Tetris is a pretty significant title in the history of Nintendo - had the company not been able to license the seminal Russian puzzler back in the late '80s then it's likely that the Game Boy wouldn't have been the massive global success it was. Long seen as the game which sold the general public on portable play, Tetris has since grown into a cross-platform behemoth which has been sub-licensed to a great many companies - but Sega's Puyo Puyo Tetris is perhaps the most inventive use of the game's concept.
Originally released in 2014 on 3DS, Wii U, PS Vita, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, the game sadly skipped a western launch, which meant that non-Japanese players missed out on one of the best puzzle titles of recent years. Thankfully that's now being remedied with a Nintendo Switch port (as well as a PlayStation 4 release), which is due for launch in April. However, in Japan it was a Switch launch title, and given how easy it is to access the Japanese eShop, we've decided to take the plunge to see what it's like.
As the name suggests, Puyo Puyo Tetris combines two of the world's best-known puzzle titles - quite literally, in some ways. While it's possible to pick Tetris or Puyo Puyo - or even pick one and then switch mid-match - you can also play the "Fusion" mode where both Puyos and Tetriminos are dropped into the field at the same time, making for some seriously frantic matches as you attempt to pop blobs and line up blocks at the same time. Tetris blocks can squash Puyos in this mode, which adds a whole new layer of strategy to proceedings.
Add in a story mode (which will be almost pointless if you're playing this on import as it's all in Japanese) and a quite frankly brilliant online versus mode, and you can see why Puyo Puyo Tetris made such a splash in Japan back in 2014. The online side of things on Switch is especially good; we were able to jump into a match against a Japanese player in a matter of seconds, and didn't notice any lag or stutter during play.
What makes the Switch version truly stand out is the ability to effortlessly set up four player matches on a single screen, using four Joy-Con controllers. Naturally, this works best when you're playing on a large television but we had a few matches on the Switch itself, and it's still pretty easy to see what's going on - provided all four players are able to get quite close to the screen. As for playing with the Joy-Cons, it's worth noting that when they're bolted onto the sides of the console or used in the Joy-Con grip, you can use the left-hand button cluster for movement. While it's not quite as nice as having a proper digital pad, it works well in a game like this, where you only need horizontal and vertical input, not diagonal. That said, the analogue stick is still perfectly fine when you're using a single Joy-Con.
While there's not much here that is different from what Japanese players were lucky enough to get back in 2014, the fact that this amazing crossover is finally getting a western launch is something to be celebrated - and the Switch is perhaps the ideal platform for the game, especially if you plan on cracking it out for social gatherings alongside 1-2-Switch and Super Bomberman R. Puyo Puyo Tetris for Nintendo Switch launches on April 25th in North America and April 28th in Europe, but if you don't mind the language barrier (almost every bit of text in the game is in Japanese), then you can download the Japanese version now.