It's always difficult with sequels. They must not be too similar to the original because it quickly becomes boring if you were already tired of it. But it must not be too new either, as it might make it feel like another game that has gone too far from what I loved in the original. Due to this, I feel a little divided while playing Puyo Puyo Tetris 2.
In essence, this is the very same game again. But it's about 1% of all variants that try to shake up the Tetris concept that actually get really good - and Puyo Puyo Tetris was one of them. Here, the very Japanese Puyo Puyo met Tetris and in some magical way the set-up worked. Although I spent most of my time with local multiplayer, there was also an unpredictably well-developed story mode. Although the story will probably never be a candidate for a possible Nobel literature prize, it was a fun twist that left the whole world at stake while everything was solved by me stacking colorful slime-creatures and Tetris formations on top of each other.
The story here is about as paper thin as last time, but there is a solid work behind it, and for those who can turn off their brains for a while and just join in on insane manga adventures, there is actually a lot of fun waiting. The main characters are Ringo and Tee, but the game has a solid ensemble of other characters that brings the story alive, one more insane than the other.
The predecessor I reviewed for Switch, and being able to play by yourself on the hybrid console is of course important as you do not always have a connection. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, on the other hand, I have played for Xbox Series X, and I must be honest and admit that I felt less motivated to play the campaign on the couch in front of my TV, than sitting on a bus going somewhere.
If you are not familiar with Puyo Puyo before, there is a simple and intuitive training mode that lets you go through the basics. Even though I'm a seasoned Puyo player, I'm probably better at Tetris overall, and win more often when I play Tetris. The advantage of Puyos, however, is the improbably long combos you can deliver and which can send an opponent almost immediately to the grave, something that means that you must never relax when playing against them to avoid giving them a chance to build up their insidiousness. In addition, you actually have to play some Puyo if you want to complete the campaign, so learning the concept in the well developed training mode therefore makes sense regardless.
If, like me, you like to maximise your results and get three stars on every challenge, it will also be quite demanding. That is yet another reason to train, but I want to suggest you to turn off the automatic difficulty level that Sega thinks gives you a well-balanced challenge. It feels anything but balanced and should only be used by those who think frustration is one of the finer forms of entertainment.
By the way, what's really new? Actually not that much at all, I would say. Here, a solid stack of multiplayer modes are offered as well as the opportunity to play only Puyo Puyo or Tetris if you prefer that. If it's the latter that attracts, however, I would suggest you get the recently released Tetris Effect: Connected instead, which provides a much better Tetris experience than the Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. Swap is back from the first game, and here you switch between Tetris and Puyo, which is still entertaining, while Fusion means you have to be ready for madness all the time while two different games really merge.
However, there is one thing that is the main draw this time, and that is Skill Battles. Here you fight with a total of three characters that you can choose yourself (even if the menus are awful and disturb your opponent when you play locally), all with different characteristics, on almost fighting game-like premises. I played a lot of Puyo Puyo for Dreamcast back in the day, and I think this modes somewhat feels like that game. By pressing the button that corresponds to your character, you unleash her/his special ability - provided your meter is not emptied.
Then it is important to attack ruthlessly to drain your opponent's life. Spontaneously, some characters feel clearly more difficult to use effectively than others, while some provide obvious beginner benefits, but Sega usually has a check on balance in arcade-like games like this, so I still have full confidence that with a little practice it will be balanced.
Skill Battles are very entertaining and I have been playing with my partner for hours. Online, this is going to be the big thing, although I guess it will be full of unbearably good players who make it difficult to place your first blocks before everything is over with special abilities used to maximum damage. I can not help thinking that this game mode should have had its own campaign, where you could have learned to combine characters and have properties explained to you. Now it's just one of several available modes and not much more than that in a game that is essentially its predecessor with a few tweaks and a new story.
In the end, I'm still happy that Sega has not changed so much in terms of gameplay in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. It's a feat to get two quite different puzzle games to meet in this way and actually make it feel natural. But even if the basics are entertaining, there should have been a little more content. If you already have the predecessor, you basically only pay for a new campaign and Skill Battles as well as a hopefully larger online community. If it's worth the money to you, is of course something only you can answer. If you do not have the original, however, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 is a really entertaining puzzle game that will last for years, especially in local multiplayer.
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