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Puyo Puyo Tsuu CD (Turbografx-CD) artwork

Puyo Puyo Tsuu CD (Turbografx-CD) review

"Basically, Puyo Puyo Tsuu CD is a competitive puzzle game, similar to Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo. Like any "well" puzzler, the goal is to keep your playfield clean... but in Puyo Puyo, high-scoring chain reactions cause additional slime-like Puyos to fall and infest your challenger's well."

1996 was a year of thumb-blistering excitement. We had the Saturn's hardcore appeal (Guardic Heroes), the PlayStation's busty 3D prowess (Battle Arena Toshindennin Aleste), and the PC-FX's sexy controller (cream white). All developers great and small rushed to cash in on the next-gen craze, even if it meant releasing lackluster Golvellius rip-offs like Linkle Liver Story.

One developer stood alone against the tide. Compile famed creators of MUSHA and Zanac stared this 32-bit bonanza square in the face... and laughed.

"EH HEH HEH! Nya~~~ni kore?! 16-bit IKUZOU!"

It's true! While other developers dove headfirst into the raging 32-bit waters, Compile instead released brand-new games for the PC Engine (dead), Mega CD (deader), and Game Gear (deadest). Compile also ended up going out of business, but that didn't happen until 2002, so we'll pretend their habit of creating games for dead systems had nothing to do with that.

ENOUGH HISTORY! The important thing to remember is that Compile stuck by the aging PC Engine and struck a devilish deal with NEC to release the mammoth Puyo Puyo Tsuu CD in 1996. I say "mammoth" because, instead of 16 opponents, honey-bunny Arle Nadja now faces thirty-three diabolical villains culled from all corners of the Madou Monogatari megaverse. Yes, in Puyo Puyo 2 CD, that brunette jailbait Arle squares off against vicious creatures like Mini Zombie, Cait Sith, and Samurai Mole.

Since Puyo 2 recycles much of the original's gameplay, I'll recycle a bit of my review:

The Minions of Satan came to learn the customs of the PuyoPuyo, and used this knowledge to subjugate the pitiful little blobs by forming them into like-colored sequences of four or more. This was a great and vicious evil, for when the PuyoPuyo were connected in such a manner, they would EXPLODE into tiny, gelatinous bits.

Basically, it's a competitive puzzle game, similar to Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo. Like any "well" puzzler, the goal is to keep your playfield clean... but in Puyo Puyo, high-scoring chain reactions cause additional slime-like Puyos to fall and infest your challenger's well!

Are you lost yet? If so, too damn bad this game wasn't designed for you. The original Puyo Puyo CD was a challenging Columns-style puzzler that used its charming atmosphere to make new fans feel welcome. This second disc, although better in some ways, blunders the things that made Puyo Puyo special. It's still a good game, but it's a game that only existing fans will love.

A lot of that has to do with the cutscenes. The first game didn't exactly make the most of its Super CD format, but it did use the extra space to showcase some really cute, fully-voiced, pre-match "encounters" that overshadowed the actual puzzle-based Puyo battles. Watch Draco-Centaur show off her sexy body! See Arle literally hammer bishie-boy Schezo into the ground with insults! Puyo Puyo 2 CD has 66 of these scenes, an ENORMOUS increase over the original's sixteen, and they're just as adorable as before.

Unfortunately, most newcomers will never see any of them. That's because, in Puyo 2, the cutscenes aren't unlocked until after you've already beaten the game! The original's frequent interludes provided casual gamers with incentive to keep playing for a few minutes more, just to see Arle's next opponent... now we're faced with thirteen straight battles that must be completed in one sitting before we ever get to see any of the overbearing cuteness that Puyo Puyo is known for. If you're a casual (read: poor) puzzle gamer, you probably wouldn't even realize the game has cutscenes.

Even after you beat the game, you've only unlocked half of the cinematics. To unlock the other half, you have to win thirty-three consecutive battles, and you have to do it in a single sitting. Yep, the game makes you face thirty-three (33!) creatures in succession, and you can't even save the game.

That alone makes Puyo Puyo 2 CD less accessible than its predecessor as well as less accessible than other ports of the game. Play Puyo 2 on another system, or play any of the sequels, and you'll be enjoying humorous cinematics from the very first round.

NEC or Compile (whoever you choose to blame) also wasted Puyo 2's "Tower of Doom" theme. The first Puyo Puyo carried Arle through fields, Roman ruins, and the depths of hell itself. The constant cutscenes and occasional shifts in scenery gave the game a sense of progression, as though Arle were on an actual adventure. This time, Arle is supposed to be travelling up a titanic tower of terror, but the only hint that she's actually going anywhere is on the "next enemy" screen (which shows a tower in the background). Should you actually unlock the cute cinematics, all 66 of them take place in the green plains that were already featured in the first game. That's right not only is the Tower nowhere to be seen in any of the cutscenes, but Puyo 2 has fewer backgrounds than before!

On the plus side, the later opponents aren't quite as brutally difficult as they were in the original. And the music is still nice, even if it's not CD audio. Compile has tweaked and refined the actual gameplay to make it smoother, faster, and a bit easier, but they've done nothing to really make this sequel stand out from its predecessor. Well, nothing except add 66 cutscenes that most players won't ever see.

I'm not disgusted, but I'm definitely disappointed. In several ways, Puyo Puyo Tsuu CD is a better game than the original. Unfortunately, it's better in ways that don't particularly matter, especially in the year 2006 when people can play the slicker, more refined sequels. Gamers who aren't already Puyo fans won't understand what the big deal is. The original Puyo Puyo CD had the power to turn even the grumpiest curmudgeons into believers, and that's why I'm leaving it with the higher score. That, and its MUSHA-style music was cooler than anything I heard in here.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (August 21, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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