So far my epic LCD quest has taken me back to classics of gaming’s past as well as tackling a kinda-realistic flight simulation, with both games leaving me feeling pleasantly surprised by their quality and charm. Now we take a look at an LCD adaptation that really shouldn’t work at all – there’s just no way Puyo Puyo’s colour-matching gameplay can work on a monochrome LCD display, is there?
The packaging for this 1997 release has “Mini game” splashed across both the front and back a few times, and rather than declaring itself a true Puyo Puyo title it instead goes under the name Puyorin (or “Puyolin” for the de-Puyo’d Western releases by Tiger Electronics), which doesn’t bode well at all. Luckily it only takes a quick go to see that while it’s been simplified to suit the keychain-sized format it’s still the same cute puzzle game everybody knows and loves, just with three puyo “colours” rather than the usual five. This is achieved by having each space in the 6x12-puyo play area contain a central black puyo with an outer “shell” around it, so every space can contain either a plain puyo, puyo-with-shell, or shell-no-puyo. Hopefully the video at the bottom makes all that clearer than I just have. Chaining and splitting up your falling puyos all works just as you’d expect, and there’s even a dedicated box in the top-right to show which combination’s coming up next.
In keeping with the mini game nature of this release there are just two modes of play on offer – “Normal” and “Time Trial”. Normal mode has you trying to clear progressively tougher stages (achieved by surpassing an increasingly high score threshold), while time trial’s a race to score as much as possible within the time limit. Both modes have three levels of difficulty to start you off on; normal has a choice between a full playing field or having one or two of the bottom rows permanently blocked off, and time trial lets you choose either a one, two, or five minute timer.
The unit itself is pleasantly puyo-shaped and the curves make it feel comfortable to hold for extended periods, and the buttons are all sensibly placed and respond well when prodded. The sound, on/off, and pause buttons are in easy reach but kept far away enough that you’re not going to hit them by accident. The distinction between the pause and on/off switch is an important one – unlike the other LCD games I’ve covered here turning it off will erase your current progress, but keep your high score. The speaker on the back is placed off-center, meaning there’s a fair chance your fingers will muffle the sound somewhat during play. This is actually something of a blessing as there’s no music bar a brief opening ditty and the game gives off a rather shrill beep every time you move your falling puyos about. That’s the only real negative to this portable puyo-ing experience though, and in fairness not an unexpected one.
If you’d like to grab one of these for yourself you’ll be pleased to learn there’s a colour combination to suit just about everyone, and for those that still struggle with colour matching on a monochrome display there was a later colour release imaginatively titled Colour Puyorin, although it appears to still be restricted to just three puyo types.