By Spencer . March 5, 2008 . 10:37am
On a planet far, far away that happens to resemble Earth, a self-winding medical machine enlightens me about the deadly Puchirus. This infectious disease transforms the mundane human-like residents into beasts. Cute beasts with pun names. Assisted by a giant chicken, Dr. Kevin A. Longfellow picks up his Puchi Buster DS and releases “dangerously high doses of pure awesome” to combat the epidemic.
My first patient was a pig wearing a green jumpsuit. Judging by the tear in his eye Pigsqueak doesn’t look happy about his predicament. I better cure him. The bottom screen of the Puchi Buster DS (i.e. the DS) shows a grid of multicolored hexagons. Most spaces are empty, but a handful of them have colored blobs, each with their own attitude. Green strains of the Puchirus taunt players by sticking out their tongues. Pink variants have kissy face lips. Tapping on three blobs makes a triangle form. Tapping on them again makes them vanish. However, any remaining viruses trapped inside the colored triangle coagulate leaving players with a gray block on the board. Conversely, any gray piece caught in a Puchi-rangle is reanimated into a live virus ready for matching.
Locked gray pieces become a nuisance when they hug the border of the screen. If you don’t quickly revive the coagulated viruses by trapping them within a triangle formed by live viruses, an untouchable gray plaque begins to build. This is the first sign of trouble. The wall moves inwards and reduces the amount of space you have to work with. Since you cannot remove the sickly gray wall by matching live viruses, you have to earn a pill. The first dose of medicine is given after 50 triangles are formed. This potent drug animates gray viruses stuck to the side. Once live, these viruses can be connected across the screen to hastily animate other coagulated Puchiruses.
Some of the patients seem happy with life as a monster. Jet the Shark, a leader of a high school gang and its rival gang falls into that category. Not Pigsqueak though! Fortunately for him, recovery is an easy task. The goal is to get 100 points in 10 minutes. This equates to less than eight virulent triplets and if you’re fast less than a minute of actual playtime. As a first mission, Puchi Puchi Virus is easy, but the difficulty escalates quickly. Each patient post-Pigsqueak has more complicated requirements. To heal Binoceros players need to earn 600 points in three minutes. Sakurah-rah-rah, a walking strobilus with two cherry blossom pom-poms (she’s a cheerleader) has 3300 points in three minutes as her requirement. Most of the patients have point requirements. A few like Salmon Ella, a fish in a dress, have chaining requirements.
Chaining is really the most important aspect of Puchi Puchi Virus. This will probably sound more complicated on paper than it really is, but start by glancing at the adjacent screenshot. Notice how the green triangle encapsulates a handful of pink Puchiruses? All of these viruses are active. You can identify the difference because the active pink Puchiruses don’t make kissy faces. If you tap on any of the green Puchiruses again they will vanish and all of the encapsulated pink Puchiruses will turn to sessile grey pieces. However, if you connect an active pink Puchirus with two other pink Puchiruses you can form another triangle. When you clear the green triangle, the pink triangle also disappears and you get bonus points for chaining the two reactions together. Don't think you can simply chain all the viruses on the board. After a few seconds the initial viruses in the chain vibrate and if you don’t act quickly they coagulate. So, there is a risk-reward relationship when it comes to extending a chain, but with a after a little practice I found myself lengthening my chain while pieces were vanishing off the board.
If Puyo Pop and Bejeweled had a cousin it would be Puchi Puchi Virus.
Besides Pigsqueak’s level, most of Dr. Kevin’s cases have a three minute time limit. Many of them can be completed way before the clock runs out. I imagine the designers planned Puchi Puchi Virus with short bursts of play in mind, but there is an option for players looking for a longer experience. Training isn’t immediately available at the beginning of the game, but you should be able to unlock it after four hours of play. This mode is essentially Puchi Puchi Virus Endless Infection. There are no requirements to fill in training mode, just you and a never ending amount of Puchiruses to match.
Once I unlocked training mode I got hooked on trying to get a high score and I neglected my case files. Sonuva B-eetle is doomed to remain a monster forever.