As someone who has been playing Tetris in one form or another for pretty much all of his life, I was excited to hear that Puyo Puyo Tetris was headed to Switch – and that excitement turned into delight when I learned that it was receiving a Western release. I was more interested in the Tetris aspect for sure, but there was something alluring about the Puyo Puyo aspect as well. If someone thought these similarly styled series were a good idea to mix, who was I to disagree? It even seemed to be selling well on other platforms, so I was at least a bit more hopeful than going into this mash-up completely blind.
Starting the full game for the first time (I was a demo player too), I was so gung ho to get to it that I immediately jumped at the Tetris option that comes up even prior to the main menu. A few tries, and a full run of 150 line breaks in Marathon mode was mine… but then there was all this other game to play!
Next I tried Puyo Puyo mode, which has you playing a “first to two wins” game against a CPU opponent. Every time you drop multiple breaks in a row you fill your opponent’s screen with additional drops of garbage puyos, which can get interesting especially once you get near the top of the play area. Fill the area where drops happen from and you lose, so it’s about playing better than your opponent for a longer period of time.
Finally, I took on Fusion; a mode which blends Tetris and Puyo Puyo for a both on the board type experience that has tetraminos crushing any puyos beneath them. Traditional rules apply for both separate types of drop, the only difference is that you have to deal with them both at the same time and in the same playing area.
Things seem simple enough so far, right? Well those are just the options available to you before the main menu. There are also Versus, Party, Swap, Fusion, and Big Bang modes (all multiplayer capable) – along with a story campaign called Adventure, and the six single player challenge modes of Endless Fever, Endless Puyo, Tiny Puyo, Sprint, Marathon, and Ultra. It’s safe to say that there are tons of ways to play here, and that’s definitely one of its strengths.
As for how all these extra modes work, it’s important to note that some of these modes can be played in either Puyo Puyo or Tetris styles – though the Swap and Fusion modes are all about mixing it up as a staple of play. The single player challenge modes are split between Puyo Puyo and Tetris focused, and of course the Adventure mode switches between options as necessary for the narrative. Looking closer at what these modes offer up for play, you’ll find that they all vary in style and gameplay at least slightly – and sometimes even majorly.
Versus mode is a standard one-on-one mode where players can choose their style, and then fight splitscreen style in a “don’t fill the board” type endurance test. Clearing lines (filling a full horizontal line Tetris style) or getting chain combos (multiple sets of four puyos popping in Puyo Puyo style) will add garbage lines to your opponent’s screen, making their job just that much harder.
Party mode is where power-ups can be won, these rewards leading to one of two things; either buffing your personal gameplay, or making it harder for your opponent. Unlike the more traditional Versus however, filling the board doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose, and score is the only thing that truly matters in the end. If you fill up the board, it’ll simply reset to a less crowded state and penalize you for it – no “game over” here.
Swap mode is where players regularly switch between Tetris and Puyo Puyo styles, each style of play occurring on their own board (of which only one is shown properly on screen at any one time). You lose when just one of your boards gets filled, which ends up making it a bit harder to keep everything going.
Fusion here is the same as Fusion on the main menu, but Big Bang offers something different – combining Fever mode from Puyo Puyo with Lucky Attack mode from Tetris. You’ll be given waves of pre-arranged puyo or tetramino shapes, and have to clear as many as possible in a set time limit. At the end of each countdown, players are given “damage” for being slower – with players eliminated once they run out of a pre-determined amount of health.
As for the single player challenge modes, they’re split evenly between Puyo Puyo and Tetris styles – as stated previously. Endless Fever, Endless Puyo, and Tiny Puyo are all Puyo Puyo based modes. Endless Fever is a pre-set playing mode where you need to clear it waves as quick as possible, Endless Puyo is a high score mode where you keep from filling the playing area as long as possible, and Tiny Puyo is a standard mode with very tiny puyos – making for a ton of area to play with.
As for Tetris modes, there’s Sprint, Marathon, and Ultra. Sprint has you clearing 40 lines as quick as possible, Marathon has you clearing 150 lines with the highest score (as the speed increases every 10 lines), and Ultra is a three minute round focused around getting the highest score you can in that time.
The final of the main modes available to take on is the Adventure mode, which is the strangest mode I’ve ever played in a game like this. It weaves character interaction into the set up for a bunch of different challenges and unique tasks, having you take on ten levels with ten challenge stages each. The story bits are voiced in English and portrayed with text bubbles, so the full shebang is in effect here.
If all this seems a little over your head, or you haven’t played either of these games before, don’t worry; there’s also a Lessons mode for teaching you how to play. You can choose from Puyo Puyo, Puyo Tetris Fusion, and Tetris tutorials – with Beginner, Advanced, and Expert level skills to be taught depending on your need. If you don’t know how to play, need more information, or just want to maximize your knowledge of the game, then Lessons is a great place to start playing.
But wait, what about online modes?!?! Good news, as they’re available as an extension of the local multiplayer options. Selecting Online from the main menu allows you to connect over the internet and play Versus, Party, Fusion, Swap, or Big Bang with friend (there’s even a “join friend” option) or random people. Matches can be ranked (Puzzle League) or not (Free Play), so you can choose get down to business or simply practice up with someone human.
Speaking of ranking, you’ll have full access to your statistics and rating via the game’s Stats menu – located in options and data. It’ll give you a breakdown of your best runs at each mode, as well as details on your online standings. There are even in-game trophies to earn for things like playing modes a certain amount of times, or meeting a set time or score.
Through the various modes and options given to you in Puyo Puyo Tetris, I can’t really find any fault with what they offer you – though I do think that Adventure mode is the least enticing of a mode to a player like me. That said, it’s not a bad mode or a useless mode; it’s simply not what I’m looking for when I play this kind of title. I can see how it might be interesting to the younger players, those who’ve been following the characters through their various titles (yes – they’ve got backstory!), or those just learning the game… but that’s not me.
Personally, I’d much rather be trying to beat my Marathon score, or playing Tiny Puyo for hours at a time – and because of how the game is structured, anyone can absolutely do just that (even right out of the gate if you want). There’s no real obligation to play any of the modes if you don’t want to, and you can earn enough currency from any one of the modes to buy all the puyo, tetramino, and voice skin options from the game’s meager and fairly useless “shop” (though some are Adventure mode exclusive unlocks). The game doesn’t lock you into anything, lock anything important out, or force you to play things you don’t like (or in ways you don’t like); there are simply plenty of options at your feet, and various ways to tweak them to your liking. What’s not to appreciate about that?
As for how the game actually runs, it seems to hold up very well in any of the Switch’s modes. In docked and undocked modes there is a crisp, clean picture of what’s happening on the screen – and I never noticed any negative effects like slow-downs. Even at some of the higher speeds things look smooth, so it’s likely that aficionados can rest easy on those kind of worries.
The audio is as you’d expect from a game like this, offering plucky background noise and sound effects to go with your line completions and puyo pops. As stated before, the game does have an English voice over – and though some have found it annoying, it didn’t bother me too much when used as encouragement or exclamation here and there. In Adventure mode the voice could get a bit on my nerves though, so it’s lucky for the picky ones like me that Sonic Team included speech bubbles (and by extension, that the Switch developers included a volume button). 😉
As you’d expect from this type of game, the controls are quite simple – and it’s all about rotation and speed. Buttons (they’re customizeable) initiate rotation clockwise and counterclockwise for each piece, while up and down on either the analog stick or the directional buttons will instant-drop (Tetris only) and speed up the drop respectively. You can move the piece back and forth with left and right, or hold (and swap hold) pieces from your hold box using yet another button. It becomes second nature quite quickly, which is kind of the point.
Speaking of the point, I’ll get to it; Puyo Puyo Tetris is a welcome addition to the Switch’s game library, and will be a permanent staple of mine. Being light on space (especially if you get it physical), having tons of options to play, and offering a quality presentation are all good reasons to pick it up – and how ridiculously addictive the underlying games are will only solidify your love of this mash-up. Plus, with the Switch having two controllers built right in, it’s also perfect for getting your friends and family playing – something that sets it apart from every other iteration of the game currently available.
Should you get Puyo Puyo Tetris for Switch? If you’re even the slightest bit interested, then the answer is simply an emphatic “yes.” There’s no beating around the bush here, this is simply a great game with tons of longevity; something everyone could use in their gaming roster.