T-Spins. 3-1 Stairs. These are just a couple terms that meant nothing to me before I began Puyo Puyo Tetris on the Nintendo Switch for the first time. Soon thereafter, I couldn’t stop chasing these elusive terms that, when completed, earned you a ton of points and helped raise your score just that much higher. Puyo Puyo Tetris is a game that is easy to understand, but if you let it, will be a game that will begin taking control of your every waking moment, beckoning you to come back and play just one…more…round.
I’ve never had a game entrance me like Puyo Puyo Tetris. I wanted…no needed…to get better. My history with Tetris is mostly a casual one. Puyo Puyo; never played it before. Having them together? A dream come true. Having these two storied franchises clash with each other ensures you are always on your toes and never get too comfortable.
This reason alone brings me to my first tip for all you Puyo Puyo Tetris newcomers; PLAY THE LESSONS. I can’t stress this enough. There are nine tutorial videos in all, three for Tetris, three for Puyo Puyo, and three for Puyo Tetris Fusion. For those uninitiated few, Tetris is a game all about completing horizontal lines of shapes called Tetrominos and clearing and combo-ing as much as you can. Puyo Puyo’s goal is to combine similar colored spheres in groups of four to “pop” them and allow other spheres to drop and hopefully match those below to rack up huge combos. In Puyo Puyo Tetris, you also have the option of playing a version that includes shapes and spheres from each game. These games are “Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master” personified. So make sure to take some time to understand the intricacies of each to fully enjoy all Puyo Puyo Tetris has to offer.
That brings me to one of my favorite parts of this package, the sheer variety of game modes and options. If you just want to hear that wonderful classic Tetris theme and play the same game you’ve been playing since it first graced our lives in 1984, you never have to touch Puyo Puyo or the other modes. However, if you are so inclined, there are variations galore included in this $30 compilation.
First up, Adventure mode. In Puyo Puyo Tetris’ campaign, you take on the role of each of the 24 characters (!) and run through a story in which the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris come together. The story mode is fully voice acted and contains over 100 stages for you to learn and practice your skills. You will be tasked with beating CPU opponents, racking up a certain amount of points in a given time limit, or competing in puzzle rushes that simulate a battle, complete with HP Bars. The story is silly and cartoony and overstays its welcome a bit, though fortunately the option to skip dialogue is present. That being said, I appreciate the effort they put into this mode, and there is value in playing it as you will unlock more characters and stages and the like as you progress through.
Speaking of progression, every time you complete a game or challenge you earn Credits which you can spend in Puyo Puyo Tetris’ shop. In said shop, you can purchase different variations of Tetriminos and Puyos and alternate voice packs for twelve of the twenty-four characters. I wish there was a way to purchase characters and/or stages though, because the only way to unlock them is playing through the story, which can take you over ten hours to complete.
The other modes are a ton of fun to play, especially when you have a friend or three over for a Puyo Puyo Tetris party. Playing Single Screen or Local Wireless, you can challenge your friends to five different modes. Versus is the classic, bread-and-butter versions of Tetris or Puyo Puyo, where each player can choose their favorite to play. Fusion combines Puyo Puyo and Tetris into a frenetic mash-up that will completely change your style of play and lead to some of the funniest moments of sheer chaos. Swap gives you a limited amount of time to play Tetris or Puyo Puyo then keeps switching back and forth between them. You have to remember what was happening in Tetris, while you progress through Puyo Puyo, and get ready for the swap!
The last two modes are fun variations that really shake up the gameplay. In Party Mode, items are introduced, such as a Searchlight where the opponents board is blacked-out and a roaming flashlight is their only chance to see what’s happening on screen and a Weird Shapes power-up that extends and misshapes the classic Tetrominos.
These local multiplayer modes, and the wonderful portable nature of the Nintendo Switch, really help this game shine. Being able to bring this huge collection of games anywhere while I traveled led to some really great moments. I feel like this can be said of most of the Nintendo Switch games, but sitting the Switch down on a table at a restaurant or a long car ride is just simply fantastic.
Once you are feeling confident and sure of your skills, you can take the battle to the world in Online Multiplayer. You can compete and rise the ranks in Puzzle League, mess around in Free Play mode, challenge a friend, and even watch replays. I recommend watching some replays to learn how to get better and to see a skill level beyond that which one could imagine. Some of these players are absolutely incredible and watching them perform is like watching poetry in motion.
I had a few matchmaking issues pre-release, with it taking longer than expected to connect to another player. When I did connect, the quality of play was very high, except for one dropped match. For the Puzzle League matches, you choose between Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, and Big Bang, filtering out those which you don’t wish to play. In Versus mode, you can choose if you’d like to play Tetris or Puyo Puyo, and your choice does not affect the other player. An interesting note, in the almost 50 matches I’ve played for this review, not once did my opponent pick Puyo Puyo. That’s not to say Puyo Puyo is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, I think it just speaks to the timeless strength and beauty of Tetris.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is such a complete package and one where you can feel the love and passion crafted by the developers. It’s been a long time since a game has grabbed me so tightly and encouraged me to get better and keep coming back for more. While the Adventure Mode and its story may not win any awards, if you have any love for these titles, you owe it to yourself to add Puyo Puyo Tetris to your collection. It is one that I’m sure will get use for many years to come.