When we reviewed the Sega Ages version of Puyo Puyo, we wondered why Sega had decided to go with the very first game in the series, and not one of the numerous better sequels. Seven months later, Sega has responded – not to us, we’re not that big-headed – by going back to the Puyo Puyo well and this time giving us a Sega Ages port of the second game, Puyo Puyo 2. So now we find ourselves in an awkward, almost entitled position where our response is: “Well, yes, that’s what we meant... but maybe not this one.”
Known in its native Japan as Puyo Puyo Tsu – because ‘tsu’ both sounds like ‘two’ and also means ‘expert’ – this sequel is mostly similar to its predecessor but it does throw in some new gameplay features that improve things a little. Nothing too revolutionary, mind you, but enough to reduce frustration during head-to-head play (which is actually all you can do in this game).
As in the first game, the aim in Puyo Puyo 2 is to drop little coloured blobs called Puyo and try to match up four of the same colour while an opponent – be it AI-controlled or another person – tries to do the same. By lining up your Puyo in certain ways, you can set up chain reactions, creating large combos. This, in turn, sends ‘garbage Puyo’ over to your opponent’s screen, making it harder for them to clear Puyo. The main difference that’s been added to this game is the ‘offset rule’, which wasn’t present in the first game but appears in this one. Previously, if an opponent cleared a huge combo, you could do pretty much nothing about it; even if you created a similarly large combo of your own in your current turn, you wouldn’t be able to prevent the onslaught of garbage Puyo that followed.
This time, when an opponent clears a huge combo and the garbage Puyo loom ominously over your screen, ready to drop, you have the opportunity to counter. Whereas in the first game clearing your own combo would just send garbage Puyo over to your opponent, this time it reduces the number of garbage Puyo you’re set to receive; for example, if you’re about to get 15 garbage Puyo, you can create 10 in a combo and only receive 5 (or maybe even create 20 in a combo and send 5 to them).
This may all sound very confusing on paper, but it makes sense in practice. Essentially, the point is that in the first game you were more or less doomed when an opponent hit you with a load of garbage Puyo, and now you have a chance to cancel some of them out before they drop. Which makes for longer matches, happier people and a generally nicer planet to live on. Or something. So, now that you’ve got a better way of defending yourself in an intense Puyo Puyo match, what can you do with your newfound abilities? Not a hell of a lot, truth be told; because this is based on the arcade version of the game and not the home ports you only really have the main arcade mode and a couple of minor variations on that.
The main mode has you working your way up a pyramid-shaped tower by taking on a series of randomised opponents on each floor. The aim is to gain a certain number of points while defeating these opponents in order to climb to the next floor, until you reach the top and face off against Satan, of all people. As well as this standard arcade mode, the Sega Ages version of the game also includes an optional Endurance mode. This is more or less the same thing, except you have to play against every opponent in a fixed sequence instead of having them randomised on each floor. Other than this, it’s more or less the same thing, though, meaning it isn’t going to revolutionise the Puyo Puyo experience for you.
The only other option is a VS mode for two players, either locally or online. Much like the original Sega Ages Puyo Puyo, though, we couldn’t find an online match for love nor money (and we’ve got plenty of at least one of those to give). Given that it’s only been out for a week, that really doesn’t bode well for its longevity; essentially, if you’re thinking of buying this game purely for online competition, you may want to reconsider.
As for extra bonuses, there’s also a new Helper feature, which can be used in either the Arcade or Endurance modes. At any time during play you can hit a shoulder button and enter the Helper screen, which lets you manually step backwards (up to 60 steps) and forwards through your moves. This means if you mess up or see a better combo you could have set up, you can flip back and redo it a different way. One thing that isn’t in here, however – despite previous claims from Sega’s press releases – is a full English localisation. Puyo Puyo 2 was only released in Japanese arcades, and this is the untouched Japanese version. All the character descriptions that appear before each battle are still in Japanese, and while the game’s perfectly playable without knowing the language, it’s still a shame to see that M2 didn’t go the extra mile and give us an optional translated version.
It does make up for this a little, though, by including a separate 'Characters' screen that’s selectable from the main menu; this gives you English descriptions for each character, which means even although the game itself is unchanged this extra little feature goes some way to making up for it. Ultimately, though, the reality is that this still isn’t the definitive Puyo Puyo game. While it’s certainly an improvement over the first entry in the series, later versions added a bunch of extra modes that would have given players a bit more variety. This, meanwhile, remains limited to one-on-one battles only, meaning if those aren’t your cup of tea then you aren’t going to get much out of this one.
Of the 16 Sega Ages games released to date, this sits nearer the bottom end of the scale. While it isn't quite as limited as the first Puyo Puyo, it's still very much a one-trick pony, and while it's entertaining enough for fans of the series, when you've got the far more feature-heavy Puyo Puyo Champions on Switch for only a couple of pounds or dollars more, this one is entirely unnecessary.