Format reviewed: MSX I/II
Popping bubbles is fun. It’s fun when you have a sheet of used bubble wrap to play with, it’s fun in the park when you’re a little bit tipsy, and it’s fun in videogame form in Puyo Puyo. This MSX game is the very first entry in the long-running series, released in 1991 as a spin-off from the Madou Monogatari series of RPGs. Though Puyo Puyo didn’t become a world-famous name at the time of its release in the early Nineties, you probably played a localised conversion like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine or Kirby’s Avalanche.
The gameplay is simple: blobs (Puyos) of various colours float down the screen in pairs, and you stack them up. When four of the same colour are connected, they pop, allowing any above them to fall down. This allows for the key mechanic of Puyo Puyo, chaining. Carefully arranged stacks of Puyos can be set off in a chain reaction, with one set of four starting a massive wave of popping.
Single-player modes consist of the classic Endless mode, in which your Puyos fall at ever-increasing speeds, and a mission mode in which you’re given tasks such as popping ten Puyos at once or eliminating all the Puyos of a certain colour. For two players, there’s a versus mode in which chains generate garbage to send to your opponent. However, there’s no offset rule allowing you to deal with garbage before it drops, meaning a five chain is sufficient to best any opponent.
Take a look to appreciate the history, then move on to a newer version with improved rules and more features.