Most of the time, my brain doesn’t feel like it’s especially big enough to be playing puzzle games. First-person environmental puzzle games like Portal or Subliminal gel with me, but if something involves block-swapping or gem-matching, they end up making fumes come out of my ears. The one exception to that, though, has always been Tetris. I grew up clearing tetromino lines on my mom’s Game Boy Color, so I’ve always had a decent grasp on how to play that particular puzzle game. I’ve gotten plenty of fun out of Tetris 99, but as someone who loves cute characters, silly writing, and stress-free puzzle action, Puyo Puyo Tetris was an instant hit for me. Now the sequel is here, and it isn’t reinventing the wheel whatsoever — if you liked the first game, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is even more of that, and that’s great news to me.
I’ve hyped up my Tetris game, but when it comes to Puyo Puyo, I’m a disaster. As adorable as the multi-colored blobs are, I’ve always been intimidated by the big-brain plays that you need to pull off in order to win a Puyo Puyo match. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, thankfully, has a set of tutorials and a wealth of training missions to help you get in gear with whichever puzzle game in this package is giving you trouble. If you’re strictly trying to play just Tetris or just Puyo Puyo, though, most of the many game modes in the game allow you to stick with just one puzzle type, even if your opponent chooses a different one. There’s a wild Fusion mode that has tetrominos and puyos dropping into the same field, but you’ll only ever play it in one particular game mode, so it’s more of a silly novelty.
If you decide to dig into Adventure mode, though, you better be prepared to play plenty of both the titular puzzle games to make it all the way through the story. One of the biggest charm points of the first Puyo Puyo Tetris was the beefy Adventure Mode full of adorable characters and genuinely hilarious writing. This is a staple of the Puyo Puyo series, but not so much for the Tetris universe. So while plenty of classic puyo personalities returned for that story mode, Sega also developed a huge cast of brand new Tetris-playing heroes and villains to populate the zany crossover narrative.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 picks up after the story of the last game, packing in plenty more characters and antics. There’s an Auto Difficulty option that can help adjust the challenge of each battle in this mode, but if you’re not proficient in both puzzle games, the jump in difficulty as you swap back and forth can be a little disorienting.
It also packs in, among the usual Tetris and Puyo Puyo battles, brand new Skill Battles that see you putting together a team of three characters alongside a deck of up to four stat-altering item cards. Once you hop into the battle, each of your characters has different abilities you can fire off when you have enough mana, which delivers a variety of effects. These range from restoring your health to dropping garbage on the enemy or even creating a special pattern of blocks on your screen to clear for easy points. Skill Battles add a really fun new layer to the puzzle action, and the thrill of gathering new item cards and characters is great.
Unfortunately, your methods of playing the mode are disappointingly limited. The only way to get new Skill Battle item cards, for example, is by endlessly replaying the handful of predetermined Skill Battles on the Adventure Mode map. You can play singular contextless Skill Battles against custom CPUs or online opponents, but there’s no randomized Endless mode or item card drops for playing these, which feels like a huge missed opportunity.
The rest of the many game modes in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 are returning favorites, from the wacky item-fueled madness of Party mode to the speed-clearing Big Bang mode and even classic single-player Challenge modes like Tiny Puyo or Tetris Sprint. Heck, if you just want no-frills basic Endless Tetris or Endless Puyo Puyo, you can access those right from the title screen.
If you’re itching for a more expanded competitive experience, though, Online Mode features a new ranking system via the updated Puzzle League and even casual 4-player online Free Play. We didn’t get to test the online functionality during our review period, but there are still plenty of offline multiplayer options that are just as much chaotic and competitive fun as they were in the first game.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 might be a hard sell if you already own the first game and aren’t a die-hard fanatic. This release doesn’t change up the entire formula but instead improves on nearly every aspect of the previous title with more characters, more modes, and a delightful new story mode. There are minor missteps like the half-baked Skill Battle mode, but the amount of addictive content on offer is still extremely impressive. If you never picked up Puyo Puyo Tetris, though, you owe it to yourself to grab this one.
A review code was provided by the publisher.