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Puyo Pop Fever PSP

Published by SEGA
Developed by Sonic Team
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Puyo Pop Fever, an introduction.

As I've stated many times before, I think puzzle games are wonderfully suited to handheld consoles. When you're on the move and you only have a limited amount of time to play, you want a game that you can jump into at a moments notice and puzzle games are ideal for this. Over the years there have been some classic puzzle game series including Tetris, Bust-A-Move and of course Puyo Pop. The Puyo Pop series has been bought to just about every platform imaginable and Puyo Pop Fever is the first in the long running series to arrive on the Sony PSP.

What's the game about?

Anyone familiar with Tetris will instantly be at home with Puyo Pop Fever. Essentially you have different coloured Puyo (essentially jelly-like blobs) falling from the sky (they usually fall in groups of 2—3) and the idea is to connect at least four Puyo of the same colour in order for them to disappear. The Puyo can connect either horizontally or vertically (but not diagonally). Like Tetris you can rotate the falling Puyo and guide them to their eventual location. At the top of the screen you'll see a 'XX' and should your Puyo pile up to these it will be game over for you. The game offers a Single Puyo Pop mode (1P), a Double Puyo Pop mode (2P), a Puyo Pop with Friends mode (2P) and an Endless Puyo Pop mode (1P).

What's good about the game?

Single Puyo Pop offers levels for beginners, intermediate and expert players as well as a Free Battle mode. Double Puyo Pop and Puyo Pop with Friends offers two-player gaming options. Endless Puyo Pop offers Fever mode, Mission mode and Original Puyo Pop mode. The single-player modes offer easy, normal and hard challenges so that players of all abilities should find a challenging experience here. In Free Battle mode you get to pick one of the game's characters to play as in addition to picking a character to play against. Whilst the basics of Puyo Pop are as simple as can be, being great at the game requires a strategy.

Of course there are advanced elements to the game which make Puyo Pop the addictive experience it is and of course Puyo Pop Fever includes a new Fever mode.  Success in Puyo Pop Fever is obtained by creating chains. Chains are when you remove Puyos (by connecting four or more) and the remaining Puyos fall to connect four or more again. As well as chains you can create simultaneous eliminations by linking up four or more of two different colours. Creating chains is not only an effective way of removing your Puyos, it also sends Nuisance Puyos to your opponent. Nuisance Puyos are transparent Puyos that prevent you from linking coloured Puyos together. Before Nuisance Puyos fall, the player about to receive them will be alerted to what's coming by the Warning Puyo box which displays icons to denote what's about to happen.  Before the Nuisance Puyos fall you have a chance to prevent them falling by sending a larger number of Nuisance Puyos to your opponent. This is what's called Offsetting. Offsetting is important as it fills your Fever gauge.  Once your Fever gauge has been filled you'll access the Fever mode screen. Here you'll have pre-arranged Puyos that are usually setup to allow for large chains. The idea is to place the falling Puyo in their ideal location so that you can trigger huge chains and send a whole load of Nuisance Puyos to your opponent.

What's not so good about the game?

The PSP is the sixth console to play host to Puyo Pop Fever and if you own the game on another platform you'll be disappointed to find that what we have here is virtually the same game. There are some differences but they are only minor. Double Puyo Pop mode now allows you to play against a friend using a split-screen mode. You'll turn the PSP around so that one play can use the directional buttons to move their Puyos and your opponent can use the primary buttons (the X, circle, triangle and square buttons). In all honesty I found holding the PSP in this fashion rather uncomfortable. The other difference is that Puyo Pop with Friends has replaced Everybody Puyo Pop. Puyo Pop with Friends allows for two players to play against each other using the ad hoc wireless mode. It's disappointing though that only two players can take part when four players could play against each other on the GBA version.

How does it look?

The Puyo Pop games have always had an ultra-bright appearance to them and Puyo Pop Fever on the PSP is no exception. The characters have been drawn in a manga style that perfectly suits the nature of the game. The overall look of the game is a cutesy one that belies the challenging nature of the game. If you've played the previous handheld versions of Puyo Pop Fever you'll find the PSP version much sharper due to the higher screen resolution. Increased screen resolution aside though the game doesn't look any different from the other handheld versions of the game.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

As with the GBA version, there are no problems at all for deaf gamers with the PSP version of Puyo Pop Fever. There are small amounts of dialogue in the Single Puyo Pop mode and all of it is in text. There are text tutorials so you'll have no trouble understanding them. The mission mode displays its objectives in text so again you'll have no problems. There are various voice snippets given out whilst you're playing. These are only the odd word like 'Yep!' and words to that effect, so it's no big deal that these aren't subtitled.

Final thoughts.

As a puzzle game Puyo Pop Fever is very enjoyable and with the game being priced at just £19.99 (we've found it for as little as £14.99 online) it's difficult to criticise the game. That said it's a shame the game doesn't offer anything extra over older versions of Puyo Pop Fever. The split-screen mode isn't very comfortable and the ad-hoc game only supports two players, which is disappointing when the DS version of the game supports eight players. Still it's a very enjoyable and addictive game and with a sub £20 price tag it's recommended for puzzle fans that haven't purchased Puyo Pop Fever on another format.

Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Whilst it's great to have a Puyo Pop game on the PSP, it's a shame that Puyo Pop Fever on the PSP doesn't really offer anything over the GBA version that appeared over a year ago. That said it's still a quality puzzle game and at the asking price it deserves a place in any puzzle game fan's collection.