Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Review – A Fun Yet Intimidating Adventure

    A fun time for dedicated fans, a difficult challenge for newcomers.

    As a whole, I have remained largely unfamiliar with the Puyo Puyo franchise. I’d often heard about it from my friends, but from a distance, it always seemed like that one game that was a mixture between Tetris and Dr. Mario (and the crossover between the former and Puyo Puyo certainly helped with that assessment).

    All this to say, when I was given the opportunity to review the latest game, Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop, available on the Apple Arcade, I was cautiously optimistic. I imagined it would be a fun time, although, I was also worried on how accessible the game would be to new players. After around seven hours of playtime, I found myself surprised by both the addicting gameplay and charming visuals, as well as the frequent difficulty spikes and intimidation factor as someone whose jumping into the series for the first time.

    A Charming Exterior

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Visuals

    The first thing you’re bound to notice about Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is its charming visuals. The game has a bright and vibrant cell-shaded art style, with characters looking like they came right out a nostalgic anime. Further, the game runs surprisingly well on Apple devices. I ran Puzzle Pop on my iPhone SE and 2020 Macbook Air, with very little lag, graphical stuttering, or any other noticeable issues.

    Of course the next thing you’re bound to notice is the massive cast of characters. Throughout your adventure in the so-called Dream World, you’re bound to encounter a wide-range of characters from the franchise’s history. These include Ringo, Arle, Schezo, and Lemres. All of these characters and more are playable throughout the game’s story mode, simply titled “Adventure”.

    Speaking of the story, it’s quite simple at its core. All of the aforementioned characters above and more are trapped in a Dream World created by a mysterious cat creature by the name of Meena. You must play six different “episodes” in order to slowly uncover the mystery of Meena’s secret helper and eventually find your way out of the dream world.

    The story’s simplicity doesn’t detract from the adventure. While certain elements may be confusing to a new fan of the franchise (which I’ll get to), the story is mostly meant to serve as a foundation that allows players to focus on Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop‘s main focus: the gameplay.

    Addicting Fun (Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Review)

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Gameplay

    When people think of the Puyo Puyo franchise, the first thing that comes to mind is its addicting gameplay. Like most other puzzle games, it is easy to jump into yet difficult to master. During those early levels in the earlier missions, when the game is slowly easing you into the higher difficulty, Puzzle Pop is very fun and addicting.

    It took me a while to figure out the game’s mechanics. At first, I would try and clear out as many Puyos as possible. Then, as the story progressed, I would focus on chaining together different Puyos: setting up a chain of four in advance so that when I knocked out one chain, another would follow, leading to a higher point value and more “garbage Puyos” being sent to the opponent. I felt like a genius as I slowly cracked the veil on knocking out rivals as quickly as possible.

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Gameplay

    For those trying to go above and beyond, each level gives you an extra star depending on certain completed challenges. Some of these challenges include getting above a certain number of points (such as 4500, 5500, and even 6500) or winning a match in a certain amount of time (1:30, 2:30, etc.).

    Completing these challenges earns more perks that you can use in a Puyo Battle. These perks include sending a stack of Garbage Puyos to your opponent at the beginning of a round, clearing out Garbage Puyos on your side as soon as you’re about to lose, and many other useful perks that make certain encounters downright broken at points.

    As I mentioned before, Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop‘s early segments are really fun and a great way to pass the time with a relaxing adventure. However, as the game continues, it becomes anything but relaxing and falls into an experience that often feels both intimidating and frustrating.

    An Intimidating Experience for Newcomers

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Intimidating

    For longtime fans of the series, I can only imagine that Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is everything they wanted. It has the trademark gameplay, the same cast of characters, and an interesting new story to dive into. That said, as someone who has never played an entry in the series before, I found the experience to be relatively intimidating.

    Throughout the game, you’ll meet characters that seem out of the ordinary. While there will be a relatively quick introduction scene for these characters, the protagonist you’re playing as will talk to them as if they have known each other for years. I was surprised that there was no glossary for characters, or even a bio page, as most new entries in a series at least have one or the other, though this wasn’t too much of an issue in the long run.

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Difficulty Spike

    What did become end up becoming an issue were the infuriating difficulty spikes. Throughout the game, Meena will often give you these challenges. These challenges will award the player with more perks. At every turn, though, I could barely figure out most of these puzzles. I managed to figure out some of them through sheer luck, while for others, I felt like I was stuck for ages. Thankfully, there is an option to skip them without gaining the perk, but I was a bit surprised that there was no hint system for any of the puzzles.

    Unfortunately, playing certain matches without any perks quickly becomes a fool’s gambit, as the CPU will quickly abuse the rules of the game and the numerous perks under their pocket in order to beat you into submission. Granted, my difficulties with the game may just be because I’m bad at it, and I wholeheartedly accept that. Although, I also want to bring up that if one has the Apple Arcade service and sees this game, expecting a fun puzzle romp without any familiarity with the series, they may have similar difficulties. This brings me to my last major problem with this game: its nature as a mobile exclusive.

    A Flawed Mobile Adventure (Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Review)

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Conclusion

    As I marched towards the game’s inevitable ending, I began to suspect that all of the individual episodes were leading up to a secret final episode that would be unlocked after completing all the others. Certainly, this theory would be supported by the last episode hinting at all of the previous episode’s protagonists working together to solve the mystery of the dream world. Imagine my surprise, then, when after beating the last episode, the game just…ends. There is no message stating that I completed the main story, nothing saying how I should unlock the final episode, nothing at all.

    This led me to conclude that Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop‘s ending hadn’t yet been added, and it would eventually be released for the game in a free update. This is the unfortunate drawback to Puzzle Pop‘s mobile exclusivity. While this isn’t the first Puyo Puyo mobile game, it is the first in quite a while. As such, I suspect that even longtime fans will feel a bit disappointed after seeing the game’s ending (or lack thereof).

    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Problems

    This raises another question, however: would long-time fans even play this game? Apple Arcade is a relatively niche subscription service, and most Puyo Puyo fans have come to suspect that the franchise would be consistently available on the Nintendo Switch. Would a fan be willing to get a supported Apple device and Apple Arcade just to play Puzzle Pop? Judging by the limited fan response I encountered after researching, the likely answer is no.

    Don’t get me wrong, Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is still really fun and addicting. It’s a game I see myself maybe coming back to after a while, especially if I’m looking for a basic puzzle adventure. I definitely see longtime fans of the series enjoying it in some capacity. That said, to those unfamiliar with the series and those unwilling to make the jump to Apple Arcade, you may be better off playing something else or waiting for the inevitable wave of updates and potential ports to other consoles. 

    SEGA provided Final Weapon with Apple Arcade access to Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop for review purposes.


    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a fun puzzle adventure that is both addicting and charming due to its simple story, easy-to-understand and hard-to-master gameplay, and vibrant visuals and cast of characters. However, it can also be intimidating for newcomers, and, as a result of it being locked behind the Apple Arcade subscription service, most longtime fans may never get a chance to play it.
    Saras Rajpal
    Saras Rajpal
    Saras is a passionate creative writer, with a love for immersive sims, superhero games, and Persona. He is currently writing a thesis about Persona 5 and is pursuing a career as a full-time writer.

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    Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a fun puzzle adventure that is both addicting and charming due to its simple story, easy-to-understand and hard-to-master gameplay, and vibrant visuals and cast of characters. However, it can also be intimidating for newcomers, and, as a result of it being locked behind the Apple Arcade subscription service, most longtime fans may never get a chance to play it. Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop Review - A Fun Yet Intimidating Adventure