Here’s a series that I’ll go up to bat for every time, even if the bat is made of cheddar Ruffles and the pitcher is an assault rifle. Puyo Puyo has had a (let’s charitable call it) difficult time in the west. The few entries that have made it over haven’t exactly set off fireworks. At least, not compared to Japan. In its home country, they were having Puyo Puyo competitions on TV in the mid-90’s, when the word “eSports” sounded like athletic news you could find on Netscape. Sega has put out variations of Puyo fairly regularly, and most were never considered for a western release. But Puyo Puyo has been given a brighter future over here thanks to the release of Puyo Puyo Tetris, which serves not only as a brilliant crossover, but also a way to entice Tetris fans to give Puyo a try. The Star Wars franchise to Daisy Ridley’s career, so to speak. Puyo Puyo Tetris seemed to do pretty well, at least well enough the Sega decided to publish Puyo Puyo Champions in North America. Now it’s time to see if Puyo can sink or swim in the west without its Tetris life jacket. Of course, if that was the intention, then Puyo Puyo Champions could have done with a few less bricks tied to its legs.
For those unfamiliar, Puyo Puyo is a falling block puzzle game where the goal is focused on creating chain reactions. Four of the same color blobs will disappear when connected, and unlike Tetris, these blobs have weight. So if you clear a line of four red blobs when a blue one is sitting on top, and if there are at least three blue blobs below it, you’ll get a chain reaction of two. This is especially fun in multiplayer, where you send over more useless garbage Puyos to your opponent the better you do. It quickly becomes a game of back and forth, balancing out creating elaborate set ups and creating them quicker than your opponent. There’s a lot more to this series, with various spins on the formula, extremely quirky characters, and silly plotlines to contrive Puyo battles in a story mode. Most of which was surgically removed from Champions.
The biggest problem with the game is that it is simply a massively downsized Puyo Puyo Tetris. I know every entry is a puzzle game series is largely the same with a new coat of paint and a fresh mode or two, but Champions even has the same menus as Tetris, a game that is five years old now in Japan. There are some new faces that were ripped from other Puyo games to replace the Tetris characters in the roster and some new backgrounds and music mixed in with the old ones, but other than that, this is Puyo Puyo Tetris filtered and distilled down into a core Puyo cappuccino. Compared to the range of options and modes in Tetris, there’s just the two modes in Champions: Puyo Puyo 2 and Puyo Puyo Fever gameplay styles. Puyo Puyo 2 style is the sort of perfected basic Puyo formula. Fever style adds in more wild ways to group the Puyo’s and the titular fever meter that sets up a bunch of easy combos when you fill it. Either of these can be played in Solo, local, and online multiplayer, and that’s it. I wouldn’t mind so much if these were new modes, but 2 was in Tetris anyway, and full fever meter sections were there too, leaving anyone who bought that game little new to look at besides a face or two.
As a fan who spent more money than he’ll admit to play Puyo Puyo 2 on a PC Engine, this doesn’t bother me a ton. But if you were a fan who was brought on board with Tetris and want something more, then this will disappoint you. Of course, I don’t believe this was meant for the Puyo Puyo Tetris fans out there. This is more of the budget version of Puyo, for those who don’t want to spend $40 to try the series out. A cool $10 gets you what you need: the basic modes and ways to play them with your friends. The name of this game in Japan is Puyo Puyo eSports, and that’s exactly what it feels like. The No Items, Fox Only, Final Destination version of an excellent game. I can see this being the eSports Puyo game of choice, since you don’t have to mess with a ton of settings and can just jump straight into the action. If you haven’t played a Puyo game before and would like to, this is probably your safest option to try it. If you’re willing to spend the cash for Puyo Puyo Tetris, I’d go ahead and grab that one instead. But if you’re just looking for the pure Puyo experience and don’t care about the whole Tetris bit, you’ll save a few bucks buying this game. What’s good about Puyo is still good here, so I recommend it to hardcore Puyo fans that have to have all the games and beginners who don’t want to spend a lot of money to learn why Puyo is good. Other than that, you’re better off buying Puyo Puyo Tetris.
Still won’t stop me from playing this one until my thumbs fall off online though.
Anyone else picking this one up? Let us know what you think in the comments and, of course, in the fourms! Thank you all for reading!
HautDeForme is a collector, a self proclaimed historian, and most of all, a player of video games. When he’s not writing about that, you can find him writing music for no particular reason and advocating for the localization of Mother 3, whether people listen or not.