Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a great mobile version of a classic series

Key art for Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop shows Puyos and other characters.
Sega

Last year, Sega revealed a newfound commitment to its wide catalog of franchises. In December, it announced that several series would get the revival treatment, including long-dormant franchises like Crazy Taxi. We’d even get a tease at that IP comeback with three new Samba de Amigo games, which were released across Nintendo Switch, VR, and mobile.

While there was a long stretch where it felt like Sega was moving past its classic games, we’re at the onset of a retro renaissance. And judging by Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop, Sega isn’t taking that opportunity for granted. Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a new version of the classic match-four puzzler that’s available now exclusively on Apple Arcade. It’s the first Puyo Puyo game in four years and it comes loaded with enough content to fill that gap. It doesn’t do much to meaningfully shake up the series’ winning formula, but it doesn’t need to. Sega instead puts its effort into making this version of Puyo Puyo the best it can be, which is something all of the company’s upcoming revivals should strive for.

Popping Puyos

Rather than leaning on a big central gimmick, like Puyo Puyo Tetris does, Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a more straightforward version of the classic puzzle game. Players drop colorful goo balls into a well and match four of the same color to clear them. Combos are as key as ever, as Puyo Puyo is about staying three steps ahead of the board to aim for big chain reactions. That playstyle has always made it less newcomer-friendly than something like Tetris, but Puzzle Pop is more committed than ever to onboarding new players.

It features a whopping 50 tutorials, which cover everything from the basics to expert combo planning. It’s perhaps the best introduction to the series Sega’s ever made. It helps that it’s easy to control on a touchscreen too. I simply need to drag a finger on the left of the screen to move a falling piece and tap on the right side to rotate it. While it can be a little difficult to quickly drop pieces or move them into tricky spots with precision, it’s as elegant as it needs to be.

Two players compete in Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop.
Sega

What really stands out, though, is just how much content Sega packs into an unassuming mobile package. That starts with a meaty single-player campaign that’s as robust as what we saw in last year’s Samba de Amigo: Party-to-Go. I move through a light, but dialogue-heavy story featuring a large handful of the series’ characters. Each one gets their own set of missions filled with battles (each of which has its own set of challenges to chase), puzzle diversions, and treasure chests to unlock.

The voice acting is unbelievably grating and the one-on-one battles can get repetitive fast, but the bite-sized challenges are perfect for some fast sessions when I’m just looking to kill a few minutes while waiting for a sandwich at the bodega. I’m more impressed when I head back to the main menu and start exploring the other modes included here. A ranked challenge mode has me aiming for a high score in the chain-focused Endless Fever or filling my well with more balls than usual in Tiny Puyo.

Solo mode goes even deeper. That menu lets me take on a CPU in head-to-head combat using seven potential rulesets. Mission Puyo has us fighting to clear specific objectives before the others can, while Mega Puyo has me dealing with enormous goo balls. Some deep cuts return here too, like the excellent Mini Puyo Excavation from Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary. That’s a clever mode where players start with a well full of Puyos and need to pop their way down to reach a star at the bottom. Inclusions like that make this feel like a robust starting point, especially since Sega plans to support this post-launch with new content.

Players compete in Mini Excavation mode in Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop.
Sega

A few extra touches go a long way toward giving Puzzle Pop some long-term value. I can collect coins in just about every mode and it can be spent on a shop full of cosmetics. That includes customization for my online player card, as well as the ability to buy Puyo skins from older games (including the classic pixel art style). There’s even a surprising Photo Mode included that lets players create and snap images using characters, backgrounds, and more.

All of that — alongside online play, unlockables, and daily objectives — make this feel like a fully formed package that could have launched on any modern console. It’s not that Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop does anything new to revitalize the series. If you’ve never clicked with this format, this game is unlikely to win you over now. Its Apple Arcade exclusivity may also be a bit frustrating to longtime fans who don’t own Apple devices.

Even with those caveats, Puzzle Pop comes packed with just about everything you could want in a Puyo Puyo game at launch. It’s the treatment a legendary series like this deserves and I hope to see that same effort applied to Streets of Rage, Shinobi, and more Sega projects in the coming years. Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is now available for iOS devices via Apple Arcade.

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