By Kurt Kalata - 2/5/06

You know, I just don't like Tetris.

It's not that Tetris is a BAD game, persay. It's just that you...stack blocks and make them disappear until the game gets too fast for you to keep up. I guess it's an ingenious game, but it seems like the video game equivalent to lite FM. Sure, you can try for a high score, but it's all rather aimless - a decent waste of five minutes, at best. But for most people - nongamers, mostly - Tetris became one of the most addicting games on the planet. And where there's a good idea, there's bound to be some golddiggers, prying in for part of the bounty.

Nintendo came out with Dr. Mario, Sega had Columns, and even some ill conceived spinoffs from the original publishers, such as Welltris, Wordtris and Hatris. Yet far and away the best out of these clones came out of the Japanese company Compile - Puyo Puyo. Colored blobs would fall from the ceiling, and you'd match four of them to get them to disappear. This in itself was nothing special.

The big attraction of Puyo Puyo was that it turned the whole falling block genre into a competitive affair (alright, the arcade Tetris had a two player mode, but it wasn't very good.) You were fighting against another player, someone who gets the same pieces as you do and tries to do smarter things with them. When you match four of the same colored blob together, they disappear. All of the blobs above it will fall down, potentially eliminating even more blobs. The catch is, when you create combos, little grey garbage blobs fall on your opponent's screen, thus messing up whatever plans they had in mind. Naturally, the bigger the combo, the more you'll flood the other player with useless bricks. So instead of simply trying to survive, you're trying to think faster and smarter than your opponent.

In Tetris, eliminating four lines at the same time was something you'd only do to show off your leet brick maneuvering, and get some more points. This is a luxury you can't afford in Puyo Puyo - if you just eliminate a single set at a time, you'll get destroyed, and quickly at that. All of the enjoyment in Puyo Puyo comes from thinking indirectly, grouping together potential combos, plotting into the future, and doing it as quickly as possible before your opponent screws up your plot.

But even if you're a wily one, you can't just create a single huge combo and call it a day. Those garbage blobs disappear if a combo is formed next to it, thus sending them back on your side. If your opponent is fast enough, they can completely counterattack, thus altering the outcome of the match. Thus, you've got to constantly be on your toes, creating new combos to defend against any attacks your opponent might send over. Each of the games get continually more refined to prevent against totally demolishing an opponent with one or two moves, but being smart and quick is still the best way to go.

While originally released for the MSX and Famicom, Puyo Puyo got really popular when it hit arcades and introduced the competitive play. As you can see above, massive tournaments were occasionally held in Japan. For a long time, this series is what kept Compile going - several Puyo spinoffs were made to capitalize on the popularity (and while the some of the RPGs are good, the others...are not.) Sega distributed the arcade versions, so their consoles often got the Puyo games before any of the other systems.

Feeling that puzzle games deserved a bit more personality, Compile put the characters from its old PC88 and MSX RPG Madou Monogatari into the game. Most of these guys have some massive personality problems, and I'm sure you could hold whole college psychology classes disseminating their issues. Each of them also has a unique way of playing, which you can use to help defeat them, if you pay attention to their screen (or read the manual, which sometimes tells their methods.) While these aren't all of the players - there are well over 60 in all of the Puyo Puyo games - but these are the most notable.

Arle Nadja
The heroine of the game, Arle is a young girl with magical powers. She's actually probably the only reasonably sane one of this whole bunch. Her spell attacks - "Fire!" and "Ice Storm!" (more like "FAIYAA" and "EYE-SOO STO-MU" with the Japanese accent) will etch themselves quite far in your brain after you play enough.

Carbuncle
This ridiculously happy little bastard is the mascot of the Puyo Puyo games. Known as Car-kun, he hangs around with Arle and has a tendency to wander off in search of adventure, thus creating many wacky situations. His primary purpose is to dance around his little box on the playing field, pop the balloon that starts each match, and just generally be goofy. He's also usually a hidden playable character, and despite his size/cuteness, he can fire a badass lazer from his forehead.

Rulue
Arle's main rival, Rulue is a powerful martial artist. She's madly in love with Satan, which means she'll pretty much do anything he says. Most of those orders involve hassling Arle, which she has no problem with, since she's jealous of her magical powers. Her servant is a huge minotaur who acts more like a pussywhipped sap than a ruthless bodyguard.
Schezo Wegey
Schezo kind of wishes he was a badass swordsman, an act that he would pull of quite well, if it weren't for the fact that he's kind of an annoying idiot. As a result, Schezo's opponents usually just don't taking him seriously, and the poor guy ends up a laughing stock.

Draco-Centaur
A psychotic dragon woman who desires to be pretty, but loses her confidence around other girls. As a result, she has a tendency to aggressively challenge her opponents to beauty contests.
Seriri
Seriri is a paranoid little mermaid who can't make friends because she thinks everyone wants to eat her. This is because eating a mermaid's flesh grants immortality - or so she seems to think, anyway.

Skeleton T
Usually the first character you have to battle, Skeleton T isn't too terribly smart. He's utterly obssessed with Japanese tea, though this raises many questions, considering he appears to have no tongue.

Kikimora
An obsessive-compulsive maid who only has three occupations: (1) cleaning and (2) teaching newbies the Puyo Puyo ropes and (3) getting mad at people who don't pay attention to her tutorials.

Suketoudara
"Suketoudara" must be Japanese for "What the hell is THIS THING?", which should be evidant - it's a fish with sexy arms and legs. He's very proud of this, and loves to show off his mad dancing skills. He's also got a huge crush on Seriri.
Harpy
Not the usual angel woman-bird things out of Greek mythology, but rather an angel with an utterly terrible singing voice. If you're playing a version without voiceovers, be thankful, because it really IS stiflingly bad. Even the little ditty they play when you meet her is terrifying.

Satan
The main evil guy, who has an interesting in Carbuncle, as well as Hawaiian shirts. Given that the name "Satan" has the connotation of "goat slaughtering lunatics" along with it, he's known as "Dark Prince" in America.
Choppun
A cosplayer dressed as Arle who, despite covering his face with a paper bag, is most likely a creepy old man. You have to admire a game with the chutzpah to mock its more diehard fans.

Incubus
Incubus thinks of himself as a ladies man, but really fails on every possible level. He likes to pepper his speech with a lot of comical English, including plenty of swears.

The only big problem with Puyo Puyo is the one player mode. Since you fighting against AI opponents that are programmed to know EXACTLY how to create mindboggling combos, standing up to the might of the CPU can be exasperating. This is especially true in the first two Puyo Puyo games, which can get astoundingly difficult, very quickly. The later games give you much more leeway in selecting how you want to play, making it more accessible to those who aren't into making their brain sweat.

The Puyo Puyo and Madou Monogatari games seem to be the brainchild of one silly guy named Moo Niitani, who is pictured to the right cosplaying as Satan-sama. Do you want games made by this man? The answer is yes, yes you certainly do.

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

Puyo Puyo Arcade

Puyo Puyo 2 Genesis

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

Puyo Puyo Sun

Puyo Puyo Sun

Puyo Puyo~n

Puyo Puyo~n

Puyo Puyo Fever

Puyo Puyo Fever

Puyo Pop GBA

Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon

Moo Niitani


Puyo Puyo - MSX/Famicom (1991)

Puyo Puyo MSX

Puyo Puyo MSX

Puyo Puyo MSX

The original Puyo Puyo, released for the MSX and Famicom, didn't aspire to a whole lot. You played solely by yourself, so it's actually much more like Tetris, where you'd simply keep playing until the game got too fast. There's also the Mission modes (which later made their appearance in the Nazo Puyo games) where you're given a bunch of puyos already on the field, and a certain number you have to elimate with a limited number of pieces. No cutesy characters, no opponents, essentially none of the characteristics that really makes Puyo Puyo unique. As you can see, the Famicom version is pretty difficult on the eyes, even though it's still pretty simplistic.

Puyo Puyo Famicom


Puyo Puyo - Arcade/Mega Drive/PC Engine/Super Famicom/Gameboy/N-Gage (1992)

Japanese Mega Drive Cover

Puyo Puyo Arcade

Puyo Puyo Arcade

The Puyo Puyo series got famous from its initial arcade release, which took the mechanics of the home releases and turned it into a competetive game. A story mode was also added, where you control Arle as she makes her way through a rather goofy range of foes. The balance feels a little off compared to the later games, and at about the sixth stage, the puyos fall so fast it gets ridiculousy hard to make a single set disappear, much less multiple combos. It's still great fun, just not really the best way to introduce people to the series - at least in one player mode.

This version was later ported to the Mega Drive, PC Engine CD and Super Famicom. The Mega Drive version is pretty good, but the speech is pretty poor sounding. The PC Engine CD has fully voiced cutscenes (and some CD music) but most of the ingame music is oddly still synthesized. Super Puyo Puyo, the Super Famicom version, is probably best of the three, with the clearest graphics and sound.

MP3s

Main
Brave
Final

Puyo Puyo Arcade

Screenshot Comparisons

Arcade

Mega Drive

PC Engine CD

Super Famicom


Puyo Puyo 2 - Arcade, Mega Drive, Super Famicom, Playstation, Saturn, Gameboy, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Wonderswan (1990)

Super Famicom Japanese Cover

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

The major change in Puyo Puyo 2 is how the levels are structured - there are now over thirty opponents, and instead of strict levels, there are several tiers. Starting at the bottom, you advance to the next tier by gaining enough points. A major change was also made to the gameplay - if there are obstacles puyos ready to fall on your side of the screen, creating combos will cancel those out before sending any over to your opponent, an alteration that stayed throughout the entirety of the series. There are also special blocks that appear in some areas that allow heavier counterattacks, and garbage puyos that need multiple combos to be destroyed. It is, of course, still quite difficult, even on the easiest setting.

The Mega Drive version is, again, pretty spot on except for the voice. And Puyo Puyo 2 for the PC Engine CD, like its predecessor, just uses the extra space for voiced character intros instead of CD quality music. The Super Famicom version adds a four player mode to the mix, as well as putting in cutscenes similar to the original Puyo Puyo, instead of just the enemy description. Down the road, a special edition called "Super Puyo Puyo Tsuu Remix" hit the Super Famicom, with the primary addition being an expert course that lets you fight against all of the characters in the game, straight through, at a very high speed. Arcade perfect renditions also hit the Playstation and Saturn, also with full voices and cutscenes. Additionally, in 2004, Sega brought out Puyo Puyo 2 Perfect Set under their Sega Ages collection. Unlike other titles in the series, which add 3D graphics, this one still remains 2D. It has most of the stuff from the original PSOne version, although the voice over dialogue has been re-recorded and a new Nazo Puyo mode has been added. Puyo Puyo 2 is where the series started getting some rather punny names. The full title is "Puyo Puyo Tsuu" - "tsuu" means "master" in Japanese. However, it's also how you say the English numeral "two" with a Japanese accent.

MP3s

Main

Puyo Puyo 2 Arcade

Super Puyo Puyo 2 Remix SFC

Screenshot Comparisons

Arcade

Mega Drive

Super Famicom

PSOne

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