Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Returning to Puyo - 15 Years Later

With my copy of the brand new Puyo Puyo Tetris finally arriving in the mail, I can't help but think back to where it all began for me. This is a series that played a huge role in my childhood, but funny enough I didn't even realize it at the time.

As a kid I was a HUGE fan of Kirby. I didn't have a Game Boy so I wasn't able to play Dream Land, but my cousin would let me barrow his copy of Kirby's Adventure on the NES every once in awhile. I'm not sure why I liked Kirby so much (maybe it was because he could fly and had cool powers?), but something about his character drew me in, and I would always dream of the day when I could own a Kirby game of my own. Then, it happened.

I can still picture myself standing next to my parents at Walmart and looking up at the display case with all the SNES games in it, and one game out of all of them really stood out to me. The game was called Kirby's Avalanche, and besides knowing it was a Kirby game, I knew nothing about it. I didn't care though -- it was Kirby, and I really, REALLY, wanted it. So for some reason my parents bought it for me, and I rushed to my mom's work (where my SNES was set up) to play it. Thankfully my mom ran the office and my grandma was working her weekend shift, so it wasn't a problem.

Turning on Kirby's Avalanche had me extremely excited, but soon that excitement faded as I was left completely confused. Why is Kirby in the middle of these two boxes? What are these things falling? Why am I moving the blobs and not Kirby? What? I don't get it. Yes, the game turned out to be a puzzle game and not a true Kirby game, but over time I came to love that puzzler.

I didn't know it then, but Kirby's Avalanche was actually a western version of the popular game Puyo Pop. In this game, blobs fall towards the bottom of the screen, and you have to line up four (or more) of them to pop them and score points. Causing the blobs to explode to drop down more blobs piled up could cause a chain combo, and in return launch an "attack" on the second player in versus mode. This second player would then have white blobs fall on their side that must be destroyed by destroying other colored blobs on top of them. If your side is filled with blobs that reaches the top, then you lose. In a way the game was similar to Tetris, but believe it or not, I had never played Tetris by that age either. The closest I had ever come to this sort of game was "Wario's Woods" on the original Nintendo, but even that was different. So in my mind Kirby's Avalanche was a game of it's own, and it wouldn't be till years later that I'd realize I was wrong.

The very last time I would play anything in the Puyo series was actually when I was 10 years old and I got a Nintendo Game Cube. To go with the new console my uncle had bought me a copy of Sonic Mega Collection, and included was a game called "Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine." I didn't know what this game was when starting it up, but the moment I started the first stage it all came back to me. It was Kirby's Avalanche! A rip off of it! At least in my mind it was. Actually in reality both games were one in the same, as they were both localization of the Japanese original (with one using Kirby and the other using the Sonic Cartoon as a base), but as a 10 year old it actually bothered me. I didn't like seeing Robotnik in the game I used to play as a much younger kid, and the SEGA Genesis style graphics disturbed me. Everything about the game was made much darker than the light hearted Kirby version, and I had no desire to return to it. Funny enough, that was the last time I had played any version of the game, and it soon faded from my memories. Until today.


After roughly 15 years, I'm finally going back to Puyo, with Puyo Puyo Tetris. Unlike Kirby and Robotnik, this is the real original version of the game, but with new game modes and Tetris brought into the mix. Even with these changes though, this is still the puzzle game of my childhood, and I am glad to get another chance at reliving those days. Despite not playing it in so long, I still consider Puyo to be my favorite puzzle game to this day, and I can't wait to spend hundreds of hours playing it!

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