Puyo Puyo Champions is a proper trial by fire.
If you’ve never played one of these before, I wouldn’t call it the best starting point for a new player – trust me, stick to Puyo Puyo Tetris.
That said, this is a real test for those who’ve been playing the series since the early days and are looking for the best available online experience.
And Online really is what Champions is all about. For one, you can watch other people’s replays to see how they get those ridiculous combos and end up surviving despite insurmountable odds. I even learned a trick or two from them, though it still didn’t get me a win.
You can even upload your own replays if you’re feeling particularly feisty and think you’ve had a pretty decent session.
Be warned, though, based on the types of replays going up and the people I’ve been matched with, this game is already attracting serious competition. Nobody is going easy on you.
And the reason why is because the Japanese have had a little bit of a headstart on this. I mean, it did launch there back in October. Zoinks!
You can either choose to play Puyo Puyo 2 or Puyo Puyo Fever from the main menu, taking either experience online or testing your mettle in Endurance based modes against the AI.
PP 2 is a more traditional variant, similar to Mean Bean Machine of years back on Mega Drive where you mix and match different colored beans and send trash over to your opponent’s screen.
It often leads to a slower, more manageable match, and is definitely the place to start if you’re a bit rusty.
Fever is slightly different in that a bar needs to be filled at the center of the screen by deleting and counterattacking trash being chained against you.
When Fever Mode is active, you will dump even more on your enemies than normal, meaning matches are much faster paced and can be over in a matter of minutes.
It’s brutal, and certainly exposed my abilities more than a few times on a very public stage. Not ideal when there’s a rank on the line.
The good news is that it was never an issue with lag or problems with netcode that cost me a match. It was purely a lack of skill and me being outclassed by my competition time after time.
Fortunately, you can take part in Free Play if you’re not quite ready to go for ranks and ratings. It helps you prepare yourself for the real test, though you’ll still find it’s not the least bit easy.
Which goes back to my original point of saying, don’t jump into Puyo Puyo Champions if you’re not in it for the challenge or online. Though the content is quite limited, this is much more affordable than Puyo Puyo Tetris so it might seem like a more attractive jumping on point for newbies but don’t be fooled.
Basically, if you think you’re good enough at Puyo Puyo, pick this up and have a go. You might find yourself a new path to eSports as this definitely feels like the next logical step for the franchise on a global stage.
As for me, I think I’ll dip back into Puyo Puyo Tetris and get a few laughs out of that instead. While the matchmaking and online portion is so much better in Champions – both in terms of stability and competition – I think I’m more of a solo player and so PPT is more my bag.
Puyo Puyo Champions is now available on PC, PS4, and Switch.. Reviewed on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by SEGA