Review by Summonmaster

Reviewed: 08/12/04

Largo, andante, allegro, presto, suave, da capo, g-g-g-giocoso! So sorry!

Puyo Pop Fever is the followup to the puyo franchise which was incredibly popular in Japan. The concept of rotating gelatinous, emotion filled, blobs of fun was apparently a smash hit with gamers, and as a result, has blessed us by coming over here to North America! The idea behind puyo pop is almost exactly the same as past popular titles such as Kirby's Avalanche (SNES) and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (Genesis). Although Kirby's Avalanche is probably the most famous out of the 3, puyo pop fever improves exponentially on the basic concepts, with an all new fever mode, offsetting, and my favourite addition, different characters with different attacking voices and quotes! Puyo Pop Fever has been the most refreshing addition to the puzzle genre as of yet.

Gameplay 10/10 - You are in control of the puyos which drop from the top of the screen. Your mission? Rotate these puyos and manipulate them to achieve groups of 4 of the same coloured puyo. When 4 of the same colour group up, they explode and disappear, sending nuisance puyo to your opponent, which is the key to victory. Puyo are in sets of 2, 3, or 4. That's it? No no no no, that's far from it. A vital point of the game is the ability to create chains, which are sets of puyo that naturally fall on top of each other to clear themselves. Say you clear a set of four, and there happens to be a green puyo on top of that set of four, and 3 green puyos below that set of four. See what I'm getting at? The 1 meets the 3, which equals 4 and they explode, accompanied by your character's voice and a possibly a visual. Bigger and more complex chains lead to more detailed visuals, powerful "spells" (a good amount of the characters say spells when you make chains), and an absurd amount of nuisance puyo for your opponent. The gameplay runs incredibly smooth, with very lenient time options given to you. You may speed up the rate of the falling blobs by pressing down, or let them go at their own pace, and you can change most rules to your liking, such as the amount of puyo per attack, or the accessibility of fever mode, which brings me to a crucial aspect of Puyo Pop Fever: Fever mode. When the gauge in the center is filled up (by offsetting) you enter Fever mode for a set amount of time, which is basically a group of preset chains given to you. Offsetting is when you clear at least a group of 4 to counter a bunch of nuisance puyo your opponent has sent your way. Your group of 4 (or more) will reduce the nuisance puyo sent to you by however much it would usually send to your opponent, and add a point to your fever gauge. When the gauge is full you may wreak havoc to your opponent by setting off huge chains with a single puyo drop, which usually spells out doom for them. Why only usually and not guaranteed? With all those fever induced puyo you send, the opponent is likely to offset many of those puyo and enter fever mode as well! This adds to the craziness of the gameplay and forces you to choose a style of play. Do you want to get in fever mode first? Do you want to try to finish the opponent off with a mega chain set up by yourself before they can do anything? Do you want to add to your fever time before you enter fever mode? It's up to you. The available chains get bigger if you clear them well but they get smaller if you don't. After your time is out, then you return back to the normal mode with what you had on screen before you entered fever mode. As a side note, if you totally clear your screen of puyo (All Clear!) you get a mini chain given to you as a sort mini fever mode for you. Phew! After all that excitement, there's still a couple of other things to explain. There are 3 courses: runrun, wakuwaku, and harahara, in the 1p mode, which are basically easy, medium, and hard. As well as a free battle which you'll want to choose if you don't like Amitie or Raffine, or if you just want some practise. There are 3 endless modes: Fever, which has you constantly in fever mode, trying to achieve larger and larger chains until you reach an abnormally high number of chains within an amount of time. Mission has you clear what Amitie says to increase your playing time. Endless has you play with the traditional 2 puyo sets until you get tired of playing or until you lose. 2 player mode is very nice provided your friends are willing to learn and play the game, which you should probably try and get them to do, so you choose different characters. There are also 2 secret, unlockable characters, which are marginally easy to unlock. What's more is you can save replay data of just about any match (vs. 2p or cpu). The gameplay, though not as revolutionary as tetris, is the pinnacle of the words: refreshing change of pace.

Control 10/10 - A very good decision by the programmers which adds to the control, is the ability to change your mind at almost the last second. What do you mean? I mean that after your blob has made contact with the ground or is on top of another blob, you can choose to rotate it, or move it left or right providing that you have the space. You can do all this within the time period of about a half of a second which can be vital, if you happen to spot a chain instead of going for simultaneous elimination, or would rather eliminate another group of puyo. This is very evident in the endless mode, in which at level 99 the drop speed is almost instantaneous. However, at the instant speed of dropping, you still are given half a second after a puyo has finished falling to change your mind! Also, say you are dropping a 2 puyo set into a gap, where both sides are filled. You may switch the the puyo up or down, a la Columns style, since you have no room to rotate it. Evidently, Puyo Pop Fever gives you flexibility in your control.

Story 6/10 - Hahahahahaha, this is such a joke but it's not too bad. There is no deep story so nothing here is really a spoiler. Amitie is an aspiring girl who wants to puyo pop to become a great magic user. Runrun, in the 3 courses you play have you fight: 1) a timid classmate, 2) a hulking classmate, and 3) the teacher. Wakuwaku, in the 8 courses you play have you fight a medley of strange creatures and people, to find your teacher's flying cane, until you reach the strange secret character of the game which you can unlock. Harahara changes your protagonist from Amitie to Raffine with a different set of opponents to find the flying cane. The 2nd secret character is in this course but it's a tiny bit harder to unlock him. The cutscenes are cute parleys with your opponents before you fight them. At least they didn't try to develop the story further in a vain attempt to get people engrossed in it and have them dissect it, because it's only a puzzle game, and we're in it mostly for the gameplay, unlike an RPG.

Graphics/Sound 10/10- Wow! This is easily the best part of the game. Picture yourself clearing puyo silently with no taunting voices after you make a chain, and no visuals. Picture the puyo silently dropping on your opponent's side with no acknowledgement of you dropping them there. Now picture the polar opposite of that. Which one do you like better?Well, some people may prefer the silence better, but they're the kind that would mute the game and pop in the their own tunes to listen to. Each time you make a chain, your character shouts something and the larger the chains, the more impressive it sounds take Klug for example: chain1) There!, chain2) Come to me now!, chain3) golden sunlight, chain4) silver moonlight, chain5) give me your power!, chain6) nebula!, chain7)ignis!, chain8........chain12) some kind of forbidden spell. The things they say get interrupted by the upcoming phrases if the chains fall fast enough so "golden sunlight" becomes "golden sunl-- silver moonlight!" If that's not enough, the characters get a wicked stutter effect after about a 6 or 7 chain: "n-n-n-nebula!" or "e-e-e-ecoccaise!" This is the sole reason I keep playing this game, for the stutter effect, since it sounds so wickedly awesome. Graphics pop up to showing you attack your opponent or your opponent attacking you. For example: Ms. Accord attacks by releasing a circle of music notes, and celebrates by covering your screen and waving a flag. You also know when you receive an attack since after a huge one you get a visual. For example, Onion Pixy gets a pan dropped on his head "boing!" These graphics never interfere since they only appear ever so briefly and if you still think they do, you can turn them off. Mind you, it's not like Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo where the characters in the middle fight it out since that's where your fever gauge goes, silly! About th puyos themselves now, each has their colour correspondent emotion: red-angry eyes, blue-sad eyes, yellow-happy eyes, etc. They are all animated in 3d, and when a chain is made the camera zoom in on them disappearing and moves around. Don't like that either? Well you can turn that off also. Back to the sound, you can also change that too from English to Japanese, if say, Arle's Ice Storm is a bit too scary for you :)

Play Time/Replayability 10/10 - Endless mode can take you literally endless amounts of time although it would be unhealthy, so you can stop whenever you want. You'll unlock all the cutscenes and characters pretty fast, except for maybe one, if you are totally new to this game and are having trouble. This game will get you addicted so fast that you can easily shut off all other games from your gaming life for a while. I found myself playing this at 2 in the morning just to hear the character voices! Puyo pop can be utilized in many a way too, as a quick diversion or a long runthrough if only to beat your score.

Overall 10/10 - Although it is somewhat rare (even as a new title, since I've only seen wal mart and gamespot have this title out) you MUST get this game if you are a puzzle fan. It will keep you playing for many hours, at the retail price of $30.00 US, and slightly more Cdn :( Get it before it dies off from the shelves! Now!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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