Often, when talking about our favourite games of all time, NGB Reviews Editor Jonny will pipe up and casually drop into the conversation that Tetris should wipe the floor with everything from a gameplay perspective. It’s hard to argue with the logic, and it’s equally difficult to improve a classic such as that damn Russian puzzler. Mashing Tetris together with another form of puzzle might sound insane, and… Well… It is. Puyo Puyo Tetris is the result of this maniacal fusion, so let’s get into it.
Game: Puyo Puyo Tetris
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Deep Silver
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review copy provided)
Puyo Puyo is a series that I don’t have much familiarity with, other than knowing that it’s pretty much the same as the classic Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine on the Mega Drive. The series hasn’t had much fanfare in the West for whatever reason, but it’s a really fun colour-matching game, to the point where my wife said “Oh, like Candy Crush?” – Yes, it’s like Candy Crush, but you match 4 at a time, and you don’t feel your soul escaping through your eyeballs as you play it. If I need to explain the basic concepts of Tetris to you, then I’m seriously confused as to how you ended up on this page.
Anyway, Puyo Puyo Tetris has a slew of modes for both Single and Multiplayer, but let’s kick it off with a discussion about the Story Mode. Story Mode, put simply, is absolutely bat-poop crazy. The game has had a full localisation from the original Japanese, but honestly, they might as well not have bothered. It’s a joyous, incomprehensible mess of anime characters, bright colours and high pitched voices, squealing about the random shapes falling from the sky, and flitting in and out of wormholes. It makes as much sense as a box full of frogs, but I absolutely love it. Making your way between battles pretty much consists of “YOU! YOU SHOULDN’T BE HERE!” “WELL I AM!” “OK LET’S FIGHT!” – and launching you into a game. One of you might be playing Tetris, one of you might be playing Puyo Puyo, you often don’t know until you start the battle. It’s the right kind of random, and you’ll find yourself being thrown into a series of versus battles or score attack games, depending on your progression through the game.
Alongside the bonkers story mode, as mentioned above there are tons of other options to get yourself involved in the puzzle-tastic world of Puyo Puyo Tetris. You can either play Tetris, Puyo Puyo, or a bizarre mix of both, in a number of different combinations. Possibly the most mind-bending of all of these is the “Fusion” mode, which allows you to combine the Puyos as you normally would, until a Tetramino drops, squashing any Puyos in its path before regurgitating them from the top of the screen. If it sounds confusing, that’s probably because it is, and it requires an additional layer of skill and concentration to get your head round. Figuring out the exact place to drop a T-piece to squash and reposition all of the Puyos surrounding it and unleash a devastating combo is something that I will one day come to master, but I will be damned if I ever get there any time soon. It is a mode for the most hardened of hardcore, make no mistake. However, it’s not all ridiculous mashups on the same board. If you want to, you can play bog standard Tetris, or bog standard Puyo Puyo. Whichever you decide to play, this game feels damn good. Well, as good as a Tetris/Puyo game can feel! With Tetris, it feels nice and snappy when you quick-drop pieces into position, and provides decent overall feedback as you make your lines and groups in either of the games.
Without a doubt though, my favourite moments with PPT have been in the multiplayer. Allowing one person to play Puyo Puyo and the other to play Tetris is a massive amount of fun, with arguments sure to arise. In fact, this game has been the single biggest cause of unrest in the Ward household over the past week or so, with my insistence that my wife is “Only beating me because Puyo is easier than Tetris” going down like the garbage icons that pepper the battle modes in the game.
In addition to coming out on the PS4, the game is also out on the Switch, with the now customary price premium. It’s a shame that this is the case, as it is a perfect title to showcase Nintendo’s new machine. After all, Tetris was an essential back on the Game Boy, right? Snapping the joycons off the side of the Switch and handing one to your mate is the perfect way to enjoy this on the go, but I’m really not too sure if it justifies the £10 premium that it commands. As I understand it, some weird licensing issues have restricted the PS4 release to physical versions only, which does hamper the convenience of having it available at all times slightly.
Puyo Puyo Tetris, then, is a fantastic fusion of two classic puzzle game archetypes, with some genuinely insane moments in the story mode, and a bunch of ways to keep your brain taxed all the way through your time with it. A near perfect blend of two excellent puzzle franchises, Puyo Puyo Tetris deserves your time, even if its story mode is as nonsensical as they come.