Nintendo Switch

The Punchuin is a Puzzle Game That Feels Like Wario’s Woods

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The Punchuin is a Puzzle Game That Calls Back to Wario’s Woods

Match-3 titles are incredibly popular and prevalent when it comes to puzzle games. It’s a simple mechanic, but one that can be iterated upon to become more complex or engaging. The Punchuin, Shin’en’s latest Switch shadowdrop, attempts to punch up the genre by adding platforming to the mix. It’s an idea that makes sense and calls to mind games like Wario’s Woods. But at the same time, it is the punching and platforming mechanics that could lead to someone really taking a beating.

The concept in The Punchuin is rather simple. You’re a penguin in search of treasure, and you’re going to get it via punching your way through pits. Each level puts you in a pit that may or may not have unique mechanics. For example, area two stages tend to have pools of water, which you can hit blocks into to permanently remove them from the field. These colored blocks and ice blocks with coins or power ups drop from the top of each stage in The Punchuin, just like in Wario’s Woods. To eliminate them, you typically need to match three of the same color blocks or punch an ice block until it is destroyed. You don’t “win” a level until you clear the certain number of sets of blocks shown on the right.

However, the big difference between Wario’s Woods and The Punchuin are the platforming elements. In both games, your avatar needs to move about the field to ensure the blocks get in the right spots to be cleared. There’s more activity in The Punchuin, however, due to being able to jump, slide down walls or the sides of block towers to jump off of them, and punch. This also imparts an increased sense of intensity! Blocks drop swiftly! You might need to do some tricky jumping to reach the exact row and start punching through.

However, the nature of using punching to move blocks about means The Punchuin lacks something Wario’s Woods offers: precision. In Wario’s Woods, you are in full control of what you grab and where you place it. With The Punchuin, you need to account for the drift that comes when you punch a block. You might accidentally get it out of place, or perhaps even into a gap that causes a block you need to be gone forever, with a single hit. This can work to your advantage, however. With a block you can’t access easily, due to its position, you can punch and use the recoil to isolate it and ideally get it into a better position for matching purposes. You also get power ups, like one that lets you use bombs to eliminate blocks or increases your verticality.

The Punchuin is a Puzzle Game That Calls Back to Wario’s Woods

It’s a different sort of flow! One that can take some getting used to, mind you, if you’re coming to The Punchuin and immediately making a Wario’s Woods connection. I found the best way to get out of it was to start unlocking the challenge levels. When these come up, you’ll find yourself with a set arrangement of blocks. Your goal will be to eliminate all of them. However, losing one of the blocks or failing to match them up means failure. Given the lack of stress, since no blocks are falling, it is a controlled environment to get acquainted with the game. However, these come up rarely, as they are more of a bonus you unlock with in-game coins on the map rather than regularly encountered stages.

Still, while it might not always be exactly like other puzzle games, The Punchuin feels like a great title for people who did like Wario’s Woods and more active match-3 titles. There’s a lot you can do here! You need to factor in momentum! Blocks constantly fall! It is charming in its way, though there’s a certain level of care and platforming skill needed for success.

The Punchuin is now available for the Nintendo Switch.

Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.