Back when I was heavily collecting Game Boy carts - about a decade ago now - I remember somehow getting hold of a copy of Pokemon Puzzle Challenge on GBC. I knew nothing about it at the time. I was a pretty casual fan of the Pokemon brand at the time. But I've always been fond of puzzle games, so I gave it a try. And I remember not really caring for it back then. Now what I didn't realize was that this was a game that has many titles. It's actually the portable version of Pokemon Puzzle League on N64, which is part of the Puzzle League series... also known as Panel De Pon outside of the US. And those games have been localized under other titles such as Tetris Attacks on SNES. Anyway, I vividly remember what my complaint was at the time: I didn't really like that the blocks rose up from the floor rather than dropped from the ceiling. Pretty basic stuff.
I've been super into puzzle games again lately. When I first picked up a Switch in 2017 it was with Breath Of The Wild. But I'm pretty sure the second game I bought was Puyo Puyo Tetris, and for a while there, I referred to the Switch as "my Puyo Tetris player." But things got way more ridiculous when Tetris 99 launched earlier this year. I'm closing in on a hundred hours now. So while perusing the 3DS eShop, Pokemon Puzzle Challenge caught my eye. Here was a nice little GBC puzzler I could pick up for easy portable play for just $4. Seemed like a good deal. And hey, if I still didn't like it... $4 is like what it costs to rent a movie through Amazon. Not a giant loss.
So I fired it up, and yeah this is a good time. I have a buddy who says this is still one of the most played N64 games in his household. I can kind of see that - at least with multiplayer involved. It took me a little while to wrap my head around the whole "swap two gems" thing using the little onscreen cursor. But it does start to feel okay after a bit of play. I mostly messed around in the Marathon mode to get myself situated. Then I switched over to Challenge mode which seems to be the main 'campaign' mode if you will. I was able to clear the Easy mode with no problem on my first attempt. (And Easy is the default). But bumping it up to Normal seemed like a pretty sizeable jump in difficulty. Luckily, you can save your progress so I can keep coming back to it.
I don't think that I'm some new Puzzle League convert or anything. It doesn't quite grab me the way something like Tetris or Puzzle Fighter does. But it's definitely a fun little puzzle game. I actually think my wife might like it more than I do, so it was at least worth grabbing a copy. Sort of a bummer that the Game Boy and GBC games weren't realeased on the Wii U's Virtual Console, as I kind of prefer having digital games there (for the ability to play on TV or the Gamepad), but really something like this game is kind of perfect to have on the 3DS that I can throw in a pocket or bag and take with me.