Puyo Puyo Tetris takes two addictive puzzle games and combines them in wonderful and wacky ways for an experience that will have you saying “just one more match!” until it’s way past your bedtime. If puzzle-based games are your thing, then you’ll absolutely love this one.
I went into Puyo Puyo Tetris as a big fan of Tetris, but one who had never played, or even heard of, Puyo Puyo. Fortunately the game had me covered, as there’s a Lesson mode that teaches both the basics as well as more advanced techniques for playing both games. As soon as I got to grips with the basics of Puyo Puyo, it quickly became clear why somebody decided to mash up both games, and they work incredibly well together.
For those who aren’t familiar with the individual games, Tetris requires players to build solid lines out of shapes (Tetrominoes) that drop from the top of the screen. There are seven different Tetrominoes, each made out of four blocks, and these can be moved around and rotated before they drop into position. The more lines you can complete at a time, the more points are scored, with the ultimate being a “Tetris” (four lines at once).
Puyo Puyo drops colored blobs (Puyos) from the top of the screen, and players must move and rotate them to form groups of four or more of the same color, which “pops” them. Popped Puyos will disappear, causing ones on top to drop down, so it is possible to create chain reactions which score more points the more chains there are. Puyo Puyo is normally played against an opponent (either AI or another player), and when you score chains, you send garbage Puyos over to their board to disrupt them.
It doesn’t take long to get into either game, and both are incredibly fun in their original formats. In fact, Tetris has been around since 1984, and Puyo Puyo since 1991, so they’re both concepts that have well and truly stood the test of time. But it’s the additional modes that mix up the two, or have you going head to head against other players, where this game really comes to life. Add to that a vast variety of challenges and multiplayer modes (including online), and this game has some serious replayability.
Versus Mode lets you battle either the computer or another player with your choice of Puyo Puyo or Tetris, and the games are directly combined in two different modes: Fusion and Swap. Swap requires players to take control of both a Tetris board and a Puyo Puyo board, and then switch between them frequently. Not only will you have to keep tabs on both games, scoring points in either game will cause garbage to fall on your opponent’s board, and if you line up a big combo right before the swap you can do some major damage. Fusion is perhaps the hardest mode, where both Puyos and Tetrominoes fall on the same board. Puyos are more common, but Tetraminoes will fall through them and eliminate garbage Puyos. The idea is to clear lines in Tetris that will also start chains in Puyo.
The games actually feel incredibly well balanced, even when Puyo Puyo is directly against Tetris, for garbage blocks in Tetris build up from the bottom of the board while garbage Puyos fall from the top. However, Puyo Puyo may have a slight advantage in that you can create enough chains to utterly annihilate your opponent in one fell swoop. Multiple Tetrises are harder to come by.
There’s also Party and Big Bang modes. In these, you can choose to play either Tetris or Puyo Puyo. Party mode introduces blocks that, when cleared, will disadvantage your opponent. They do things such as drastically speeding up the drop rate of pieces, blacking out the screen and shining a searchlight so only a portion of the game is visible at a time, or making the player unable to rotate pieces. Party mode is easily the most chaotic of them all. Big Bang presents players with a board that they need to clear, and they need to clear as much as possible within a certain time limit. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a little boring. Both of these modes require you to score the most points in order to win, whereas the others play more traditionally and require you to outlast your opponents.
Getting to grips with all of the different games can get a bit frustrating when you’re still learning, because most of the time you have an opponent who’s interfering with your game. But that’s also where strategy also comes in. I was new to Puyo Puyo, but considered myself pretty decent at Tetris, yet I’d find myself being beaten at it quite frequently. That’s because my usual play style works for regular Tetris, but not when up against a player sending lots of junk to me quickly. So although getting beaten when I still hadn’t quite got the hang of things was frustrating, I immediately wanted to play again. And again.
All of these different modes can be played single player against the computer, via local multiplayer, or online. Online, you can play for fun or in ranked matches. In the ranked battles, the game attempts to matchmake players, although it wasn’t uncommon to find myself up against opponents ranked a fair bit higher who were capable of completely and utterly destroying me while I was just getting started. (“But wait! I haven’t even scored my first Tetris yet!”) I didn’t notice much lag at all while playing online, but I had a few drop outs, although who knows if they were due to my connection, my opponent’s, or the servers.
The game offers additional content for individual players with Challenge and Adventure modes. Adventure presents a series of challenges connected to a story about how the two game worlds came to meet. The story features existing Puyo Puyo characters meeting characters named after Tetris blocks, and all of them solve problems by holding battles. I could have done without the story and taken just the challenges, but I appreciated the writing that went into it. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and is quite witty in places. The challenges themselves are a good way to become familiar with the game’s many modes, because the early battles aren’t too hard. However, with 100 stages, the difficulty definitely increases, especially if you aim to score three stars on each challenge. That said, if you get completely stuck you can skip stages that you’ve failed multiple times, and that will at least allow you to play out the story.
The characters from Adventure mode are the same ones you choose to play as during battles, and they will cheer when you score chains and lines. This can get repetitive after a while, and some of the voices are annoying (such as one girl who exclaims, “Eyelashes! Lipstick!”) but it didn’t detract from my concentration, or the gameplay. I probably could have muted the sound, but I liked the music (cue the Tetris theme stuck in my head for days).
I played on the Nintendo Switch, and the game perfectly suits the console. I’d typically play Adventure mode while commuting, and then switch to online battles when I arrived home. Puyo Puyo Tetris is also available on PS4.
It won’t be a game for everyone, particularly if you’re not into puzzle games like Tetris or Puyo Puyo. The learning curve may also prove too frustrating for some players, as you need to become very good at both games to progress far in Adventure mode and climb the ranks in online mode. As a long-time Tetris fan, I really enjoyed this game, despite the fact that I’m still not all that great at Puyo Puyo yet. I’m definitely going to keep playing, practising, and improving though!
Thank you to Five Star Games for sending us a copy of Puyo Puyo Tetris for review.