The Puyo Puyo franchise has long since been popular overseas in Japan, but it has never quite had a big following here in the West. That however changed quite a bit with the Puyo Puyo Tetris game that was released two years ago on the Switch. Puyo Puyo combined with Tetris helped to introduce this weird jelly bean puzzler reach new audiences, and with Puyo Puyo Champions SEGA hopes to grow their fandom even more.
For those who are new to Puyo Puyo, it is a puzzle game similar to Tetris in where colored blocks (or blobs) fall from the sky and you need to twist and stack them to make groups four puyo of the same color. When these connected puyos disappear from the field of play, those resting on top will fall, allowing you to arrange and trigger multiple clearances (chains) sequentially for higher scores.
Puyo Puyo is mainly a competitive puzzler in where the chains that you make send over colourless annoying blobs to his or her field that you need to work around with and make them dissapear by combining your own blobs against them. Like this the battle continues until one reaches the top ‘x’ that spells game over. The skill ceiling is lifted even higher if you count in the timing element of the game where you can counter the incoming colourless puyo’s with your chains in order to send them back to the enemy and you have a puzzler that is easy to learn, yet hard to master.
Puyo Puyo Champions also includes the Fever mode that we first saw in the Gamecube era. In Fever mode you not only get new clumps of three or four puyo blobs, but you also fill a gauge when you counter enemy chains and once the gauge is full. You go in to fever where huge chains of puyo fall down that offer one method to launch phenomenal chains towards your enemies and you keep on getting these huge chains of blobs until you fail once to activate them once. This style of play lets players wait each other out or lure them in to counters, making the game more tactical and crazy then the regular mode.
Aside from the normal Puyo Puyo and Fever, there isn’t much else to see in this version of Puyo Puyo other then a few new characters, music and backgrounds. Luckily this is a pretty cheap game, so it is easily forgiven since you can keep on playing if you so like. The game doesn’t support a Story mode unlike other games in the serie and you’ll have to do with a 2 – 4 vs. mode against the CPU and an endurance mode for the singeplayer part. ofcourse this wouldn’t be a party game if the Champions didn’t offer multiplayer, and so it offers both off- and online play for up to 4 players. Having fun with friends on the couch is a great way in learning the game before you delve deeper in to the online modes.
Puyo Puyo Champions was known as eSports in Japan and has quite a healthy player base. The game features two modes called League (ranked) and Free-Play, starting off with the easier free-play is something we recommend, because unless you are a very quick learner matches won’t take all that long until you get an enormous amount of chains flinged to your head. This goes to show that the game has already been out for half a year in Japan and only now in the West.
Even though the battles can be sometimes unfair, both the matchmaking and online connectivity are actually well done. The system almost never hitches and we often had opponents that were evenly matched for us. Just be sure to stick to Free-Play at first so you won’t be massacred. In the end Puyo Puyo Champions sadly doesn’t have that many modes to play in compared to previous installments, but luckily the game is quite addicting and the price is low enough to warrant it a purchase.
Puyo Puyo Champions is a great cheap entry point for newcomers or fans of party games. The inclusion of Fever is a great way to hone your skills even more and if you are up for it you can always try to best the pro’s online. Just mind that beginners will have a punishingly hard time jumping online.