Puyo Puyo Tetris (Whimsical Weekend #27)

Okay… After 80+ hours of playing Puyo Puyo Tetris, I must conclude that it is far more fun and addicting than I had envisioned. In fact, I feel strongly enough about it to write a blog post. What I hope to do in the process is briefly explain the game, give some gameplay advice, and mention a few miscellaneous aspects.

Overview

Puyo Puyo Tetris (henceforth PPT) is a mashup of two dynamic puzzle games: Tetris and Puyo Puyo. The former is very familiar to the general public, but I’ll explain it anyway. Various pieces of 4 blocks rain down endlessly in a grid-like field, and your job is to keep the field clean by making full horizontal lines of the blocks.

As for Puyo Puyo, it’s not nearly as popular outside of Japan, but if you’re familiar with Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and/or Kirby’s Avalanche, those are reskins of Puyo Puyo. This variety of dynamic puzzle involves pieces of two colored blobs (each called a Puyo) also raining down endlessly in a grid-like field (smaller than that of Tetris), and the goal this time is to pop the Puyos by linking them so that at least four of the same color are adjacent to each other.

PPT was first released on a multitude of consoles in Japan in 2014. It saw release overseas in 2017 on Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and most recently on Steam in February 2018. For the record, I have only played the Switch version, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gameplay

PPT features a multitude of game modes:

  • Adventure Mode – A story-driven single-player mode that gives a tour through the other game modes, starting with Tetris and gradually integrating Puyo. Incidentally, it’s the main way to speedrun this game.
  • Versus – The simplest form of multiplayer. It can be a straight Puyo battle, a straight Tetris battle, or even Puyo vs. Tetris. Regardless, the goal is essentially to play better than your opponent. In Puyo, this means to pop one set of Puyos and end up with as many separate, consecutive pops before the next piece comes down. (This concept is called chaining.) In Tetris, there are two main methods of attack: consecutive line clears, and back-to-back Tetrises and T-Spins. (More on that later.) When you play well, garbage blocks/Puyos get sent over to the opponent’s side, making it more difficult for them to keep their field clean.
  • Swap – A special form of Versus involving Tetris and Puyo in alternation. The initial puzzle is determined by the random number generator, and the alternation happens every 25 seconds. When this happens, the puzzle swapped from is put to the side, but if a piece is falling in that puzzle, then it will continue to fall and can potentially trigger a line clear or Puyo pop. If such is the case, and the opposite happens in the puzzle swapped to, it builds up a Swap Combo, the most optimal form of racking up points and sending garbage to the opponent’s side.
  • Big Bang – Tetris players are given preset fields of specific colors with gaps where the pieces of such colors are to fit for line clear combos. Puyo players have preset chain setups where one color Puyo can be dropped to trigger a particularly long chain. Popping more Puyos or clearing more blocks than the opponent results in dealing damage. Victory goes to the survivor. (Note: In Puyo, if you fail to get the highest possible chain, then you may get demoted and given a lesser chain setup.)
  • Party – Similar-ish to Guitar Hero 3 Battle Mode, where you play well and obtain power-ups to sabotage your opponent. Unlike other modes, Party Mode is purely score-based, and what would normally cost the match simply costs points.
  • Fusion – When Puyo Puyo and Tetris cross with maximum fluidity. It’s played in a field with a size between those of the two individual puzzles. For that reason, there are more Puyos than Tetris blocks, although there are special Puyo pieces that morph into Tetris blocks and back (swapping every second) until dropped. In a similar vein to Swap Combos, if you clear line(s) and pop Puyos in a single combo, you get a Mix Chain, the best form of scoring high and dealing damage.
  • Challenges – Single-player modes for practicing Tetris (first 3) and Puyo Puyo (last 3). Note that the Puyo modes have handicaps that can be changed in Settings: Sweet, Medium, and Spicy. They are listed from lowest to highest; the higher the handicap, the less generous the game is in giving chains. (While Sweet and Medium have 3 Puyo colors, Spicy has 4.)
    • Sprint – Clear 40 lines as fast as possible. The most efficient way to do this is to keep going for Tetris, which is clearing 4 lines in a row.
    • Ultra – Score as many points as possible in 3 minutes. This and Marathon are where T-Spins are preferable.
    • Marathon – Score as many points as possible before clearing 150 lines. In the Settings of this mode, you can toggle Endless to remove the line limit.
    • Endless Puyo – Score as much as possible while avoiding placing a Puyo on the red X.
    • Endless Fever – Single-player counterpart of Puyo Big Bang. You have a time limit that gets bumped up depending how well you clear the chains.
    • Tiny Puyo – A special form of Endless Puyo where the field is bigger and the Puyo pieces sometimes come in groups of 3 or 4 Puyos instead of just 2. (This happens in Puyo Party and Fusion as well.) This mode facilitates the Prismatic Popper achievement.

With all the basics explained, time for some specifics.

Puyo Puyo

Now, I can’t claim to be a Puyo expert by any means. In fact, I was struggling to get three stars on stage 6-5 of Adventure Mode, but I was enlightened to a few basics that lessened the struggle and helped to prevent any further struggles.

First off, I learned of this shape:

It’s the core of a Great Tanaka Rensa, or GTR for short. It’s used by expert players, but it’s also very beginner-friendly. From my experience, if you just learn this shape (and the mirrored version, which I use for Party Mode) and group as many Puyos as possible without accumulating too much or popping anything prematurely, you at least have enough to get by and fully complete Adventure Mode as I have.

But a more professional piece of advice when chaining is to think in reverse. You build from the tail end of the chain and make sure to create solid links. Easier said than done, take it from me, but that’s what I’ve heard from a video tutorial.

Speaking of professional advice, the place to be for more of it is the Puyo Nexus Wiki, which is essentially what taught me what I know.

And another thing: Endless Fever is the best way to accumulate credits and buy out the in-game store, primarily because it makes All Clears relatively easy compared to other modes.

Tetris

A basic technique to earn points and/or defeat opponents in Tetris is to fill all but a certain number of columns in the field with stacks and stacks of blocks. Notable numbers are 1, 2, 3, and 4, ranging from easiest to hardest to set up. On the flip side, the higher column numbers allow for greater combos, which have heightened point values and attack power. This technique is adequate for Swap Combos and Mix Chains in Swap and Fusion respectively. Plus 1-wide is another way of saying “constantly going for Tetris,” which is the basic of the basic.

But there is a more efficient way to attain objectives in PPT Tetris, and that is to set up T-Spins. What that means is taking T-shaped blocks and rotating them into gaps that they can’t reach just by falling straight down. The setups are admittedly complicated, but the payoff is well worth it. T-Spin payoffs specifically depend on the number of lines that they clear. Single, from 1 line, is worth as much as a Tetris. Double, 2 lines, 1.5*. Triple, 3 lines, 2*. Additionally, doing back-to-back Tetrises and T-Spins grants a 1.5* value multiplier.

Recommended setups? I only needed Albatross and Infinite TST to get by.

This is the Albatross Special, an efficient T-Spin Double into T-Spin Triple opener that uses as few as 14 pieces and has plenty of contingencies that make it work for every situation except when S and Z come before O. Shown above is the normal way to do it, but mirroring it is simple.

An important thing to keep in mind when setting up the Albatross is O placement. Here’s a mnemonic for it: Look at which of L and J comes first. If it’s L, then move the O block 1 to the left before placing it. L, left. Simple. (Otherwise, place O 1 to the right.) Also note that the I piece goes to the wall of the other side.

Another lovely thing about the Albatross is the hook-shaped bit of residue left over from the T-Spin Triple, which can be used to set up a 4-wide or Infinite TST.

And here is the Infinite TST, invented by Massi4h. It is very methodical and rather inefficient, not to mention it requires 6-column stacking on the side; however, as the name implies, it allows for indefinite back-to-back T-Spin Triples if used correctly.

In Tetris Party Mode stages of Adventure Mode, I like to do a mirrored version of this setup (because the power-up gets in the way of the standard setup) to quickly reach the score requirement and only have to survive thereafter. In stage 10-10, provided Tee doesn’t lose after the first set of TSTs, it will take four back-to-back TSTs to reach the score requirement.

Even just the first part of the setup is good for attack. You do the first two T-Spins, and you end up with residue that allows you to follow up with a T-Spin Double. Not only that, but the TSD leaves 4-wide residue for an extra combo attack.

I like to practice this setup in Marathon, hoping to improve how long I can keep it up. I currently have 188k score-wise, which…isn’t much, especially considering not all of it was from the TSTs. (In fact, I’d say easily fewer than half of the points were.)

For more professional situations, I know of the Perfect Clear opener and a bit about DT Cannon (which I used to get a score of 18,718 on 10-7). For these and more, the Hard Drop Tetris Wiki is the place to be.

Also worth noting: In Party and Fusion, it is possible to clear more than four lines at a time. This is known as Tetris Plus, and it can be done with an I-shaped pentamino (Party) or a double I being stalled by Puyos (Fusion). Tetris Plus in Fusion is inefficient compared to pure Mix Chains, but it’s good for swag points if nothing else.

Miscellaneous

Gameplay aside, I find the music and characters to be strong aspects of PPT. (I might be a bit late saying this, but if you’re not a fan of Japanese animation, you will most likely think otherwise.) They’re mostly Puyo-related, although with a few Tetris-related aspects tied in—specifically the Tetris remixes and the eight Puyo-styled original characters (Tee, Ess, O, Ai, Jay, Elle, Zed, and Ex—all but the last of which are named and designed after the Tetris blocks).

In terms of music, I specifically like tracks 19 (Tectonic Tetro at War), 8 (PuyoTetromix), and 21 (Dimension Stage ~ Decisive Battle). Incidentally, if you find yourself missing music tracks (most likely not the three mentioned), just do Versus matches or Endless Puyo with random music.

In terms of characters, here are a few that stood out to me:

  • Sig – I’ve mentioned through and through that I find appeal in emotionless characters, and Sig is definitely one of them. He also looks cool with his heterochromia and left arm.
  • Amitie – Through watching speedruns of the English version of PPT, I ended up infatuated with Amitie’s happy-go-lucky cheeriness. Kind of a strange character preference of mine, but that’s how it is.
  • Ai – Engineer, glasses, byootiful. Need I say more? (I’m more of a cat person, but this is a good doggo.)
  • Ecolo – A mischievous little character with a goofy voice and a personality to match.
  • Lemres – He’s chill, and he’s a sweets fanatic.
  • O – Pi pipi-pi pi pipi-pipi pi pipipi. (Talks all cute-like and doesn’t afraid of anything.)
  • Schezo – The walking innuendo. Contributes heavily to the humor of Adventure Mode.

Alternate voices are also a thing, but the only ones I really care about are classy Maguro, calm Klug, smooth Suketoudara, caffeinated Ecolo, monotone Zed, and emotionless Jay & Elle. (Angry O is kind of funny, but not quite up to snuff.) Other voices either ruin the character (particularly those of Sig and Amitie) or don’t quite measure up.

I do have to wonder, though… Where’s the Tetris counterpart of Endless Fever? Where’s the single-player Fusion mode? And I feel for the characters who were unplayable (only opponents) in Adventure Mode: Sig, Ai, Ecolo, Klug, Zed, Jay & Elle, Rulue, Feli, Raffina, and Dark Prince (called Satan in the original version, not that I care).

 

Overall rating: 9/10. Fun and addicting. Controls really well on the Switch. (Worth buying for the Switch, but not worth buying a Switch for. Worth noting, however, that most of the online community is on PC.) Also cheaper than the average game, and…well, it’s multiplayer.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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Charmeleon (Poké Monday 7/16/18)

 

Type: Fire

Base Stats:

  • 58 HP
  • 64 Attack
  • 58 Defense
  • 80 Special Attack
  • 65 Special Defense
  • 80 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Blaze Charmeleon have their Fire-type attacks boosted by a factor of 1.5 when below 1/3 HP.
  • Solar Power Charmeleon, during harsh sunlight, have their special attacks boosted by a factor of 1.5 but lose 1/8 HP at the end of every turn. (Hidden Ability)

Notable special attacks: Dragon Pulse, Fire BlastFlamethrower, Solar Beam

Notable Z-moves:

  • Inferno Overdrive (Fire) – Converts one use of Fire Blast into a base 185 special Fire-type attack (or Overheat into base 195).
  • Bloom Doom (Grass) – Converts one use of Solar Beam into a base 190 special Grass-type attack.
  • Z-Sunny Day (Fire) – Grants +1 Speed with one use of Sunny Day.

Overview

Charizard was banished from the lowest official tier, and this is what it left behind. The buzz about this evolutionary line nowadays is being the original set of Fire-types with Solar Power, and in fact the only variety that can hold Z-Crystals. In particular, Z-Sunny Day boosts the user’s Speed and sets up sun, which is a huge boon for a Solar Power user like this.

With a Speed boost, Charmeleon has potential to keep up with opposing base 80 Choice Scarf users (such as Mesprit and Shiftry) and outspeed the unboosted tier bar Electrode and Ninjask. With Solar Power, Charmeleon hits harder than Specs Wishiwashi with its Fire STAB and harder than unboosted Wishiwashi with its coverage. This does come at the price of reducing its survivability per turn, but Charmeleon has low bulk to begin with, and hazard vulnerability does not help its cause.

Actually, the real issue here is Charmeleon’s distinct lack of special/utility movepool, which honestly makes it a one-trick pony. It does get a decent physical movepool with Belly Drum, but Magmar completely outclasses it in that regard.

Set

Charmeleon @ Firium Z
Ability: Solar Power
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Fire Blast
– Dragon Pulse
– Hidden Power [Ground]
– Sunny Day

The name of the game is to set up with Sunny Day enhanced by Firium Z, simultaneously enhancing Charmeleon’s Speed and special offense in conjunction with Solar Power. While it normally nukes the opposition with Fire Blast, it may prefer to use Solar Beam against Water and Rock foes. Both moves are resisted by Fire-types, particularly Flash Fire users, so Hidden Power Ground is there to hit them super-effectively. (Ground specifically is preferred to hit Magcargo.) EVs and Nature are offensively oriented for obvious reasons.

Other Options

Nothing, really. With a complete setup, Fire Blast deals adequate damage to most targets: 110 Base Power with three separate 1.5 multipliers: Same Type Attack Bonus, sun boost, and Solar Power. That makes a grand total of 371 Base Power, stronger than super-effective Solar Beam.

It only boils down to Flamethrower as an alternate STAB for reliability, or some niche coverage option: Dragon Pulse for Turtonator or Hidden Power Rock for Oricorio-Baile.

Problems and Partners

Problems

Weather-setting Abilities, including Prankster, can throw a wrench into the Solar Power strategy. Hippopotas and Abomasnow are risky bets, with both having a hard time switching into Fire attacks, the former having low special bulk and the latter having a quad weakness, but their presence means that a misplayed Solar Beam can spell doom. The Prankster users are also frail, but they have Thunder Wave and potentially Rain Dance to become the worst form of hindrance.

There’s a multitude of faster attackers that could potentially hold Choice Scarf and stop Charmeleon even after the Speed boost. Primarily, Lycanroc-Midnight and Swanna come to mind.

Speaking of Lycanroc, Midday form has Accelerock, making it especially adept with revenge KOs.

And then there are the more roundabout means of wearing Charmeleon down: Protect, Fake Out, and entry hazards. It’s tough to prepare for the former two, but hazard control is advised.

Partners

As expected of a grounded Fire-type, hazard control is key. Swanna and Hitmonchan are particularly effective due to the latter’s resistance to Rock and the former’s resistance to Water and immunity to Ground.

Bulky Ground-types are the ticket to ensuring that Lycanroc won’t wreak havoc. Plus the two above synergize well with Fire, with each resisting two of its weaknesses (Gastrodon resisting Rock and being immune to Water with Storm Drain, and Torterra resisting Rock and Ground).