I had never heard of Tetris Vs. Puyo Puyo before stumbling into it at Sony's Tokyo Game Show booth, but I was instantly compelled to try it out. Yes, yes, PlayStation 4, Knack, Rain, Gran Turismo 6 -- whatever. This is the game I'm going to be playing to death.
The basic idea couldn't be simpler. Two players face off -- or, in the case of the single-player TGS demo, one player squares off against the computer -- with Tetris on one side and Puyo Puyo (aka Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, aka Kirby's Avalanche) on the other.
What follows is an intriguingly asymmetrical yet fantastically balanced head-to-head falling block competition. Both games retain their standard rules, with Tetris dropping its standard array of tetraminoes and Puyo Puyo showering its player with little jelly blobs. The Tetris side clears one to four lines of blocks at a time; the Puyo side creates large color blobs that disappear and potentially set up chain reactions. Clearing blocks in either mode sends garbage blocks to the other player's side.
Since that's not a standard mechanic in Tetris, both games compromise somewhat: The garbage block rise from the bottom on each side of the screen rather than dropping from above per usual in Puyo Puyo. This puts each player on even footing, as blocks falling from above would put the Tetris player at a significant disadvantage, potentially undermining carefully set-up Tetris chains.
The game addresses another fundamental difference between its disparate source materials: Namely, that Puyo Puyo is far more combo-driven than Tetris. A well-managed Puyo play can practically clear the entire screen in a single move, while the best a Tetris player can hope for is removing four lines at once. To provide some balance between the two, the Tetris "well" is much larger than the Puyo side. This gives the Tetris player more room to maneuver when flooded with a brutal Puyo combo, and means the slower-paced Tetris dynamic can still pour on the pressure against the Puyo player.
About the only complaints I have with Tetris Vs. Puyo Puyo are that it hasn't been announced for a U.S. release, and it reportedly doesn't have online play. I'm basing this last statement on what I was told by the TGS booth attendant, however, and she admitted she's not 100% certain. Even with local-only puzzle play, though, this game is basically a perfectly balanced combination between two similar but fundamentally different puzzle games, and I can't wait to play more.
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