Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 will release worldwide on December 8, 2020. We asked the game’s producer, longtime franchise director and producer Mizuki Hosoyamada, about the team’s development goals and what changes players should expect in the new game.
Graham Russell, Siliconera: When you first began work on Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, what was your first priority? What did you want to see in the sequel that wasn’t in the original?
Mizuki Hosoyamada, Sega: The mission was to develop the game on multiple platforms, including new hardware such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. We wanted to release it simultaneously worldwide near the launch of the new hardware, and to create a new game that could be enjoyed by both newcomers and those who had played the previous Puyo Puyo Tetris game, which sold over 1.4 million copies worldwide.
While creating new rulesets, characters, stories, and other new elements of the game, we also incorporated many improvements in response to fan feedback, such as cut-in effects during chains in Tetris and independent online rankings for Puyo Puyo and Tetris, so that more people can play the game.
Adding skills to puzzle gameplay isn’t new for either franchise, explored most notably in the Japan-only Tetris Battle Gaiden and the also-Japan-only Puyo Puyo Chronicle. What were the inspirations for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2‘s skill-based battles?
Tetris Battle Gaiden was released on Super Famicom in 1993, and Puyo Puyo Chronicle was released on Nintendo 3DS in 2016 in Japan and parts of Asia only. If you played those games, you’re probably a very core fan of a certain age range. For those who played Puyo Puyo and Tetris for the first time in Puyo Puyo Tetris, these past titles may be difficult to acquire. Puyo Puyo Chronicle has received many requests from Western fans for localization. However, as we were developing the next phase of our business, we made the decision to forego releasing the title in the West.
The “Skill Battle” is not the same as in Puyo Puyo Chronicle, but rather a reworked version of it. Based on the current Tetris and Puyo Puyo game system regulations, we have been working on this game while simultaneously adjusting the balance between Puyo Puyo and Tetris. After 35 years of Tetris and 29 years of Puyo Puyo, I feel that the game’s playing skills have improved a lot.
Also, there are 36 professional Puyo Puyo players in Japan and while there is a lot of online play and video streaming on YouTube and other sites, which allows for fierce competitions between expert players, there is also a big difference in the level of play between beginners and experts. By releasing Puyo Puyo Tetris worldwide on multiple platforms, including the latest hardware, we’ve added a new “Skill Battle” to fill in the gap in skill levels. We thought it should be reworked as a rule, so we decided to push it for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 this time.
The puzzle genre has never really been known for its engrossing, nuanced plots, but Puyo Puyo Tetris‘ story is especially silly and the sequel looks to retain that tone. How do you go about writing narratives for a game like this?
In the Puyo Puyo series, there are story sequences called “Manzai Demos” that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, structured according to the concept and theme of the work. In the previous game, as it was a collaboration between Puyo Puyo and Tetris, we considered the characters and worldview of the previous Puyo Puyo games as well as that of Tetris, and created the story with those in mind.
This game begins with the introduction of a new character, Marle, and it reestablishes the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris, and how they cross paths again. These stories are based not only on the content of previous Puyo Puyo and Tetris titles, but also on the experience of the Sonic Team and Sega’s other development processes, the development members, the scenario creators, and the IP supervisors who have been influenced by a variety of entertainment, including games, manga, anime, and movies. We got together to discuss the concept, selling points, worldview, and new characters, and created the plotline with these things in mind, while also having everything reviewed by the Puyo Puyo and Tetris teams.
Has the global pandemic caused any significant changes to the game’s development as you’ve worked to complete it this year?
Naturally, we were affected and our development teams in Japan worked from their respective homes following the declaration of a state of emergency in April 2020. The ban on going into the office in Tokyo was lifted after about two months, but it still hasn’t fully been resolved since then. The majority of team members have been able to return to the office while taking safety precautions, such as wearing masks social distancing at all times. We are working diligently to develop this project so that we can launch in December 2020. The staff at the Sega of America office in California are also working remotely, so all of us are working hard together to create great games and deliver them to you.
Many dedicated players are inhumanly good. How have you balanced the game to be satisfying to these experts, while still letting new players make it through the campaign and see all the game has to offer?
For super-experienced players, we’d like them to be able to clear the game with a higher score in Adventure Mode and eventually compete against each other in online matches, or aim to be number one in the world in the Endless Mode online ranking. For beginners, we’ve made it so that even newcomers can complete Adventure Mode as many times as they like, but we thought there might be people who’d still find it difficult. Players can use an Auto Clear function that allows you to skip a stage, and choose to automatically adjust the difficulty level. We’re also developing lessons for intermediate-level players to play through so that they can revisit the basic information and discover new things, which may lead to subsequent improvements.
This interview has been edited for clarity. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 releases December 8, 2020 on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series and Xbox One, with a “holiday” release on PlayStation 5 and a PC launch sometime after. For more, check out our preview of the game!