What happens when you combine the eternal classic Tetris with SEGA’s adorably funny Puyo Puyo? Well, you get Puyo Puyo Tetris, a multiplayer puzzle game that was so successful that it warranted a full-on sequel!
While Sonic the Hedgehog is our main focus, we occasionally like to take a dive into SEGA and Sonic Team’s other offerings, and we’ve found something special in this mash-up series!
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is, as you can imagine, a follow-up to the first Puyo Puyo Tetris, originally released in Japan on February 2014. The game first saw an international audience in 2017 to wonderfully surprising results; turns out that combining the two best puzzle games ever made is enough to turn heads! Keeping up with that spirit of pleasant surprises, SEGA announced a sequel to the hit puzzle party game earlier this year, and now that we’ve had a chance to play it in-depth, it’s safe to say that this is now the definitive version of this legendary mash-up.
The Key Players
In order to fully appreciate the nature of this crossover series, it helps to have some familiarity with each respective game. While both have similar objectives of clearing puzzle pieces for as long as possible without reaching the top, each game has different means to achieve that goal.
SEGA’s star puzzle game franchise (sorry, Columns) can be difficult to comprehend at first, but if you’ve played Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, you’re pretty much ready to go. Puyo Puyo works with color matching and setting up your
beans Puyo in such a way that when you clear one set of four or more, they will activate a series of chains of other Puyo to connect and clear as well. Puyo shines in multiplayer when clearing those Puyo send “garbage” Puyo over to the opponents screen, hindering their progress. There’s a whole lot of ways for one to play strategically, and there’s even a huge competitive eSports scene for Puyo Puyo.
Tetris on the other hand probably needs no introduction; you drop a series of shapes onto the board called “Tetrominoes” and arrange them in such a way that they line up across the screen so they will clear. While known for it’s single-player “Marathon” mode, there is a competitive mode similar to Puyo Puyo’s where clearing lines will send garbage lines to the opponents screen.
Things get interesting when these two different games interact with one another. In both Puyo Puyo Tetris and Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, it’s possible for one person to be playing Tetris while their opponent is playing Puyo Puyo, and vice versa! The challenge in designing a game like this is figuring out how to balance the mechanics of sending garbage pieces from one game to another, and for the most part SEGA managed to strike a good balance here. Playing against a different game forces the player to rethink how they chain their Puyo or clear Tetrominoes, as playing normally could result in a loss.
Pleasurable Puzzle Party
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 provides a plethora of ways to play, including the standard head-to-head battles and single-player endless modes. These are your most straight-forward modes of play, and if you’re new to either Puyo Puyo or Tetris, you’ll first want to get acquainted with both the Verses battles and the Marathon modes. There’s also Lessons in the Main Menu which will guide the most novice of players through the basic rules and strategies of either games. It’s a very much appreciated feature for someone trying to wrap their head around the complexities of creating chains in Puyo Puyo.
If you’re familiar enough with the basics, it’s time to jump into the more wacky options available, and your mileage is going to vary here. Challenge Mode itself contains the aforementioned Endless Puyo and Marathon modes as well as other single player “challenges,” but the stars of the party in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 are the ones also available in Multiplayer, which supports up to 4 players.
One of the better non-standard modes is Swap Mode, which alternates between Puyo Puyo and Tetris on a timer; basically having both players keep track of two games happening at the same time. It’s a fantastic mode to keep you on your toes and there is the chance that clearing lines or Puyo just before a swap will result in a combo. Party Mode, meanwhile, can get very hectic. The addition of items and focus on getting a better score makes it more accessible to players who aren’t as skilled. If you’re a competitive player looking to do some pure unleaded head-to-head battling, this mode is probably not for you.
Fusion Mode is even more strange; by combining both Puyo Puyo and Tetris at the same time, you’ll find yourself contending with both Puyos and Tetrominoes on the same board, and the rules of play aren’t entirely clear. Of all the modes that this game has to offer, Fusion has the steepest learning curve and is most likely to leave you with an existential headache. Finally, Big Bang is a race against the clock to clear as many pre-arranged lines or chains as possible to do damage to your opponent. There’s not much strategy to it at all and is probably the most forgettable gameplay mode.
If you’re digging into the series for the first time with Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, these modes of play will seem very feature rich and offer a unique experience you won’t find elsewhere. The issue is that all of the modes we’ve mentioned are available in the first Puyo Puyo Tetris with no noticeable changes or improvements. If you already own the first entry, all of these modes are going to be retreads of what you already have access to. The only major mode setting this entry apart from the previous one is Skill Battle.
Skill Battle is worth checking out if you’re looking for a more strategic shake-up. Instead of focusing solely on forcing your opponent to top out, you now have health bars to contend with. Damage is dealt by sending garbage pieces, and the game ends when either player runs out of health. In what could be a call-back to the Puyo Puyo series’ origin as an RPG, characters now sport experience points, abilities, magic meters and items that modify your stats.
The main mechanics of Puyo Puyo and Tetris are intact, but Skill Battle lets you assemble a party of 3 characters each with a Tetris or Puyo specific ability that can be activated during play, provided you have enough Magic Power to do so. These include moves that change what piece you’re holding, setting up lines to clear, recovering health, improving your defense and so on. Further adding to the strategy are “cards” that act as modifiers to character stats. Any team can equip up to 4 cards at once, and they will buff your health, magic points and other stats. Once players can work out how to utilize each characters abilities, Skill Battle holds promise as a new means to make Puyo Puyo Tetris a competitive powerhouse; but time will tell here.
If you want more to do than play these puzzle games in a vacuum, there’s the returning Adventure Mode which offers a funny and charming experience that doubles as a guide through the various modes Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 has to offer. Despite it’s apparently bare minimum effort use of static artwork, the dialogue is fully voice acted, quite expertly, and does a fantastic job of attaching players to each character and the zany situations they find themselves in.
What’s unfortunate is that despite being a direct follow-up to the last Adventure in the original Puyo Puyo Tetris, no one in the game seems to remember these events. This results in the story following the exact same beats with the only difference being the occasional “wow, this sure is familiar” comment. While the reason for this is explained later on, it is a little disappointing that the sequel doesn’t push everyone into new situations as often as we’d like. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker though, as the writing can be off-the-wall hilarious.
Puyo Puyo Tetris’ art style and soundtrack was vivid, joyous and fun; and the sequel dials everything up another notch and it’s all the better for it! The best way to describe the graphics and sound is “sugary,” which is to say it’s sweet, joyous, and addictive. There are also minor improvements to little things that may go unnoticed by less observant players.
The different sound effects, visual flair and other accent effects are ever so slightly changed and improved; moves such as the T-Spin (a move where a T block is impossibly rotated into a perfect slot) have a unique sound-byte when rotating inside of it’s place, and that’s such a small detail that didn’t need to be added, but these little accents make the experience greater than the sum of it’s parts.
The Future of Puyo Puyo Tetris (2)
It’s tempting to say that these additions (including Skill Battle) could have simply been additional content for the original Puyo Puyo Tetris, either as a free update or paid DLC. As of now, it’s questionable whether or not Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is worth the upgrade if you already own the first entry; however it’s been announced that the sequel will be adding extra content in the coming months. These include new playable characters (fingers crossed for Dr. Robotnik), background music, accessibility options and new modes; these updates will be free and not paid.
While we don’t yet know what these modes are, the promise of more content to further set the sequel apart from it’s predecessor is a tantalizing one. As it stands right now, if you don’t already have the first Puyo Puyo Tetris, go ahead and spring for the sequel; it has more content right out of the box and will receive more support in the future. It’s absolutely worth the asking price for the loads of gameplay hours you’ll get out of it, as well as the viciously fun competition you’ll find yourself in.
However, if you already own the first one and still aren’t sure that the addition of Skill Battle and the new story are worth it, you’d be forgiven for wanting to hold off for now, at least until the new modes and other content are released to paint a better picture of what you’re getting. That additional DLC could make all of the difference.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is a delightful multiplayer experience that’s absolutely worth your time. Even though it doesn’t add much content, what’s there makes it the definitive entry of the crossover series that gives you the best of two classic puzzle games.
Second Opinion: T-Bird
As a first foray into the world of Puyo Puyo Tetris, my initial trepidation on how this fusion of titles would work was short-lived; it is easy to see how this mash-up is one of those games that takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Having played Puyo Puyo (albeit in its Robotnik-branded form) and Tetris for years, I knew the fundamentals, but the real knack to the game is learning to juggle two games simultaneously while not losing your nerve! The added complexity comes with the modes to the game such as “Fusion”, which goes one step beyond and has players attempting to clear a board cohabited by both Puyos and “Tetramino” pieces- for this mode the tutorials were absolutely vital and does the job of explaining both the basics as well as some of the advanced techniques which are the real game-winning moves.
The heart of the title is the Adventure mode, an extremely self-aware jaunt that as well as mocking its own flimsiness has at least some amusing dialogue on top of hilarious descriptions of some of the non-verbalised events (uncharacteristic, high-pitched squealing for example). Story aside, I am astonished at the huge plethora of characters and character artwork that feature, and that there are countless icons and avatars to choose from and to buy with credits earned for playing. Alongside a pleasant soundtrack that embellishes the experience, this game does what SEGA does best and builds a vibrant universe to set the game in.
While the Fusion mode has several new permutations of game play as well as a heap of new moves sets to learn for novices like myself (the smash-move, allowing players to bore down through Puyos and complete Tetraminos is a lot of fun) there is a new “Skill mode” which includes character abilities, HP and MP, with the idea that each competitor wears down the health of the other player. While this is certain to appeal to those who enjoy games with a high level of technicality to it, it might not be the mode of choice for those looking for the simplicity of Tetris.
The sheer volume of modes, alongside online matchmaking, is sure to provide hours of entertainment for players of all abilities.
This review of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 was based on copies for the Nintendo Switch version of the game, kindy supplied by SEGA of America and SEGA of Europe