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Puchi Puchi Virus

First of all, get dropping blocks and disappearing columns out of your head right now. This is the Nintendo DS, buster! The stylus has opened up developers’ noodles to an entirely new world of puzzling possibilities. So don’t expect anything less from publisher NIS’s addictive tap-fest, Puchi Puchi Virus.

The screen fills up with candy colored viruses, and your job is to make them disappear. How? Tapping three of them with the stylus makes a triangle, and tapping any point you’ve connected again zaps them out of existence. Let them sit too long, and they’ll congeal to stone. Also, failure to connect tap-activated viruses or to make that last click and make them disappear causes them to instead congeal even faster, and they’ll clutter up the screen, as they can’t be used as a starting point for triangulation.

But, trapping a congealed virus within a triangle reactivates it, and it can then be linked to two other "virii" (hey, it could be right) of corresponding color for a chain combo. At first, we were playing a little too Hexic-minded; making close, tight triangles for a dismal Puchi performance. But once we started utilizing the entire screen, the combos really came alive. Drawing a larger triangle activates any virus within it, congealed or not, leading to incredibly satisfying combo chains. Tap your initial triangle to kill it, and any other triangle within it will be activated, then any triangle within that one, etc.

Outside of involving medical professionals and puzzles, the Dr. Mario comparison isn’t all that apt. Puchi’s shell bears more of a resemblance to Trauma Center. You play as Dr. Kevin Longfellow, and trusty kicks o’ side, Nurse Honeydew and George the, uh, Chicken, have been charged with fending off a viral epidemic afflicting the world.

Never mind its meteoric origins, and the fact that the only side effect is adorability, your afflicted patients present you with over 100 levels of quirky, fun challenges in single-player alone. It’s even got cart-sharing multiplayer, so your Puchi-less friend can simply download the demo and join you in the viral eradication.

Mar 11, 2008

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