The latest game from the creators of Puyo Puyo, Compile Maru’s Japanese 3DS eShop release Nyoki Nyoki Tabidachi Hen, looks a lot like its predecessor at first glance. But looks can be deceiving! With just a few small procedural tweaks, Nyoki Nyoki becomes a game that feels much more like real-time strategy than traditional puzzle battle.
It does this by giving players control. Instead of combos triggering when a certain number of pieces get connected, you can at any time change a falling piece into one that pops surrounding formations of the same color. You can build up your well and get rid of everything at once, or you can chip away with smaller moves if the situation calls for it. It allows you to build up the sorts of enormous formations that you’d need some serious skill to accomplish in Puyo with relative ease, which can be exhilarating, but it also builds in the urgency to remove some of those pieces before your opponent decides to attack and bury you.
That’s the other side of control to Nyoki Nyoki: not only can you trigger combos whenever you’d like, but you can also save up the garbage blocks these generate and drop them on foes when you can do the most damage. A number builds up in the top corner, and hitting a button drops whatever’s there up to three full rows on a foe. This allows weaker players to bombard an opponent in a way you’d need serious combos to accomplish in Puyo, but again: saving that up gives the opponent a lot of time to do some damage of their own.
All of this feels more like StarCraft than Puyo: save up for a bigger thing or spam with little annoyances? Build up a big army before attacking or rush before the foe can react? The battle puzzle space has largely grown complacent in recent years, and this game works within the system to do something about that without scaring anyone off.
There’s no word of an English release yet for Nyoki Nyoki Tabidachi Hen, but it does a good job of justifying your attention in the event it ever reaches these shores.