Pokemon was such a hit in the 90’s that the franchise spawned numerous side-projects such as Pokemon Pinball, a full-blown TV show, and Pokemon Stadium! One that I initially missed while growing up was Pokemon Puzzle League – one that has been a pleasant surprise!
In terms of gameplay – this game is a puzzle game with similarities to Yoshi’s cookies. The players are presented at the start of a game with a set of Pokemon blocks inspired by the different Pokemon types. Your goal is to remove them by switching the icons around to make 3 or more identical blocks in a row. During gameplay, more blocks slowly raise from the bottom of the screen which puts pressure on the player to work quickly – as the match gets longer they raise more quickly, and if the blocks reach the ceiling the player looses! In addition to the regular 2D version, the game also introduces an interesting 3D mode that has be playfield organized in a circle, and by moving the cursor to the extreme right or left, the game played shifts around. This mode was quite interesting and the games lasted longer, but the basic tenets of the game remain the same.
The game also has a great multiplayer mode thats pits players against each other. By generating large combos, blocks can be sent to your opponent that makes it easier for your to win!
The game has a variety of different modes but the majority of the the modes are very similar – apart from Puzzle University which actually teaches the player how to play! There is also a “story” mode which was unsurprisingly very light on story, a time-attack mode, a practice mode, and an endless mode.
The game had a decent presentation with a little anime intro, and the graphics themselves were nothing fancy but were clear and defined which is important in a colour-based puzzle game. The game also incorporates a lot of art from the TV show which helps to give it an authentic Pokemon feel!The music in the game was quite bland but fit the puzzle-style gameplay. The sounds effects sounded quite grainy by todays standards but back then were likely quite good as they captured audio clips from the show.
In summary, Pokemon Puzzle League is an above average Pokemon-inspired puzzle game that is quick to learn but hard to master! The graphics and clean and clear which help makes the game feel fair. If you are a fan of Pokemon and enjoy a good puzzle game – give this one a shot! Overall, I give this game an 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10