Let's Analyze: Puyo Pop Fever (GC)

The European PAL package artwork of Sega’s "Puyo Pop Fever" for the GameCube, featuring the game’s protagonist "Amitie" surrounded by various Puyos.

Puyo Pop Fever
GameCube (2004)
Game Analysis

Written by DJ Hadoken Exlamparaaghis
Edited by GamerCurls

Overall Objective
Remove as many puyos as you can from your playfield and defeat your opponent by forcing them to run out of space to drop their own puyos.

Basic Rule Set
Colored globules called “puyos” will fall from the top of the screen in a similar fashion to Tetris blocks. The player’s immediate objective is to match puyo colors in order to eliminate them.

Puyos will fall in groups of two, three or four. The A and B buttons let the player rotate puyo groups and also allow the player to cycle the color of the largest puyo group.

There is a gauge towards the center of the screen consisting of orange dots; when these dots are built up, the player will go into Fever Mode, which makes it easier for them to build large combos. If puyos reach the two X’s at the top of the playfield then the match will end.

When a player removes a puyo, it sends a “Nuisance Puyo” into the opponent’s playfield. Nuisance Puyos cannot be matched with any other puyos. Different types of chains and combos of puyos are possible; the larger the chain or combo, the more Nuisance Puyos may be potentially launched against the other player.

There is a bar at the top of the playfield called the “Puyo Preview” which lets the player see how many Nuisance Puyo are going to drop. Players can deflect their opponent’s Nuisance Puyo by completing their own combos and chains.

Other rule sets are available in the two player mode.

Level Design

The level layout is a basic Tetris-style layout, so the shape of the playfield never changes. The screen is essentially divided in half, with Player 1 on the left and Player 2 on the right.

There is a display in the center of the screen which shows both players what puyos will fall next in their respective playfield, their scores, their timers, and their fever gauges.

The playfield consists of a rectangle inside of which puyos will fall. Regardless of mode, the level layout does not change. The only change in layout occurs with the color combinations of puyos that appear within the playfield during Fever Mode.

The primary bottlenecks of this game are the Nuisance Puyo that opponents can launch against the player. This becomes even more significant when an opponent goes into Fever Mode, which allows for them to release many Nuisance Puyo against the player. The different sizes and shapes of Nuisance Puyo can also greatly hinder the player’s progress.

Areas of Interest
What differentiates the level layout of this game from a standard puzzle game like Tetris is that, apart from the regular preview of what types of puyos will fall next, there is the Puyo Preview at the top of each player’s playfield, which allows for a player to strategize before the next set of Nuisance Puyo fall.

The artwork seems to be another interesting aspect of each level with the interface of the game also being visually interesting. Artwork is further discussed in the “Symbiosis of Design & Art Section” of this analysis.

The pressure of time is present in two different forms in this game. First, it is essential for the player to defeat their opponent before they are able to start massive chains. The other aspect is that the better the player performs, the more time they gain for Fever Mode, with the default being 15 seconds.

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In the extra game modes, the classic use of a time limit is imposed. There is a game mode which is also (confusingly) called Fever Mode where the player is in a state of constant Fever Mode and must complete chains and clear the playfield before the time limit expires.

Another mode, called Mission Mode, is also governed by a time limit with the goal being to complete as many missions before the time limit expires. In both Fever and Mission modes, the time limit can be extended by either completing missions or creating chains.

Triggered Events
There are no triggered events that physically change the Tetris-style layout of any specific level. The only event that triggers a deviation from the Tetris-style occurs when a player enters Fever Mode and is only temporary.

In the Mission Mode, triggered events occur only after a mission is completed and the player receives a new mission. After the player completes a certain amount of missions, they advance seamlessly to the next level.

As for unlockable secrets, some research revealed that it is possible to unlock two hidden characters in this game, but no extra game modes.


The A.I. of this game can be very challenging. After around level 4 of the Intermediate Mode, the computer players start creating large combos and complicated chains. However, the A.I. seems to lack in that no matter which character the player is against, the A.I. always behaves in the same way; this usually consists of the computer player stacking all of its puyos towards the right of the playfield and creating large chains and combos.

According to the instruction booklet, each character has a specialty, though these specialties are barely noticeable when playing against the computer. Onion Pixy for example, is described as being weak during normal play but is powerful during Fever Mode and Ms. Accord is supposedly skilled at chain building. When playing against both these characters in the story modes however, they both exhibit the same method of play.

Procedural Content
The random aspects of this game are very similar to those of Tetris where the color of the puyos that fall and their shape is randomized. In addition to this, depending upon which character the player is, the number and the shape of the puyos that drop will change. Some characters are prone to having combinations of 3 puyos fall, while others are more likely to get sets of 2 puyos.

In Fever Mode, the layout of the puyos that automatically appear also seems to be somewhat randomized.

In the Mission Mode, the types of missions the player receives are randomized. However, after a while it becomes predictable as to what types of missions will be assigned.

Player Investment

Character Empathy
The story is very detached from the game which makes it hard to empathize for the characters. A child might feel empathy to a certain extent, however, the story is so convoluted that it is really difficult for anyone to discern what exactly is going on and what the main characters are trying to achieve.

Throughout both story modes, it is briefly mentioned that the main characters are searching for a magical cane; as to what this cane does or why it is important is barely explained.

The puyos have their own idle animations which help to build the player’s empathy for them. They are designed to be cute as they look at each other and blink. Each colored puyo seems to have its own personality, with the blue puyos always appearing depressed and the red puyos always appearing angry.

Symbiosis of Story & Design
As mentioned before, the game does have a story, though it is very vague. The different opponents the player faces relate to how the story is progressing.

For the most part, it seems as if the characters challenge each other to Puyo Pop battles in exchange for information or passage, although, the dialogue between some levels usually has nothing to do with the over-arching storyline. In one level, the only apparent reason for the Puyo Pop battle is to prove who is “cooler” between two characters.

The cute sound effects and the dialogue during battles help to personify the characters. When the player is “attacking” other players with combos, the characters jump on screen to cast spells or shout the names for their special attacks.

Most of the characters in this game are supposed to have magical powers, with the exception of some characters such as the zombie and the onion. The character sound effects match their “roles” in that the magic users cast spells of different names and the other characters, like the zombie, will growl or shout “Onion!” as the onion does after its attacks. Their personalities do not seem to be affected much by the story, however.

Symbiosis of Design & Art
The design and art fit well together because the artwork is somewhat wacky, much like the overall design of the game seems to be.

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The artwork is bubbly and childish which fits well with the sound effects and voices. The background images of each level are appealing in that they do not distract from the actual game; nor do the puyos clash with the artwork of each level. The puyos have little faces on them giving them distinct appearances as mentioned before. Some backgrounds also have puyo themes, such as one background which looks to be a castle with puyo towers.

The characters are interesting to look at, having exaggerated and stylistic features. Losing triggers somewhat comical artwork of a character to appear, as when the fish character turns into bones when it is defeated.

When a character enters Fever Mode, the game screen becomes frantic with squiggly lines and turns 3D as players cast spells. There is a heavy use of bright, mainly primary colors. There are many bright special effects that occur as players perform attacks.

Player Perspective

Target Audience
Where the artwork and cute sound effects in this game helps it to appeal to children, the classic puzzle element helps it to appeal to an older audience. Aside from this, anyone who is a fan of Tetris-style puzzle games (or more specifically, a fan of the Puyo Puyo series) can enjoy this game.

The difficulty level may appeal to older players, though it may push children away as they are likely to become frustrated quickly and stop playing. A child may only be able to successfully play through the training mode because the intermediate mode and the hard mode become extremely challenging, even for adults.

The nature of the game demands that players strategize and plan their moves ahead of time in order to build large chains and combos. A child seeking instant gratification may quickly lose patience with this game once they reach the later levels.

Difficulty Progression
As the game progresses, more puyo colors are introduced and the speed of puyos dropping becomes quicker. The first few levels of this game are easy, but once the player reaches a certain point, the difficulty level drastically increases as the computer opponent becomes more challenging, creating more complicated combos, making bigger chains, and entering Fever Mode more quickly.

In Mission Mode, the difficulty changes with the types of missions the player receives. In Fever Mode, the timer solely affects difficulty.

Replay Value
This game has a high replay value because of the naturally addictive aspects of puzzle games (like Tetris) and because of all the different modes it comes with. These different modes allow for players to gain extensive practice at the game and to play with their friends. The ability to play Original Mode may further attract fans of classic Puyo Puyo.

In addition to this, players are able to record demos of their matches against their friends or computer players. This helps them to hone their skills and develop the best strategies for the characters of their choice.

Finally, the artwork also adds to the replay value because there are so many elements to it that one could spend time just trying to find all the little details.


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