There are some franchises that just can’t be touched. In the case of video games, you won’t find more popular puzzlers than Tetris and Puyo Puyo. Nearly every console imaginable has received a game from either franchise at some point, from home to portable consoles alike. Thanks to that ever-expanding library, both have seen great financial success. With that said, it only makes sense that the two would cross paths at some point. That was the idea behind Sega’s Puyo Puyo Tetris, released back in 2014. Now, Sega have decided to give this crossover another go with Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. Given the success of the first title, it’s exciting to see what the sequel brings to the table.
While it may seem a little outlandish, there is indeed a story here. What’s even more surprising is just how well it ties the concept of the game together.
Our tale opens with a girl named Ringo, who’s wandering around outside her school wishing something interesting would happen. She sees her wish rather abruptly granted, as a fellow named Tee and his companion O suddenly crash-land out of the sky. The stranger tells Ringo that he’s been summoned by Ex, the Keeper of Dimensions, to track down an anomaly plaguing the world. Ringo decides to battle Tee to better understand him. In this world, Puyo Puyo battles are commonly understood as a universal language.
Tee agrees to the challenge, and the crossover element comes into play. Our heroes are able to battle it out, even though Tee plays Tetris and Ringo plays Puyo Puyo. Despite their differing playstyles, the two are soon chatting it up like old friends. They also feel a strange connection to each other, as if they’ve met before. Quite a few characters along with the adventure share this notion as they meet, confirming that this story does follow the events of the first Puyo Puyo Tetris. Ex eventually explains that this is precisely the problem. The worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris are merging (again), and something in the Puyo Puyo world is causing it. Thus, Tee and Ringo round up as many friends as they can to track down the “dimensional parasite”.
Here’s where things get interesting. As Tee and Ringo gather their crew, they meet up with a strange girl named Marle. She’s brainwashing some of Tee and Ringo’s friends to endlessly battle everyone they meet, all in the name of “fun”. While Tee and Company are able to free their friends with a Puyo or Tetris battle, it’s clear that Marle is the dimensional parasite and needs to be stopped. As they give chase though, it becomes clear that Marle’s actions aren’t completely ill-intentioned. There’s more to her than meets the eye, which can be said for the story as a whole too.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 tells its story through text boxes and character portraits. While that may seem simplistic, there’s a lot to love about the interactions between the varied cast. Along your adventure, you’ll meet a plethora of lovable goofballs, each with their own distinct personalities. The tight writing and hilarious dialogue make the downtime between battles quite enjoyable, while also giving the battles a purpose.
There’s a surprising amount of story here, and the voice acting only makes it more endearing. One minute the team is fighting a friend brainwashed by Marle, the next they’re holding a style contest where Tetris determines the winner. The many modes of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 are all used here, and the story keeps that sense of variety strong. It’s funny, witty, and sometimes even a little suggestive, enough so to earn the game its E10+ rating. You can skip the flavor text if you want, but you’ll be missing what gives the game its personality.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 has a vast library of ways to play. Even if you’re not a master of puzzle games, this title is more than happy to ease you in. From the title screen, you can instantly jump into a quick play of either Tetris or Puyo Puyo. These matches use the standard rules of each game to show you how they play. The Main Menu gives you access to a plethora of game modes and options. The real meat of the game lies in the Adventure Mode, where you’ll establish and test your skills against opponents in the story. This mode uses most of the gameplay types found in the full package.
Adventure mode follows our heroes as they travel an expansive map, covering multiple areas. The maps are simple but colorful, and you’ll use the touch screen or D-pad to select stages. Each stage is a unique battle between two or more characters, including “cutscenes” to bookend each one. These battles will introduce you to the many modes of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, and there’s a challenge for players of all skill levels here.
Each stage on the map is a unique Puyo Puyo or Tetris battle, but since this is a crossover, sometimes you’ll be playing both. In one match, you’ll be playing Puyo Puyo while your opponent plays Tetris. Sometimes it’ll be vice versa, or you’ll be playing the same game against each other. All you have to do is outplay your opponent, but that’s easier said than done. As you clear either Tetrominoes or Puyos, you’ll send “garbage” to your opponent. Players can destroy garbage by clearing lines and eliminating Puyos as usual. If you take too long, you may find matches ending rather quickly as you lose space on the playing field. This adds a new layer of strategy and tension to matches, as you can block garbage by clearing lines and chaining combos.
The adventure mode is a fairly meaty campaign, one that will challenge you in a few different ways. Each stage has a three-star ranking system, which changes the requirements depending on the battle. Some of the stages require you to beat them under a time limit, while others are score-based. You’ll earn a star for completing the stage, but the other two stars require more skill. The AI is no slouch either, and by the end of the story you’ll be fighting enemies that insta-drop pieces every half a second. If you’re really struggling to complete a stage, you do have the option to skip it after failing once. If you’re a completionist however, you’ll want to re-attempt those stages and go for all three stars.
Whether you’re a veteran of Tetris or Puyo Puyo, or new to both, there’s a ton of content to chew on here. The adventure mode itself has hours of replay value, with objectives to complete and optional stages to tackle. If you like what you see in Adventure mode, you can hop into the Solo, Multiplayer, and Online modes to play each game type individually.
Versus has you playing either Puyo Puyo or Tetris against a player who can also choose either game. Skill Battles are similar, except you’ll choose multiple supporting characters with their own powers to help you out as you play. Here, your goal is to drain your opponent’s HP by clearing your respective pieces: think puzzle game meets RPG battle. Swap sees you switching between Puyo Puyo and Tetris gameplay on a timer, until one player’s board is completely filled. Party adds items to the game to help you compete for a high score. Big Bang uses preset boards to give you combo setups to defeat opponents. The Challenge mode includes some standard game types from previous titles, such as Marathon from Tetris and Endless Fever from Puyo Puyo.
Fusion is the mode that most fits the game’s namesake, where Puyos and Tetrominoes rain down on the same board. In a game where you’re constantly making sense of the chaos, this mode, in particular, feels exceptionally… chaotic. There’s also a new element of strategy here, as you can actually squish Puyos by setting Tetrominoes on top of them. This will set the Puyos you squished on top of the block you just placed, allowing you to clear lines that may have been blocked before. Master this mechanic, and you’ll soon master Fusion!
While the expected modes from each series are well-represented, it’s the ones with both styles that really stand out. Fusion can be a little stressful, but it’s easily the most fun once you understand how it works. Swap is another fantastic way to combine Puyo Puyo with Tetris, as you can use your knowledge of each game to your advantage. These two modes are easily the most enjoyable of the package, as they combine the elements of both games to truly earn the crossover name.
Spins and Strategies
Every mode adds a new spin (get it?) on the standard puzzle game formula. There are so many ways to play Puyo Puyo and Tetris that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Fortunately, the Adventure mode introduces each one gradually, making it a great starting point for new players. There are also a variety of lessons and mini-challenges for almost every mode, allowing newcomers to warm up to the different gameplay styles.
All of this wouldn’t matter if the gameplay wasn’t smooth or refined, but Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 succeeds on all fronts. Each mode has solid rulesets to keep things balanced, and there’s no delay when placing pieces on the board. From T-spins to insta-drops, every technique, except holding pieces, can be used. Granted, Tetris and Puyo Puyo have been around long enough to have their gameplay refined to a T-spin. Nevertheless, it’s great to see that the experience remains incredibly solid. Performance is also top-notch, running at a solid 60 fps both docked and handheld.
Thanks to the charming characters and world driving it forward, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is a visual treat. From the character animations in-battle to the blocks and Puyos, everything comes together in a comfortable artstyle. The playing field is simple but effective, but what really sticks out are the animations.
Each playable character has their own animations for clearing lines and matching Puyos, which adds some great visual flair. Most of it stays in the background to keep things focused, but the playing field has some nice animations as well. The same goes for the game’s UI. Menus are generally pleasant to navigate, and the maps in Adventure mode are simple but colorful.
The soundtrack for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is a pretty good listen, even if it’s on the short size. A few familiar pieces from previous titles make an appearance as remixes, but most of the tunes are original. Depending on the modes you play, you’ll be hearing a variety of peppy tunes. Unfortunately, the Adventure mode suffers a bit here, as one particular track plays through a large portion of battles. It’s nothing that ruins the experience, but a little more variety would have been appreciated.
On another sound-related note, every character in the game is fully voice acted. This includes both the Adventure mode cutscenes and battles, where characters frequently spout one-off quotes as they react to the battles. This is also a bit of an issue, as there are only so many lines each character can say before it gets a little repetitive. Furthermore, there’s no option to turn voices off if you grow tired of them. This means your only option is to switch to another character, which you can’t change in Adventure mode stages. The characters are charming, but sometimes their one-liners do get a little stale.
Sound effects, on the other hand, are incredibly pleasant. Puyos have shimmery sounds for chaining combos, and Tetrominoes clear with a satisfying snap. This is all made better by the use of HD Rumble, which reacts to your every move for some extra tactile feedback.
What’s a party puzzle game without some people to play it with? Whether you’re a Puyo popper or a Tetris toppler, this title has you covered – given you’ve signed up for Nintendo Switch Online. While the challenge may vary, the connection seems to hold up quite well compared to some other Switch titles. Furthermore, you can play almost every mode from Single Player online, with random players or friends. It’s a great way to test your skills, but beware: you’ll find plenty of players who are a lot more experienced than your standard AI.
When a crossover occurs, it’s very easy for the elements of the two properties to collide in an unnatural way. Fortunately, Sega has proven again that Puyo Puyo and Tetris can combine to create a solid experience. It constantly delivers on brand-new ways to mix and match the two gameplay styles while also keeping them optionally separate for those who desire it. If you want to rise to the top with the pros or just play a quick match every now and then, you’ll find a lot of value in this package.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 gets a 9/10.