The Puyo Puyo series has never found its foothold in the west: many of the games were reskinned to star more popular western characters with titles like Kirby’s Avalanche being Japan’s Super Puyo Puyo, or Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine being a reskinned version of the original Puyo Puyo game. Constantly changing which series the game was under made it so that the Puyo Puyo brand was never really one established in the west, and was never really drilled into people’s minds as its own thing.
That is why when Puyo Pop Fever was released on Nintendo DS and GameCube in North America it underperformed, making the series dormant in the west for many years. That being said, SEGA – who bought the series from Compile in 1998 – has just released the first new Puyo Puyo game in the west after a long gap with the awesome Puyo Puyo Tetris.
This game has given SEGA the chance to use another series notoriety to bolster the franchise’s popularity instead of diminishing it, as it retains and recognizes the hallmarks of the Puyo Puyo series, and can be used to prepare western audiences for a new full-fledged Puyo Puyo game.
For those who don’t know about Puyo Puyo, it is a puzzle game where the titular squishy creatures that can be any combination of red, blue, green, yellow, and purple fall from the top of the screen and have to be put into groups of four (excluding diagonal groups) to pop and be wiped off the board. Players can turn around and move the Puyo as they fall, and can rack up massive points if many of them are popped in succession. Like Tetris, you can see which Puyo are coming up, so it is very beneficial to plan ahead so you can make more combos and maximize the amount of points you can get. If the creatures stack too high and hit a designated spot on the top of the board, it’s game over.
The series also shines in multiplayer, as players attempt to last longer than their opponents. The aforementioned combos send “garbage” to the opponent’s board, though garbage can be removed by both players if the Puyo pop next to it. It’s a really fun and addicting puzzle game concept that would fit right in with other popular western puzzle series on home console, handhelds, and phones like Tetris, Bejeweled, and Candy Crush.
That is why I think it was a great idea to make Puyo Puyo Tetris the series’ return to western audiences. Normally, Puyo Puyo games had been overshadowed by the games they were paired with, but in Puyo Puyo Tetris, it was presented as a companion to the already popular Tetris franchise, retaining its identity and characters in its Adventure mode. It weaned Tetris fans like me into this other series with its addicting gameplay and lovable characters that only made me want to look into the series more.
After playing Puyo Puyo Tetris, I went back and and played the aforementioned Kirby’s Avalanche, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, and Puyo Pop Fever, and have become a fan of the series and the charm it exudes. While it may have not reached Tetris levels of entertainment for me, I still now consider myself a fan of the series, and that is all thanks to Puyo Puyo Tetris. I am most likely not going to be the only one that Puyo Puyo Tetris does that to, especially with it being the big headlining multiplayer puzzle game for the Nintendo Switch right now.
While SEGA currently doesn’t have plans to port Puyo Puyo Chronicles (which released last year on 3DS) to the west, and most likely doesn’t plan on bringing the series’ other games west outside of Puyo Puyo Tetris (which released in Japan in 2014), I do hope they consider it for future entries in the series. The games are insanely addicting, and the Puyo’s cute design are sure to hit it off with females and younger audiences if future titles are marketed right.
Puyo Puyo has an undeniable charm that I think can get it noticed, whether that’s with an iOS and Android game, or another full-fledged console release like Puyo Puyo Tetris. A larger amount of gamers are now aware of what the series is now, giving SEGA the chance to establish it as a prominent puzzle brand in the west, so even more people can get caught up in its charms like I did.