Review – Puyo Puyo Champions

I’ve always said that the secret to a truly good e-sport, just like a regular sport, is that the game needs to be really easy to learn, simple to play, but hard to master. That’s why I consider puzzle games like Tetris  to be the best examples of how an e-sport should look and play. Sega’s Puyo Puyo is definitely a part of that list. I guess Sega read the memo, as they’re ready to dive deep into the world of e-sports with the brand new Puyo Puyo Champions, a stripped-down version aimed specifically at competitive multiplayer.

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This relaxing puzzle game can become a competitive nightmare in seconds.

For the uninitiated, the Puyo Puyo games revolve around piling up four or more little slimes (or puyos) in order to clear your grid while sending junk to your opponent’s grid. The premise is simple, but it gets more complex the more experienced you get with the game. You’ll quickly find out that simply stacking up piles of four slimes and sending them to your opponents won’t do a lot of damage. Instead, creating chains and simultaneous clears are the best way to increase the amount of junk sent to your opponent’s side of the field and give the poor fella hell. It’s a game that takes mere minutes to learn how to play, but ages to finally get good at it.

Puyo Puyo Champions offers two different rulesets. Puyo Puyo 2 is the standard fare, which is basically what I just described. It’s a more no-nonsense, classical approach to the Puyo Puyo we all know and love. Fever, on the other hand, uses the ruleset implemented in the game released in 2004. In this particular iteration, you’re more focused on performing counter attacks (exploding blobs during the period the opponent is preparing to send junk your way). By doing so, you’ll rack up a little “fever meter”, and once that’s filled up, you’ll be greeted with extra blobs perfectly lined up for you to clear up and do massive combos. This is a more frantic, casual and party-friendly iteration of Puyo Puyo, best suited for local multiplayer, which Champions also offers.

You may be wondering why I just explained all of those rulesets. That’s simple: Puyo Puyo Champions doesn’t feature a tutorial. This is a game made for veterans of the series, as it only features the essential amount of content for those looking forward to enter the Puyo Puyo competitive scene, which is bigger than I could have ever imagined.

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Fever mode with four players. The definition of insanity.

This is stripped-down to the bare minimum. The visuals are basically the same featured in Puyo Puyo Tetris. The soundtrack is largely the same as well, even though it obviously doesn’t feature any Tetris tunes. The voice acting has been revamped to be less irritating and pun-friendly as well. Everything has been tailor made for you not to get distracted with the game’s artistic department. Besides this, the game barely offers any single player content: all it features is a practice mode against a stupidly difficult CPU, with little way for you to customize the difficulty setting. You can set up a handicap, but the CPU will still be brutally challenging in any way. You’ll definitely lose a few times if you’re not that experienced.

Puyo Puyo Champions doesn’t pull any punches: this game is made for experienced Puyo Puyo players who want to aim for the competitive scene and don’t care about a title with little content besides its multiplayer offerings. If you’re an experienced player who thinks both Puyo Puyo Tetris and the minigame available in Yakuza 6 are a tad too “casual”, this game’s for you. It’s also dirt cheap, so that’s a bonus. If you’re just looking for some lighthearted fun on the other hand, I’d recommend sticking to Puyo Puyo Tetris.

Graphics: 6.0

The same art style and framerate from Puyo Puyo Tetris. It’s not visually exciting, but if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.

Gameplay: 9.5

The two different Puyo Puyo rulesets might be confusing at first due to the lack of a tutorial, but you can get used to them quickly. The controls are as simple and responsive as a puzzler should have.

Sound: 6.0

Even though the voice acting is less obnoxious than the one present in Puyo Puyo Tetris, the overall quality of the soundtrack is a lot less exciting, mostly due to the obvious absence of Tetris tunes.

Fun Factor: 7.0

The core gameplay is still very fun and the inclusion of two different Puyo Puyo rulesets increase the value of the overall package, but the lack of decent single player options and a proper tutorial for newcomers are very noticeable. This is a game made for veterans.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Puyo Puyo Champions is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Puyo Puyo Champions was provided by the publisher.