yet another series of games i’ve been slowly working my way through is the panel de pon, aka tetris attack, aka puzzle league games. next up for me was pokémon puzzle challenge for the game boy color. as with most puzzle games the core gameplay of the puzzle league games doesn’t change at all from game to game, and the main differences are the trappings. in this case the game is based on pokemon gold and silver, as opposed to the pokemon anime skin of the N64 version released around the same time and which i played a couple of years ago.
like that game in pokémon puzzle challenge you select which pokemon you want to play as, but the choice is purely aesthetic and has no bearing on the actual gameplay. in this game you can unlock a few others as you progress, mostly via accomplishing hidden objectives (such as making a 8- or 10-piece combo) in the game’s “challenge” mode. this is the game’s version of a story mode, and in it you battle to become the pokemon gold and silver champion. in the easy mode you battle up to the eighth gym leader, and in the normal mode you battle the elite four as well. in normal mode you get unlimited continues, but in the hard mode, similar to the first game boy version of tetris attack, the number of continues available is limited by the number of pokemon you’ve collected. unlocking all the pokemon can be challenging, but otherwise this mode is easier than in other games because instead of having to beat your opponent by overwhelming him/her with an avalanche of garbage blocks (i.e. from creating large chains), here the opponent has a hit point meter that you just have to whittle down. so you just have to wait until you get a large set of garbage blocks and then return them over and over again, which is easy to do. there are two harder settings (super hard and intense) which may make the game more challenging, though.
aside from these differences the game suffers slightly overall for the same reason that the game boy tetris attack did. i discussed this issue in my post on that game, but basically the problem was that in both games the board is 9 pieces high and 6 across, whereas in the “standard” console versions the board is 12×6. the shorter board makes it harder to create chains, although i’m sure puzzle league masters would have less of a problem with the difference.
the game also features the usual puzzle game modes, such as marathon, time attack, puzzle, and multi-player. overall i feel like my puzzle league skills have plateaued somewhat, so i was happy to play through the game’s main modes and put it aside until i get around to tackling the next entry. i suppose that would be the dual pack with dr. mario for game boy advance, which has a conspicuous lack of either yoshi or pokemon trappings but does squeeze in the full 12 x 6 board, a first for the handheld versions.