|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Jaleco/Keys Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NIS America||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The developers also went above and beyond the call of duty in couching the puzzles in an innovative story with interesting characters. Essentially, the Puchirus virus is spreading through town, and it turns people into various animals. The only way to turn the victims back is to kill the viruses, and to do so you need to use a special machine. The victims themselves are a marvel; there are more than 100, and each animal has its own image and quirky description. For example, one character is named Flying Pan duh, and his description reads: Uses her [frying] pan/jetpack combo to soar to new heights of culinary delight. When youve saved a patient, a child appears and thanks you.
The writing throughout the game is terrific (though the little girl who says Should we go back to your exam room? Teehee! after being healed made us a wee bit uncomfortable). Theres a tutorial that stands out for being incredibly simple, direct, and easy to follow; one trip through it will teach even a total puzzle newcomer the ropes. The soundtrack consists of whimsical MIDI tracks and effects, something like what youd expect in a Mario game, and its well-done enough that you wont get sick of it for a while.
The game saves your progress after you cure each animal, and the difficulty ramps up quite rapidly. Each puzzle has its own goal and time limit; you might have to clear a certain number of viruses, or amass a certain number of points. At first, your best bet will be to make huge triangles that capture lots of smaller triangles inside them, a process that only creates two-chains but knocks out viruses and racks up points quickly. This is a manageable enough task, though it gets tough when the viruses move around. Hitting one wrong virus with the stylus can completely throw you off, because the locked viruses from the triangle you failed to make congeal quickly.
Some challenges require a certain number of larger chains, and thats where the difficulty gets downright wicked. You need to pay attention to which colors youve locked inside of a triangle, and then you have to arrange the subsequent triangles in a way that will create a cascade of pops. It gets insanely frustrating at times, and is definitely beyond the abilities of the small children the artwork appears targeted toward. It might have been better to have a normal and a hard difficulty, with the demands for large chains confined to the hard one.
Still, it only takes an hour or two of relatively easy work to unlock the second batch of cases, and with that youll have plenty of patients to work on without worrying about huge chains (before selecting a patient, youre told the criteria for winning). If anything, the game starts to get repetitive long before its over, and whats more, you keep your old case files as research, meaning that you can re-play old puzzles as much as youd like. Its more than a little annoying that beating the game is an almost-insurmountable feat, but ignoring that, theres hours and hours worth of fun here. Theres also online and local multiplayer available.
Essentially, Puchi Puchi Virus is a refreshing, innovative, and fun game, and its easily worth a buy for the DS-owning puzzle fan. When the inevitable deluxe version or whatnot comes around, however, the developers might want to fine-tune the difficulty and add some new modes. Until then, we bet lots of people will be destroying lots of Puchirus.
CCC Freelance Writer