Huh? We're not reviewing Puyo Puyo DA! this time? And I got my maracas dusted and ready for nothin'.
Anyway, you may be expecting the standard 'shots from a Playstation emulator, don't shout at us if they're not 100% accurate' warning. And you'd be right. For this one, we actually have a real copy, so we tested it on both an emulator (ePSXe, as pSX wouldn't emulate the Mega Drive games properly) and on the real hardware. Accuracy's especially important for this one seeing as it involves a port/emulation of another system's soundchip. Although to be honest if you're invested in Puyo Puyo in any capacity you probably already have the Mega Drive Puyo games, but you've already stopped reading this so let's get on with it.

As a mostly-useless Puyo fan, I'm not the one to ask pertinent questions about the series.

(Unless that question is 'which Puyo is the best Puyo', the answer being 'Blue')

But if I was asked questions, and one of those questions was 'Any unusual but good versions of the first two games?', I'd say 'Puyo Puyo Box'.

Released in 2000 for the Playstation in Japan, Puyo Puyo Box is... Well, it's weird. Not necessarily because it's weird to our spoiled modern eyes- two games on a collection seems quaint, but this was only just past the era of releases like the Konami double-packs, R-Types and Image Fight/X-Multiply, so it's probably polite to give it a bit of leeway. It's weird because... What is it? Is it a compilation release with some extra bits for fans, a collection of original content with two full games thrown in as a bonus, or what? Probably the best description is that it's a smorgasbord of stuff from the four core Puyo games- the original, Tsu (2), Sun (3) and Yon (4)- with a focus on 1 and 2, included in their entirety on this disc. We've talked about Puyo Puyo before here, so we'll spare you the in-depth analysis of the games themselves (they're fun, fast-paced drop-the-pieces puzzlers with a focus on making chain reactions to bury your opponent in garbage and finish 'em off, and high-level play is fascinating to watch) and just focus on what makes this particular version of interest. If at all.

It's probably best to start with the two 'full' games included, Puyo Puyo and Puyo Puyo Tsu, as they're what make this a compilation release in the first place. To begin with a minor disappointment, these are based on the Mega Drive versions, which may cause some to frown and fret that they're not the arcade releases. It's true that the arcade originals have more voice clips with higher quality, but to give the Mega Drive ports credit, they're basically bang-on (which makes sense seeing as both the arcade Puyos run on Mega Drive-based hardware, Sega System C-2). As for these PS1 versions, the quality's pretty textbook- the sound's a little iffy, as it all sounds a bit harsher and sharper, and there's some weird little quirks that we'll cover after we're done here- but there's no real complaints to be made here. On the other hand, don't expect any of the 32-bit-port-only stuff specifically in these versions here, as you won't find 'em.

Beyond the Mega Drive ports, the main mode in Puyo Puyo Box is... Er... Puyo Puyo Box- a smattering of extra modes that mostly exist to tickle the Puyo Puyo-centric part of my brain and make me go 'Oh, damn, that's cool!' a couple of times. Ultra-nerd stuff, basically. Probably the most extensive mode here (although not my favourite, as we'll see) is the single-player Quest Mode- essentially a Puyo Puyo RPG in miniature. Simple enough for someone like me to bluff their way through and finish, it's mostly what you'd expect- Arle and Carbuncle mosey around the Puyo world to collect six medallions, with all the standard Puyo goofiness ensuing (including but not limited to stealing Skeleton-T's tea, using Suketoudara as a bridge, and finding Schezo's rather ratty living quarters). Obviously, in lieu of normal RPG battles, random encounters and bosses are fought with Puyo battles, and your stats affect your performance- attack dictates how much garbage your attacks throw at enemies, defense is how many garbage blobs you'll receive, and speed (technically 'quickness'- thanks to Twitter users @bfletchtone, @Ikari_DC and @slawbrah for clarifying the translation) alters how fast your Puyos fall (the higher this is, the slower they'll be, although like all stats it depends on the enemy you're fighting). Naturally, levelling up and getting new equipment increases your stats to help you progress, but there's also a tiny bit of Zelda in there- items hidden in the dungeons let Arle interact with the world and let her access new areas, like boots for dropping from ledges and wands for smashing blocks and the like.

What's interesting is how RPG elements are incorporated, beyond the random nature of battles- some of it's pretty clever! For example, each battle has multipliers for Gold and EXP earned- the one for Gold ticks away so beat the enemy as fast as possible to get the max loot, and the EXP multiplier increases by doing chain attacks. Beyond stat-altering, any piece of equipment can alter whether you have certain abilities in battle- stuff like Tsu rules, seeing one, two or no pairs ahead in the NEXT square even being able to rotate pieces. You can alter other rules by equipping rings, like having Point garbage blobs drop in your pit after an attack, or only have two different colours of Puyos to deal with, so there's this little balancing act between having good stats versus having all your standard abilities. Hardly earth-shattering stuff, but it's a nice way of melding your standard RPG with Puyos.

Its faults are mostly that the encounter rate is very high (although invisibility powder stops encounters for two rooms, and you can run away from most enemies) and, if you're a Puyo expert, you'll coast through it as any advanced tactics utterly destroy any enemy. To its credit, though, for an RPG in miniature (you're looking at about 10 hours) it does what it does fairly well, and for Puyo fans, seeing all-new sprites for some of the characters is a nerdy little treat. There's no fan-translation, but it's easy enough to grasp with a little trial and error if Japanese is not your forte, and there's even a bit of visual humour- Arle can open doors by either flinging them off-screen or straight-up destroying them, you can use her wand to interact with things like mushrooms for no reason, and Satan's lair is quite a thing. Probably aimed more at the die-hards, but certainly a robust extra for a game like this.

As neat as the Quest Mode is, I was actually more interested in the other modes lurking in Box Mode, especially the multiplayer ones. With the exception of three/four-player games, all these other modes- including 10, 20 and 30-stage Rally courses for single players, two-to-four-player multiplayer battles, and a new 'Excavation' mode where you have to dig through Puyos to open a treasure chest and bury your enemy in garbage (a bit like the Doppelganger Arle battle in Yon)- use graphics, sounds and music from the Mega Drive Puyos, but have a pretty customisable set of rules. Most of this can be found in the multiplayer modes (allowing you standard stuff like having Point/Hard garbage blobs or only blowing up Puyos when 6 are together, and more advanced rules like those found in the home ports of Sun) but except for Excavation, all of them let you play in the game style of your choice- original, Tsu, Sun or Yon. To go over it briefly, original is original, Tsu players can counterattack enemy attacks, Sun players get Sun Puyo if they counterattack that augment their chain attacks, and Yon players get to select a special attack, like destroying a row of Puyos or shielding enemy garbage temporarily, which is usable after they've built up meter by popping Puyos. Obviously, each successive rule set has advantages over the previous one, so perhaps a sporting agreement needs to be made pre-match, but a bit like those Street Fighter compilations that have all the different variants of each character, it's fascinating to see later rulesets implemented in Tsu's visual style. Even if some of the Yon powers (removing garbage especially) are so frustrating to fight.

The set's rounded off with two extra modes that are almost little time capsules of features in games that you don't see anymore (at least not in these specific forms)- a two-player versus mode where you can save your name to your memory card and battle friends to increase your rank (take your memory card to a friend's house and challenge them! What a novel idea, eh?) and the PocketStation mode where you can write a message to a friend, pop it on your PocketStation, and transfer it to someone else. If you like. There's also some sort of mini-game, but sadly we, uh, don't have a PocketSation. I mean, do you? (What do you mean, yes?)

That's Puyo Puyo Box, then. Quite a strange little collection, but I've got a little soft spot for it. If you're completely new to the series, then the first two in the series are reasonably recreated here, the multiplayer modes are great to play with friends, and the inclusion of Sun and Yon rules in Box Mode serve as a sampler for those renditions of the game, giving you a fairly good spread of pre-Fever Puyo knowledge. For Puyo veterans who already have all the other games, this is still absolutely worth a look for the original content within- as well as the RPG, the Rally mode has a lot of opponents (with randomised enemy sets, too, and several characters from later games in the series done in the Tsu style), and tinkering with Sun and Yon rules is a nice inclusion. The main thing that's not in the set's favour is that while the individual home ports of the other Puyo games- mostly thinking of the Playstation port of Sun- don't come with a flippin' RPG as a bonus, there are a few modes that would've made sense to show up here. Probably the biggest omission is some form of Nazo/Mission Mode, as the Playstation and N64 ports of Sun came with one and, as we know, I'm a bit of a fan of them. A full-on exercise mode for Tsu rules wouldn't have gone amiss, either. At least the first game's got that covered.

For what it is, though, I'd say try and play it! 'Cause it's kinda quirky and interesting, isn't it?

For being Puyo Puyo, Puyo Puyo Box is awarded...

In a sentence, Puyo Puyo Box is...
A curious grabbag of lovely Puyo things, and that's fine with me.

And now, it's that time, folks!

OK, let's get ultra-nerdy- changes for the Box versions of Puyo Puyo and Puyo Puyo Tsu! Exciting!

Puyo Puyo
On actual PS1 hardware, the Sound Test code (A, A, Left, Left, B, B, Left, Left, C, C) doesn't seem to work- you hear the chime, but it won't unlock. Playing it an emulator unlocks it from the off for some reason.
On the opponent minimap, when the opponent block flashes, the character flashes on and off too- on the original, it flashes grey but the character remains on-screen.

Puyo Puyo Tsu
The Battle Mode code (hold C on Controller 2 while entering the Options screen) doesn't work any more- instead, you have to hold Square, X and Circle on Controller 2 to get it to work.
The 'Voice' setting on the Options screen is set to Voice B (where it'll pause the music during voice clips) and is greyed out so it cannot be changed.
Some of the songs (including one unused), most sound effects and all voice clips cannot be played in the Sound Test- they're greyed out.

Both Games
Probably goes without saying, but the Sega logo as each game boots up is gone.
Any references to the Mega Drive buttons, like the Input Test, have been replaced with Playstation equivalents (A = Square, B = X, C = Circle).
Msic will continue to play while the game is paused- in the original games, the music would pause too.
There are small load times between menus, and the music will stop for a second if the song changes (like when You Are In Danger! starts playing).

As mentioned, one of the nice things in Puyo Puyo Box is the inclusion of characters from later/earlier games in the Tsu art style.

Here's a list of them, then.

You'll notice some familiar faces in the Yon section- older characters have had their art changed, sometimes in subtle ways, for their Yon versions.

Hover your mouse over to see specifically where to find them if they appear in Quest Mode!

From Puyo Puyo Sun


Kodomo Dragon

Honey Bee

Lagnus Bishasi


From Puyo Puyo~n


Archan (Alt)


Doppelganger Arle

Arle Nadja








Schezo Wegey



From Madou Monogatari

Doppelganger Arle

From Madou Monogatari: ARS

Doppelganger Schezo


From Comet Summoner

Dark Witch

From Kikimora's Clean Up

Black Kikimora

And finally...


As for characters missing from this list, at least one character that appears in Yon form in Rally Mode (Harpy) uses the same art as Tsu, so we're not counting that (and the same applies to her Sun form). The Puyo Nexus says that there's also Yon versions of Lagnus and Incubus, but we never encountered them. Some characters are reused in Quest Mode with altered colour palettes, but we've only included Archan's alt as she's the only one that uses new art. Finally, alternate versions of Schezo and Satan appear in Quest Mode, but we reckon you should see those for yourself in-game as they're part of the best laughs in the story. Unless you click their names in that last sentence to see them. No context! You'll have to figure it out yourselves!

This one's a bit of a weird article, isn't it? Feels... Shorter than normal

Oh well, I'm sure no-one will mind that.

Next time: Puyo Puyo DA!, I promise. Looking forward to it! No, really!!