A new RPG-inspired mode and well-made tutorials make this sequel excellent.
Both Tetris and Puyo Puyo have existed for decades as two of the best styles of puzzle games in all of video games. The 2014 Japanese release of Puyo Puyo Tetris was like blending peanut butter and chocolate - taking two things that were excellent by themselves and transforming it into a rich, delectable gaming experience. The later 2017 Western release solidified the excellence of that fusion idea by bringing it worldwide and to Switch. Six years after Puyo Puyo Tetris first took shape, a sequel aptly named Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is hitting Switch and it continues the quality fun of the original while adding a variety of new ideas and modes to make it even better.
Basically everything from the first game is present here. You can play regular Puyo Puyo, regular Tetris, or the fusion of the two in local or online multiplayer. The online got a big facelift, though, with the addition of Puzzle Leagues, where you can compete for a high ranking in different modes in a way that should pair players of similar skill levels with each other better. In this mode, there are leagues for each puzzle game separately and combined. While I couldn’t test the full breadth of the online pre-launch, the fact that the online for the original game and even Sega’s Puyo Puyo Champions still have a regular community makes me optimistic these modes will have legs. Additionally, a Skill Battle League also exists, which highlights the major new play mode in this sequel.
Skill Battles are an RPG-ish mode where you pick a team of three characters and make use of MP to use special abilities that do things like clear junk tiles from your screen, up your defense, or heal your health. It tweaks the calculus for victory just enough to be refreshing as, for example, you don’t actually lose when your screen fills up; you just lose health. You also need to be way more mindful of your health and your opponent’s health. It’s impressive to see such a new concept applied to tried-and-true puzzle games. Adding more depth are the item cards you acquire, which are randomly generated boosts for your game. Lots of customization makes this a very deep mode. The only knock against it is that it’s hard to wrap your mind around since it is so drastically different. Skill Battle does have a handful of tutorials, but I didn’t find them quite as helpful as the rest of the smartly crafted lessons that are built into the game and teach you the basics and higher-level play.
These Lessons exist for every game mode and the ones for just Tetris and just Puyo Puyo also feature a variety of problem challenges that spell out more specific strategies while letting players actually execute them. This is such a nice and welcome addition that makes games that have a combined 50+ years of history more approachable to a wider audience. Going through some of these tutorials helped me grapple better with higher-level play, and I’ve played Tetris and Puyo Puyo for most of my life.
Now I know people are out there who probably enjoy the story in Puyo Puyo Tetris, but for me, it’s just a colorful conduit to play puzzles. All your favorite characters from the first game are back, doing something across different worlds and space and junk. I’m just thrilled the weirdo robot named Zed is back with his wonderful loud robot voice. The Adventure mode contains a lot of story as well as a lot of challenging puzzle scenarios of varying modes. It’s such a great way to romp through all the different styles this game has, going from straight Versus matches to some of the wackier stuff like Skill Battles and returning modes such as Big Bang and Swap. This is also the central place where you unlock different content, including new characters (28 in all), different backgrounds, and other puzzle piece designs. The total count of stages in this mode crawls up past 80, not including the multiple difficulty levels.
On top of what’s included in the game at launch, Sega is also promising a lot of post-launch content. The variety of free updates will add new features and characters. I’m satisfied with what’s included here on day one, but the promise of new content is welcome. Additionally, a day one patch will add touch screen support on Switch. As this review is being written pre-launch, I can’t confirm the touch screen support is good, but it should be there.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel - that was already done in the first game in this series. What this sequel does is keep what worked so well about the original while adding to or refining everything else. Clear, expansive tutorials make it more approachable, a variety of online Puzzle Leagues make the depth of online play stronger, and the new Skill Battle mode adds a smart twist to the gameplay. This is a vibrant and enjoyable puzzle game that is packed with content and variety.