Import Review: PuyoPuyo!! Tetris (PS Vita)


Finally got my hands on this.

Let’s just say that this is the most fun I’ve had for quite a while.  After the failure of Tetris Ultimate I decided to get myself a more superior and fun Tetris game – Puyo Puyo Tetris.  It’s been a week since I’ve gotten it.  It’s still very fun.

So, due to language restrictions and barriers (I know very little Japanese.), there will be some vagueness in the writing of this review, but I’ve got quite a lot to say about this game. It’s been around for a quite a while already, but a lot of delays meant that I could only get it now.

Starting off at the loading screen you hear a “SEGA” sound from one of the characters, followed by a “Tetris” sound, before bringing you to the “Press Start” screen.  From there, the quick options go to Puyo Puyo (ぷよぷよ通 rules, battle a random foe), Puyo Puyo Tetmix (a mix of Puyo Puyo and Tetris, very jarring to work with and very broken, battle a random foe), and Tetris (SRS Marathon).

Hitting the main menu button takes you to the main menu, which provides several colorful menu buttons to touch:

Story Mode (Green)
Single Player Mode (yellow, more detail on this)
Multiplayer Mode (Red, Ad-hoc wireless play, unconfirmed how it works, if I can Confirm this, then I will update the page)
Options and replay (purple)
Online (Blue)

Story mode is fun.  there are small requirements (such as score, levels, or time) to fufill, and the game goes through all the available modes this way, so to familiarize you with all the characters and the modes inside the game.  The story is a bit odd, with some funny points in between, some silly points to throw in every here and there.  There are 7 episodes in total, with 3 extra DLC episodes for those interested.

Some points of story mode are extremely jarring, as they feel like they were ham-handed to put in.  such a case is chapter 3 where Suketoudara, Witch and Draco were added to the roster.  While I do like that Witch is in the game (she’s my main character I play when possible), I do feel that her role in the story was very ham-handed and poor, as she was a simple Hi, and Bye case.  Draco was a bit pointless too, where she was sent to space for no apparent reason and is hungry.

Single Player presents the following modes:
VS (Puyo Puyo Vs. Puyo Puyo, Puyo Puyo Vs. Tetris, Tetris Vs. Tetris)
Swap Mode (Switch between Puyo Puyo and Tetris every X seconds)
PuyoTetmix (Mix between Puyo and Tetris)
Big Bang Mode (Use Lucky Chance or Fever to clear maps and cause damage to opponents)
Party Mode (Items drop from the top and a score-based battle ensues)
Tokoton (Translated means endless, here you’ll find multiple endless modes.)

How Tetris feels:

DAS is a medium speed, and is manageable for fast gameplay.  there are no settings to change the mechanics of the game, but there are multiple aesthetics modifications (Such as Mino and Background changes) which can be made along with extra DLC items.  There are some really nice Mino skins, even though there are one or two I’d never use.

The damage calculations are as per generic SRS Tetris rules (for Tetris vs Tetris), and the game adheres to SRS standards with mino colors, Hold, piece preview, Hard Drop and Spins (T-Only, 3-Point rule).  There is also an ARR of 1 second per Line Delay.  These rules apply for all games.  There is some potential for people to misdrop in the game depending on what control schema you use and how used to DAS you are, but adjusting to this DAS is quick and painless.

There are a few Tokoton (endless) single player modes for Tetris:

40LINE: Standard Sprint mode.
Marathon: 150 Line marathon
Ultra: Score as much as possible before time is up.

How Puyo Puyo feels:

Puyo Puyo is adhering to the current control look-and-feel of the modern Tsuu games.  Garbage calculation is via Tsuu rules and Tsuu standard is used for most modes (Fever where Party and Big Bang apply, and Hard Drop applies to Party, Tetrimix Mode).

As with Tetris, there are a few Tokoton modes for Puyo Puyo:

Tokoton Puyo Puyo: this is an endless mode where you can practice chaining at your own pace.  No ojama(garbage) falls in any of the tokoton modes.
Chibi Tokoton Puyo Puyo (Small mode): This makes the field huge(20×44) which allows for more chains and faster play.  this has hard drop.
Tokoton Fever: Play an endless Fever mode, a-la Puyo Puyo Fever.

Vs. Impressions:

VS. Mode is pretty fun, either way.  It’s a pity they scrapped the animations for little cutouts at the bottom of the fields, but it makes sense because Tetris relies on constantly planning between the Line Delay and what the next action will be.  An animation overlay would most likely screw the idea up too much, so it makes sense.

in Puyo Vs. Tetris, the Tetris side gets a combo indicator, showing as per color indication the intensitivity of garbage.  Green means 1, Yellow means 2 and Red means 3 times the amount of damage.  REN damage is calculated as per a table and converted into Puyo.

Garbage only happens when either side has an “idle” state (being not attacking or during attacking) which means that cancellation of damage can be rather widespread.  It also means that the game can last as long as possible where people can wear each other out.

Tetris Vs. Tetris thankfully does not have hurryup garbage, which is something I often disapprove of as it means that there is no basis of skill when hurryup occurs.

Puyo Vs. Puyo however DOES have Margin time (default is set to 92 seconds) which makes sense since Sega loves their Tsuu rules to be consistent game after game.

Swap mode impressions:

Swap mode has three variables for time:  Short, standard and long.  Short is around 30 to 40 seconds, standard is 60 seconds and long is 80 seconds.  This determines how long the timer swaps between.  It would have been nice to be able to freely alter the duration, although I haven’t really played around with it too much.

Swap mode has a few poor implimentations here and there, but otherwise is a very fun game.  it starts off with a randomizer (in which people hope and pray they get their favorite mode first) and then swaps to the first mode.  the first mode then plays for the set duration and swaps to the second mode.

the problem is when swapping, the calculations are swapped, and this can cause massive damage in the other mode if played correctly.  Generally a Tetris is good enough to envelope and bother with an opponent cheeky enough to have two rows of puyo set up already.  Chains are then awarded as combos, and vice versa.  It can become messy when both players let off their chains before changing modes.

The same goes for Puyo.  I often find Puyo the more effective mode to play when playing Swap mode, as the damage is more useful to carry over to Tetris.

Big Bang mode impressions:

Big Bang mode is made to be played as fast as possible.  Puyo Puyo players get a familiar mode called “Fever!” and Tetris players get a new fever mode called “Lucky Attack.”

The timer modes are the same as what the Swap Mode’s timers are, which makes it interesting to play with.  The damage calculations work a bit differently here, not only as how they are calculated to garbage, but also because Big Bang works on an individual aspect of an HP counter (I’ve assumed base 100 for test purposes).

I’ll start off my impressions with Lucky Attack.

Lucky Attack relies on finesse to gain a speed advantage, and therefore makes it as strong as Puyo Puyo’s Fever Mode.  Each map gets a little more complicated than the last, and playing quickly relies on knowing how to DAS/Tap/rotate at the right intervals.  There are also uncommon ones where you can get thrown off of focus because the DAS becomes tricky.  The game also manages to add S, Z, J, L, and I spins, along with the original T spin.  I’m not sure if these spins cause more or the standard damage, but my assumptions are that they’re standard attacks.

Fever has been kept more or less the same, keeping standard to the Fever rules that have been in place since the first Fever games on the DS.  There is more chance to all clear the Fever chains, although sometimes the game likes to give you chains that are difficult to work with at first.  Fever starts off at the standard 5 chain and then moves on up until the 15th chain.  This can be extended with a great amount of risk if known how.  I usually don’t because I don’t chain high to begin with.

At the end of every timer, the game calculates the garbage and subtracts the value differences to try and make a difference.  If a difference is found, it subtracts the HP from the opponent who had the least clears and tries to make the HP drop to 0.  if their HP is 0, they top out or lose.  If not, they continue to play again for the same set duration.

Overall, this mode is fun to marathon since it’s possible to reach the point where you can make 100+ wins.  It does get repetitive and crazy after a while though.

Party Mode impressions:

Party mode is not really fun for me.  I’m not exactly sure why, but whenever I see items drop into a Puyo Puyo game or a Tetris game which changes either 1) the environment or 2) a player’s field, I tend to get mad that there might be overpowered items that might break the game.

in Puyo Puyo Tetris, it’s a score battle, which means that hard dropping doesn’t really have that much of an advantage unless you’re going to force topping out to an opponent.  squares of 1 puyo or an O tetromino size drop in from the top, therefore changing course of plan when doing attacks.  I generally keep low for party mode because it makes getting the items easier.

I haven’t really researched this mode much, but as far as I know it uses its own timing system, and its items range from increasing speed, spotlight mode (Puyo players generally curse when they play this mode), no rotation, a point boost mode, single minos, and a shield.

I’ll admit that Puyo Puyo Tetris’ party mode isn’t the mode for me, but others might enjoy it.  It’s balanced enough to make it fun and there are no overpowered powerups that people can take advantage of to mess you over.

if you top out of this mode, your field resets to a clean field and you lose 1000 points.  This lets you continue the fun even when you think it stops there.

PuyoTetmix mode impressions:

Puyo Tetmix mode is a mode which generally confuses people at first with a lot of “WHAT” element to it.  the field is adjusted to a 10×22 field where Puyo Puyo and Tetris can fall in as per a preset dropset.  Hard drop is enabled for BOTH types of pieces, and holding puyo is possible in this mode.  Tetrominos squish puyo, only to have color puyo reach the top of the Puyo again, while nuisance puyo get permanently removed.  Soft dropping tetrominos on top of puyo make the drop a lot slower.

The game breaks balance by being a perpetual active mode, meaning that if you are not in attacking state, the next piece will check for garbage.  this makes it harder when tetrominos are soft dropped on puyo since they are still in the active moving state until they reach their destination.

The combo system opens up holes for Tetris+ (5+ lines) and causes a cascade to occur.  from there, you can also start chaining in Puyo Puyo to increase your power as the combo to chain system picks up the chains to multiply.  Attacking mode also opens up for about a second or two, allowing you to get the next active piece in play and add onto those chains.  This breaks the game heavily, therefore making it easier to rack up as much damage as possible with even a simple 3LINE+5れんさ combination.

The mode is very troublesome and makes it hard to achieve great scores with it because it relies on Tetris and Puyo together to work in harmony, where only 3-4 tetrominoes drop for a single rotation of the dropset and the rest (possibly 10-12 in a single rotation of a dropset) are focused on Puyo.  there’s also the Puyo Tetromino, which switches between Tetromino and Puyo each second that it drops.  you can lose a lot of timing with just that tetromino.

Online:

Online is very hard to play depending on where you are, since the servers default to Japan on PSN and it increases the ping dramatically for people outside of the region.  I found my online experience to be near-unplayable, even amounting to a disconnection on the long run.  It’s also hard to find players on the PS Vita version due to the fact that the rooms are more often than not empty.

UPDATE: It is possible to play on a subpar level nowadays, depending on how the connection behaves.  The best chance you’ve got for a decent game is a standard VS mode.  I think it’s likely the case of what mode creates more lag as more packets are sent or someone disconnects.

miscellaneous features:

Ad-hoc play was not tested as I do not have a secondary system or an extra controller for my PS Vita TV to test on.  If I do get a secondary system or an extra controller I will test this and amend this section with my thoughts on it.  It won’t be in the near future though.

DLC is also available to play, giving an extra 3 chapters, additional fields and audio (including the Sega 16 version of Tetris’ field and pieces), Tetrominoes, and Puyo skins.  These are entirely optional, but do require the use of a Japanese PSN account.

There are tutorials on how to learn how to play Puyo and Tetris in the main menu, even in Japanese it makes sense because it demonstrates what is done with the game.

Customization is vast in Puyo Puyo Tetris, you can change Puyo Skin and Tetromino Skins (or buy from points shop in options) and you can change backgrounds according to a pre-game settings in the VS modes.  You can change music accordingly as well, provided that you have unlocked the track to play.  with music customization you can even play the menu music on a battle, which makes for a neat change since it’s not common to do so.  DLC music from the other games are available in the DLC store too, and generally cost around 100 yen (for prices click here.).

Overall:

Overall, Puyo Puyo Tetris is this generation’s Tetris game to get, while struggling to be this generation’s Puyo Puyo game to get.  It feels like the Tetris Company managed the most of the game’s elements and modes while Sonic Team (who is currently in charge of Puyo Puyo, yes, the guys who made Sonic.) did the development of the story, characters, and puyo puyo related modes while mingling with the prior team.

Puyo Puyo stands strong as a competitive game all together, while Tetris fails to keep its mind set on what it wants for a definitive battle mode.  Granted, you’ll get the full SRS package in Puyo Puyo Tetris, but it feels as if there were a lot of difficulties with balance coming from the game.  The mixed modes can range between simple and fun to confusing and difficult, therefore giving a decent variation to the game as a whole.

The story, while translated unofficially on Youtube is trying hard, yet falls short to be a complete story, being that it throws in unnecessary characters at inappropriate times and tries to satisfy that for fillers.  It also has a bit of a rushed ending, much like what Puyo Puyo 7’s ending was like.  This almost feels like tradition for Sonic Team’s versions of Puyo Puyo.  I didn’t really experience rushed endings during the Compile Era of Puyo Puyo, probably because they were managed as well as the game the puyo come from: Madou Monogatari.

Overall, I recommend Puyo Puyo Tetris for those willing to play a fun version of Tetris, while appreciating the Puyo Puyo side of things. there are many modes to get your head stuck into and you can do a lot with the game.  It’s got a bit of a cute factor due to it being a Puyo game, but don’t let that bother you too much.

Puyo Puyo is fun, and while it has a niche fanbase outside of Japan, it still can be learned from the ground up to be a really fun game.  I’d recommend playing the Tsuu versions before playing with Fever, as Tsuu has a fixed power variable set and Fever has power variables per character, so balance gets played on the characters themselves instead of being all equal.

Tetris is fun too, although Puyo Puyo Tetris does throw out some conventional SRS measures here and there to occupy that place.  If you’re starting off with Tetris, this is the best way to play Tetris because it teaches you how to use finesse, twists, spins, and how the new SRS system has worked since the DS era.

a final thought on this:  The game is extremely hard to come by outside of Japan, so you may need to import it from an import store.  There had originally been a lot of western coverage over the game, it being a rare and interesting example of a game that didn’t come over to Western Territories.  A lot of people would still have appreciated it coming west (myself included) and some those who had already bought the game would also pay again to play a localized version.  Considering that the Western coverage was wasted to no fruition and it was simply the Japanese audience getting the game, I did find it odd that the game never got released outside Japan, but am still hopeful for a release in the future.

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