Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 Hands-On Preview. If my preview time is anything to go by, then Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is shaping up to be more of the same, which is mostly a good thing, because the last one was generally superb. Yet, nowhere is that familiarity more apparent than in the return of those dizzying difficulty spikes.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 Hands-On Preview (PS4)
It’s rare that a game has me going from trance-like calm to the verge of throwing my controller in just minutes. Controllers are expensive and I’m naturally always mindful of that, but damn if Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 didn’t almost make that information vanish from my mind long enough to almost send a DualShock skipping across the carpet like a gaudy pebble.
As with its predecessor, under the candy-coloured surface of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 lies a cruel and heartless monster. This second attempt at a seemingly twee fusion of two great puzzle games is all fun and games until an A.I. rival pulls off a genius-level line clear combo that drops a load of lines/blobs on your side of the screen, flipping the game you were confidently winning seconds ago. Is it luck? Skill? Or just a mean streak?
Probably all of the above.
Even in the early stages, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 draws you in with a belief that this is a shiny happy kid-friendly experience, where challenge will be minimal. After all, it has a selection of cute and colorful characters who all talk in very child-friendly voices. It even plays pleasantly most of the time too. Like Puyo Puyo? It plays a good game of that. Like Tetris? It’s very much Tetris, and that’s always fantastic. When it mixes the two up like it did in the first game? Also great. Make no mistake, there is plenty of pleasant puzzle fun to be had. It’s just that sometimes, a difficulty spike will hit out of nowhere and ruin that fun for a bit.
I’ve played plenty of both puzzlers over the years and Puyo Puyo has always been the tougher of the two to master. Tetris has such simple shapes to line up that it comes as second nature, whereas Puyo Puyo’s match 4 is a little more complex. As before, you can decide from the off if you want to play the fusion of the two or just one of them, and then take that into a variety of game modes. 2017’s original game showed that the best part of the package comes when the two modes smoosh together.
The Swap mode (arguably the best of all the modes in the original game) for instance, juggles you and your opponent between a Tetris game and a Puyo Puyo game. It’s the same frenetic treat in multiplayer it was before. In fact, everything that was here before returns and with one notable exception is precisely as it was, for better or worse.
The exception is the new Skill Battle mode. In Skill Battle mode you have a team of three characters (which are earned by progressing through Adventure mode alongside item cards that boost stats) all of which have their own abilities to bring to the party. You face off against an opponent’s side and can use your abilities (which range from health replenishment to transforming your shapes) in Tetris or Puyo Puyo with MP just like in an RPG.
This means you can’t just blast out your abilities to stifle an opponent, you must bide your time and deploy them when absolutely necessary. Against a human, this is a fine addition to Puyo Puyo Tetris. Against the A.I. it’s hit and miss. Learning the ropes sees you handed your backside more than a few times.
Handily, you can skip Adventure battles if they prove too infuriating, but it has to be said that the satisfaction of the puzzle loop, and the fact that loading into anything is very quick, gives a compelling reason to butt your head against the problem time and again, even if it does compel you to turn your DualShock into a boomerang.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2’s premise is not as fresh and inventive as it was in the original three years ago, and there’s not a great deal of change to it either, but it’s still a very good puzzler at its core. Obviously, there’s more to be seen, so things could well be different later in Adventure mode, and online play is still an unknown. What matters most is that while the fluctuating A.I. flaws remain, so does the inspired, and addictive, mashup of two puzzle game juggernauts.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 releases for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on December 8, 2020.
Preview code kindly provided by PR.