Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 might look like a puzzle game on the surface, the names of two of the biggest franchises in block/puyo busting being a pretty big clue, but behind it's colourful facade is a JRPG through and through. There's a huge cast of characters who you'll slowly win around to join your party, fights that involve hit points and magic points, side quests that help flesh out the world you explore, and a convoluted plot that involves the potential destruction of worlds, as well as a dance-loving fish who talks almost exclusively in puns.
Considering that the only way you interact with this world is by battling in Puyo Puyo Tetris matches, it's a pretty impressive feat that Sega's puzzle mash-up actually feels like a JRPG, with the game's headline Adventure mode a pleasingly silly story that weaves together a few new ideas that adds a little more depth to an already winning formula.
T-Spin me around
Release date: December 8, 2020
Platform(s): PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Like the original, the story focuses on Ringo and Tee, two friends who meet again as their worlds literally start to collide. Smartly not taking itself too seriously, with characters rotating in and out fairly frequently, the story allows characters to bounce off each other with some genuinely funny lines in amongst a fair amount of exposition. On top of Suketoudara, the punny fish, there's Schezo who gets frustrated at the amount of accidental innuendos flying around, or Ess, a high maintenance character who flips between sweet and angry in the same sentence. Considering the story exists to teach you the game's modes and unlock characters, it has a personality that makes sitting through its text scenes worthwhile... Well, depending on your tolerance of puns.
Of course, even if you're skipping past all the dialogue, there's plenty to enjoy. While there's a collection of challenges from the original – you've got Fusion, where you play Puyo Puyo and Tetris at the same time, Big Bang which tasks you with quickly clearing boards set up for you, or Swap where you play on a Puyo board and a Tetris board that swaps every 20 seconds – the headline addition is a new fight type called Skill Battles.
You build up a squad of three, each with their own stats, special skills, and levels, and then add Loot cards that can not only boast their combined stats, but also gives you unique bonuses, such as increased damage when you chain together Puyo combos or get a 4 line Tetris clear. Yeah, I know that it sounds a lot written down, but once again, Puyo Puyo Tetris manages to find a way of making it intuitive while playing. The action is faster than other modes, using the character's skills properly can swing the momentum of games, and managing to snatch victory while scrambling to clear Tetris lines is far more exhilarating than you might expect.
It's a shame that the story mode doesn't utilise Skill Battles more, as even as it acknowledges that it's all a little familiar. The new fight type offers up a genuinely fresh take on the puzzle foundation, but it's sparse appearances make it feel like it's geared more towards setting you up for the online modes rather than exploring it in single player. On top of that, unlocking loot and equipping it can turn into a bit of a chore, as you constantly dip into menus to sweat over stats. While the RPG trappings offer depth, they can also get in the way of just playing the game. I never expected that I would need to replay missions to grind up a few levels to take a boss on in a Tetris game, and yet, here we are.
There are other little bugbears as well, such as the game's new and inconsistent auto-difficulty, which spiked me for so much during the game's mid-stage, I had to turn it off. Add on the inability to edit your team for Skill Battles in the Adventure mode – you need to head into a different menu outside of the story – and Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 can sometimes feel less player friendly than it should be.
Speaking of multiplayer, there's plenty of online and offline options as well, which you can tailor to your preference. There's different ranked leagues for the Fusion mode, Puyo Puyo and Tetris, as well as Skill Battles, alongside a free play mode as well. It's a pretty comprehensive offering but unfortunately, we weren't able to find any games online before launch to try out the multiplayer properly.
Still, there's more than enough in the game's Adventure mode to recommend Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 to the dedicated and the curious. While this falls firmly on the side of evolution, Skill Battles are a strong new addition to the game's lineup of modes, while the rat-a-tat joke delivery of the story adds a flavour that you just don't get in other puzzle games. This inexplicable cocktail remains potent for any puzzle lover.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is set to release on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4 on December 8. The game is expected to launch on PC in early 2021. Review code was provided by Sega.