Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 Preview: Pipipi!

When Puyo Puyo Tetris hit the scene in 2017 (technically 2014, if we’re talking the Japanese release,) many were blindsided by how excellent of a combination the two puzzle games made. For two puzzles titles with vastly different sets of rules, Puyo Pop and Tetris naturally fell in together. It was almost like each game was meant to meet one day, duking it out in the virtual battlefield for supremacy.

The original was so good, it seemed like Sega wouldn’t be able to ever top it in terms of a sequel. Honestly, I don’t even know if anyone anticipated another installment, what with how little there was to really iterate on. The first was so stacked with extra modes and content that any continuation would mostly seem like a layer of DLC instead of a fully-fledged sequel.

That’s pretty much the exact impression I’ve gotten from the few hours I’ve played of Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. In a world that is transitioning to the next-generation of consoles that is touting bigger experiences and more expansive game worlds, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is mostly just the first game with some extra things thrown in. That it may end up being your first PS5 or Series X game is just a strange coincidence, though not something I’d say is necessarily bad.

Much like the first go at bat, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 contains a story mode that sees the characters from the Puyo series doing battle with each other across various stages to uncover some plot. I never paid much attention to the narrative in the original, and not much has been done to change what worked before. The first chapter (which this preview is limited to) felt like the second season of an anime that had been gone for several years. You get slowly reintroduced to the first game’s cast, and they often trade comments like, “Wait, now I remember you!” It’s clichéd, but fine enough.

The newest gimmick in this sequel is a team-based mode called “Skill Battle” where you select up to three different characters to tackle other teams. It crops up in the very last mission of chapter one, giving you a quick taste of what is to come. Much like other expansions of Tetris, you get some special moves -i.e. skills- that deplete a mana meter when activated. These range from health recovery options to dumping a bunch of garbage on your opponent’s grid. It should be a real blast with human opponents, but the AI in story mode is…dense, to say the least.

Each mission in story mode has some star challenges associated with them. These will require you to beat the mission in a limited amount of time or rack up a high enough score. Surprisingly, the Skill Battle challenge is next to impossible because the AI fails so quickly. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep them alive long enough for me to score the required point total. None of that ultimately matters as it is simply an extra layer on top of the story mode, which most people will probably ignore.

The campaign portion is laid out on a world map, but there isn’t much purpose for it in the first chapter. You progress in a completely linear fashion, going from one mission to the next with no deviation. I know from pre-release trailers that this differs, so there’s some potential for alternate paths and extra challenge levels to appear. Right now, this is mostly a more colorful approach to the first game’s completely static menu.

As for everything else available in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, I honestly could copy and paste the back of the first game’s box. The menu design is nearly identical and pretty much everything you saw the first time is here. Challenge mode, solo, marathon, multiplayer, etc. A nice tweak to the main menu is that you can quickly start a Puyo or Tetris game without navigating through a bunch of sub-options. Otherwise, if you’ve played the first, you’ve essentially played the sequel.

I don’t think that’s a problem, especially since Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is launching for $40. That might be a bit much for people to stomach considering how little is actually new, but it’s also not a bad price. If you skipped the first game, you’re in for a treat. Everything here feels as tight and polished as before and there is certainly a lot of content. It’s just that most of it is recycled from before, which might put a damper on fans expecting something dramatically different.

Sega is promising some extra DLC for the future, which could expand into different modes and permutations of them. I also wasn’t able to test the online options, but those do seem to be expanded quite a bit. I know pro-Puyo and Tetris players were super into the original game and the extra options and stat tracking features in 2 will feel like a proper upgrade for them.

I can’t quite make a definitive call on the game yet, but Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 feels maybe a bit too much like the original. As I said earlier, there wasn’t much room for Sega to improve here. The first game was such a well-realized mash-up that any sequel was inevitably going to be slightly disappointing. That doesn’t mean you should skip the game, but more that you should probably temper your expectations a little.

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Peter is an aspiring writer with a passion for gaming and fitness. If you can’t find him in front of a game, you’ll most likely find him pumping iron.

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