same flight to fame as it’s puzzle brethren outside of Japan, but in the Land of the Rising Sun, it’s bigger than Godzilla (not literally speaking, of course). It has made its way to our shores unconventionally in previous titles, as a cameo or mini-game, but never as the star of the show (with exception to Puyo Pop Fever for the Nintendo DS). The key premise in Puyo Puyo is, for the most part, a cascade of blobs known as Puyo, which fall in two. Your job, as the player, is to piece together a match-four of the same colour – do so, and you’ll clear these Puyo, leaving Puyo above to fall from under in their place. Tetris here, for all intents and purposes, is same ol’ Tetris in its blocky glory, brought to us by Alexey Pajitnov back in the 80s.
The two puzzle masteries are present here in many different formats via a slew of various game mode flavours. Classic Versus mode provides you with an ‘out-of-the-box’ mode to dive in and play in either Puyo or Tetris fashion. Fusion Mode presents the premise of merging both game types together on one screen, resulting in a fun but sometimes far too complex ordeal, Swap mode, which is a much cleaner variant of Fusion Mode, whereby the Tetris and Puyo boards are swapped out interchangeably mid-game, amongst other modes hinging mostly on multiplayer battles. There is, of course, Online Multiplayer and Local Wireless play, which we’ll cover in the Multiplayer section below.
I’ll admit – I’m terrible at Tetris, despite always having a blast with it. Having never experienced Puyo Puyo in its true form, I was drawn towards it and had a tonne of fun, to the point of it being my favourable game type in Puyo Puyo Tetris. There is an overwhelming amount of gameplay style, replayability and experiences to be had here, and the Sonic Team and Sega should be truly commended. It is often difficult to provide enormous value in a conventional puzzle game. Somehow, with the fusion of two game types previously presented as two individual titles, Puyo Puyo Tetris seems less like a “Puzzle Collection” and more like a fresh, new take on two classic titles.
Regarding Puyo Puyo Tetris’ main solo play offering, you’re presented with Adventure Mode. This mode plays out in a standard World/Stage format, as you plunge into many of the frantic challenges the game presents you. While there is a plot and storyline on offer here, it’s a mere distraction from the gameplay ahead of you. It’s a nice to have, however, and the gorgeous character and setting design of toon-style themes is cute and enjoyable ride.
Once you’ve conquered the heavy-hitting, one-hundred level Adventure Mode, it’s time to take your puzzling masterclass to the Online Multiplayer offering presented here in Puyo Puyo Tetris – if you dare. Multiplayer, during my experience, was stable, smooth and truly a delight. As a generally favourable Online game player, I found matchmaking to be simple and fair, and although my butt was kicked countless times by players abroad (I’m looking at you, Singapore!), I’ll continue to (attempt) to boost my online ranking for bragging rights. In a similar ordeal to offline Versus mode, you’re given the option of either game type, often times it being a battle of the sexes in a Puyo vs Tetris match-up. I did find that, as a Puyo player, I was being given quite an advantage against Tetris players, as only one or two chain combos were required to dump a slew of garbage blocks on to my opponent’s screen. There is seemingly a balance issue here, one that I hope Sonic Team and Sega can address. In the interim, I’ll continue battling on as the Puyo Puyo underdog.
Local Wireless Play is present here also, and I had the opportunity to run through the motions. For my 30 minute playthrough of Wireless Play, gameplay was yet again smooth and without any connection hitches or hiccups. Your mileage may vary, but it is genuinely refreshing to have a local multiplayer experience that just, works. Many of the gameplay modes present in Solo Play can be experienced in Local Wireless Play, which leaves no exclusion or the feeling of a compromised Multiplayer experience.
Graphics and Sound
In true Sonic Team fashion, the visuals and presentation of Puyo Puyo Tetris is clean, vibrant and popping with colour. With gorgeous toons and animation, coupled with voice-acted cut scenes, the cute and light-hearted visuals engaged me in Adventure Mode, much more than I had originally intended. The cheeky humour and tongue-in-cheek dialogue from characters of both the Puyo Puyo and Tetris universe is brought to life by crisp presentation on the Nintendo Switch. Given my exclusivity to the Nintendo Switch for this review (sorry Playstation 4 readers), Puyo Puyo Tetris presents wonderfully in both Docked and Portable modes here. The fun, popping and peaceful soundtrack is by no means a masterpiece and is forgetful in most instances, but this is forgivable in a Puzzle game, where sound can sometimes detract from the experience in a puzzle style that isn’t conducted by sound or rhythm (take Sound Shapes, for example).
Puyo Puyo Tetris provides an unorthodox formula but is a fusion of two incredibly popular puzzling masteries that seemingly should have been married together sooner. The quirkiness of Puyo Puyo and the competitive, addictive nature of Tetris presents a title with an easy entry point and an accommodating difficulty contrast which makes it an easy recommendation for any player, be it a puzzle nut or a casual-sessioning newbie. Puyo Puyo Tetris’ pick-up-and-puzzle gameplay is formulated to near perfection, and yet another strong addition on the Nintendo Switch. The $10 Switch Surcharge is baffling to say the least, but is packed with replayability and a must for fans of the genre.
Our full video review can be viewed right below as well, enjoy!
The version reviewed here was the Nintendo Switch version.