Everybody knows Tetris, right? It became a mainstream hit on the GameBoy back in 1989 and it’s addictive puzzle gameplay has been a mainstay in games and culture ever since. Puyo Puyo on the other hand is not quite as well known. You may have played it unknowingly back in the 16-bit era thanks to games like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine or Kirby’s Ghost Trap, which were essentially Puyo Puyo games with more familiar characters. Puyo Puyo Tetris is, as the name suggests, a crossover of the two games – it first appeared in Japan in 2014, but this latest Switch (and PS4) release is the first time the game has been released in Australia.
Upon first launching Puyo Puyo Tetris you’re met with a main menu giving you the option to immediately jump into a game of either Puyo Puyo, Tetris, or Fusion. Tetris tasks you with arranging falling blocks (known as Tetrominos) in different patterns to create a complete line across the game board, clearing the blocks in that line away. Similarly, Puyo Puyo has you arranging falling blocks (the Puyos), but this time their colour is important. Matching 4 Puyos of the same colour will make them pop, and surrounding Puyos will fall to take their place. Both games generally end when a player’s board is overwhelmed.Besides the standard games, Puyo Puyo Tetris offers a variety of alternate modes to mix things up. Versus is your standard game mode, but offers joint play with other players or CPUs. When you clear lines or Puyos you can send garbage blocks to other players hoping to mess up their combos or just overwhelm their game board – the last person standing is the victor. Fusion is an interesting mode, where in essence you’re playing Tetris and Puyo Puyo at the same time. You can clear Tetrominos by making lines with them and clear Puyos by matching four together – but they share the field in a way that takes some time to get used to.
Big Bang mode gives players preset patterns of Tetrominos or Puyos that can be quickly cleared in a combo, and has you racing against your opponent to clear them the fastest. Party mode is similar to standard Versus, but with items on the field that can be used as a nuisance to your opponents – things like obscuring their vision, forced quick drop, and restricting rotation for a short time make this game mode particularly chaotic.Finally, Swap, which is one of my favourite modes. At the start of a round you’ll randomly be playing either Tetris or Puyo Puyo and the game type swaps out at set times during play. I had heaps of tense moments where I just struggled to hang on while playing Puyo Puyo but then managed to defeat my opponent with a big Tetris combo when the game switched over. It’s a great way to expose yourself to a new game type while keeping the one you’re familiar with as a safety net if things get hairy.
All of these game modes can be played online as well, and the online play was flawless in my experience. It’s easy to set up a private or public room based on your preferences of game type and connection quality filter, and super simple to join rooms your friends have made. There is a ranked Puzzle League mode as well where you compete with players and your match results affect your ranking score. Playing against opponents from the same country or internationally exhibited zero issues and felt no different to local play, so online should be a fun way to keep finding opponents when you don’t have anyone nearby to play against.There’s also an Adventure mode – a single player story of sorts. While it might seem bizarre to Tetris players to even consider a story mode, it is a regular feature of the Puyo Puyo series. Characters from Puyo Puyo find curious blocks falling into their world, get mysteriously teleported into space and meet some people named after Tetris blocks, and things progress from there. There’s not really any extra kinds of gameplay offered by the Adventure mode, it’s really just a series of standard versus and challenge sections strung together by cute, voiced story scenes – but they’re a neat way of working through a campaign if you’re playing alone and serve as a reasonably good introduction if you’re not familiar with one of the game styles.
These cute stylings might be a point of contention for prospective players, and I think it’s a point worth raising. Personally, I have no issue whatsoever with the cute Saturday morning anime characters and voice overs, but I can easily imagine them coming off a bit saccharine for some. The characters appear across virtually every game mode, so if any of the screenshots have looked a little sickly sweet for your tastes, it’s worth knowing this before going in.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is the best way I’ve found to enjoy either style of block falling puzzle game. It brings together fans of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris, letting them play the way to their preference whilst still competing on a fair playing field. With the variety of game types and variations, a consistent online experience, and flexible multiplayer options, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fantastic way for fans and new players alike to enjoy some quality block or blob clearing action.
The Nintendo Switch version of this game was played for the purpose of this review. You can read our review policy HERE.