Puyo Puyo Tetris is a game that wears its concept on its sleeve. It’s a puzzle game mashup between the genre behemoth Tetris and the only slightly lesser known Puyo Puyo. You’re probably already familiar with the former, but even if the name Puyo Puyo doesn’t ring the bell, there’s a chance you’ll recognize its gameplay. The series has been localized as various other games in the past, including Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Kirby’s Avalanche.
I don’t think Tetris requires much explanation, but whereas the classic block-laying puzzler is built around clearing “lines” of blocks (including all sorts of technical nonsense such as t-spins and perfect clears), Puyo Puyo is instead focused around the idea of creating and setting off chains of popping puyos. Puyos come in a variety of colors and connecting four or more of the same color so that they’re touching either vertically or horizontally will cause them to disappear with a pop, and drop the puyos above them down below. Much like how in competitive Tetris you won’t do as much damage to your opponent by just clearing single lines, the same is true here – as the damage that you deal is increased exponentially the longer your chain goes on.
Although you can play both Tetris and Puyo Puyo separately – including having Puyo Puyo players heading up against folks playing Tetris! – Puyo Puyo Tetris also sports a variety of other modes to choose from. Swap has players managing both a Tetris board and a Puyo Puyo board at once, with the game swapping control between both boards every 25-30 seconds. Fusion has players attempting to play Puyo Puyo and Tetris at the same time on the same board, and features some unique mechanics such as chaining line clears and puyo chains, and more. Big Bang has players reflexively completing either already built Puyo chains or quickly line clearing in Tetris in a quick succession. Party is the standard Puyo Puyo or Tetris gameplay with some crazy twists that include special "Item" blocks that when cleared give your opponent some interesting handicaps, such as super fast drops, only being able to see the board via a moving spotlight, and more.
There’s a lot to go over, but what struck me the most about this collection of game modes was just how fleshed out and different most of them felt. I personally feel like Swap is the star of the show here, as the hectic feeling of quickly trying to set one board up to lead into either a Tetris or a Puyo Chain before the game swaps you to the other board is just unmatched in its frantic insanity. That’s not to say that the other modes aren’t fantastic as well, though. Out of all of them, I personally felt that Party was probably the weakest, but thankfully the weakest out of a fantastic selection of game modes is still some decent puzzle action.
Although every game mode can be played by a single player against computer opponents (with each Puyo Puyo Tetris character having differing AI tactics, such as how they go about playing Tetris or how they style chains in Puyo Puyo), it should be mentioned that the title also features a robust “Adventure” mode. While it’s certainly not the most epic story out there, Adventure Mode manages to offer both a wide berth of content (with 100 levels, jumping between the various game modes and having unique challenges assigned to each of them) as well as an engrossing cast of silly characters.
Characters return from other Puyo Puyo games (even titles that never saw a translation, such as Puyo Puyo 7), as well as characters dating back to the original Madou Monogatari series (fun-fact; Madou Monogatari, the series that Puyo Puyo spun off from, was originally developed by Compile - the modern-day developers of the HyperDimension Neptunia franchise!) Characters like the unintentionally perverted Schezo, the wacky dancing fish-man-thing Suketoudara and more help the roster - as inconsequential as it might be - stand out.
Speaking of characters, some players might be disappointed to hear that the game drops the original Japanese audio for an English dub. Even if you're one of those players, I don’t feel it’s fair to immediately disregard the work that was done to make this one of the best dubs out there. You can tell that the actors had a great time in their roles, and the delivery and emotion behind these characters lines help make Adventure Mode much more engrossing that it would be otherwise. It’s a very charming and refreshing romp, with lots of character and humor.
I could go on and on about the game, but what you see is what you get – that being a puzzle game mash-up between Puyo Puyo and Tetris. Both local and online multiplayer work well, HD rumble (on the Switch release) is one of the best implementations on the system yet, you can play an Endless round of either Puyo Puyo or Tetris from the title screen, and there are tons of customization options for both the visuals and the controls to make the game work for you. Although the game is coming out on both PS4 and Switch, I’d definitely recommend picking it up for Switch if you have the option, though either version is definitely a worthy buy. If nothing else, if you’re looking for a new game to go with your Switch OR PS4 – this is definitely it.
Puyo Puyo Tetris was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a review copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4.
Puyo Puyo Tetris excels in almost all areas. Some of its game modes might've fallen a little flat for me (looking at you, Party), but the overall package exudes fun. This should absolutely be your next big Switch purchase.
- Tons of Game Modes
- Fantastic Local Multiplayer
- Party Mode Falls Flat