When you think about Nintendo franchises, what comes to mind? Mario? Zelda? Kirby? A bunch of big names that you would see in Super Smash brothers. Well, a quick visit to the Wikipedia page for it and you’ll see a few more titles that just seem a little different. One in particular caught my attention, the “Puzzle League” Franchise. I happen to own one of those games, so I thought I’d not only take a look at the game, but a bit about the franchise itself. So, let’s look at the Puzzle League series, as well as Pokémon Puzzle challenge for the Game Boy color.
This series is a puzzle game series, but not like Dr. Mario or Yoshi. This one is more along the lines of Bejeweled: you have to connect 3 blocks of the same color to make them disappear by switching two blocks at a time. That being said, there are many differences. First off, the blocks don’t come back and you have no time limit in most modes. Instead, the blocks keep going up, and when they reach the top, you lose. This also means that the entire screen isn’t full of blocks. Another thing that separates this from most versions of bejeweled I’ve played is that you don’t have to switch two blocks: if you want to move a block to an empty space go right ahead. What makes this more even though is that you can only move blocks horizontally, and not vertically. This requires sometime having to be creative.
Beyond the “marathon mode” of playing until you hit the top, most version of puzzle league also came with a challenge mode. Here, you’d have to eliminate all the blocks in a set number of moves. You can say that one mode trains you for the other or vice versa, but either way, they complement themselves rather well. We also can’t forget the two player mode, which is like marathon, but whenever someone makes large connections or combos, they send blocks over to the opponent’s side. This mode is both fun, and a little frustrating.
Now, the reason you may or may not have heard of this game series before is because of its naming. In Japan, Panel de Pon (sorry if I mispronounce anything by the way) and when it came to North American Super Nintendo’s, it was called Tetris Attack. Though it carried the name Tetris, probably to get more people to play it, it was obviously very different. After its eventual port to the game boy, we reach the generation I’m talking about, the Pokémon Puzzle League. I find it odd that we jump to a Tetris branding to a Pokémon plug in. Eventually, most versions of this game would simply be called “Puzzle League”, even if it’s molded directly after the game known as Tetris Attacks. This is just to let you know: Tetris Attacks, Pokémon Puzzle Challenge, Puzzle League or Panel de Pon, it’s pretty much all the same game.
Now, Pokémon Puzzle Challenge works pretty much the same way as the gameplay I described to you. There’s a puzzle mode and a few marathon modes, but there’s one mode I really like, the challenge mode. In here, you’ll go from gym to gym from the Gold and Silver games, and fight their leaders. This works similar to the two player style I described earlier, but different. This time, you don’t have someone playing against you; you just see an enemy health bar. All you have to do is keep making specials, and it’ll go down. This encourages the player to think more strategically, unlike before where you could just aim to survive and hope the enemy sucks enough he just loses. But still, you’ll somehow be getting blocks dropped on you.
The Pokémon add NOTHING to this game. Sure, you pick Pokémon as avatar while you play, and there are unlockable ones that you can challenge yourself to get, but really, the title was just a tie in. And… I guess it worked, considering I bought the game because it had the name Pokémon on it. But, whether it does or not, Puzzle League is a great series, and anyone who likes these types of puzzle games (I’m looking at you casual gamers) should check it out. As for this particular version… Well, that game play was kept in tack with an extra neat mode added. Everything looks really good, but the music jumps from too slow to too fast sometimes. But, there is one thing I really like about this: it’s portable. I know it’s weird to say the best thing I like about it is the system it’s on, but these kinds of games were made for travel. Yes, I did play the N64 Pokémon Puzzle League; still think this is better just because it’s nomadic. I give Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for the Game Boy Color 7.5 Levels out of 10.