This review is based on the Xbox One version of Puyo Puyo Tetris.
The Xbox One has a lot of noteworthy exclusive and third party games, but its selection of regionally specific games for the Asian market are not well known or often thought of in North America. Fortunately, the combination of region free physical copies of games and eccentric game coverage from the likes of Giant Bomb can spotlight hidden gems such as Puyo Puyo Tetris for the more adventurous gamer. The process of diving into a foreign language imported game can seem daunting but online resources such as handily compiled introduction guides and reliable importers with reasonable prices makes the acquisition and introduction to this delightful title quite approachable.
The game is exactly what it sounds like, a mashup of puzzle games in the all-time classic Tetris and Puyo Puyo, a Tetris-like game with the same basic shapes plus some larger ones that pulls individual shape elements or puyos all the way downwards upon landing and clears them based on colour matches of 4 or more puyos. It sounds a bit confusing when crammed into a sentence, but the concept is fairly easy to grasp: you can play it any way you want! Standalone sessions of Tetris or Puyo Puyo are available as well as regular head to head options with up to 3 opponents, many of which are introduced in a campaign mode populated with vividly illustrated characters in a series of Video Game High School-esque adventures (I think). I should mention that the game is entirely in Japanese and requires the deciphering of basic functions such as mode selection by trial and error, but the learning curve is relatively mild.
The game really amps up the intensity when you combine both games together, starting with a mix of both games in head to head modes to drop waste blocks or blobs on your opponents and rapidly becoming more frenzied from there. The highlights include a version where each player is frequently switched between Puyo Puyo and Tetris on separate game boards and responsible for keeping both from overflowing as well as a Puyo Puyo + Tetris shared game board in which tetrominos can crush puyos as well as flicker between squares and puyos for strategic variance.
The best representation of Puyo Puyo Tetris’ chaotic nature is Big Bang mode, in which set periods of time drive you to frenetically place identical series of pieces into pre-designed levels to test quick reactions. Interludes every few minutes result in power bars depleting based on your score in that brief period before the game thrusts you back into the same sequence once more. It may sound repetitive but Big Bang moves so fast and requires such hyper focused precision that each session passes in the blink of an eye.
I can’t understand a single word other than “OK” and some of the game modes appear to be non-functional in North America, but Puyo Puyo Tetris is still worth checking out if you enjoy a huge burst of personality with your puzzles. The games load a bit slower than expected and the physical only availability for non-Japanese gamers are minor quibbles with a bright, cheerful and thoroughly enjoyable puzzle game.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars