Puyo Puyo Tetris (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 01.05.2017 1

Review for Puyo Puyo Tetris on PlayStation 4

Right... Show of hands. Who amongst readers has at some point or other been addicted to some form of Tetris? It's okay; you're amongst friends. Nobody here is going to judge. Everyone has had that Tetrimino-dropping monkey on their backs at some point or another during their lifetime and for many (including yours truly) that addiction first took hold during those heady days of the original Nintendo Game Boy, where playing head-to-head via the game link cable brought a whole new level of competition to the table. Go to the Doctor's with this block-induced fever and the chances are that the prescription will be 'Play more Tetris'. As for Puyo Puyo, it's not dissimilar in style, but the falling blocks are replaced by randomly coloured blob creatures (called Puyo) that link up with other Puyo of the same hue, vertically or horizontally (but never diagonally), and when four or more get together, they pop and drop down to fill in the gaps. What would happen if these two very more-ish games were shoehorned together into one neat little habit-forming package? Well, SEGA is two steps ahead and has finally got round to localising Puyo Puyo Tetris (reviewed on Switch here), a game that incidentally first made an appearance on the PS4 way back at the end of 2014 in the Land of the Rising Sun.

While the likelihood of a true Tetrimino evolution diminishes with each generic imitation that materialises on mobile devices, it probably doesn't help that trying to come up with a new and original take on Tetris is a bit like trying to reinvent the wheel. Okay, so that could be construed as a fairly cynical statement, but Alexey Pajitnov nailed down the basics pretty tightly with the first incarnation of his very literal blockbuster way back in 1984 and it's barely changed much since. Why should it? It's a stone cold classic boasting a play mechanic that's simple enough to appeal to the casual participant but deep enough to nurture countless tactical approaches to successful play. Puyo Puyo, on the other hand, is a comparatively unknown franchise outside of Japan, but it plays like a squishier version of its blocky bedfellow. Unlike Tetris, it's actually possible to link together combos as careful forward planning can see displaced Puyo causing a chain reaction as they drop down to fill in the gaps. Luckily for newcomers to Puyo Puyo (everybody's played Tetris - do not lie!), there is an incredibly thorough tutorial that outlines some very smart advanced techniques for creating chained combos. It sounds interesting on paper, but how does this crazy amalgam play in practice?

Screenshot for Puyo Puyo Tetris on PlayStation 4

A puzzle game tends to get judged on the quality of the modes it offers, so it's a good job that Puyo Puyo Tetris is literally bulging at its colourful seams with a veritable cornucopia of block 'n' blob based activities, using its hybrid status to deliver some interesting riffs on a few family favourites. Kicking off proceedings for the solo player is the Adventure mode that adds a fun, if slightly child-like and ultimately unnecessary, narrative to string together a wide variety of different head-to-head/puzzles matches. This mode is perfect for easing newcomers in gently as it provides the opportunity to try each of the standalone variations in a friendly setting and it incentivises repeat attempts through a target-based star rating system. It's almost unbearably cutesy and surprisingly heavy on dialogue but, thankfully, the sugary sweet banter can be skipped altogether for those eager to drop 'n' pop as some of those conversations can really drag on at times and 62% of it is complete gibberish.

The rest of the offline modes are split between the Solo Arcade and Multiplayer Arcade, which both essentially offer the same game variations for up to four participants (the surprisingly tough CPU or fellow couch-bound human) in a selection of quick-fire rounds that can be played as either a Battle or an Endurance match. These are perfect for dropping into for a quick session where an intended five minute blast almost always ends up winding down an hour or so later. Yep, it's still pretty darn addictive. The staple Versus mode is present and correct and when playing it competitively all the completed lines or matches get thrown over to the rival player's screen as 'garbage' that edges them closer to defeat if it's not dealt with in a timely manner and fired back from whence it came. What's interesting is that there can be any combination of Tetris vs. Puyo Puyo being played simultaneously between all four participating block/blob-jockeys and the garbage is fully transferable between all parties (admittedly not a sentence I ever envisaged typing until it just slipped out right there). The intrinsic yin-yang relationship between Tetris and Puyo Puyo becomes even more prevalent in some of the other game types, revealing that this clearly is a marriage that was on the cards for some time.

Screenshot for Puyo Puyo Tetris on PlayStation 4

Take Fusion, for example. Groups of Puyo and Tetrimino alternately rain down from above into the same play field, causing temporary puzzlement (pun intended) to the uninitiated but it's a variation that employs the laws of physics to create an entirely new way to play. It's a battle of Hard versus squishy. The solid Tetrimino will plough through any Puyo in its path, stopping only when it hits another equally solid surface, making it an ideal solution for clearing accumulated garbage Puyo (which also get cleared by regular adjacent play) but what happens to the regular Puyo that might just have been unfortunate enough to get in the way? Well, they all instantly drop back down into play on top of the Tetrimino that took them out in exactly the same position and formation they were in prior to being squashed, so it's important to make sure there's enough space available to accommodate them. There are also special Tsumo pieces that occasionally drop into play and alternately flit between Puyo and Mino, making successful deployment a bit tricky to pull off and reliant on good timing, which is easier said than done in the heat of the moment. As a brand new game type, it works incredibly well.

Any good at juggling? Swap is all about playing both Tetris and Puyo Puyo at the same time, although, thankfully, it's not a task that will need to be done simultaneously (phew). Every twenty seconds, the boards get switched to the alternate play field, which effectively doubles up the opportunity to outwit or fall prey to the competition, cranking up a game that could already be described as 'frantic' during its quieter moments. Party is what happens when random power-ups get tossed into the mix, with matches quickly devolving into a sprint to unleash them on the competition before they do likewise. Power-ups are activated by using them to complete a line, and doing so unleashes random havoc on all the other competitors, which can range from increased drop speed to limiting visibility courtesy of a fast moving spotlight. There's a slight difference with this mode in that it gets played for a set duration of time with all participants enjoying the added perk of infinite lives, as even hitting the top of the screen just results in a cleared play field and a start over. It's all about the highest score at the close of play.

Screenshot for Puyo Puyo Tetris on PlayStation 4

Big Bang is probably the weakest of the bunch and differentiates itself from the other modes by giving each participant a life bar, which instils a mild 'Beat 'em up' overlay to proceedings. A typical match gets played in rounds that last a minute at a time during which the aim is to clear a batch of pre-set Tetris or Puyo Puyo patterns as quickly as possible, with the winner getting to inflict the difference in score margin as damage to everybody else's life bars. Victory is determined on a last man standing basis and, while it could be a fun game to play against fellow humans, its speed-centric requirements make taking on the CPU a pretty pointless endeavour as it never puts a foot wrong and tends to win every match without fail. Those seeking a restriction-free opportunity to just play things as they fall, should find the Challenge room to their liking as it contains six unique modes (three each for Tetris and Puyo Puyo) that are geared more towards score chasing, which makes them ideal for just kicking back and attempting new personal bests.

For anybody looking for fresh competition there is full online functionality with a Ranked Puzzle League that seems to be inhabited by players of such an elevated skill level that they are no doubt now rubbing their block droppers together with glee at the thought of this influx of fresh blood to humiliate. Thankfully, there is also a Free Play mode that can be used to find a more casual match up where any crushing defeats won't be permanently etched on the play records. There is an option to watch replays of great matches from the past, which is only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry, but it's a facility that could get some use for those wanting to up their game and see how the pros pull off those mega combos. As games get completed (both offline and online), currency gets earned relative to performance, which can be used to purchase various customisation items and new playable characters in the shop. These characters are all in the habit of repeatedly saying the same catchphrases over and over… and over… again every time they score, which can get pretty irritating after a while when combined with the incessantly jolly looping soundtrack (top tip: use Spotify), so unlocking as many of these characters as possible helps slow down the impending madness. Hey, it's a great game but it's not perfect.

Screenshot for Puyo Puyo Tetris on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Prepare to become addicted once again as the mother of all time sinks is back and bigger than ever. Puyo Puyo Tetris is an absolute delight that will scratch that puzzling itch and plug the Tetrimino-shaped gap that's been left unfilled this generation so far. SEGA has competently engineered a mash-up that feels like the definitive version of not one but two timeless classics and packed enough variety into its plethora of modes to make it a somewhat essential purchase for both solo and social blockheads.

Developer

Sonic Team

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

+1 for the details here as I wondered exactly how the game modes worked.

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