Posted on June 23rd, 2010 No comments
I wrote a couple articles today for 1UP about famous gamers in Japan, from Daigo Umehara (who needs no introduction if you’ve seen that SFIII 3rd Strike video — you know, that one) to Tomoki Maeda, a guy who’s won tournaments for both FIFA and Pro Evo Soccer. I didn’t get around to another interview printed in last week’s issue of Famitsu where they talked with Takashi Hattori, a guy who’s really, really, really good at competitive Puyo Puyo.
You can see lots of Puyo tournament footage on Nicovideo; the above video’s an example from 2007. The preferred knockout format is for two competitors to play each other repeatedly until one side reaches 100 victories, which (even if you play as fast as these guys) is at least two hours of nonstop blob toppling. Hattori is the player on the right in this video, and I’ll let it speak for itself. Good Puyo is fun to watch because it’s a constant game of back-and-forth, with one player setting off a massive chain and the other setting off his own chain, the one he’s been preparing for just that moment, offsetting the attack and putting the first player on the defensive. Even if I can’t possibly fathom the strategy involved, it’s great entertainment.
Hattori kicked off his Famitsu interview by revealing how he got into this odd Compile game:“The first Puyo I played was the PC-9801 version, when I was in fifth grade or so. For a while 2- or 3-chains were about the best I could do, but thanks to the fact I had friends to play against every day, I wound up becoming the best player in my neighborhood. Puyo Puyo 2 came out when I was in middle school, and I learned that they were holding events like the Sega AM Cup [Sega’s Puyo championship] and the Puyo Masters Tournament [Compile’s Puyo championship]. I signed up because I thought I could meet people better than me and get some hints on how to improve my game. This was before the Internet was popular, so it was a great opportunity to gather information. I performed pretty well at all the competitions, which gave me confidence, and that was about the point when I hooked up with the real national-class players. We’d all go to an arcade and I’d improve my skills by basically letting them pummel me in the game.”What’s his Power Player Advice for would-be Puyokings?“If you want to win consistently in Puyo, it’s better to think about beating your opponent wtih small chains in rapid succession instead of aiming for one large chain. Memorizing the possible structures of all the small chains, then applying them as needed in the game, helps refine your strategy and makes it easier to win. Also, you can’t just learn the winning patterns — you need to learn the losing patterns, too, and how to deal with them. That way, if you mess up a pattern during a competition, you won’t panic. Based on my experience, even if you don’t have that much technical skill, you can hold your own in competitive matches if you have a sound mental capacity. Everyone makes errors of judgment or joystick input, but it’s when you let the mistakes get to you that you lose. A really fearsome opponent is the guy who can come back from a bad situation.”