Technically, Tetris Effect: Connected is already the definitive puzzle game of the year. But there’s always room for more, especially if you’ve got a competitive streak, whereas Enhance have been more focused on a meditative or cooperative experience. The Puyo Puyo series has always been first and foremost about competitive play, as you stack complex and crazy chains together to send garbage over to your opponent’s screen.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 essentially builds on the success of its predecessor’s surprise crossover, which also helped introduce Puyo Puyo to a wider audience in the West. It doesn’t look to disrupt that formula but instead adds a few pleasant extras that both newcomers and fans can get behind.
Unlike the cheaper no-frills multiplayer-specific Puyo Puyo Champions, a new Puyo Puyo Tetris title means a meaty single-player campaign, which is as silly and filled with all the high-pitched Saturday morning cartoon energy as you might expect (English and Japanese audio are both available this time too).
While it is a sequel, it also doesn’t matter if you missed out on the first entry of the puzzle mash-up as it appears that the cast from across the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris don’t remember each other either. Nonetheless, a new ominous threat – albeit in the form of a cutesy anime girl called Marle – has their worlds colliding once again, which is a perfect excuse to run around the world, make new friends, and of course get into a lot of puzzle battles.
For newcomers, the Adventure mode is a great way to be introduced to the game styles and different modes, but fans will still get a kick out of progressing through it and getting all the star ratings for each stage. Better still, if you get three stars for all the stages in a chapter, you can even aim for a fourth star rating.
There’s even more incentive to play Adventure mode this time round as it’s how you’ll progress through brand new Skill Battles. These introduce RPG battle mechanics as the goal is not to simply bury your opponent with garbage but deplete their HP bar down to 0. You’ll also pick a party of three characters, each with their own unique skills – it also doesn’t hurt that each character’s battle animations during combo chains have also been given an extra spot of pizazz from before.
These character skills include recoveries and buffs like recovering HP or strengthening your defence, but there’s also skills tied to Puyo Puyo or Tetris, such as changing all the Puyos to red, or auto-arranging Tetriminoes so you can go for an easy Tetris. Skills are activated with a simple button press. These consume MP, which you don’t have a lot to begin with, so you can’t spam skills though MP does slowly restore over time. Playing through each skill battle as well as the campaign can also level up your characters, unlock new characters, as well as reward you with item cards, which you can equip for passive buffs like improving your attack or defence.
For this preview, we’re limited to only being able to discuss the first chapter of Adventure mode, and because this chapter only includes one skill battle, it’s not really enough to gauge just how interesting this new mode might be. It probably doesn’t help that, as a high-skill player, I can easily KO my opponent in about 30 seconds with a 4-chain combo without ever glancing at my skills. Naturally, I’ll have to play more of the campaign, unlock more characters and level up before I get a clearer idea. However, I also imagine its depth and long-term appeal will reveal itself when playing against other higher-level opponents online. It probably goes without saying though that it’s not a mode you want to jump straight into online right away.
Hopefully, this new mode will prove worthwhile to justify an upgrade for those who were already taken by Puyo Puyo Tetris the first time around. But with the return of previous modes, such as the excellent Swap Mode, as well as Fever, Party and Fusion, all available in solo, local and online multiplayer, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 looks set to be a colourful recipe for multiplayer mayhem on all consoles just in time for the holidays.