When Puyo Puyo Tetris was announced for the Switch it almost made me want to pre-order the new console. Almost. But instead I went and imported an Xbox One copy of the game from Japan. I played it briefly but it - surprisingly - didn't grab me for some reason. But when I finally decided to pull the trigger on a Switch last summer, Puyo Puyo Tetris was one of the first games I picked up for the system. It just seemed like a puzzle game should fit perfectly when the Switch was played in portable mode. And in fairness, portable mode is how I generally do play the Switch anyway. Well... it turns out I was right.
It turns out that my problem with Switch on Xbox One wasn't the game - it was the setting. I didn't want to play a puzzler like this sitting alone in my game room on a 4K TV. Nope. It turns out I wanted to play Puyo Tetris in the living room while listening to my wife binge Parenthood; or in the gazebo out on our back patio with the tablet propped up on a little table - each of us taking one of those teeny tiny little Joy-Cons off the sides of the system. It turns out that Puyo Puyo Tetris is the sort of game that totally shows off what makes the Switch's hardware so brilliant. And in turn the flexibility of the hardware elevates the game. There's really no difference between the Xbox One and Switch editions other than I have the freedom to choose HOW I want to play the Switch version.
So what is Puyo Puyo Tetris anyway? It's all right there in the title. It's two of the greatest puzzle games ever made being mashed together. It's easily the most exquisite combination of falling block puzzles since Tetris and Dr. Mario were crammed on to the same cartridge in the 90's. But how exactly does that work? Well, it works in a lot of ways. Which is to say there isn't a pure Puyo X Tetris formula here - instead it's all variations on themes. Maybe you want to just play some marathon Tetris? Fine. Maybe you and a friend want to see if you're better at Tetris than they are at Puyo Puyo? You can do that. You can play PvP that involves switching back and forth between the two games. You can literally play BOTH games at once where Tetrimos fall on top of your little Puyos. You can play solo or against AI or against friends in the same room or randos online. There's a story mode and an arcade mode or just endless modes. To put it mildly - while the idea of combining Puyo x Tetris seems exquisitely simple, Sega have crammed so much content into this release that it is infinitely replayable. Which is kind of insane as nobody ever needed any incentive to replay a Tetris or Puyo game, did they?
I will say that both puzzle series have had entries in the past that didn't quite deliver for me. Tetris Worlds comes to immediate mind, where things like the physics of how puzzle pieces fell into place just felt off. And the lack of certain highly desirable modes felt (sorry) puzzling. Overall the Puyo series has probably had a higher consistency over the years, but truthfully there were some overly gimmicky entries that while fun, possibly missed the point of how fantastic a pure Puyo experience can be. Just give me little blobs and let me make a house of cards that dominoes into a cascading array of tiny explosions and I'm happy. Somehow Sega has managed to take those two simple and pure games and stripped them off all their unnecessary bells and whistles and combined them into this perfect thing - complete with its own bells and whistles. When I was a kid Tetris felt ubiquitous with my Game Boy. And I want to say Puyo Puyo was the same way with my Game Gear but it would have been Columns... I didn't really discover the Puyos until years later. But still my point stands: Puyo Puyo Tetris feels ubiquitous with the Switch. Even if it is based on an arcade game that's been around for four years now and has already seen ports on other consoles, it just makes sense on this platform.