When it comes to competitive puzzle games, very few puzzlers are as enjoyable as Puyo Puyo so let's pop some Puyos online.
Puyo Puyo Champions is a multiplayer-focused entry in the long-running puzzle series. For the unfamiliar, it's played by connecting similarly coloured blobs and once 4 attach, they disappear. Although this sounds simple, the challenge comes in being able to have Puyos fall and create more successive matches which is referred to as a chain. If you have the ability to carefully plan ahead and use each piece wisely, you can create massive chains which is the key to victory as the better the chain, the more garbage pieces will fall on your opponents. Also, if a lot of junk is waiting to fall on your playfield, you can perform chains to counter it which will hopefully result in clearing all the potential garbage. This constant back and forth is great fun, especially when you consider how simple the gameplay is at its core.
One aspect of Puyo Puyo Champions which stands out is the fact that it features 2 main play modes inspired by past games in the series: Puyo Puyo 2 and Puyo Puyo Fever. The former presents the basic formula that I described in the previous paragraph and the latter allows you to build up your Fever gauge whenever you cancel garbage Puyo. Once that gauge is full, you enter Fever mode which has you try and achieve as many chains as possible within a selection of predefined puzzles so you can gain an advantage against your foe. You can play either of these modes against CPU opponents, local chums, or online competitors. Each match can be with up to 4 players and the commencing battles are usually exciting and enjoyable. That is; if you're playing against folks with similar skill levels.
The graphics and sound of Puyo Puyo Champions are what you'd expect from the franchise with bright backgrounds, delightful music, and charming voice acting in either English or Japanese. One of the coolest features is that you can select from a couple dozen characters including classic chums such as Arle, Carbuncle, Amitie, and the goofy muscular fish Suketoudara. I loved picking different characters to hear their personalities come alive with the spirited voice acting so choosing your favourite can be a lot of fun.
Although Puyo Puyo Champions is a solid puzzler, it's definitely not as fully featured as I expected. The most notable lack of content is seen in the single player mode as you can only set up matches against the CPU. I would have loved to see some sort of endless mode. Past Puyo Pop games featured endless mode with missions to complete which I absolutely love yet nothing of the sort is included here. On top of that, the options that you can toggle to customize each match aren't very comprehensive and don't change up the gameplay much so replay value is rather limited as a result, especially while playing with local friends.
Even playing online isn't as fun as I hoped which is due to one main flaw: skill level doesn't seem to be taken into account at all during the matchmaking process. I'm quite good at Puyo Puyo yet almost every opponent I faced online regularly filled their playfields then got a 10+ chain thus winning the match almost immediately. Why can't I be matched against someone with a slightly above average skill level instead of these puzzle-solving machines? There are filters but they only allow you to choose connection quality and mode.
Puyo Puyo Champions offers familiar and fun competitive puzzle gameplay with a huge selection of delightful characters. That being said, the overall lack of substantial content and options makes it a somewhat limiting experience.
- + Classic Puyo Pop fun with 2 gameplay styles
- + Exciting multiplayer matches with up to 4 players either locally or online
- + Loads of charming characters to play as
- - Could use more single player content
- - Lack of modes and variations makes the overall package have low replay value
- - Online matches don't account for skill level