Lately, the Nintendo DS has been subjected to a deluge of mediocre puzzle games, geared towards casual, Bejeweled-loving Pop-Cap game players. Essentially, they are all the same in forcing the player to do something involving brightly colored orbs which the touch screen isn’t necessary in any meaningful way. One would think developing a puzzler on a platform which has a touchscreen would inspire the developer to-use the touch screen? Just a though-Games such as this are also known to be deceptively titled, with names involving Egypt, etc, fooling the player into thinking it might actually be a cool game-until that is you flip the box over and realize that it’s just another movin’ the jewel based puzzler.
Enter NIS, publisher of unanimously loved SRPGs such as Disgaea (The SRPG with Exploding Penguins), into the fray with Puchi Puchi Virus. Puchi stands out from the pack for many reasons, the main for me being NIS brand of wacky humor in this one of a kind puzzler.
The story goes something like this: an infection Puchi Puchi Virus (there is an actual Puchi gene, required for morphogenesis certain plant species..Who Knew?), which is represented by a small creepy crud-like monster, causes those infected to mutate into various creatures, with hilarious names and characteristics. Luckily for the infected, Dr. Kevin Longfellow, Nurse Honeydew, and George the Chicken (he wears a dress) have a vaccine for the virus..the Puchi Buster. The Puchi Buster destroys the virus by using the touch screen to eliminate the viruses. Touching three of the same virus with the stylus to then tapping the same virus will remove it. Other viruses within those selected can be chose, creating chains.
The mechanics are difficult to explain without seeing it in action, however here’s the Reader’s Digest description-.there are 6 types of viruses, all which appear on a hexagonal grid. You tap them and make triangles to link them. The virus becomes locked by tapping on it, however leaving it alone too long will cause it to become calcified. These blocks can be removed however by having them under a triangle. An image of the infected is located on the left side of the screen. The more red you see, the worse the infection, which determines game speed, effects of chains, etc. on the patient. Collision can be annoying at times, as you may find yourself accidentally hitting the wrong virus.
Single cart multi is available, you play the game against someone else. I was not able to test this in the game, had the review build for a limited time.
What keeps Puchi fresh is that each stage has a goal to clear it, the goals growing progressively harder with each stage. Some might complain the difficulty curve is a bit too unforgiving, however I don’t the difficulty too much for the average puzzle playing DS owner. Be warned though, some of the levels requiring multiple chaining can be quite difficult. Puchi doesn’t force the difficult levels repeatedly either, you can choose in what order to play various stages.
Puchi Puchi Virus is a must own for puzzle gamers simply because there is nothing quite like it on the DS, or any other system for that matter. The gameplay is simple enough to be picked up and played quickly, however challenging enough to keep even the most skilled player busy for many hours.