We’ve already experienced the first Puyo Puyo title on the Virtual Console, although you may not have noticed as the western version was retooled as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. As far as laying down the foundations of the Puyo Puyo franchise, it’s not a bad game at all, but it was undoubtedly trumped in pretty much every respect by this brilliant sequel.
The general gameplay is a lot like fellow genre classics Tetris and Columns. Different coloured drops fall from the top of the screen and the player has to successfully link these drops in order to clear them. Once the drops reach the top of the play area, it’s game over. You also have to factor in that you’re playing against an opponent, and whenever they combo together a certain number of drops, these are dumped on your side of the screen as ‘garbage’, thus making things a little harder for you. Thankfully, you can do the same!
Although the game rules remain pretty much as they were before, developer Compile has added some important features that change the complexion of the game and help make it more enjoyable in the long run. For example, it’s now possible to counter the ‘garbage’ drops that are inflicted by your opponent. For example, if your foe sends 20 drops your way and you manage to combo 10, the damage is reduced by 10 so you have less garbage to deal with.
You can also use this new system to counter-attack your enemy: If they initiate a 20 drop attack on you and you manage to score 30, you will send 10 drops their way. This system has been used in every Puyo Puyo title since, not to mention countless other puzzle games. There are also other new features such as an All Clear bonus, Chain Limits, different types of garbage drops and a mode that removes garbage drops entirely.
In single player the game is pretty addictive but it only really comes to life when you’re up against a human opponent. The new rules allow you to customise your two-player battles to your own personal liking and this makes Puyo Puyo 2 one of the most perfectly formed multiplayer puzzle games currently available on the Virtual Console, and a much more pleasing proposition than the prequel.
Puyo Puyo 2 was ported to 12 different formats in total and the Megadrive/Genesis version is widely regarded as one of the finest. If you’re a puzzle game fanatic, then chances are our recommendation won’t change what you already know – this is classic stuff. If you downloaded Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and crave a more balanced and enjoyable experience then you really should purchase this as soon as possible. It’s just a shame that the single player aspect isn’t quite as essential, but you can’t have everything!
Note: as this game was never released outside of Japan some things like menus are in Japanese. The in-game manual on the Wii explains the game modes, however, so it isn't really a problem.