Puzzle games on handheld videogame systems go together like bread and butter. Tetris on the original Game Boy revolutionized the puzzle genre by offering a gameplay attitude that was both easy to pick up and play but dangerously hard to master. Plus, two players could connect two systems together via a link cable and compete in head-to-head battles. Standing within close proximity of Tetris, Puyo Pop is probably the second best puzzle game for any handheld.
Instead of falling blocks, the Puyo Pop games have players controlling pairs of falling jelly-blobs (called Puyo). Once four of the same colored blobs connect, they disappear. In order to help defeat opponents, garbage (or blank) Puyo are sent over to the opposing player’s screen after a combo has been made, making it more difficult to clear standard Puyo. Once the top of the screen is filled with Puyo pieces, the game ends. Just like Tetris, the addictive quality on show here is through the roof.
Puyo Pop Fever for the DS was released before the end of the year in Japan. Unfortunately, the game has not be given a U.S. release date as of yet. Import gamers should make note, however, that the Japanese version of Puyo Pop Fever can be played entirely in English–voiceovers, texts, and menus are all translated. It is a wonder why Sega has not yet released this game in the States, considering the translation is already complete.
Fever separates itself from the other Puyo Pop games by adding a few new gameplay elements. Instead of the standard two-blob piece, Fever now incorporates L-shaped pieces, boxes of two-colored pieces, or even boxes of 4×4. The word ‘Fever’ in the game’s title comes from a frantic new addition to the standard gameplay. Once the fever meter fills to maximum capacity, ‘Fever’ mode ensues. The player is then presented with a new Puyo puzzle which can be fully cleared with just a few well-placed pieces. If completed correctly, massive amounts of garbage Puyo will be sent to all other players, almost generating full victory.
All the standard game types have made their way into Fever. Endless Puyo gives players the chance to best their own scores by fighting for each point in a never-ending game (unless the screen fills). Story mode takes place through the eyes of a young schoolgirl named Amitie. Only when Amitie defeats opponents can she become a full-fledged magician. The Story mode seems a little strange and feels like a quick add-on, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
Anyone who has played a puzzle game will understand that competing against another human player is way more fun than fighting the computer A.I. Making wonderful use of the wireless function of the DS’s hardware, up to 8 players can compete at once. Monitoring your competition could not be easier thanks to the two screens on the DS. If 8 players are playing at once, four game boards will be squished onto each DS screen. This means that each player can watch the strategy of everyone else. Quite a nifty feature.
Also, up to 8 players can all compete off a single game card. The only difference between playing a multi-game card game versus a single game card multiplayer game is the load times. However, the slightly longer load times are of practically no inconvenience since the full version of the game can be played with multiple players.
Controlling the movement of the Puyo can also be done through the touch screen. However, the standard D-pad will probably appeal to more gamers because it’s what they’re used to. Making use of the wireless multiplayer function is the biggest use of the DS’s hardware. And like all the other handheld Puyo Pop’s, Fever will feature the same sprite-based graphics and puzzles that players know and love. The DS is perfectly capable of producing 3D characters, but it might not look right in this simple, but addictive puzzle game.
It is still unclear if this game will even make its way Stateside, but Sega should seriously consider doing so. With a lack of solid gaming titles evident at the DS’s launch, Puyo Pop Fever could very well be the best multiplayer game on the system. Stay with MyGamer.com for more info and details as they are revealed.