Puyo Puyo Tetris Review

There has been an increase in video game crossovers over the years. Mario and Sonic, Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton, Captain America and Ryu, and even Donald Duck and Sephiroth have crossed worlds to face each other. However, there’s one crossover that even I wasn’t prepared for: Tetriminos and Puyo blobs. Okay, Puyo Puyo Tetris’s combination of two big puzzle series isn’t actually that crazy, but how Sonic Team executes this mashup is out of this world.

Chances are that you’ve heard of Tetris, the classic game that tasks you to organize falling blocks into horizontal lines to eliminate them. It’s a fast-paced puzzler that rewards spatial recognition and planning.

Meanwhile, Puyo Puyo is a lesser-known game in the West. I'm only familiar because of its game mascot variations, Kirby’s Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Here, paired Puyo blobs fall from the sky, and you must match four of the same color to get rid of them. Puyos conjoin horizontally and vertically, and they separate off of each other if gravity wills it. This game is more focused on a multiplayer component, and yielding high combos and chains will send garbage blocks to screw up your opponents. It’s a slower game (to the point where you can’t fast-drop Puyos), but it requires chess-like levels of advance planning and strategy. In both games, you lose if your stack hits the ceiling.

Puyo Puyo and Tetris are playable on their own, and there are quick play options on the main menu to experience either one. However, if you just wanted one or the other, there are better games to check out that focus more deeply on one puzzle series. What makes this title unique are the ways these two styles intertwine.

There are five basic modes. Starting with the simplest one and moving forward, you can face opponents in either Puyo Puyo or Tetris in Versus mode. This sounds fun enough, giving players the choice of whatever they’re better at. I find it off-putting to pit Puyo poppers against Tetris masters though. It’s akin to testing someone’s spelling against another’s math skills. Nevertheless, the two styles are surprisingly balanced. A Puyo players’ barrage of garbage blocks can stand toe to toe with high-speed Tetris play. Big Bang is an alternative version, in which you clear predetermined puzzle boards to deal damage against your opponent. Unlike Versus, it’s terribly unbalanced. Big Bang Puyo requires strategy several steps ahead to get the one true blob chain going while the Tetris version is equivalent to fitting a block in the correct hole.

Party mode throws items into the mix, causing random effects such as darkening your screen or removing your ability to rotate blocks. You’re probably already judging this mode, which is fair. It’s a decent casual version, though what detracts from the fun most are the win conditions. It’s a score attack challenge as opposed to the usual survival battles. Swap mode makes it more balanced and interesting, forcing players to constantly switch between Puyo Puyo and Tetris every 25 seconds. It’s engaging to keep track of two different boards, and mastering both to win is satisfying.

The last major playstyle justifies the entire crossover; Fusion mode combines the two puzzle styles into one wholly original concoction. Puyos, gigantic Tetriminos, and monstrous amalgamations of the two bombard your playing field. The hybrid is fascinating enough, but Sonic Team takes this combo one step further. Tetriminos completely squash the blobs, causing them to reappear in the sky, which can create crazy combos. It’s this wonderful chaos that I wanted in a game combining two dissimilar puzzle experiences.

Not all of the five modes are winners, but there is enough variety to please its audience. In addition, there are smaller single-player endless versions of either game. These are all integrated into the game’s meaty and rather difficult adventure mode, whose story is somehow more ridiculous than the prospect of this crossover. It’s worth saying that the tale revolves around Puyo Puyo enthusiasts, who settle fights with puzzle battles, and their chance encounters with a spaceship crew of Tetris aficionados, all named after letter blocks. Need I go on?

Playing through adventure mode is akin to watching a very quirky anime. The game is filled with colorful, cutesy characters and vibrant backgrounds. You can even customize the Tetriminos and Puyos into wildly different styles. Everyone has voice acting, and while the delivery varies per person, they all sound like they had a blast recording the game. With upbeat, bouncy music and remixes of the familiar Tetris theme, the soundtrack accompanies the fun visuals.

You can play any of the five major modes in both local and online multiplayer that supports up to four players. For local, you can either play split-screen or via local wireless using multiple Switch consoles. I had no major connection errors in free play or ranked battles, though I didn’t get the opportunity to find many players through matchmaking. Even without online, there is a lot to do between the dozens of adventure mode levels, achievements, and extras purchasable with in-game credits.

Puyo Puyo Tetris is supported by the weight of its juggernaut puzzle franchises. A game with both Puyo Puyo and Tetris in one package would have been acceptable, but the modes that uniquely integrate the two transform this from good to stellar. The bite-sized puzzle battles are incredibly well-suited for portable play on the Nintendo Switch, and marathons of endless play will appeal to puzzle lovers whether on the big screen or on-the-go.

I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!