Pokemon Puzzle League
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Tetris Attack Changes FAQ
Pokemon Puzzle League/Tetris Attack Changes FAQ v 1.11 Jjukil, 2/26/00 Table of Contents: --Introduction --Updates --General Changes --3d Mode --Graphics & Sound --Gameplay --Miscellaneous --Game Mode Changes --Training Modes --Marathon --Time Zone --Spa Service --Puzzle University --1P Stadium --2P Stadium --Vs. Mode --Time Zone --Spa Service --Credits INTRODUCTION ------------ Pokemon Puzzle League is one of Nintendo's latest N64 games featuring the company's newest mascot and source of massive revenue: obviously, Pokemon! Nintendo has a strong history of taking their mascots and putting them into puzzle games--some of them unworthy, some of them the greatest puzzlers around--but this latest offering seems cheesier than most. For at first glance, Pokemon Puzzle League isn't a cool new puzzle system with Pokemon dressing--it's just a rehash of a little old gem called Tetris Attack.... Back in 1996, Nintendo--in full swing in its puzzle game rehash madness, having just released such titles as Yoshi, Yoshi's Cookie, and Kirby's Avalanche--released Tetris Attack for the Super Nintendo and Game Boy. It was yet another title featuring the Yoshis(popular, weren't they?). If I remember correctly, the hype for this title was over its 2-player action, which was a good place for it to be but didn't tell the whole story. Tetris Attack's gameplay system didn't rely on maneuvering falling pieces; instead it let the player shift pieces that appeared at the bottom of the field using a cursor that could be moved at any time--including while matches were clearing from the screen. This allowed for extremely frantic gameplay for one OR two players that, in my opinion, has never been topped by any puzzle game since. Before you really look at Pokemon Puzzle League, it seems Nintendo felt the same way. Unlike most of their puzzle game releases, it features a recycled gameplay system, namely that of the aforementioned classic. The only change looks to be the unfortunate booting of the Yoshis in favor of Pokemon. If you can't beat it, rerelease it, eh? Well, I don't know why they changed the gimmick--no, wait, I know why, they were out to make a buck...but thankfully (and surprisingly), they changed a lot more than that! This game is a big step up from Tetris Attack, providing a lot more challenge and options than its younger brother. Nintendo has made many changes since the first game that people might miss, or just skeptically not look for. For their benefit, I've written out the majority of them--I think--below. (I should probably tell you now that some of this is hard to understand if you're not a Tetris Attack junkie. I might fix this in later updates.) Copyright 2000, Jjukil@excite.com. If you want to reference part of this document for any reason, that's great--just make sure you quote me. Likewise, if you want to post the document on your website, go ahead, as long as you credit it to me and don't edit it. Do not, however, put the document in a magazine or other public forums (excluding websites) without asking my permission. Also, do not sell it, in any way or form. If you want to contact me, or have some more differences between the two games to report, email me at Jjukil@excite.com. Finally, a disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon Puzzle League. This is for one reason only, mind you: I do not own an N64. I would if I could, but I can't, unfortunately. Therefore updates may be, er, sparse =P I have access to one most of the time, though, and the more info I get from readers like you, the more I'll be able to update! Hope you find this list informative and helpful! UPDATES ------- v 1.11, 2/26/2001: Uhh...right. Forgot to change the date at the top. Sorry about that.... v 1.1, 2/23/2001: Changed around the intro a bit, and listed it in the ToC. Mainly, added a bit of history on Tetris Attack for those of you not in the know. Thanks to CJayC for the suggestion! Also some semi-random typo fixes. v 1.0, 1/23/2001: Initial release. GENERAL CHANGES --------------- These are the changes you'll find in every mode you play, or at least more than one. 3d Mode ------- This is what drew me to the game, although I ended up spending less time with it than I thought I would due to the other changes. 3d Mode, put as basically as I can manage, gives you a playing field that wraps around horizontally, is three times larger and is harder to see completely. (Wrapping around means your cursor can go from one side of the playfield to the other in one move. The feature's known best in Asteroids, I think.) It's really a blast and almost a different game entirely--the focus goes from maneuvering what tiles you have to the right places to finding the right tiles in the gigantic mess you have in time to keep a combo going. You're almost never hurting for tiles in this mode; horizontal chains can get brutally long. All modes with 3d Mode as an option will have it noted first thing, since it's one of the biggest changes. Unfortunately, battling the computer in 3d Mode isn't very rewarding, or even possible in 1 Player Vs. Mode. The AI in 2d is great--more on this later--but in 3d it's pretty terrible. It can't keep track of tile levels everywhere, and it spends too long trying to lower garbage levels by moving panels, instead of clearing them first to stall like it should. Too bad they couldn't spend the extra time to rectify this, but at least smashing the computer in 3d Mode helps take away from the pain of getting smashed elsewhere! Graphics & Sound ---------------- Obviously graphics and sound are going to be changed, due to the different gimmicks found in the games. Following are completely biased comparisons between Tetris Attack and Pokemon Puzzle League--hereafter referred to as Puzzle League, to save me room and pain(I'm not a Pokemon fan)--graphics and sound that you can take as you like. Graphics are much more detailed in Puzzle League. They remain as colorful and vibrant and distracting as ever, too. There's also CUTSCENES, which are just like the anime and usually at least moderately cool. There's even a choice between two block styles, one of which is more detailed and one of which is clearer in gameplay. What I didn't like were the backgrounds, and even they have their downs AND ups. The backgrounds were interactive with your game in Tetris Attack--the mascot animals or icons for your character would react when you scored a chain link or combo or got swamped with Garbage Blocks. That's missing here; it would've been cool to see the Pokemon duking it out, too. You no longer get to pick where you play, either--that's dictated by which mode you're in and where you are in it. It's most crippling in Marathon and Time Trial modes, where you always see the same stage. However, it does provide good themes to the stages that are done very appropriately, and as usual the graphics are vibrant and relatively crisp. All things considered, I found them more bland than Tetris Attack's, though. The sound is, in all fairness, much more complex than it was in Tetris Attack. Each Pokemon has four sounds for chain comboes and each Trainer has at least that many different voice samples, and there's a lot of both that can be mixed and matched to an extent; there's a total of 484 sound effects! In comparison, Tetris Attack has a total of 226, and it has more sounds that are just echoes of old sounds used during chain progressions than Puzzle League. Other than diversity, though, the sound's a mess, and easily the worst aspect about Puzzle League. Many of the voice samples chosen are too similar to other ones, too long, or just plain irritating after enough times hearing them(or sometimes from the first time on!). A lot of the acting is over the top, too. The music, while showing about as broad a range of Pokemon tunes as you're going to get, is not original and much less audible if the effects aren't muted. There are also no more volume controls to adjust these things. Transitions to Panic music now feature an additional fanfare, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Personally, I didn't like it. I liked Tetris Attack's tunes better as music, too--they're more inspiring to me and much catchier songs, especially since besides Yoshi's they'd never been heard before. Overall, the Graphics are Better, while the Sound is mostly Worse. Gameplay -------- At first glance, the gameplay looks and feels the same. But you Tetris Attack gurus out there like me might feel like something's off. If that's the case, you might find it in the following list of tiny but, considering some are still viewing this as a direct rip of the old game, relatively large changes I've come up with. (More likely, you KNOW EXACTLY what's off, maybe better than I do. If that's the case, well, let's compare notes, shall we? =) First change I noticed was that holding L and R doesn't raise the field one panel's worth per press anymore. It now stops exactly when you let go- -after half a panel, two and a third panels, a sixteenth of a panel, etc. Whatever you want. Matches now give you a much bigger window to move another panel into the old space. What I mean here is how you can insert a panel into the thin air left by a match as the panels on top of it are falling. It is now possible to insert a panel into this thin air before the rest of the match is done clearing out. You can only drop a panel into the space when that part of the match has vanished, of course. This really helps horizontal chains. Another bit of timing has gotten trickier--a LOT trickier. The situation is hard to describe, but I'll give it a shot: catching a tile falling into thin air with another tile so that it lines up with two others and clears in midair, even though both are supposed to fall farther. The timing on this seems a LOT harder now--you have to shift the panel EXACTLY when the match lines up, I think. Maybe the drop starts sooner or something, but it didn't seem that way to me anywhere else. It got so bad for me that I just stopped trying it! Later on, I noticed that the game seems to count unrelated chains as part of the same chain a lot more than it used to. Maybe every time. For instance, in Tetris Attack, if you did a 2-chain, then started another, unrelated 2-chain as you went along, you'd get 2 2-chains. In Puzzle League you get a 3-chain. This doesn't always seem to work for me, and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to figure out this part of the system to a T before I had to take it back. It's probably just a result of these changes and not something else that I'm missing, but it just seems easier to me to get the higher chains and scores in Puzzle League. In Time Trial, I racked up something like 24,000--double my highest ever in Tetris Attack. Meanwhile, I almost doubled THAT in 3d Mode! Miscellaneous ------------- There's also several miscellaneous changes that go best here. The password system is totally gone, replaced with battery backup just to make it harder for you. Also relating to codes, the BALL code is gone, completely as far as I can tell--but it's replaced by another BALL code that ups the difficulty in another way in Marathon, this game's Endless mode. Hold Z and press the keys for BALL on your controller while at the game select screen in Marathon, and the selectable speeds will double, giving you the insane speeds detailed in Endless below. Another option that's changed is the ability to let the computer play for you; you can turn the computer on, but there's only one option, and it'll take over the second controller. You can still have versus matches, although it won't work well in 3d, for reasons detailed above. The control pad is a bit stiffer in Puzzle League (and on the N64 in general), which makes controlling it a bit harder--particularly if you're not used to using a D-pad on an N64 controller! (Or an N64 controller at ALL....) GAME MODE CHANGES ----------------- This section covers how the modes have been changed. Each category starts with the Puzzle League name. If it's been changed since Tetris Attack, the original appears underneath it. Unfortunately, there's only one new mode, but there's enough differences in the old modes' execution to make up for it. Read on and you'll probably think so too. Training Modes -------------- I didn't do as much looking for changes in the training modes, since players won't spend a lot of time there anyway, but some of the more obvious ones make it better. In addition to modes resembling How to Play/Improve from Tetris Attack, Puzzle League has the Mimic Mansion. The first two options let you mimic a Pokemon character as he pulls off fairly basic moves so you can remember how to do them in the normal games, if you recognize them. This can help out more than it seems. The third option, though, is pretty darn helpful and really cool to play with in 3d Mode: Super Easy. This is Endless on Easy with the following two stipulations: the Speed Level is locked at Level 1, and how long it takes for panels to start dropping and matches to clear away is at LEAST doubled. This means everything goes REALLY slow, giving you more time than you've ever had before to set up combos and chains. 30 and 40 hit chains are almost easy in this training session! It really helped me get used to 3d Mode. Marathon -------- Called Endless Mode in Tetris Attack. 3d Mode is an option here. When you start the game, the selectable speed levels only go up to 50, but the speed levels have been redone; 50 here is actually faster than 99 in Tetris Attack. Which really isn't that bad, since there's almost no difference between 50 and 99 in the original. (And yet the new BALL code gets you up to a new speed level 99--and this time, it keeps up the proportions! How fast is 99? Try holding L or R to slow down the field...) Pausing now still shows the panels in easy, medium OR hard mode, not just easy. (The button to hide the exit option while paused is the top C button, btw.) Time Zone --------- Called Time Trial Mode in Tetris Attack. This has the same differences as Endless, except for the pause thing--just like in Tetris Attack, you don't get to see your tiles while paused at all in this mode. Spa Service ----------- Called Stage Clear Mode in Tetris Attack. 3d Mode is included here, but not as an option--after you beat the special match in the middle, you're switched to 3d Mode until you fight the last boss. The bosses are different, in concept as well as identity. The middle boss and last boss aren't the same guy in this game, and I'm pretty sure the last boss has a bit more defense against combos/chains than the middle boss. Both have more defense than Tetris Attack's Bowser, particularly against chains, and the field seems a TINY bit faster. Of course, the plot is different, as well as the intermissions, which give you a bit less help this time. (They also made sure that this time it didn't matter if you won the middle match or not to the plot, which is a cop out but a big improvement over mentioning how hard it'll be to beat the boss you just beat!) Puzzle University ----------------- Called Puzzle Mode in Tetris Attack. Puzzles are now divided into 3 broad Classes, which give you access to at least 30 puzzles each once you unlock them. You can play anything you've unlocked, so you don't have to progress as linearly. The normal puzzles used are at least partially changed, I think; they aren't significantly harder until Class 2, which takes 30 puzzles to get to. Two new puzzle types with, of course, new puzzles are included--3d, which takes advantage of the bigger field but seems considerably easier, and Action, which tests you on skill chains. There's now a puzzle editor, which lets you create and save up to 15 puzzles and is pretty fun to play with. 1P Stadium ---------- Called Vs. Mode in 1 Player in Tetris Attack. The AI is very improved. If you're a vet of winning Tetris Attack's hardest difficulty without a continue, come on--just try it here. You'll probably be rudely surprised, just like I was. Here's the differences in AI I've been able to notice: --It moves tiles just a tiny bit slower, mostly to compensate for the other changes. --It can now do midair skill chains, including at LEAST inserting a tile into the empty column made by a match to get another match. --It is much more active during garbage clear stalls. It will make more comboes and chains if it has enough tiles and set up blocks underneath falling former garbage whether it does or not, giving it those dreaded Garbage Chains that extend matches endlessly and make attacking seem to go against you. For me, the last half of Hard was as difficult as Tetris Attack's Very Hard; Very Hard is harder than Tetris Attack ever saw after about Stage 8. There is now a fifth difficulty level after Very Hard called Super Hard, which you open the same way(well, by beating Very Hard, not Hard). This mode just takes all of this further and makes it faster. I can't beat either of these without continuing at least once. Of course, this is what makes the game most worth the purchase--you could practice with this forever! Luckily, beating the game without continues doesn't seem to make a difference in terms of rewards now--you can use 0 or 99 continues on Very Hard to open up Super Hard. The max number of matches has increased from 12 to 16. The easy mode features THREE less fights than the medium mode. Meanwhile, Very Hard features one more fight than Hard, a special last boss. (Super Hard has the same number as Very Hard.) Finally, there are changes to character selection that, while ultimately meaningless, should be noted. You don't gain the services of any of your opponents in Puzzle League, unlike in Tetris Attack, where your first seven foes were recruited to your cause. However, you do still partially choose your character, because before each match starts you and your opponent choose from one of three Pokemon. Unfortunately, these Pokemon don't offer any special abilities, so the choice is as aesthetic as the last game's. 2P Stadium ---------- Includes Vs. Mode, Time Trial and Stage Clear from Tetris Attack, each covered separately. VS. MODE: 3d Mode is an option here, which provides for mass mayhem(especially with the garbage blocks!!). Players choose their characters as usual, but then choose which Pokemon to use during each round. Again, the choices are aesthetic only. You can have up to 5 rounds per match, in keeping with the change above, although this can be lowered to 3 or 1. TIME ZONE: 3d Mode is an option here. STAGE CLEAR: This is the new mode--Tetris Attack is missing this one, and it's a great addition, especially for fans of the old Tetris. The object is predictable, really: get past your line-clearing goal, or more basically just clear lines, faster than your opponent. Pre-match setups for handicaps and the like are the same as in other 2-player modes. 3d Mode is an option here, which I should've mentioned before. You can't fully test your line-clearing skills against the computer, since the AI isn't built specifically for it (still sets up huge chains, doesn't just move extra blocks to the holes at the end, etc). It's a little better than battling in 3d, though--you've got to move fast to win at the highest levels. CREDITS ------- Big thanks go to Nintendo, who may slap gimmicky licenses on their puzzle games but make most of the best anyway. Thanks also go to DizzyBum and SReich, for listing several specifics from Pokemon Puzzle League that I used when I no longer had it, and just having great FAQs overall. I'd also like to thank Amanohyo for his review of Pokemon Puzzle League, which summarizes the game so utterly perfectly that, once I read it, I decided I didn't NEED to write the review I'd been planning on. =) Go find it at www.gamefaqs.com and read it if you're still not convinced this game is worth checking out; it's probably the best review I've ever read. And, of course, thanks to CJayC, who hosts this FAQ, along with all the works I mentioned above, and helped me work out some of the kinks. Well, that's it! Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks, Jjukil