OK, so I have to battle puyos to get my teacher’s stupid wand back?
Puyo Pop is Sega’s venerable puzzle franchise, featuring little coloured blobs that disappear when you match four of them together. Now Sonic Team and SEGA have brought the Puyo madness to the GameCube.
Compile’s famous puzzler has never been about flashy graphics, and Sonic Team’s GC rendition certainly doesn’t prove otherwise. The puyo are rendered in 3D with 3D backgrounds, but unless there are multiple chains happening, no one would know the difference. When entering Fever Mode or All Clear Mode, the backgrounds take on a psychedelic flavour.
Sound is fairly average. All of the absolutely nonsensical cut-scenes are voiced in your choice of either Japanese or English. There are a few remixed tracks of classic Puyo themes, but sound effects are average. During a match, both characters will natter on and either utter cries of joy or pain, depending on how they are faring.
Puyo Pop’s rules are simple. Take any of the coloured blobs, match four together and they will disappear. By creating chain reactions of Puyo explosions, players can rack up huge combos and dump “nuisance puyo” on their opponent’s field.
However, Puyo Pop Fever has a new addition to the tried-and-true gameplay. When you chain puyo after an opponent has set up nuisance puyo in your buffer, you build up your “Fever” meter. When the gauge is filled, you enter “Fever Mode”. Essentially what happens is that your play field is temporarily replaced with a preset field full of puyo that allow for very high chain combos. After the “Fever time” runs out, the game field returns to normal. A similar scenario occurs with the “All Clear” mode. After you clear all of the puyo pieces from your field, the game will again give a preset board. The objective here is to keep clearing the board with one piece, setting up chain reactions. When the player fails to clear the board, the game returns to the previous playing screen.
As with all games in the series, Puyo Pop Fever has a story mode. Story mode focuses on a young lass named Aimite and her adventures with puyo. Per the norm, the story is absurd, giving any reason (or not) to battle puyo. While the cut-scenes generally have decent English conversions, there is an amusing lack of editing prowess in the menus and character names. Engrish reigns supreme with choice names like “Prince of Ocean” or descriptions, such as “This is traditional simple Endless Puyo POP.”
Aside from the ubiquitous Story mode, there is Endless puyo and Double Puyo. In Endless Puyo, there are three modes: Fever, Mission, and Original. Endless Fever puts the player with a time constraint in Fever mode. By chaining successfully, you can add time to the countdown clock. Mission is the same as the traditional “Task” mode where you’re asked to clear a certain kind of puyo or cause a specific number of chains. Original mode is just you and the puyos, and only one can win. The two-player mode is a considerable disappointment as the GBA version had four-player, single cartridge support three years ago.
Puyo Pop Fever brings the classic puzzle game to the GameCube with a few minor improvements and ideas. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a four-player mode and the fact that it is essentially the same game as the GBA version, Puyo Pop Fever isn’t for everyone. If you lack a GBA and want an addictive puzzle game, Puyo Pop Fever will fill that void. However, most people could probably pick up Puyo Pop for the GBA for an even lower cost than Puyo Pop Fever’s budget price.