Minna de Puyo Puyo is the first Puyo Puyo title for Gameboy Advance. Courtesy of Sonic Team, does Minna de Puyo Puyo do anything new to the immortal franchise?
Outside of Tetris, Puyo Puyo is the most popular puzzle game in Japan. Largely due to its colorful cast of characters and the fact that it has been ported to almost every game console and handheld in existence with over a hundred versions of the game available, Puyo Puyo has amassed a hardcore, mainstream popularity as can be seen in the amount of Puyo Puyo merchandise available in Japan.
Now Sega and Sonic Team are bringing Compile's classic to the Gameboy Advance. Despite not being developed by Compile, does the game stack up to the series' overall quality?
Well, it's a no brainer. The Puyo formula isn't hard to replicate, and it's highly probably that Compile gave its code and artwork to Sega for its use in compiling the GBA game (Sega and Compile are very close).
The standard Puyo gameplay is present. Puyos drop from the top in couplings. Match up 4 of the same colored Puyos to clear them. Create chains (known as rensa) to get more points and drop more garbage puyo on the opponent's playing field. The various NPCs have their own strategies so this makes the single player game fairly challenging for the beginner.
The standard Puyo Puyo game modes are present. There is a single player mode, which sports a significant new change. In previous Puyo Puyo games, you pretty much followed a single story (except in Sun, where there were 3 routes). In Minna de Puyo Puyo, there is a single story, but because of the way it is structured, you have to replay it several times to open up new branches, and unlock new routes through it. In short, going with a nonlinear storyline adds needed innovation to the series' single player mode.
Then there are the two multiplayer modes: 1 on 1 and 4 player mode, and you can pick from multi cart or single cart versions. Puyo Puyo is meant to be a multiplayer experience, so this is the "meat" of the game and self-explanatory.
Lastly, the Endless mode sports Tokoton (endless) and Kesubesi (task) modes. Tokoton lets you play Puyo Puyo endlessly against yourself, which is a good way to perfect your Puyo skills, and Kesubesi is sort of like a "puzzle" mode where you have to perform various Puyo chains or combos that are specified.
It's extremely disappointing that there is no Nazo (puzzle) mode as in Puyo Puyoon and Sun. The Nazo mode was basically a mode where you had to place down a specific set of Puyos in a pattern. It was fairly easy but is still a way of keeping the Puyo Puyo gameplay interesting.
And this version is perfect for importers. As a first for a Puyo game, you can toggle between Japanese and English language, and yes, the story mode is in english as well (not just the options). This is the perfect non-Japanese speaking first-timer's Puyo game. Unfortunately the inclusion of english probably indicates the game won't be released outside of Japan.
If you're looking for the perfect puzzle game to kill the hours away, or something to tide you over til Nintendo releases a Panel de Pon (Tetris Attack) for GBA, Puyo Puyo is the perfect choice!