The Tetris and Puyo Puyo series have been on somewhat of a roll as of late. The former captivating players with the emotional ride that was Tetris Effect not to mention hooking others in the manic Battle Royale-esque Tetris 99, while the latter has seen growing popularity over the years with the Nintendo Switch seeing the first two games ported over via the SEGA AGES line and even a new entry shifting the series into the world of esports. Both have seen success together too, the first Puyo Puyo Tetris a true highlight of the Switch’s opening year, and my first introduction to the world of SEGA’s colourful little blobs. Now three years later the crossover series is back with a sequel but is there enough new here to justify returning?
I won’t go into too much detail on how to play Tetris since let’s be honest, everyone has likely at one point or another crossed its path. In it, different shaped blocks (called Teriminos) fall downward into a grid with the aim being to manoeuvre them into completed lines. Puyo Puyo while probably not as familiar, is certainly no less fun. Unlike Tetris where the colouring of the Tetriminos doesn’t matter, players will want to match up like-coloured blobs called Puyos as they too fall down the screen in pairs, trios and fours. Normally your goal will be to keep your grid from filling to the top as you face off against an opponent trying to do the exact same thing. Creating multiple lines at once or chains of matching Puyos is key to victory as not only will it send more unwanted Puyos or Tetriminos to your opponent but can even help defend against anything queued up to drop on you too.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 much like its predecessor packs in plenty of new and returning modes that offer a good mix of variety be it introducing items to mess with your opponents, focusing on clearing chain-focused preset patterns or forcing players to deal with both Tetriminos and Puyos on the same grid. A particular favourite of mine involves being responsible for two different grids (one for Tetris and the other Puyo Puyo) and jumping between them every thirty seconds. If you’re after something more single-player focused, challenge mode makes for a purer experience, as you race to clear 40 lines or shoot for as high a score as possible within a time limit.
Adventure mode also makes a return offering a similar experience to Puyo Puyo Tetris with interactions between squeaky and cutesy characters sandwiching varying one-on-one battles of Puyo Puyo and Tetris. I’ll be honest the story and cutscenes in the first game is something I wound up skipping through long before reaching end credits and the same applies here. While it’s neat Sonic Team have even included some sort of narrative stitching together what is essentially a series of increasingly tougher battles, it’s pretty forgettable stuff. I do like the switch from a simple menu to world maps and I feel the rate at which I’m unlocking new characters, music or backgrounds is far better paced than the previous game also. Overall, the Adventure mode is certainly worthwhile with three-star rankings encouraging repeated play to better scores but it’s also where you’ll gather item cards for arguably the game’s most interesting new addition, Skill Battles.
Skill Battles play out in an almost RPG-like manner complete with MP and HP bars. Players choose a team of three characters each with unique skills able to aid during battle whether that’s lowering your opponent’s attack, setting you up for an easy Tetris or giving you an extra dose of health. Using these skills will obviously eat into your MP (which slowly regenerates over time) so timing when to drop one is important. Empty the opponent’s HP and you win. As you play more Skill Battles, your characters will even level up increasing their stats and eventually unlocking new skills. Players are also able to assign up to four item cards – which essentially act as stat boosts – obtainable by playing Skill Battles in the game’s Adventure mode.
There’s a lot to unpack the first time you approach Skill Battles and initially, I found games would end in a matter of seconds due to attacks causing such devastating damage even to a full HP bar. As you level up, improve your stats and unlock further skills and item cards though the real hook of this mode starts to reveal itself. Searching out rarer and better item cards is addicting while finding and levelling up the best combo of characters too is great fun too. The only real issue I have with this mode is how clunky it is to edit your team, the option hidden away in the main menu.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 features online play and the options available are impressive catering to both those who are simply looking to play in a more casual environment and those after a far more competitive scene. Local play will always be my preferred way to play Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 but having this as an added option is very welcomed especially during the times, we find ourselves in right now.
While my Tetris game – and I don’t mean to brag – is certainly strong, when it comes to Puyo Puyo, that’s where things take a noticeable dive southward – definitely not a brag. Sure, matching Puyos a colour at a time is no problem but of course, that doesn’t get you very far especially when facing off against tougher opponents lining up super powerful and high scoring chains. Thankfully Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 offers in-depth tutorials that cover everything from the basics to far more advanced play. The combination of written explanations and practice examples is a great way of not only preparing newcomers but also teaching more rehearsed players more advanced techniques.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is an absolute joy and a game I’ll no doubt keep returning to for months to come just as I did with the original. As a sequel though, it does fly a little close to the original’s excellent offering with only minor tweaks and changes and arguably one bigger new mode. Those hoping to walk into a wealth of new modes and surprises will leave disappointed. That isn’t this game. At the same time though, it’s still a solid package and in my eyes a better game than the original.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 might at first seem like a fairly safe sequel – and to be fair you could probably argue it is – but its mix of new modes and smart tweaks help craft an arguably better game that fans in particular are sure to enjoy.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SEGA