Puyo Puyo Tetris
Might this be the most successful cultural exchange of recent times? The first Puyo game to reach the west in 13 years, Puyo Puyo Tetris brings together one of Russia’s finest exports with a puzzler that has largely been the preserve of the import connoisseur. It’s a happy marriage, too: though the fusion of two very different puzzle disciplines might at first seem awkward, the broad array of modes and options ensures that casual players and genre aficionados alike will find something to enjoy.
While most of us are reasonably well versed in Tetris by now, plenty of players will need bringing up to speed on its Japanese counterpart. It’s a deceptively simple game where coloured blobs fall in pairs, and you’re tasked with matching four at once. But if you’re only matching four, you’re doing it wrong; instead, you should be planning several moves ahead, arranging the blobs in step patterns, so a single match prompts a chain reaction when the others fall.
The tutorials aren’t ideal, hitting you with a barrage of advanced techniques. But you’ll get plenty of practice in an unexpectedly substantial Adventure mode, which covers every game type, pitting you against opponents, score targets and the clock by turns. Its challenges are interspersed with a preposterous cartoon story, but it’s told with such cheery enthusiasm you almost have to admire its absurdity. And the hectic pace of the later puzzles means these narrative interruptions serve as welcome breathers from the stress of competitive play against surprisingly tough AI opposition. Yet even when you’re up against it, you’ll find it’s possible to escape from seemingly unwinnable situations: a delay before garbage blocks are deposited in your gully means the dump can be cancelled with a well-timed chain or Tetris. And if your rival has built up a tall stack in anticipation of a lengthy combo or four-line clearance, you can cause them all kinds of trouble with a couple of quick matches in succession.
You’ll need to master both games to finish the story, and to compete in the Fusion mode that somehow blends them into a cohesive whole, or the Swap matches that briskly alternate between the two. But if you’d rather focus on one, there’s still plenty of choice, from solo arcade modes to offline single- or multi-screen local battles, and ranked matches, on the off-chance you fancy being humiliated by some ridiculously capable Japanese Puyo players. With its bright, clean presentation looking resplendent on the small screen, it’s a particularly fine fit for Switch’s portable mode; for the next few weeks, your daily commute – and occasionally your stop – is likely to fly by.
Credits earned from all modes can be spent on unlockable skins that allow you to customise the look of your blobs and tetrominoes. For a higher fee you can also purchase alternate voice packs for the various characters