Have you ever come across a sequel that is so iterative, it almost feels redundant to talk about? That’s sort of the sensation I've had with Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, the hit sequel to the original puzzle mash-up that released in North America in 2017. Combining the elements of both Tetris and Puyo Puyo into a distinct anime presentation, the original was so polished and thorough that any kind of expansion seemed impossible.
Sega certainly found a way to bring new content to the game, but it’s maybe not the most extensive of sequels ever released. If one were to skip the intro screen, they could be fooled into believing this was the first game with some extra DLC added in. Nonetheless, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is a worthy successor to the original and something that both veterans and newcomers alike are sure to find entertainment with, even if it’s not as fresh as before.
Time for an Adventure!
For those unfamiliar with Puyo Puyo, the series has been a long-running puzzle title in Japan since the early 90s and has seen installments on pretty much every platform conceivable. Little bubbles called puyos drop down from the top of the screen (ala Tetris) and you’re tasked with lining up four of them next to each other to create combos. Along with that gameplay, an ever-evolving story has branched out from each game and that follows in through to Puyo Puyo Tetris and its sequel, which brings the entire gang of Puyo Puyo characters into the fold to thwart an evil that is dropping blocks. It’s a bit ludicrous, but sort of compliments the colorful aesthetic the game has.
I’ll fully admit that I’ve never been one for the plots in these games. In the original Puyo Puyo Tetris, I started skipping cutscenes after stage three or so and the same thing happened here. I’m sure there is a gripping narrative for those that want it, but thankfully, the game never faults you for largely ignoring the plot. You maybe won’t understand why these blocks and puyos exist together in the same world, but I’m not sure one really needs to know that answer. What’s most important is gameplay and this sequel remains just as tight and addictive as its predecessor.
In an improvement over the original title, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 attempts to do more with its campaign instead of just provide a list of challenges. In a relatively small overworld map, you’ll find each level laid out almost like a classic Super Mario Bros. game. There are different paths you can take to potentially get to the end faster, but the idea is to complete each challenge in each world to unlock the full roster and level-up your characters for the "Skill Battle" mode that is included.
New, but Not Really...
Skill Battle doesn’t dramatically shake up the core mechanics of Puyo Puyo or Tetris, but it sees players assembling a team of three characters to directly face off against opponents. You’ll have a selection of different skills available to you, such as "Restore HP," "Sharpshooter," or "Recycle." It's not immediately apparent what some of these do, but it’s not hard to figure out that certain skills will bolster your defense while others are meant strictly for offensive purposes. Utilizing these against your opponent will drain their HP and give you the win, though you could also do the old-school method of building their tower to the top of the screen to defeat them.
It’s the one area where you can draw a definitive line of what is different between this and the first game. As for everything else in the campaign, it’s mostly just a series of regular 1v1 duels mixed in with the occasional timed challenge. In a 1v1, you’ll simply play a regular game of Puyo Puyo or Tetris and try to survive longer than your opponent. Each level has extra star challenges, though these don’t grant you anything other than bragging rights. For timed challenges, you’ll need to reach a certain score threshold before time runs out. It’s basic, but enjoyable, stuff.
The only area where this campaign begins to falter is with difficulty balancing. If you opt to use the "Auto Balance" option, prepare to get stomped in world two. Maybe I’m a bit too good at Tetris and that is what causes this issue, but the AI becomes overbearingly difficult in very short order. If you turn off auto-balancing, you’ll find that everything is much easier to deal with, which also means certain levels are too easy. Trying to score 4,000 points on an AI that dies in 20 seconds is more frustrating than anything.
More of a Good Thing
If it sounds like I’m being dismissive of the game, I don’t mean to come off like that. Nothing about the design of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 feels lazy or phoned in. It's mainly disappointing considering how solid the first title was. The campaign is certainly more involved, but it doesn’t really utilize the Skill Battle mode well enough nor does it deviate much from the design of the original. I appreciate getting something of an overworld to explore, but it almost feels like a missed opportunity with regards to secret areas and such. Everything is so conveniently laid out that the only way you’ll miss things is by deliberately ignoring them.
At least when it comes to the rest of the package, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is just as feature-packed as before. The menu design is wholesale lifted from the original, but you’ll find that every mode you enjoyed from the previous game is present and accounted for. The ridiculously fun “Big Bang” mode is back, tasking you with dropping blocks in a specific order to get an All-Clear on each board. A never-ending endurance mode for Tetris is included. “Fusion” mode lets you swap between both Puyo Puyo and Tetris in set intervals, making combo planning all the more frenetic and anxiety-inducing.
I’m also quite surprised with how wide the cast is, even if the different characters don’t change anything outside of Skill Battle. Since this PC version comes packed with all of the post-launch content right from the get-go, you can enjoy Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 as Sonic the Hedgehog and listen as he taunts opponents for not being fast enough. It’s a bit of a trip, I have to admit.
A Solid Entry Point for Newcomers, but Harder to Justify for Veterans
The online offerings have also been slightly expanded, though I wasn’t able to test them on PC. Instead of simply throwing you to the wolves of Puyo Puyo masters that will destroy you in their sleep, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 has a ranking system that will level up depending on your performance in each match. The idea is that if you’re crushing lesser skilled players, you’ll eventually find a home with people around your skill level. This is limited to Fusion, Tetris, Puyo Puyo, and Big Bang, but it should ensure that you’ll be able to actually remain competitive online months or years down the line.
If that isn’t your bag, the unranked modes allow for pretty much everything in the game to be played online. The multiplayer exclusive “Boss Rush” mode sees three players team up against an overpowered AI to utilize skills they’ve acquired through the campaign mode. Having played this on the Switch version, it’s certainly fun and even echoes the similarly present cooperative mode in Tetris Effect Connected.
The only thing you’ll need to consider here is that it’s hard to justify grabbing Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 if you were content with the original. The first game is nearly as featured filled and can now be found for well below its MSRP. On PC, in fact, you can often nab it in a Steam sale for $10. $30 for this particular version (or $40 on consoles) isn’t bad at all, but I wouldn’t say the additions and tweaks make it a must-play.
If you haven’t yet jumped into the original wacky crossover, then Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 becomes an easier recommendation. It is the definitive version of this unbelievably addictive puzzle game, bringing some solid extra content and a smattering of improvements to online play. I’m surprised a sequel was even made, but Sega truly did refine the core that the original nailed so well. As for what comes next, I really have no clue what more can be added to Puyo Puyo Tetris.
TechRaptor reviewed Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch.
- Colorful Visuals and Charming Music
- Feature Packed with Tons of Modes
- More Involved Campaign Mode
- Campaign Doesn't Utilize All Modes that Well
- Difficulty Balancing is a Little Off
- Hard to Shake Feeling of "Been There, Done That"