Sunday, May 14, 2017

Puyo Puyo Tetris Review

Puyo Puyo Tetris is Puyo Puyo and Tetris. It’s Puyo Puyo VS Tetris. It’s really more like a Puyo Puyo game with Tetris in it. It’s a crossover between 2 of the most popular and longest running falling block/blob games in gaming history. Now that we’ve had Marvel VS Capcom, Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney, Street Fighter X Tekken, Battletoads & Double Dragon, and Puyo Puyo Tetris, what dream crossover is left? Final Fantasy X Dragon Quest? Pokemon X Monster Hunter? Nintendo VS Capcom? Mario and Sonic… oh, right.

Puyo Puyo Tetris was developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was originally released in Japan in February 2014 on 3DS, Wii U, PS3, and PS Vita and then later on XBO and PS4 in December 2014. It was later released on Nintendo Switch on the Japanese launch of the system in March 2017. It was finally localized and released in the West in April 2017 for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. So, we’ve been waiting a long time for this. I actually gave up hope of ever seeing this game released here long ago.

Puyo Puyo Tetris has just about everything you could want out of a Tetris or Puyo Puyo game, in one package. I mean like real Tetris, not Tetris Attack, Tetris 2, Hatris, or Tetrisphere. There’s some crazy modes in here too, though. Your normal endless Tetris is here, if that’s what you’re looking for, but the game’s focus is really the VS modes, which is what Puyo Puyo is all about. How do I know this? The basic modes for each game are front and center on the start screen, separate from the rest of the modes. On the start screen you have; a quick start Puyo Puyo VS match, endless score attack Tetris, and a quick start game of Fusion, which is a mode with both Puyos and Tetriminos on the same board.

Under the “Main Menu” you have the real meat of the game. Here you have; Adventure, Solo Arcade, Multiplayer Arcade, Online, Options & Data, and Lessons.

Adventure is the story mode. It’s very reminiscent of the story mode you find in Puyo Puyo games. This mode tells a totally bonkers, off the wall story that crosses over the Puyo Puyo and Tetris universes. Wait, there’s a Tetris universe? There is now! They’ve made a whole cast of whimsical anime characters for a new Tetris universe. Characters and crazy stories are nothing new to Puyo Puyo, but it’s kind of weird adding characters to a Tetris game. A lot of falling block puzzle games have characters like this if you think about it, though. Super Puzzle Fighter II comes to mind. Some of the Puyo Puyo characters here first appeared in an MSX dungeon crawler series called Madou Monogatari. You’re welcome to go further down the Puyo Puyo lore rabbit hole on your own.

Adventure mode also works as a way to introduce you to all of the game’s modes and variations of Puyo Puyo and Tetris. As you progress through the stages, different characters from each universe will interact with each other and find some silly reason for some kind of Puyo Puyo Tetris match. This mode will throw every kind of game variation at you, so you’ll need to know how to play both Puyo Puyo and Tetris to beat it. Thankfully, there’s a code to unlock everything, so you don’t have to beat Adventure mode to unlock everything if you can’t get through it or just don’t want to.

Under Solo Arcade you’ll find all the single player modes, except Adventure. Here you can have Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, and Big Bang matches with up to 4 opponents, against the AI.

Versus is where you can have custom Puyo Puyo, Tetris, and Puyo Puyo VS Tetris battles. This is the go to mode for battles against the AI. You can pick all the characters, stages, music, win conditions, handicaps, etc. This is my favorite single player mode in the game. It has nearly endless replay value. It reminds me of the VS CPU mode I played so much in Street Fighter IV and missed so much at the launch of Street Fighter V.

Fusion is a game variant in which both Puyos and Tetriminos fall onto the playing board. You can’t clear lines with Puyos or pop Puyos with Tetriminos, though. It’s more like you’re playing both games on the same board. If you drop a Tetrimino on top of Puyos, the Tetrimino will fall through the Puyos and push the Puyos to the top, so Tetriminos always go to the bottom. I’m not a fan of this mode. I think it’s confusing and kind of takes the fun out of both games at once.

Swap has you playing both a Puyo Puyo and a Tetris game on different boards and you Swap between the 2 games at set intervals. The default time between swaps is 25 seconds. I think this is the better Puyo Puyo and Tetris game. It doesn’t mix both games into the same board, it just has you swapping between the 2 in the same match.

In Party you can have VS games of Puyo Puyo, Tetris, or Puyo Puyo VS Tetris with items. The items have different status effects designed to mess with your opponent’s game. There’s an item that makes pieces drop super fast, one that doesn’t let you turn pieces, and one that reflects garbage drops, among others. This mode is crazy, but fun.

Big Bang is a Puyo Puyo, Tetris, or Puyo Puyo VS Tetris battle that has you clearing preset patterns off a board. If you’re playing a Tetris game, you’re trying to clear a board with 1 or 2 repeating pieces. In a Puyo Puyo game, you try to clear the board with a single chain of Puyo pops. At the end of the round, you throw all your garbage at you opponent and chip away at a health bar. It kind of looks like doing a super move in a fighting game. Maybe it’s just me, but playing Tetris in this mode seems much easier than playing Puyo Puyo.

Also under the Solo Arcade is Challenge. Challenge has a whole new set of modes. It has 3 Puyo Puyo modes and 3 Tetris modes. The Puyo Puyo modes are; Endless Fever, Endless Puyo, and Tiny Puyo. Endless Fever has you trying to clear preset Puyo chains within a time limit. It’s not actually endless. Endless Puyo is a Puyo Puyo score attack mode and it is actually endless. Tiny Puyo is an endless Puyo game with 3 and 4 Puyo pieces. The Tetris challenge modes are Sprint, Marathon, and Ultra. Sprint has you clearing 40 lines as fast as possible. Marathon has you trying to clear 150 lines with the highest score possible. Ultra has you going for the highest score you can get within 3 minutes. These modes are fun if you’re into chasing high scores.

Multiplayer Arcade has local multiplayer versions of all the Solo Arcade modes, except for Challenge, for up to 4 players. You can play this mode in split-screen and in local wireless.

In Online you can play ranked matches and set up rooms for any mode you want. As far as the online experience goes, I thought it worked great. I didn’t notice any lag, even on wi-fi and I didn’t get any disconnects. Creating a room and finding friends is easy and you can filter out the modes you don’t want to play ranked. I haven’t had any trouble finding ranked opponents, but there aren’t many people making rooms, at least on Switch. The game is cross-region and I’ve only seen maybe 1 or 2 rooms up at once. All on Versus too. There’s nobody playing the other modes.

Puzzle League is the ranked mode. This is the only online mode with random matchmaking. You can play 1 on 1 Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, and Big Bang here. You can toggle what modes you play ranked under Options & Data, so you can set it to where you only play ranked Versus if you want. I thought it was weird that these toggles are under the Options & Data menu and not here.

Free Play allows you to play all the multiplayer modes unranked, with up to 4 players. This mode does not have random matchmaking. You have to create or join a room to play here. You can create a room for any mode, with any options, locked (for friends) or public. You can only create a room for one mode at a time, though. You can’t make a room for Versus and Party mode or random modes or anything like that. The Join Friend menu option, which is a separate option outside this mode, is a filter that will show only the rooms created by your friends. I think the Join Friend menu should have just been under the Free Play menu. I don’t understand why it’s separate.

Watch Replays lets you browse and watch replays uploaded by other players and upload your own. Your saved replays are kept under the Theatre option under the Options & Data menu, which I find weird. What is it with this game and putting important parts of these modes under separate menus?

Lessons are tutorials that go over a few beginner, advanced, and expert techniques for the main games; Puyo Puyo, Puyo Tetris Fusion, and Tetris. They’re just text tutorials you follow along with, there’s nothing playable here. They give you a good idea of how to play, but maybe they could have been better if they were interactive.

In the Options & Data menu, you’ll find Stats, Theatre, Options, and Shop. Stats has trophies you've earned and your best records for all the modes. In Theatre, you can listen to all the music, sound effects, and voices, watch all the cutscenes from Adventure mode, and watch all of your replays. You can also customize your profile, controls, favorite stage, music, and Puyo and Tetrimino style. You can also toggle which modes you want to play ranked online in Puzzle League here. Shop lets you buy new styles for your Puyos and Tetriminos and alternate voices for all the characters, with credits you earn in the game.

I think the game has pretty nice presentation and graphics. Everything looks like stills from an animated series based on the old Puyo Puyo game graphics. I know this looks nothing like the old Russian themed Tetris games and not everyone is going to be into the chibi anime art style, but at the end of the day, this is basically a Puyo Puyo game with Tetris thrown in and it is faithful to that style.

I’ve seen a lot of people make a big deal out of the English voices, but I don’t think they’re bad at all. I think most of them are pretty much in line with the Japanese voices. There are a couple of really bad ones, but it’s not enough for me to go and buy the Japanese version instead. I’ll take English menus over Japanese voices.

Overall, I think this is a great package. I’ve been playing Tetris since the Game Boy game, but I have not played a lot of the Puyo Puyo series. I played Puyo Pop on GBA and a little bit of Kirby’s Avalanche on SNES and that’s about it. I’ve had fun learning to play it again, though, and I think I’ve improved quite a bit. I love having both of these great games together. Even if some of the modes are hit or miss or even if you only like Puyo Puyo or Tetris, there’s bound to be something here for you.