Video game crossovers are always a bit of fun. Even so, Puyo Puyo Tetris, a crossover between the two falling-block puzzle titans, seemed insane. But, as it turns out, just the right kind of insane. Fusing these two worlds together has, by some miracle of the puzzle-Goddess, birthed one of the most refreshing and taxing puzzlers yet.
Tetris-based characters seem to fit right in.
We were asked by the game’s publishers to avoid spoilers of Adventure Mode, the game’s story mode, so we’ll be extra sure to not give away much. Not that there’s all that much to give away. Those familiar with Puyo Pop story modes from previous games will be familiar with the style. It’s cute and fun, with a cast spanning many Puyo Pop favourites as well as introducing a cast of Tetris-based characters that seem to fit right in.
Adventure Mode provides plenty of challenge that will be satisfying to clear.
The two dimensions are colliding, and both the puyo poppers and tetromino droppers need to learn about one another. This provides ample excuse to give you stage upon stage of challenges that cover both Puyo Puyo and Tetris, ranging from one on one versus matches against the AI, to some short and sweet solo missions, such as earning a set amount of points in a time limit, or reaching a certain level. It does get progressively more difficult and complex, so it sort of teaches you by doing — but beyond your characters giving you a speech bubble with some advice if you lose, it doesn’t teach you all that much.
Despite the modes getting a little bit more complex throughout Adventure Mode, it doesn’t necessarily get harder. The brand new Swap and Fusion modes are last to be introduced, but are never as hard as the late-game one-on-one single puzzle type matches. Perhaps the game is aware that Swap and Fusion are much more taxing to play and go easier on you, or perhaps, with Fusion Mode at least, the AI doesn’t quite know the optimum way to play either. Still, there are a lot of stages, and throughout them it provides plenty of challenge that will be satisfying to clear.
Puyo Puyo Tetris offers excellent versions of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris,
Each stage also has a maximum 3 star ranking (simply clearing a stage barebones will only net you one). Some of these are more challenging than others, and sometimes it can feel a little bit like it’s down to chance on waiting for the perfect drops or how the AI play. You can accrue credits to use in the Options Store to unlock some cute customisation options, such as throwback styles for the puyos and Tetris blocks, or some plain weird skins (like the Morolians from Space Channel 5), as well as alternate voice packs.
Both core styles of play are wonderfully represented in Puyo Puyo Tetris. It offers excellent versions of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris, which are both fantastic puzzle games. That alone makes Puyo Puyo Tetris a great game. There’s even a lovely option to jump right into solo challenge play on Puyo Puyo, Tetris, or Fusion Modes right from the main menu, without having to go through menus to start them.
Matches against other people don’t just have to be either Puyo Puyo or Tetris, you can play one while your opponent plays the other. The standard way of sending junk blocks to your opponent applies, but the way they appear will be different depending on what you’re playing. Puyo Puyo will only get the junk puyo drops, and Tetris the junk lines. In some ways, it does feel like the Tetris junk lines build up opportunities a little bit more easily when you’re hit with them than the junk puyo, but either bad situation can be taken advantage of with enough skill, or be utterly ruinous if you find yourself overwhelmed.
Some of the more chaotic moments will have you laughing out loud as you remember how absurd it is.
Swap and Fusion modes are unique to Puyo Puyo Tetris, as they implement features from both types of game and smash them together. Swap is the simplest to get your head around. Both players have two boards each, with only one being active at a time. As you progress, the counter will begin to count from 3 down to 1, at which point you’ll leave what you’re doing on, say Puyo Puyo, and be thrust onto your Tetris board instead.
As the match progresses these switches get more and more intense, as you try to struggle to remember just what moves you were planning before you were rudely kicked from your game. It’s exactly like spinning two plates at once, and some of the more chaotic moments will have you laughing out loud as you remember how absurd it is that you’re swapping between two Hells of your own creation — the music of course changing as you switch, from the cutesy Puyo Puyo music to a remix of the classic Tetris Korobeiniki song.
What’s more insane than switching between Puyo Puyo and Tetris? Playing both of them at once on the same board, of course, which is where Fusion comes in. Fusion simply mashes up your block queue with both puyo and tetrominos, giving you a Tetris-style hold function for any block type. You’re basically playing both Puyo Puyo and Tetris at once in the same space, trying to form Tetris lines and chains of four puyo as normal.
The Tetris blocks, of course, are much heavier, though, so will always drop to the very bottom of the board (smashing, handily, any of the standardised, puyo-style, block cubes in the process). This, in turn, pushes the puyo up out of the way of the tetrominos. This can help you form new chains by pushing puyo up. Or it can ruin the chains you had planned by messing up the order of your puyo. It’s terrific fun, but planning out moves in advance is almost a bit too much. Going with the flow seems to work out a little bit better, which isn’t always a bad thing.
On top of these primary modes, there’s a tonne of extras, to play solo, against a friend locally, or online. Big Bang Mode pits players against one another clear out quick fire Fever Modes or Lucky Attacks (basically pre-set puzzle boards for Puyo Puyo and Tetris repsetively), or Party Mode which is like Versus except clearing special blocks will have an effect on your opposition, like forcing their block to drop super fast or temporarily disabling their rotation. There’s just a heap of different modes and content that will keep fans of Puyo Puyo, Tetris, or the unholy combination of both more than satisfied.
The Lessons modes teach you the fundamentals of Puyo Puyo, Tetris, and Fusion. While they mostly play out as videos you watch rather than having an interaction component (which would have been ideal), they do cover a lot of handy tricks so that complete newcomers can feel like they have a handle on the main strategies for any of the puzzle types.
One of the most refreshing and taxing puzzlers yet.
Puyo Puyo Tetris took a criminally long time to head over to the west, especially as it was such a hot import item. It originally released in Japan Dec 2014 on PlayStation 4 and Vita. It’s great to finally have it in English, and it still feels fresh and new even a couple of years on. It feels like a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch (the version reviewed), as being able to whisk it from the big TV at a moment’s notice is exactly what you want from a game that’s so fun to just pick up and play for a quick session. The ease of multiplayer on Switch is also a great fit for Puyo Puyo Tetris, as you can now throw down the gauntlet anywhere, anytime. Prepare to see disagreements out in the wild being settled over a match of Puyo Puyo Tetris.
While there may be no playable Onion Pixy or Oshare Bones, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a delight through and through that is definitely a must-buy on Switch (though it’s also available on PS4 and Vita). It’ll please fans of both games immensely, and provide something entirely new that feels bizarrely like it was always meant to be. Next? Bring on Puyo Puyo Columns. I’ll always believe.