Crossovers are fun, right? The Flintsones have met The Jetsons, The Simpsons have met Family Guy‘s Griffins, Steven Universe has met Uncle Grandpa, and hey, Amalgam Comics was a thing, wasn’t it? There’s no better way to get people psyched about something than that something being two respected and well-loved brands smashing into each other. It’s why we get toys called Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga. That’s three brands– triple brand score! To get more to the point, the two biggest names in the puzzle game world have to be Tetris, the immortal block stacker, and Puyo Puyo, the classic blob juggler (which you may also recognize as the 16-bit era classics Kirby’s Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine). Why not bring those two all time greats together into an explosion of falling object puzzling? It’s seemingly a no-brainer, but does Puyo Puyo and Tetris go together like peanut butter and jelly, or is it more like a orange juice and toothpaste style situation?
That depends on how much you personally like each title, honestly. You see, I’m a pretty die-hard Tetris guy. I love dropping and sorting those blocks as fast as possible (the very NES inspired Tetris DS is one of my all time favorites). Puyo Puyo on the other hand it turns out, I’m not so hot on. The gameplay doesn’t use your brain the same way Tetris does, where it almost seemingly reprograms your brain to identify, sort, and place tetrominos, Puyo Puyo is all about laying the puyos (those little googly-eyed colored blobs) in patterns so once you line up enough to make a set disappear, it combos to make another disappear and so on and so on. These combos are what makes the largest amount of junk fall over on your opponent’s screen and is the only way to come out ahead in versus mode. It requires an entirely different kind of thinking than Tetris, and something that just isn’t as enjoyable to me.
That said, though, that’s just my own personal problem– if you like Puyo Puyo (and there’s nothing wrong with that) you’ll find plenty to enjoy here in probably the best presentation the game’s ever had. The high resolution HD graphics make everything look super crisp, and the playable character art and design is great and super on point. The music is appropriately peppy and upbeat, and yes, it absolutely has that Tetris song.
It also has just an absolute ton of play modes. You can play regular Tetris and regular Puyo Puyo in regular and versus mode of course, but there’s also modes that jam the two games together in proper crossover fashion. Fusion mode puts puyos and tetrominos together on one board, where ‘minos sink to the bottom and colored puyos sit on top, effectively making you juggle both games on the same board. The other mode, Swap, makes you play both games on two separate boards, which will switch out at different intervals. These two modes give you a very interesting and fun new way to enjoy both of these puzzle classics together, in a way you can’t anywhere else. Included also are all the requite multiplayer modes (both online and off) with the local multiplayer making excellent use of the Switch’s detachable Joy-con controllers. The simple controls aren’t at all hampered by playing them on the tiny Joy-con. The only thing that irked me, control-wise, was the lack of a full d-pad, the closest thing being the Joy-con’s plus shaped layout of buttons. They work alright, but the feeling is just off. The control stick is fine, sure, but these kind of 2D puzzlers are best played with the traditional cross-shaped D-pad, I think.
There is, of course, a single player adventure mode which doles out 100 levels of different challenges (mostly pulling from the game’s different play modes) with a healthy and reasonable difficulty curve. I especially like how each level gives you a star rating, giving you incentive to come back and best your previous scores. These different levels are dished out between visual novel-style story cut-scenes which range from slightly charming to mostly annoying. While the characters are well-designed and cool looking, they’re personalities add up to be mostly obnoxious tropes and generally annoying speech patterns. It’s goofy, stupid, inane, and at it’s worst annoying– but it does manage to be relatively cute, and I suppose is better than nothing. The voice acting (and it is fully voiced, which is a nice touch) is good, but is your standard anime style dub-job.
In the end, your mileage will vary depending on how much you enjoy the two puzzler franchises that are coming together. If you are a fan, you aren’t going to find a more fully featured and well presented version of these two games– and if you aren’t, this crossover isn’t going to change your mind.