I’ve been a fan of Puyo Puyo since I played the North American version on the SNES redubbed as Kirby’s Avalanche. SEGA had their Genesis version with Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, which I didn’t get to play until later, and of course I enjoyed Puyo Puyo Tetris when it came along. Now SEGA is back once again (minus the Tetris) with Puyo Puyo Champions that focuses strictly on the joyous, jelly-like creatures and some eSports-like action that stacks on the fun.
Getting into the gameplay is easy, as you arrange the falling puyo pieces into groups of four of their matching colors to make them disappear off the playing field. The fun doesn’t stop there as you can arrange the pieces in different ways so that more than four of the pieces can combine into massive combos, which in turn make colorless blocks drop on your opponent’s side of the field and mess up their strategy.
This latest installment to the franchise focuses a lot on the competitive side, both on and offline where 2-4 players battle it out. In addition to the standard gameplay mode, the famous Puyo Puyo Fever mode is back which features a meter that fills when you score combos. Fill the meter and you’ll be able to send over a flurry of combos to your opponents and have an excellent chance of winning big.
Since this is a budget title ($9.99), there’s not a lot of different modes to choose from, but they will keep players busy, especially if you’re big into online play. There’s the ranked Puyo Puyo League for those who want to show off their mad skills to the rest of the world, and an unranked Free Play mode if you’re still working on your skills but wish to compete against others or the AI.
While the game features all of the fun colors, sounds, and music fans expect of the series, there are a few downsides that newcomers will want to know about. There’s not much of a tutorial or practice mode for rookies, so you’re forced to learn fast when playing against the AI or other players (which can be worse as the game loves pit you against high level, experienced players from around the world). Speaking of AI, it tends to have nasty difficulty spikes no matter which level you play it on, which may discourage some from getting into game altogether.
Despite some AI and matchmaking issues, and limited modes to play through, you can’t go wrong with Puyo Puyo Champions if you’re looking for some puzzle action on a budget. While it makes for a good time when playing solo or offline, it really shines when playing against friends or others online (just watch out for those high level players). No matter how you stack it, you’ll have fun getting your jam on with these jellies.