Review: Puyo Puyo Tetris (Switch)

Is it peanut butter and jelly or oil and water?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 05/10/2017 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
A ton of modes; mashup of Puyo Puyo and Tetris works very well; play either game separately or together at any time; robust online mode; looks gorgeous; tight controls
Poison Mushroom for...
The music can grate; characters are forgettable; online multiplayer opponents are assigned at random, which might frustrate newbie players facing tough competitors

I once played Tetris all night until my alarm went off telling me to get up to go to work in the morning. It was quite a while ago now, back in 2006 when Tetris DS hit Nintendo’s then-flagship handheld. While that iteration of Tetris remains my favorite, I was still shocked to find myself so engrossed in Puyo Puyo Tetris on Switch. The mixture of Tetris and the lesser-known (in the West, at least) Puyo Puyo is great, offering multiple ways to play either game separately or mixed together. With strong individual, local, and online play, Puyo Puyo Tetris is an excellent addition to Switch’s library of games and shouldn’t be missed.

I’ll admit, I’m pretty vanilla when it comes to Tetris — give me an endless marathon mode and a bunch of pretty colors to look at and I’m set. Sadly, Puyo Puyo Tetris doesn’t offer that, so I had to make my way through the game’s other offerings, instead. This ended up being quite fortuitous for me, as I had a blast with all the different modes the game has on offer. Arcade mode boasts six modes to partake in: Versus, Fusion, Swap, Party, Big Bang, and Challenge. The standouts for me were Versus (take on the computer by playing either Tetris or Puyo Puyo), Fusion (where Puyos and Tetrominos are joined together on the same playing field), and Swap (the game cycles through Tetris and Puyo Puyo boards in intervals). The various modes offer fun spins on each puzzler’s respective gameplay, challenging players to think about the placement Tetris and Puyo Puyo pieces in different ways than ever before.

These modes carry over to the game’s online multiplayer, which is where I spent the bulk of my time. I mentioned above that I’d once played Tetris all night; the reason was because I’d started playing the computer for the first time. I couldn’t win. And it was ticking. Me. Off! I kept at it all night, only winning once or twice and ultimately losing multiple times more than I won. It was possibly one of the most infuriating video game experiences I’ve ever had. Puyo Puyo Tetris got me very nearly as hooked as Tetris DS back in the day, but with far less frustration. It was easy to get into online battles, and I bounced from hardened veterans who could obliterate me with a flood of garbage bricks, to less skilled players who I smashed with my own volleys of attacks.

That said, I’d like to take a moment to point out that the matches are assigned at random, which will likely be really frustrating for newer players as rank and skill level are seemingly not taken into account by the computer. This means that it’s highly possible to get flung into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, fighting tough-as-nails opponents in a relentless gauntlet. I took advantage of this and used it as an opportunity to amp up my skills, but some players will probably just want to throw in the towel. Also, in my experience I found that Puyo Puyo players seemed to be at an advantage over Tetris players, although I can’t definitively say if it was due to my lack of skill or a genuine imbalance within the game. What I do know is that despite some of these hindrances, I had a lot of fun online and will continue to keep coming back to it for quite a while.

On the other end of the spectrum is the game’s single-player Adventure Mode. Here, a mix of Tetris and Puyo Puyo characters come together in a sprawling solo quest that serves to explain how the two puzzle universes found themselves merged. Trying to earn three stars in each stage will be a genuine challenge to most, but even for those less diehard about such things they’ll still be delighted by the excellent gameplay and funny (if light) storyline. I gravitated toward the online component of Puyo Puyo Tetris, but when I tired of facing real live opponents I was more than glad to tackle the computer in Adventure Mode. Don’t expect a BioShock-level narrative, of course, but rather something cute and not meant to be taken too seriously.

While a puzzle title might not seem like the best place to find pretty graphics, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a legitimate crowd pleaser. The Tetrominos and Puyos pop off of the screen (whether the TV or Switch itself) and can even be customized to appear in a handful of different styles. It was a joy watching these puzzle pieces fall to the bottom of the playing field and it made long play sessions pass in the blink of an eye. The music wasn’t my cup of tea, but it blends well with the gameplay and will likely get some fans’ toes tapping. Though I’ve played Tetris since I was a little boy and have some experience with Puyo Puyo, I can’t say that I cared much for any of the characters available to choose from. Their designs felt a tad generic and overall I’ve never been a fan of cutesy casts like these. That said, I can also see cosplayers going nuts recreating everyone in Puyo Puyo Tetris, so what do I know?

As a party game, Puyo Puyo Tetris provides an excellent use for Switch’s detachable controllers. Propping a Switch up with its stand and passing a Joy-Con to a buddy is fun, and with so many modes to choose from you’ll likely be playing for a long time. The HD Rumble also felt very satisfying (though nothing about the game is impacted by it — it’s just some solid feedback). Switch’s library is growing very slowly, but perhaps if the software on offer continues to put quality over quantity it won’t be such a bad thing. I loved Puyo Puyo Tetris and I genuinely wonder how either franchise will be able to carry on without the other. It’s so much fun to have both on a single cartridge that I hope we’re able to experience another installment of Puyo Puyo Tetris one day. In the meantime, be sure to get hold of a copy of this wonderful game for your Switch. Especially if you’re fortunate enough to snag a copy that comes with keychains like I did!

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