This Week in Games - Puyo Puyo Tetris

by Dustin Bailey,
Let's not beat around the bush here, folks. There is precisely one important thing to talk about this week, and that is the end of our long national nightmare—Puyo Puyo Tetris is finally out in the West.

Puyo Puyo Tetris

One of the sad facts about modern gaming is that the import scene just isn't as exciting as it used to be. Sure, it's a weird thing to hold nostalgia for, since (almost) all those obscure Japanese games come out worldwide these days, but given the relaxation of region-locking on modern consoles and the ubiquity of online import outlets, it's almost a shame that the need to buy games straight from their native land is slowly fading away. The last piece of software I imported was 2014's Puyo Puyo Tetris, which seemed fated to remain unlocalized for a variety of licensing issues around the absurdly convoluted Tetris lineage. But lo, Sega worked out the details, and Sonic Team's magical mash-up is now officially available in an English-language format.

So what exactly is Puyo Puyo Tetris? It's a huge, fully-featured package combining two of the best puzzle games ever made. You know how this works—make lines of tetrominoes, match four like-colored puyos. If you've never made it beyond the basic levels of either game, a neat set of tutorials will run down all the advanced techniques, from the basics of making a Tetris to building layers of staircased puyo chains. Whichever format of these games you want to play, it's here. Basic versions of both games. Battle Tetris. Single-player. Two-to-four person multiplayer. Challenge and party modes. A story.

There's also the mashup modes, which introduce enough new layers of strategy that it's worth considering the combo an entirely new game. The core mode is versus, and it sees you receiving alternating puyos and tetrominoes which you can clear with either game's ruleset, forcing you to make lines of blocks and match colored jellies on the same board at the same time. For an added twist, tetrominoes squish straight through puyos toward the bottom of the board, replacing the jellies on top and destroying garbage blocks in the process.

The story mode is a surprisingly coherent addition, since it offers a bunch of challenges to extend the life of the solo game. There a lots of straight versus matches against AI, sure, but there are also challenges about reaching score thresholds in a certain amount of time and achieving specific goals in a certain number of moves. The story features a whole bunch of returning Puyo Puyo characters and a number of newly-invented Tetris enthusiasts, all of whom are fully voice acted in English. That's more than a story this inconsequential deserves, but it's all so enthusiastic and goofy that it helps to make the whole package feel like a labor of love.

That applies to the game itself, too. Astonishing little details of gameplay are tracked and contribute to your score, right down to taking advantage of tetromino rotation to fill implausible gaps—certainly a surprise if your Tetris knowledge dates back to the Game Boy release. It's a small detail, but it's indicative of the craft that went into this package. Every little corner is finely crafted, and from the details of the controls to the variety of modes to the colorful characters and varied backgrounds, it all works together to make this game immensely charming. There's even a host of online features, from ranked versus play to custom games across most of the main local modes, along with easy access to friends' lobbies. Plus there's an online replay option, letting you see top ranked play in a big variety of modes.

The Switch version was a recent release even in Japan, and the game is a perfect fit for basically every feature of the platform. It's great at home or in short burst on portable mode, the simplistic controls adapt well to every method of input available, and its variety of party and multiplayer modes will be perfect for all your unlikely millennial rooftop parties. The only mark against the Switch version is its slight price premium—$40 versus the PS4's $30. It's still a good a good price for a puzzle collection as fully featured as this, but it's disappointing to see a publisher taking advantage of the software starved Switch audience when it comes to pricing.

Even with that in mind, though, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a terrific game. It's a combination of flavors so great that it's almost impossible not to invoke Reese's, and finally having it available in English has made it even more accessible than before. If you've got even a passing interest in puzzle games, you should be playing this one.

NEWS

PLATINUM IS TEASING ANOTHER PC PORT

That Bayonetta PC port hit Steam pretty recently, and it's excellent. So excellent that people are—of course—already asking Platinum what's next, and the developer has been coy while suggesting they'd love to release more of their games on PC. The obvious choice was Vanquish, an underappreciated hybrid action-shooter that suffered some performance problems in its original PS3 and 360 release.

Well, Platinum is eager to tease, since a recent update to Bayonetta on Steam has added a tiny image of Vanquish's Sam Gideon to the game files. That's no official announcement, sure, but it's probably a far more effective one—say your “finaly,” get ready, et cetera.

BANDAI MIGHT HAVE DONE TOO GOOD A JOB TEASING THEIR NEW GAME

The Vanquish teaser is a very scaled, specific one that has a very specific end purpose. (Probably.) That's good. Less good is the corner Bandai Namco painted themselves into last week, when they started teasing out a new game announcement with a beautifully-animated concept trailer and a “Prepare to Dine” tagline.

Having the publisher of Dark Souls play on that series' tagline and deliver anything that's less than mind-blowing is at least questionably, and it seems to have done more harm than good to the new game—Code Vein—that they announced as a result. Look, here I am, talking more about misguided marketing than the video game.

Code Vein could potentially be neat, but the early material about it doesn't inspire much excitement. It's a post-apocalyptic action-RPG that sees you as a vampiric-powered survivor absorbing powers from your enemies to earn enhanced abilities. That's fine, and there's not much detail yet, but c'mon—don't invoke Dark Souls for that. It doesn't help that the actual game has a pretty generic “anime translated to 3D” look, in stark contrast to its absolutely gorgeous (serious go watch it again) trailer. But hey, maybe it'll be great.

THEY'RE REMASTERING NIGHT TRAP - YES, NIGHT TRAP

It seems we're now at the point with remasters where the quality of the original game is irrelevant—instead, literally any old thing is fair game for modern updates. Heck, Voodoo Vince was just rereleased last week. Not that these games aren't without their merits, it's just that they're valuable more as historical curiosities than fun games to play though today. But given the rapid obsolescence of video game hardware, maybe that's enough.

Soon we'll be reaching a new high on the “historical curiousity” front but a new low in “fun games,” because Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition has been announced for Spring release on PS4 and Xbox One. The original Sega CD release was a minimally interactive FMV game that had you setting traps to protect a house full of of scantily-clad slumber partiers from a gang of vampires. That now-quaint subject matter is the main source of the game's fame, since it became central in the US video game violence trials that led to the creation of the ESRB.

So yes, as bad as Night Trap may be, it is a game of historical significance that is worth preserving. The FMV footage looks to be remastered from the original recordings, and though it's still distinctly 90s in quality it certainly looks better than the heavily compressed video of the original release. Plus, Limited Run Games will be putting out a physical PS4 release. I'm not sure I want to actually play Night Trap, but as a curiosity and collector's item? Yeah, sure, absolutely.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

LITTLE NIGHTMARES
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC
Release Date: April 27
MSRP: $19.99

Little Nightmares has a beautifully twisted look, a sort of Lovecraftian take on the whimsical papercraft worlds of Media Molecule games. You're a lost little girl aboard a mysterious ship filled with ravenous lost souls, and your ultimate goal is to escape that purgatorial place. It certainly seems to follow in the footsteps of Limbo and Inside, but at the very least it's a gorgeous take on the concept.

MARIO KART 8 DELUXE
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Release Date: April 28
MSRP: $59.99

Mario Kart 8 on Wii U wasn't a kart-racing revolution, but by simple virtue of decades of revision and improvement it ended up being the very best game in that series. Plus the DLC was great, too! Now that whole entire package is coming to the Switch, which will hopefully be—unlike the Wii U—a platform people actually own. There are a variety of minor gameplay tweaks, but the biggest thing is a completely revamped battle mode which now features original arenas instead of repurposed racetracks.

WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR III
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Platform: PC
Release Date: April 27
MSRP: $19.99

When Dawn of War II came out, it was one of few Warhammer-licensed games. Now Dawn of War III is wading into a mighty sea of takes on the tabletop empire, and it seems to be blending the big-scale strategy of the original game with the focus on hero units that defined the sequel. We'll learn how that all pans out very soon.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
In the increasingly prolific category of “that's fine but who asked for it?” remasters is a de Blob release on Steam. Sure.


discuss this in the forum (9 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

The X Button homepage / archives