I first heard of Puyo Puyo when playing Project Mirai DX. It was sort of tucked away in a menu that I only found and tried because I wanted an extra stamp. I actually really enjoyed it, but I found myself to be completely terrible at it, which wasn’t something I was used to. I’ve always been pretty decent at falling block games like Tetris, Lumines and Meteos. I have not gotten better. From there, references had always caught my ear; people talking about the other games that played similarly, the Giant Bomb crew always talking about importing and playing the Japanese version. It’s an odd phenomenon, but finally I could play the full game of Puyo Puyo Tetris when it finally got released in the west.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a combination of the Puyo Puyo and Tetris modes in various forms. One player can play one mode and another the other one. You can both play the same. You can play both if you’re a complete sadist in swap mode or fusion mode, where either your game swaps between Tetris and Puyo every 25 seconds, or you have puyos and tetrominos coming down back to back and you have to make both lines and whatever puyo combos are called. It’s intense and I never quite felt at home doing it.
A friend of mine wrote an article about how Puyo Puyo Tetris feels a lot like a competitive sport you play against yourself. The AI always does one thing, slow and steady but always coming, whilst you try and complete it as fast as possible to combat them. I feel this is pretty apt. Unfortunately, much like real sport I am terrible at these things. You see, Puyo mode feels slower (if you’re ignoring high level play) and very different to Tetris. Puyo mode is all about setting up combos long in advance, them making them all hit sequentially, racking up huge combos. Tetris is limited in this regard, the best combo can get at once is a Tetris (4 lines), so the speed comes from piece drops. Moving between these two modes, or even trying to balance them both is fun as hell, but it’s more than my poor brain can handle.
Puyo mode is also more interesting in that you drop down groups of two (or sometimes three or four) coloured blobs. Different to Tetrominos which are stationary once they receive any resistance, Puyos split away from their blockers, meaning that half of your puyos will stay still and rest let gravity take its course, so you really need to think about where you’re placing them. I made the mistake of watching high level play on Youtube and was instantly overwhelmed by the skill and strategy of other players. It’s truly something to see.
I think the main story is something actually worth discussing here, which is words I never really considered would come out of my mouth when I was talking about a strict block puzzle game. The plot itself is kind of boring, mostly talking about trying to get back home, or trying to find out why some people have started being jerks, but the writing is completely stand out. The characters are ridiculous, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all and the biggest surprise of all is that it’s actually funny. I was as taken aback as anyone when I found myself actually laughing out loud from the get-go; where I thought the characters would be annoying and gauche, they actually end up being endearing and enjoyable.
The art itself isn’t too stand out. It’s bright and cheery and I’m quite fond of it, but it’s not going to push the bounds of any console. This is fine though, it’s very artistic and I think it works for it. It’s perhaps a smidge too bright for me but hey, you can’t win them all.
The only thing that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me is the Party mode. It has all the same components of the normal modes, but players receive items which affects others. I think it works as a way to try and even out skill levels, and in truth it reminds me a bit of my youth, playing Tetrinet 2 online and absolutely wrecking players with random items, like causing random holes to appear in otherwise near-perfect lines. I can see people playing this a bit, but not really anywhere near the main attraction that the other modes will provide.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a really fantastic game. It’s quick to pick up and play in single and multiplayer, the campaign is enjoyable and funny, and it’s got a lot to give many types of players. The combination between Puyo Puyo and Tetris modes mean that everyone will have a way to play their preference, or if somehow you prefer a mix of both, well, you’re a better person than I am.
Puyo Puyo Tetris was provided as a PS4 retail copy for review purposes. Around half the campaign was played, as well as a bunch of the other modes. My marriage was irreparably damaged due to the multiplayer modes. My wife does not like losing.