I’ve never played Puyo Puyo before, I’ve played Tetris however – and I thought I was pretty good at it. This game made me realise I was not. Coming as a package I was ultimately sceptical about at first, the magic of Puyo Puyo Tetris quickly grows on you, and before long the combination felt natural and fun, if a little challenging at times.
The game breaks down into a number of modes, effectively single player battle modes, a story-like adventure mode, and the multiplayer (both 4-player and online) modes. I say ‘story like’ because the adventure’s narrative is reminiscent of an early morning children TV show, and it’s characters match this theme, although I had to admit I was chuckling at a few of the 24 characters I encountered in the game. Despite this its super well presented, the characters are well designed and for the most part really well voiced. It sort of shocked me at first the level of detail that has gone into the polish around this mode – and as I would soon discover the rest of the game. The adventure mode consists of 100 stages that ramp in difficulty throughout as well as having a few difficulty crescendos at the end of each act. For me this difficulty curve was a little too steep at time, and being as stubborn as I am, I was often reluctant to skip to the next stage. I was fine with the difficulty eventually, and as I got to grips with the individual mechanics it became obvious that my mistakes, and nothing that made me feel like I was being cheated, was responsible for my failures. Still it felt at odds with the child friendly marketing, and presentation of the game – maybe kids are super good at Tetris nowadays?
As I progressed through the story, I realised that the game was largely teaching me the individual mechanics of the various game modes available to play in Puyo Puyo Tetris. Big Bang initiates frenzy mode in Puyo Puyo, and lucky attack mode in Tetris, forcing players to compete to create the biggest combos and score the highest amount of points before a timer runs out. In Swap, you are playing on two boards – one for Puyo Puyo and one for Tetris. In Fusion mode, puyos can change colours, and the dropping pieces can quickly change between Tetris blocks and Puyos – this mode was by far the most challenging as it limits the amount of space for Puyo combos, as once a block touches anything on the board it is stuck. All of these modes can be challenged in single and multiplayer modes – I fared well against my flatmates, but ultimately fell well short of the mark during my first outing into online play. At the time of writing the servers were not really populated and I ended up matching with the same person every time – so it was difficult to get a firm grasp of how matchmaking will fare in a live environment.
I reviewed this on the PS4, but spent a lot of time playing via remote play on the Vita, which I kind of preferred. The Dualshock 4 clearly wasn’t built for playing Tetris and I found that I ended up making a lot more mistakes with the controller than with the Vita – where it feels much more natural to use the directional buttons. One feature I absolutely came to adore, was using the R1 button to store Tetris blocks, as this had me tactically planning and building the perfect structure to get 4 rows at once and seriously handicap my opponent.
Completing tasks in the game rewards players with credits that they can spend on customising their board, Tetris blocks and Puyos as well as unlocking new costumes and phrases to use in multiplayer matchmaking. It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth right now but its a great addition which makes the game feel a lot more fleshed out. Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised by Puyo Puyo Tetris, and found myself playing for hours at a time as I battled through adventure mode – the breadth of game modes and increasing challenge that they provide allow the somewhat basic concept to thrive for much longer than I thought it would. I would definitely recommend picking up this game if you’re looking for a puzzle fix, or need something to play when you have a few mates round.