Tetris is a classic almost as old as gaming, having first released in 1984 before making its first appearance on Nintendo hardware in 1988. Puyo Puyo is comparatively new, but has a legacy all its own. Back in 2014, Sonic Team got the idea of fusing the two popular franchises into something new, and thus Puyo Puyo Tetris was born.
Wii U and 3DS owners in Japan got in on the action a few years ago, but us Nintendo gamers here in the West are getting our first taste on Switch. The core formula of Tetris remains unchanged: you drop block in various shapes called tetrominos in order to form lines. Once you've created a horizontal line of blocks, it'll clear... clear four lines at a time and you get a Tetris, which is the most possible at one time.
Puyo Puyo, on the other hand, is a bit different. Colourful little blobs, called Puyos, drop from the top of the playing field in groups of two. There are five puyo colours in total: red, green, yellow, blue and purple. To clear a group of puyos you need a minimum of four of the same colour touching. Clearing small groups of puyos at a time is good, but the key to victory is to smartly stack your puyos so they clear in combos. When you clear one group, all the puyos on top of will shift downward, giving you the opportunity to chain together multiple groups, similar to how other modern puzzle games function.
Carrying both names wouldn't really matter if you could only play one or the other though, would it? The main attraction of Puyo Puyo Tetris is the game's fusion mode, which combines both venerable franchises' gameplay to create something entirely new. In fusion mode, both tetrominos and puyos drop from the screen, and you have to treat each as you would in their respective franchises, making for a much more complex experience that puzzle fans are sure to enjoy.
There's more to Puyo Puyo Tetris than just taking two games and mashing them up, however. The game also features an adventure mode which serves as something of a story of how the two franchises came together. It's definitely not going to be the main attraction here, but it's a fun diversion, especially for those who prefer to play their game single player as opposed to joining the competitive multiplayer scene.
Speaking of competitive multiplayer, both Tetris and Puyo Puyo enjoy a thriving competitive community, so it's great that Sega opted to include online multiplayer complete with rankings. In multiplayer you can select from any of the game's modes and mix and match Puyo Puyo players and Tetris players to your heart's content. If you're a Tetris expert and your friend's a Puyo Puyo master, you can choose to go head-to-head, each with your puzzle of choice. Sonic Team did a remarkable job balancing two very different rulesets to make the game seem fair, regardless of which side you've chosen.
For more casual players, there's also a new mode called Big Bang mode, in which you must drop puyos or tetrominos faster than your opponent to clear lines quickly on a set grid. At the end of a 30 second timer a big bang occurs and your gray tetrominos or garbage puyos you generated are used to attack your opponent's lifebar. This continues, of course, until one of you runs out of health and loses the round. It's a fun mode designed to help beginners not feel overwhelmed, but still enjoy the game's multiplayer aspects; it accomplishes this task well.
Aside from Big Bang mode, which we enjoyed a great deal, there are more traditional mode to consider, like a traditional versus mode for up to four players, a challenge mode which has a sizable selection of options all its own, Fusion mode, as we mentioned earlier that also has its own dedicated area. There's also a Swap mode in which players must manage two boards at once - one Puyo Puyo board and one Tetris board which change places every 25 seconds. The key in Swap mode is to make one of your opponent's boards fail, just as you would in any other mode. Finally, there's party mode which plays like the more traditional modes with the addition of items.
Puyo Puyo Tetris has a multitude of options, and it supports nearly as many control schemes. It accommodates all the various ways in which you can use your Switch, which is handy considering each mode - with the exception of challenge mode - can be played by up to four players. No compromises really need to be made, either, as Puyo Puyo Tetris really is a single-button game. Pushing the A button or the equivalent thereof on the left Joy-Con will rotate your puyo or tetronimo, and pushing down will accelerate their descent.
Thankfully, even with four players, the game is still quite playable even in tabletop mode. There are no touch controls to speak of, but in a game like this we feel like that's for the better. Puyo Puyo Tetris feels like a game you can play in nearly any circumstance, with its myriad modes and control options always keeping you entertained.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is almost like three games in one. You get two classic puzzle games as well as a fascinating amalgamation of the two. There's no shortage of modes, and the offerings make for a game well suited to both newcomers and old pros.
Support for all of the Switch's various control options, with the exception of the console's touch screen, good online play as well as up to four player local multiplayer make Puyo Puyo Tetris a no-brainer for Switch-owning puzzle fans out there. Even if you aren't exactly crazy about puzzlers, the pick-up-and-play nature of this title makes it worth a look if you're taking your Switch on the go.