The accolades surrounding the tile-matching puzzle game Tetris are well-known around the entire globe, but it isn’t until recently that Puyo Puyo began to rise in popularity. Known as Puyo Pop in North America, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a crossover of the two, each bringing their own distinct mechanics and rulesets in a single package. Released three years ago across multiple platforms in Japan, this version marks the first time the game has been translated into English as well as being available on the Nintendo Switch. Oddly enough, Sega is not bringing the game to the XBox One in the West, even though it was originally released in Japan on the platform in 2014.
Due to licensing complications around Tetris, Puyo Puyo Tetris isn’t available as a digital title on PlayStation 4, but as the Nintendo Switch has only been on the market for a couple of months, Puyo Puyo Tetris can be purchased both digitally and physical. While I am familiar with Puyo Puyo already, many won't have any experience with the popular Japanese series that failed to gain traction in North America. What you need to know is both follow the same general mechanics, but with enough variations to make each one unique. Both titles feature colored objects falling down with the goal to arrange them in the required shapes. In Tetris, you’ll create horizontal lines using Tetrominoes, clearing the line from the board. However, in Puyo Puyo, the objective is to match four colors together in any possible shape as long as they are connected. Regardless of the game mode you choose in either game, allowing the objects to reach the top of the screen means you lose.
Although you’ll be spending most of your time in the various offline and online multiplayer modes, Puyo Puyo Tetris features a wacky story mode. It’s quite lengthy, taking you through games of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris. Unless you are familiar with the Puyo Puyo series, it may seem odd that the series has anime style characters. Dialogue can seem like it goes on forever, but at least Sega has taken the time to voice each and every character fully. It mostly revolves around the Puyo Puyo world being invaded by tetromino blocks, flying space ships and reuniting characters from previous games. Lacking difficulty options, Adventure mode is quite difficult, especially if you attempt to receive three stars in each level. You’ll receive a prompt to skip the current level if you end up losing multiple times. Lesson mode does an adequate job of explaining the basics for each of the games if it been some time since you’ve played Tetris and Puyo Puyo.
Arcade mode can be played locally against other players, but you can also play against the AI. There are a handful of different variants, and you’ll likely find a favorite. Versus is the primary multiplayer mode, letting players choose if they wish to play Puyo Puyo or Tetris, while Swap alternates between the two different games at set intervals. Fusion is one of the most exciting game modes, raining down both Puyo and Tetris pieces in a single game. Tetriminoes will sink below Puyo pieces, and you’ll acquire mixed chains for clearing Puyo Puyo chains and Tetris lines consecutively. Party mode adds items into the mix, activating them when you clear the corresponding Puyo or Tetrominoes. Your field is reset if the pieces reach the top, as the game only ends once the timer has counted down. The player with the highest score at the end is declared the winner. Big Bang tasks you with clearing preset fields of pieces faster than your opponent. Once the timer expires the player that generated the most “garbage” goes on the offensive, depleting the health bar of the other players.
All of these modes are available when you are playing solo or with other players. The game supports up to four players locally and can be played using Joy-Con controllers or the Pro controller. If you are brave enough to venture online, you’ll find the game separates those that wish to play ranked or free play matches. Regardless of your choice, you can still experience any of the game’s engaging game modes, support up to four players.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is quite an experience, blending two of the most popular puzzle games into a single entity. The game’s story is full of charming characters, and the entire visual style of the game is bright and colorful. It is one of the better local multiplayer experience on the Nintendo Switch right now, and if you are looking for a unique challenge, try playing against some of the best players in the world.
Note: The Puyo Puyo Tetris review is based on a digital Switch copy of the game, provided by the publisher.