snaffles's Puyo Puyo Sun (Saturn) review

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I contemplated writing Puyo Puyo Fun

 Puyo Puyo Sun for the Sega Saturn is the third title in the Puyo Puyo Series. The games title is a pun referring to the suns that feature in gameplay as well as “san” the Japanese word for three. From what I can gather from the animated sequence that precedes the title screen Satan has created a device to bring the sun closer to the earth, causing great discomfort for those not acclimated to such heat. Satan however is having the time of his life playing a ukelele and wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

The single player game has you completing a quest to defeat Satan, and allows you to chose between three heroes at your outset. Draco is the easy option with the shortest path to fight Satan, Arle is the normal option with a moderately longer campaign, and finally Sheezo who has the most arduous trek to save the world from Satan's maniacal scheme. Despite the three characters being easy, normal, and hard modes respectively it is only the amount of battles you face before finishing the campaign that changes, the actually opponent difficulty is still changed via the option menu. So it allows you to play through all three separate story threads regardless of you ability at the actual game which is nice.

In between each battle there is a short animated sequence where your character interacts with another opponent to justify his or her reason for playing the next match of Puyo Puyo. These shorts are quite charming and humorous and really add to the game for the single player experience. The opponents themselves are an odd bunch, with characters such as Skeleton T, who funnily enough is a skeleton who drinks tea, or Chopun who is a man cosplaying as the female protagonist Arle, with the one exception being that he wears a brown paper bag on his head.

The gameplay itself is a versus puzzle game and like most games in the genre as you clear blocks on your side, your opponents screen is filled with blank garbage blocks to impede their progress. The blocks themselves are the “puyo”; small coloured blobs with eyes. You match the Puyos of like colour into groups of four or more to clear them from your screen and thereby send garbage blocks to your opponents side. The amount of blocks that your opponent receives is dependent on the amount of puyos that you clear in one sequence. You can create combos by stacking goups on top of each other and creating chain reactions. The titular suns are the new gameplay addition in this version of the game and function as a multiplier increasing the number of garbage blocks sent to your opponent, they fall randomly on your playing field, so it can be difficult to plan your combos around them.

The two player mode allows you to choose any of the 16 characters that feature in the single player story mode, with the only unplayable character being Satan. At the outset of the match it allows both players to choose the speed at which the Puyos fall independently so as to allow players of varying skill levels a fair chance. You also are able to select what type of blocks will fall as garbage. As a versus game it really is fantastic fun, however even with the speed handicapping available pre-match if you are playing against someone more adept at creating combos the match will really be over fairly quickly.

There is a third mode that is playable by either one or two players and is not versus as such but more a straight score attack mode in the classic tetris mould, where the blocks continually speed up as you go until you are unable to clear them and your screen fills resulting in a game over screen. The blocks you clear in this mode will not send garbage blocks to the other player.

As a sequel it is hard to recommend this game to people who already own other games in the series as the gameplay change from the previous titles, the suns, really don't alter the feel or play of the overall game a tremendous amount. As an overall package though there really is a fantastic amount included with this game, the story mode is fantastic, the manual that comes with the game includes character art and bios, comic, sticker sheet featuring characters, and a Compile(Puyo Puyo Sun's developer) newsletter containing Puyo Puyo fan art amongst other things. I enjoyed playing through the single player game immensely and playing with friends in multiplayer was equally enjoyable, for anyone who likes competitive puzzle games I can't recommend this game enough.


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