NINTENDO DS REVIEW: PUYO POP FEVER

Guess what? I've got a fever....and the only prescription is more..puyo pop. Or is it cowbell? If you couldn't see a version of Puyo Pop coming to the DS then you're a consumer through and through. It was only a matter of time that it made an appearance on the DS, as it likely will on the PS3 and other future consoles. Heads up consumers, marketing geniuses at work.

At the heart of Puyo Pop Fever is a Tetris-based game that is truly addicting, fun and somewhat unique even though the Tetris influence is undeniable. Puyo Pop is not the only game to copy the falling-block premise but it's one of the better games at disguising its origins so that it feels fresh.

You probably understand the nuts and bolts of the gameplay by now but I'll run through it again for newbies. Round headed creatures, we'll call them orbs, fall from the top of the screen and pile up in your play area which is called a bin. These orbs are different colors. By moving them around and matching them up with other orbs of the same color you will make them disappear. You must match four of them for this to happen. The orbs that remain in your bin will fall down, taking up the space left by the cleared orbs. As soon as you clear all of the orbs you win the match. If you let them pile up too high you lose. The premise is simple but it can really get involved.

Linking more than four orbs together results in a combo. Making combos requires strategy and forethought. You have to really think ahead to pull off some great combos. You have to keep an eye out to see where the orbs will fall when you clear other ones. It's like playing shape in a game of pool but it can get a lot more complicated. A genius might be able to calculate all potential combos at a glance but for normal idiots like us we'll be lucky to get a few good combos per match.

Fever is a new feature that rewards players for getting strings of combos. It makes it much easier to clear the bin when the Fever has been activated. While it's nice to be rewarded, it sure doesn't help the poor saps in the other bins that might really need the help. You can turn the Fever mode off to make things fair since it's the poor players that could use the handicap.

Only one cart is required for multi-player action via the wireless network. It will facilitate up to eight players, allowing everyone to have a view of all the other players' bins. This is done by cutting the sprites in half. It's more difficult to see but exceptions will have to be made because the multi-player mode is a gas. If you limit the number of players to four it will display the sprites at full size which are much easier to see.

The touch feature of the DS is still a novelty with this game. You don't really need it because you can make all the necessary moves with the pad and the buttons. You can use the stylus to point and draw angles with but I didn't notice any benefits. It's still nice to use the touch screen to navigate the menus.

I really don't care for the sickening anime kids freaking out all throughout the game. Puyo Pop could be considered a lot more sophisticated and would probably see a lot more adult sales if it weren't presented in such a childish manner. I wouldn't mind playing this game on a bus or in the dentist's waiting room but I would be embarrassed if someone looked over my shoulder and saw the animation. The sound is decent but because the characters scream so much the volume is right off when I play this anywhere but at home.

Puyo Pop Fever has lots of surprises and packs a lot of features - all of them useful. It's a really good version that makes good use of the dual screen, touch screen and wireless network.

System: DS
Dev: Atlus / Sega
Pub: Sega
Release: May 2005
Players: 1 - 8
Review By Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
2.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
4.5