Everyone’s heard of Tetris haven’t they? That game where you drop blocks of various shapes in the pursuit of creating complete lines? That’s the one.
I’m pretty certain that many gamers will be less familiar with Puyo Puyo though. Well, now’s the time to get acquainted with it, as Puyo Puyo Tetris combines the two to create one of the best puzzle game packages in years.
Challenging you to connect four or more of the same coloured jellies in order for you to eradicate them from the screen, Puyo Puyo is an addictive battle-based puzzler that’s been around since 1991. If you really have never heard of it, think of something along the lines of Candy Crush, but better. There have been many variations of its core gameplay, but basically, your ultimate goal is to match jellies of the same colour, which sends clear, garbage jellies to your opponent’s screen. Of course, they can do the same to you, and so heated battles ensue with players vying to clear their screens to avoid getting snowed under. Once jellies have reached the top of a players’ screen, that’s it, they’re done for, and have to accept a loss.
In Puyo Puyo Tetris, the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris collide with interesting results. Clearing lines of tetraminos has a similar effect to matching a group of four or more Puyo jellies – it sends junk blocks to your opponent’s screen, hampering their hard work. Whether you’re playing Puyo or Tetris style then, you’re in for some heated competition, with both competitors looking to screw other the other with their junk. Things get even weirder when the two are actually combined. In the Fusion game type, jellies and blocks are dropped on the same screen, requiring some great coordination on your part to keep track of them all.
The thing to remember is that blocks crush jellies when they’re placed on top of them, requiring you to often sacrifice a valuable clump of jellies in the pursuit of clearing lines. If you don’t, you’re quite likely to find yourself with a confusing mish-mash of jellies and blocks everywhere that simply leads to a prompt defeat. Initially, the Fusion mode does seem a bit messy to be honest. You may struggle to get your head around it as the concept just doesn’t seem like it should work. Over time though, you discover that it’s actually quite ingenious, requiring a great deal of forward planning to get the most out of the blocks and jellies provided to you.
Across Puyo Puyo Tetris’ myriad of modes though, you’ll be spending more time with just Puyo or Tetris pieces rather than them both at the same time. The lengthy Adventure mode has a twee storyline that shoehorns in battles and challenges aplenty, keeping you glued to the screen thanks to its gameplay variety and wealth of unlockables to be plundered. The Solo Arcade allows many of the game’s alternative gameplay variations that are found in the Adventure mode to be played at will too, such as Big Bang in which you need to clear specific patterns of Tetris blocks as fast as possible to deplete your opponents’ health bar. Within Solo Arcade there’s also a Challenge section that contains a further six gameplay modes; three that are Puyo-centric and three that are Tetris-centric. It’s here that you’ll find favourites such as Endless Puyo and Marathon Tetris, allowing you to test your skills without the pretence of battle.
Personally, I prefer playing with just Tetraminos, but playing with Puyos or a combination of the two certainly makes for more tactical play. You can plan and create elaborate chains with Puyos, doing massive damage when you set the final piece in place to set off a reaction. With tetraminos, all you can hope to achieve is clearing four lines at once. Whichever way you’re playing though, you can be sure that you’ll be challenged playing against the CPU at all times. Puyo Puyo Tetris rarely hands you victory on a plate – it makes you work for your successes and it’s all the better for it. Thankfully, there’s a handy collection of lessons covering beginner, advanced and expert techniques to help you find your footing and further develop your skills if needs be.
While playing against the CPU is all well and good, playing against real people is where Puyo Puyo Tetris really comes into its own. If you’ve got friends or family in close proximity then then you can challenge them to some split screen multiplayer action that works wonderfully when you’ve got your Switch docked. If there’s someone close by that’s got their own Nintendo Switch and a copy of the game however, you can also play via local wireless mode. Rounding out the game’s multiplayer offerings are a smattering of online options that always allow you to find some real human competition. Puzzle League is the place to go for ranked head-to-head battles, pitting your skills against others around the world. Free Play on the other hand, is the friendlier option, offering a wider selection of settings with which you can customise your online experience. You can rest assured that both work exceedingly well, with no noticeable lag or connection issues causing any mischief during my playtime.
With its saccharine visuals and cheesy yet infectious music, Puyo Puyo Tetris is about as sweet a game as you can get. And, like sugar, the gameplay is devilishly addictive. You’ll spend hours and hours in the adventure mode, earning credits and unlocking extras like new background music whilst trying to get three stars on every stage. Along the way you’re likely to dive into the many additional gameplay modes found in solo arcade, setting high scores and honing your skills. All the while, its ample multiplayer options will see you challenging friends, family and strangers to impromptu battles, eager to show them who’s boss. Puyo Puyo Tetris is the complete block and jelly dropping package, and you’d have to be mad to pass it up, even though it can get a bit crazy at times.