Skip to main content

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.

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.

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.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
With Air Twister, Apple Arcade is entering its Netflix-style golden age
A character wields a crossbow in Air Twister.

Like any subscription service, Apple Arcade has had a tough task since it launched in 2019. It wasn’t just that it had to convince iOS device owners to pony up for another monthly subscription -- it also had to give them a good reason to stay subscribed. The gaming service has been through a few pivots to accomplish that, from including mobile classics to reportedly moving its focus to games with more long-term engagement.

NEW YSNET GAME - Air Twister Reveal Trailer - Apple Arcade - Release June 24th!

Read more
Apex Legends Mobile isn’t a great fit for small screens
Promo art for Apex Legends Mobile shows different characters.

Apex Legends is one of those multiplayer games I love, but am terrible at. When I was invited to a press demo for the game’s limited-time Control mode earlier this year, I was thoroughly embarrassed as my peers routinely downed me with a headshot from across the map. I’ve always wanted to play it more than I do, but I never felt cut out for the twitchy world of PC players.

Apex Legends Mobile solves that issue for me, though it creates some new problems of its own in the process. The standalone mobile version of the battle royale hit more or less feels like a one-to-one adaptation of its bigger counterpart (the most notable difference is the number of pop-up notifications trying to nudge players to the shop). That means I can fully enjoy the shooter in a more casual portable setting, one free from the mouse and keyboard crowd.

Read more
Finally, there’s a King of the Hill kart racing game
Dale throws a golden turd in Warped Kart Racers.

Apple Arcade is adding a surprising new kart racing game this month called Warped Kart Racers. The title mashes up characters and locations from four 20th Television animated series: King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad, and Solar Opposites.

The new title is exclusive to Apple's gaming service and can be played on iOS devices via touch controls or with a controller. It's a standard kart racer taking heavy cues from the Mario Kart series. Players will race around tracks while tossing items at their opponents and drifting. Just replace Mario and Yoshi with Hank Hill and Stewie (it is just as surreal as it sounds).

Read more