Super Puyo Puyo 2
Super Nintendo
The undisputed king of puzzle games - Tetris - has often been described as the game that all programmers wished they had knocked together on a rainy afternoon. However, since it's release many rainy afternoons ago, although there have been many attempts, there has yet to be a puzzler to topple Alexey Pazhitnov's creation from it's number one spot. The oddly-named Japanese release Super Puyo-Puyo 2 is one such pretender to the throne and brings to the foray a multitude of original features including a brilliant 4-player multi-tap option. So is this a Tetris killer or just another in a long line of puzzle games destined for obscurity?

Similar to many other puzzle games, the aim of the game is to destroy the blocks (or in this case - blobs) falling from the top of the screen. In Puyo Puyo, two coloured blobs fall at a time. Placing four blobs of the same colour together causes them to disappear and any blobs above them fall down. This often sets off a chain reaction as more colours match and more fall. In multi-player mode, setting off as many chain reactions as possible is the key to winning as each blob destroyed gets dropped into an opponent's play area unless blobs are about to be dropped onto yours, in which case they are cancelled out.

One of the first things you'll notice when playing Puyo Puyo 2 is the number of play modes available (as well as the fact that they are all written in Japanese). Solo players can play in story mode or against one, two or three CPU opponents in head-to-head competition. Head-to-head competitions can also be played by any combination of up to four human or CPU players. Finally, there is a challenge mode which is in the more traditional Tetris style - players aim to survive as long as possible with blocks falling at an ever increasing rate.

Story mode:
A collection of typically odd Japanese anime style characters must be defeated in a series of head-to-head matches. Easy mode has only a few characters to defeat, while Medium has more characters and features some of the strangest intermission screens ever (check out the guy with one huge foot!). Hard mode features even more bizarre characters and plays at a faster pace.

There are several head-to-head options available. In a two-player match players can select from six locations each with a slightly different variation (for example, one of the locations features blobs of only two different colours instead of the usual amount). In a group game, up to 4 CPU/human players take part in a frenzied battle in which the last man standing wins. The screen is split into four small sections as opposed to the usual two.

Challenge Mode:
This mode is similar to Tetris in that the blocks fall at a steadily increasing rate and the aim is to survive for as long as possible. There are some slight differences though. If you take too long between destroying groups of blocks, several colourless blocks fall down just to make things that bit harder. Occasionally a small creature falls into the arena and causes several blocks to change to the same colour thus destroying them. Which is nice.

Either it's Japanese or somebody's spilled ketchup on the screen

Charming ...

Huzzah! 4-player mode ...

... and Billy No-mates mode

Super slick presentation, groovy Japanese anime style graphics, funky tunes, options galore, fantastic gameplay and brilliant multi-player modes - what more could a puzzle game possibly offer? The gameplay itself is very well designed and the 'chain reaction' concept works beautifully - you'll find your brain working overtime thinking up new methods to create huge chain reactions. Multi-player games are a dream to play and the one-player story mode works well thanks to some great and bizarre opponents and intermission screens. Overall Puyo Puyo 2 is an amazing package that should carry a health warning - yes it really is that addictive.

Graphics: 81%

Sound: 89%

Gameplay: 96%

Overall: 95%
Very, very strange Japanese characters and blobs, blobs and blobs. Presentation has to be the best I have seen in a puzzle game and there are lots of nice touches. Funky tunes which fit the game nicely and plenty of high-pitched unintelligible Japanese voice samples. Fantastically playable in both single and multi-player modes, and featuring more options than you know what to do with. Possibly the best puzzle game of the lot. Oooh ... controversial ...
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Tetris Attack • Hebereke's Popoon • Puzzle Bobble

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Tetris (Gameboy) • Blockout (Megadrive/Arcade) • Puzzle Bobble (Arcade) • Klax (Arcade/PC Engine)

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