It took a while before Puyo Puyo journeyed Westward, but since the delightful Puyo Puyo Tetris released last year, we are excited about this Japanese franchise. Can Puyo Puyo steal our hearts without the wel-known Tetris franchise attached?
We are not surprised that SEGA announced in 2017 that the Puyo Puyo series has already sold more than 25 million copies. The franchise has not always been with SEGA, this has only been the case since 1998. It was originally owned by Compile, a studio that released the first game in 1991 as a spin-off from Sorcery Saga (Mado Monogatari). Compile developed and released the Puyo Puyo video games until 2001, but now it is in the hands of SEGA’s Sonic Team.
How to Puyo Puyo
As mentioned, Puyo often come in pairs, but they also sometimes come down in three or four. Usually in two different colours, but sometimes the same. You can turn them around, let them clatter down quickly or move from ‘row’. That is possible as long as they come down, because once they have hit the bottom of your playing field (or another Puyo), they are stuck. The idea is that you place as many Puyo of the same colour as possible, horizontally or vertically. If there are four next to each other or more, they disappear from the playing field and the person against whom you play gets an “attack” for his or her choosing. Unless it also has a Puyo series at the same time, because then its attack will cross yours away.
The strongest attacks are those in which several Puyo series disappear in a chain reaction one after the other. That is caused by disappearing Puyo that cause differently coloured Puyo to fall down and then form a row with what was left. If you manage that, your opponent will get some grey Puyo in his field. They are of course very annoying, because they fall on top of all potential series. And so of course, the field fills up earlier, bringing losses closer. By the way, it doesn’t quite work like Tetris. There is an X at the top of the playing field and specifically in that row is the limit of losses. Those grey Puyo can be eliminated, but only if a series disappears next to them.
That is how the game works in a nutshell. There are not many different modes within Puyo Puyo Champions. There is “just” Puyo Puyo 2 and Puyo Puyo Fever. With the latter, if you perform well, you will occasionally get special Fever moments, where you can make a huge number of chain reactions by quickly deciding. This makes it difficult for your enemy to keep his head above water. The great thing about Fever is that you really deserve it if you let enough Puyo disappear and your Fever meter is full. What makes it so exciting, but also frustrating, is that your opponent can also get Fever and can fill your playing field with grey Puyos.
Fever is a nice side effect, because the game had been scanty with only Puyo Puyo 2. There are no other modes in the game, except that you can choose whether you want to do a race where you will continue as long as possible, or that you do three standard games against another (or the computer). You can play Puyo Puyo Champions in single player, local co-op and online multiplayer, where it is obvious that it is all about that online gaming pleasure. It’s not for nothing that this game is called Puyo Puyo eSports in Japan. The game itself is the same as it has always been, only now you can compete against others on your Switch and above all show what you are worth.
The adorable dark prince
There is a significant difference in how good they are between the characters. If you choose one from the top regions of the electoral field, such as Arle, you will have it easier than if you immediately go to the bottom row where Witch is waiting for you with her broomstick. However, it also depends on your playing style: Arle is easy to beat because she often sticks four or five Puyo together and therefore makes shorter chains, while Witch uses her witchcraft to get rid of your Fever sooner.
Playing against a CPU (or several) on your own is very cool and can last for hours, but the best thing is to compete against real people. You choose your avatar and the arena (the playing field) from 24 characters that you like. For example, there is a weird rabbit called Carbuncle (and makes very annoying sounds, because he can’t speak English), but also the cute Dark Prince with his low-hanging ears and a lot of young ladies with different hair styles and colors. In addition, you can set even more, including whether you see the beautiful new 3D Puyo or the classic.
If you play online, the game tries to find someone who is risky to you. That can be quite difficult, because there are a lot of fanatic players. Don’t let the field fool you too quickly, because you often come a long way with a little practice. Moreover, there is not much else to do in Puyo Puyo, except for the standard game. That will be enough for most gamers, because the gameplay is both accessible and extremely challenging. You pick it up easily and before you know it you will spend hours playing with your tongue out of your mouth.
Although SEGA really wants you to play online, that is not a must. Puyo Puyo Champions is a very nice game to play offline all by yourself. It also helps that the game is not pricy, so it can compete a little better with the many other puzzle games available on Nintendo’s console. The price vs value ratio is great and whether you play it with or without sizzling Fever moments, once you’ve caught on the Puyo Puyo fever, you won’t let go of this fast puzzle game. So if you can, just pick it up for that great price!
Puyo Puyo Champions is now out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam, and Switch. The Switch version of the game has been tested for this review. visit the official Puyo Puyo website for more info.