Puyo Puyo Tetris Finally Pops its Way Westward

It was painful to see the announcement and subsequent media for Puyo Puyo Tetris when it was announced in Japan in late 2013. It was revealed at a time when localizations from Sega’s western departments plunged to the lowest point in their history, following a series of layoffs after too many games sold below expectations. The combination of that and the rights to the Tetris franchise being in Ubisoft’s hands made it difficult to even hope the game would leave Japan, despite it not having much text for Sega’s then-threadbare localization team to translate.

It didn’t help that Ubisoft’s Tetris Ultimate was regarded as inferior to many other versions, thanks to the lack of customization options for its visuals and sound and most versions being glitchy.

Fortunately, it’s nice that some individuals within Sega’s western departments kept us in mind, and subscribed to the logic of “better late than never.” It’s been over three years since it released in Japan, but Puyo Puyo Tetris has finally been confirmed for a western release. It will make its way over here for Switch and PlayStation 4, the former of which is the focus, since it was originally announced after the system’s presentation last month. While it’s a shame the game isn’t coming to as wide a variety of platforms as it did in Japan (where it also released on PS3, Wii U, 3DS, Vita, and XB1), it’s tough to be upset when we’re at least receiving the opportunity.

As its name implies, Puyo Puyo Tetris represents a combination of the aesthetics, ideas, and mechanics found within the Puyo Puyo (or Puyo Pop) series (which focuses on tile matching) and those from Tetris. That means players will have to contend with falling pieces consisting of four blocks, which will be used to create a horizontal line without spaces that subsequently disappears. Not that there’s anyone who could possibly stumble upon this blog that isn’t familiar with Tetris, but the charm lies in how its mechanics are combined with its cute art style and lighthearted story. Of course, there’s no way they could sell this game for more than, say, $15 if there wasn’t more to this than a cute-looking Tetris version.

The main single-player mode is the “Adventure,” which features colorful characters battling each other for what I assume are well-defined reasons, complete with voice acting. Its length varies depending on how determined the player is to achieve 100% completion.

The “Versus” mode is where players can either compete with the AI or each other with Puyo Puyo or Tetris rules on the board. The latter involves the rules explained above, but traditional Puyo Puyo gameplay involves combining four colors before they disappear, and chaining them for combos to rack up larger points. It’s similar to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, if you’ve played that, which still demands more popularity in the west than Sega’s Puyo Puyo series.

The “Swap” mode involves players competing on both Tetris and Puyo Puyo boards, where both swap at certain times. If that’s not chaotic enough, the “Fusion” mode is even more intense, which involves players using Tetris and Puyo Puyo pieces on the same board. This mode requires more quick thinking regarding which pieces can be combined with others, and their strategic placements on the board. The “Big Bang” mode features players competing on either of the aforementioned boards, but the requirement for winning here is to complete them before the other player. Finally, there’s the “Party” mode, where players compete on either of the boards, but with items that can be used to hinder the opposing player from winning.

The existence of all those modes should ease concerns about this being a puzzle game releasing at retail for $30-40 in 2017, as the details show that it will have enough content to justify that price.

The game will release at retail and digitally for Switch for $40 and $30, respectively, but will only be available physically for PS4 at $30. Perhaps this is due to licensing issues, as it would conflict with Ubisoft’s aforementioned Tetris Ultimate, which is available digitally on a bevy of platforms. There’s a good chance this is also why it’s only releasing on two platforms here, but again, it’s nonetheless nice to see Sega giving it a localization effort.

Puyo Puyo Tetris will release on April 25th and 28th in North America and Europe, respectively. Perhaps in due time, Ubisoft will lose the Tetris license, which will pave way for Sega to port this game to more platforms. It would do well on PC, for instance, but it’s a shame Tetris Ultimate is available on Steam to prevent it from taking off on the platform, despite it requiring the sometimes-cumbersome UPlay to run. Sega might be too concerned about potential piracy to offer a DRM-free version, if the distribution platform is the only issue here, but we’ll see if they’re willing to get over that.

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