At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Dave Wickham Gameboy Advance THQ Sonic Team 1-4 Here
Requirements Also on... Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Link cable for multiplayer PS2, Xbox, GC, DS Click here to buy Puyo Pop Fever.

Puyo Pop Fever review

Puzzle games have always shined on portable systems, ever since the days of Tetris on the original Gameboy. The way that they can just be picked up and played without having to worry too much about plot lines or playing for hours just lends them to portable gaming. Puyo Pop Fever, which Matt looked at in its PS2 incarnation (any similarity between the reviews is completely unintentional), has now joined the multitude of puzzle games available for the GBA.

So, what's it all about then? Puyo Pop Fever is very vaguely like a cross between Columns and Dr. Mario. Your task is to match up at least four "Puyo" - that is, coloured blobs - of the same colour in order to make them disappear. Puyo appear in the form of falling multicoloured shapes, of up to 4x4 Puyo in size. Your opponent(s) are also attempting to clear their blocks. The round ends when one of you overflows the playing area.

There are a number of ways to accelerate - or slow down - the time until the round is ended. As you remove Puyo from your own area, grey (or transparent, as the game calls them) Puyo are dropped on top of your opponent's playing area, and vice versa. These can only be removed by removing normal coloured Puyo - when a block is removed, any touching grey Puyo are also removed. To do even more damage to your opponent, there's two ways to get easy chain reactions. The first way is to clear the whole area - an "All Clear" in the game's terms. This drops a new pattern of Puyo onto the playing area, which can be cleared with just one move. The other way is with fever mode, which is entered once you have "offset" enough grey Puyo onto your opponent. Fever mode is similar to an All Clear, but you keep getting pre-made patterns until a counter reaches zero.

There is one thing which I feel I have to warn you about Puyo Pop Fever - be sure to either turn the volume right down before hand, wear ear plugs, or write a good will and get it checked by a lawyer before turning on the game. The audio is annoying. The music feels like it wouldn't be out of place in the Eurovision Song Contest. The sound effects, when constantly repeated, are more annoying than The Crazy Frog (a quick note for those lucky people who have not had to endure multiple Crazy Frog adverts per advert break, then the pain of it reaching #1 in the singles chart - the true annoyance factor doesn't sink in with just one clip being played once). But I digress. From a high-pitched voice repeatedly imitating a cat, to the repetitive in-game music, Puyo Pop Fever will leave you searching for the volume control.

So, now that we've got the bad bit out of the way, how are the non-gameplay aspects of Puyo Pop Fever? The controls are extremely simple. You have left and right to move the falling Puyo left and right. You have down to accelerate the descent of the Puyo. A and B rotate the pieces. That's it.

Puyo Pop Fever also has up to 4 person multiplayer, with both multi-pak and single-pak options. Multi-pak multiplayer is smoother, due to the lack of bandwidth and size concerns, but the single-pak mode allows for multiplayer fun with anyone who owns a GBA. The multiplayer mode itself is basically the normal Puyo Pop Fever but with customisable rules, and obviously with human opponents rather than the GBA.

To put some variety into the game, there are a couple of different endless modes, in addition to the standard "play until you lose". These are Fever mode, and Mission mode. In Fever mode, you play Fevers until the time runs out, extending it as you complete them. Mission mode sets you tasks, such as "create 2 chains" or "erase 5 Puyo simultaneously", which change once you complete them. It's not like these are radically different game types, but they do add variety to the game.

Ratings

Graphics This style of game does not need much emphasis on the graphics, but all graphical features are clear and distinctive. 7/10
Gameplay Fun, fast puzzling action, with a little bit of variation thrown in for good measure. 8/10
Value Puyo Pop Fever will last you a long time, if you can cope with the audio, and so has good value for money. 7/10
Lifespan Puzzle games always have good replayability, due to their nature. In addition to this, Puyo Pop Fever has a great scale of difficulty, from Very Easy to Very Hard, so as you get better, the game can adapt. 8/10
Audio The audio would probably have been more bearable if there was none, however it could be worse. 2/10
Overall A fun puzzler with difficulty settings to cater for everyone. 8/10

Click here to buy Puyo Pop Fever from Amazon.co.uk.

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