Puyo Puyo Champions Review: Cool Beans
Kalvin Martinez / Jun 10th, 2019 No Comments
Many people may not be familiar with Puyo Puyo, but Sega is hoping to change that with Puyo Puyo Champions. Some may have gotten a taste in the recent Puyo Puyo Tetris, but the main series has been hard to come by in the West.
Puyo Puyo Champions is that raw, uncut Puyo experience. It provides a perfect opportunity for newbies to learn Puyo Puyo, while having plenty of features that will keep seasoned players invested.
A Puyo Sets in the West
Unless you grew up with a Sega Genesis (or Game Gear or Master System), Puyo Puyo may be completely foreign to you. The series has been incredibly popular in Japan, but it hasn’t gained the same steam in the West. Hell, even if you were a Genesis kid back in the day, you may not be fully aware that you played Puyo Puyo.
Repackaged for the West as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine in 1993, the game introduced Puyo Puyo to gamers through the Trojan horse of Sonic the Hedgehog. Noted for its addictive gameplay and steep difficulty, Mean Bean Machine certainly created fans of Puyo Puyo, no matter how if they were aware of that fact.
However, it would be nearly a decade until the West would get a true Puyo Puyo game, when it came in the form of the THQ-published Puyo Pop and Puyo Pop Fever. Sadly, that attempt to bring Puyo Puyo to the West was shortlived. It was not until the recent release of Puyo Puyo Tetris that the West got another taste at those delectable beans.
Prepare to Puyo!
If you haven’t played Puyo Puyo Tetris or mainly played it on the Tetris side, the idea of Puyo Puyo may be extremely daunting. Don’t let it be. Puyo Puyo at its core is extremely easy to pick up.
In order to clear Puyos, you need to connect four of a similar color. They can be connected across or above in a line, as a square, or an L shape. The important things to note are that you can clear Puyos diagonally and Puyos must touch in order to clear.
The basics of Puyo Puyo are simple, but like all puzzle games there is a depth and richness to the gameplay that begs to be discovered. Clearing Puyos is satisfying, but clearing them alone won’t be enough to rack up a high score or win a match. This is where it becomes important to learn how to chain, all clear, and double clear.
What does that mean? Good Q!
Chaining is simply dropping Puyos in a way that when you clear one color, it creates a cascading effect clearing other Puyos as they drop. Creating a staircase pattern is a great way to start chaining clears. However, there are more advanced methods that you’ll learn as you practice, including sandwiching.
Double clears are when you clear two sets of four Puyos at the same time. This is a good way to get more points. Much like Tetris, however, the dream is crafting an all clear where you wipe the board clean of Puyos. Achieving an all clear is difficult, but more than worth the effort as it resets the board with a Fever-like board.
Wait, what does Fever mean?
Puyo Puyo Champions features rulesets for both Puyo Puyo 2 and Puyo Puyo Fever. Puyo Puyo 2 rules are basically vanilla Puyo where two beans drop at a time. This is what most people have encountered if they’ve played Puyo Puyo.
Fever rules are much more spicy. Not only do beans drop in sets of two, but they can also occasionally drop as sets of three or even a full Puyo set of four. Sets of three can be rotated to better fit your board, while a set of four can’t rotate, you can change the color of the Puyo by rotating it. This gives you an opportunity to create a massive Puyo or help set off your chains.
It isn’t simply the variety of Puyo sets that makes Fever rules different. There is also Fever mode, which is achieved by successfully clearing a set number of Puyos. In Fever mode, you’re given a set time limit and special puzzle boards where you can clear chains of Puyos. This allows you to get the upper hand against your competition.
The Spirit of Competition
Understanding the spirit of Puyo Puyo is important, but more important is understanding how everything fits in with the idea of competition. At its heart, Puyo Puyo is like a fighting game where you’re trying to demonstrate dominance over your opponent(s).
Before getting too much into the competitive nature of Puyo Puyo, there is one last foundational mechanic to know about: garbage Puyos. Garbage Puyos are clear, gray Puyos that are sent by your opponent to muck up your board, preventing you from clearing or creating chains. They cannot be cleared by chaining four together, but if you make a Puyo then all adjacent garbage is cleared out. If you aren’t careful, too much garbage will stack up and force you to lose.
Matches are won and lost based on how effectively you send and clear garbage. Neutralizing garbage Puyos can be just as key to winning a match as sending them. It is important that you are keeping a keen eye on how you’re managing garbage Puyos.
Puyo Puyo Champions splits up its competitive modes between offline and online play. If you and up to three friends want to determine who is the best at Puyo, you have the option to play in local multiplayer.
What if you don’t have friends or you’re looking for more serious competition? Online multiplayer has you covered.
For those interested in a lighter online experience, you can enjoy the free play mode. However, those looking to showcase their mastery can compete in Ranked multiplayer mode.
Ranked is a much more intense experience where your skills will be tested and sharpened against opponents with a similar skill set. It is also a purer experience as matches are one-on-one with the first to two victories winning. In order to win, you’ll need to make sure you’re technique is on point. If you’re good enough, you will raise in the rank to face even tougher competitors.
Whether you’re squaring off against one opponent or three, battles in Puyo Puyo Champions are fierce. However, don’t let the tough competition dissuade you. Losing only makes you better as you learn from better opponents and your mistakes.
This effort is aided by every match being recorded for you to watch back and the ability to watch replays from other players around the world. If you’re willing to study, you have the ability to take your Puyo’ing to the next level.
The Spirit of Competition
Puyo Puyo may not be a household name in the West, but that should change soon thanks to Puyo Puyo Champions. The game is a tremendous value. Solo and local multiplayer options give new players plenty of opportunity to develop their Puyo skills, while the competitive online mode allows veteran players a chance to show off their mastery.
Puyo Puyo Champions was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
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