Most of us in the West will only know it as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, but Puyo Puyo is the original competitive drop puzzler series that’s been gaining international recognition since Puyo Puyo Tetris’s Western release in 2017.
Far from a Tetris clone, Puyo Puyo is about stacking up blobby multi-colored Puyos together. While you need to connect four of the same colour for them to pop, the real genius is in taking risks to build huge chains then setting off a cascading combo that clears your screen while sending it over to crush your opponent’s screen with garbage.
But in the series’ nearly three-decade history, no entry has been more influential than Puyo Puyo 2, where its introduction of ‘offsetting’ allowed for some exhilarating countering strategies that has continued in all iterations since.
After developer M2’s international port of the original Puyo Puyo last year, a localisation of Puyo Puyo 2 is long overdue, though that’s also a bit of a loose term here. Probably owing to the fact that it’s largely a straight emulation job, some in-game text hasn’t been translated at all. While Puyo Puyo may not be played for its story - which sees protagonist Arle Nadja and her sidekick mascot Carbuncle ascending a tower while facing a rogue’s gallery of challengers - it’ll nonetheless be disappointing for fans who do care about those details.
As a concession, character bio breakdowns are nonetheless available in the English main menu screen, where you can also navigate to the other game modes: the single-player arcade campaign, endless endurance, as well as offline and online versus modes.
There’s also a few welcome tweaks, from a much requested colorblind mode to a very fanservicey wallpaper filter that transports you to an arcade, complete with other classic SEGA cabinets in the background (be aware that this mode does shrink the screen a bit).
With a decent and genuinely challenging single player campaign, Puyo Puyo newcomers would definitely do well to use Puyo Puyo 2 as an entry point instead of the multiplayer-focused Puyo Puyo Champions with its intimidating Japanese playerbase.
That said, fierce competition is where Puyo excels so finding someone else to play with is always going to be the best way to play, and fortunately, Puyo Puyo 2’s net code holds up well. That said, there also doesn’t appear to be much of a structure, as I found myself playing against one opponent and we ended up playing through over 20 games with no indication of any option to finish or matchmake with anyone else unless someone voluntarily quits.
That said, if you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber, you can already access Super Puyo Puyo 2 via the SNES library, which also supports rewind and online play (albeit only with friends), so if this port isn’t fully localised, you could just play the Super Famicom version for free anyway.
SEGA AGES (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Puyo Puyo 2 is an invaluable piece of gaming history for the niche but dedicated competitive puzzling community and, provided you don’t already have Nintendo Switch Online, the most affordable entry point to the Puyo Puyo series.