Puyo Puyo is one of the finest puzzle games to leave Japan. The series constantly grows in strength and works in so many ways. Its story in Puyo Puyo Tetris was amazing and educational. Puyo Puyo Chronicle showed how well it implemented RPG elements and integrated puzzles as battles. With Puyo Puyo Champions, we get one of the more accessible versions. It launched at a bargain price of $9.99 on every major platform out there and, while the focus is on competitive play, it is the sort of game that could help people work their way toward becoming a champion.
Puyo Puyo Champions takes a sink or swim approach to gameplay. It doesn’t bother to send you through tutorials. If you go through the Solo Mode and choose Puyo Puyo 2 or Puyo Puyo Fever rules, you might see hints if you adjust certain settings or adjust handicaps, but there is minimal handholding here. You go in knowing that matching four Puyos makes them disappear, and continually chaining together these groups will send garbage Puyo over to your opponent’s screen to push them closer to a line that will mean a game over for them. To make it easy for newcomers, you can even hop right into a Puyo Puyo 2 or Puyo Puyo Fever Solo match from the opening screen, without having to even get into menus.
It’s once you start experimenting and scratching the surface that Puyo Puyo Champions‘ opportunities start unfolding. You can adjust the handicap in AI matches, going all the way from the forgiving Sweet to the most demanding Spicy. You can determine if Comeback Assist is on, to give you an edge when your opponent does manage to win. Switching over from Battle, which allows a single match against one opponent, to Endurance, which forces you to think on your feet and go through a gauntlet of AI opponents, is another way to really force yourself to think and react. In fact, I would say Endurance is a great way to get out of your own head, because you can’t start thinking about how well you are or aren’t doing. It all comes down to survival, getting inventive, and maybe seeing if things click.
The Online section’s Puyo Puyo Broadcast is another way to really take some time to sit back with Puyo Puyo Champions. It lets you see the masters at work. Once you head into it, you are able to look through all sorts of matches. Since nothing is at stake for you, you can watch what worked for other people. All matches are tagged and, while you can’t search for a specific tag, it does mean things are easily marked so you know what to look for. As an example, filtering by Rank lets you see some of the best matches. Anything here with a Must Watch is a great place to start. Matches with the Master Battle and Rank Up! tags are also helpful, since you get to see people at the top of their games and using tricks that are helping them hit new heights. But mainly, it is a relaxed and controlled environment where you can appreciate what is going on and learn from it.
But, perhaps the best way to grow is to jump in headfirst. While the AI in Puyo Puyo Champions is good and a great way to find your footing when learning the rules, heading online to Puyo Puyo League is even better. You’re facing real opponents that gradually feel like they are growing in difficulty at the same pace as you are. You are seeing how actual people react to situations. There’s a greater sense of victory that comes from besting an actual person. It’s a sense of triumph. Especially when the game lets you know that hey, this next shot is your promotion chance. You might not be a rookie anymore. You’re a beginner now!
Puyo Puyo is a series that can take a while to master. It might be a few weeks before a newcomer starts figuring out the right way to build up Puyos on a board so they can trigger chains and dump all the trash on an unsuspecting opponent. Puyo Puyo Champions is the sort of basic experience that lets you jump in and find your footing rather easily. It offers clear looks at its rulesets and options. Getting matches put together is easy. Replays are easily shared, so you can see what is working for others. Most importantly, heading online lets you quickly and easily find opponents who probably want the same things as you: to enjoy a few rounds, grow as a player, and hopefully win.
Puyo Puyo Champions is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.