Preview: Puchi Puchi Virus (Nintendo DS)

Puchi Puchi Virus Packshot

Players can always count on NIS America to port over some of Japan’s most beloved RPG titles (such as Mana Khemia: Student Alliance), but the company looked to break the mold and delve into a more casual crowd with the announcement of Puchi Puchi Virus for the Nintendo DS. If you’re tired of having your face run into the ground with NIS’s brutal platformer Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, Puchi Puchi Virus’s lighthearted puzzle mechanics could be exactly the prescription you’re looking for. Originally distributed in Japan by Jaleco in 2007, the game has seen a number of hang-ups while packing its bags for the U.S., however, it seems NIS America is firm on a new May release date and is now promoting an online PC demo that will net 10 lucky winners a Japanese exclusive dark navy-colored Nintendo DS system.

Puchi Puchi Virus takes a humorous approach to the puzzle genre, breaking each puzzle stage into separate patients that need Dr. Kevin Longfellow’s help in finding a cure from the puchivirus – an ailment which transforms humans into animals with silly quirks. Through Dr. Kevin’s research along with the loyal nurse Honeydew and the seemingly gender-confused nurse George the Chicken, the trio uses a machine dubbed the Puchi Buster DS, which “uses dangerously high doses of pure awesome” to zap the disease out of patients. Does insurance cover pure awesome?

Game play begins harmlessly enough with different colors of puchivirus appearing on the battle screen. Using the stylus, players can tap three virii of the same color to link them and then tap on any of those virus to clear them from the field. When three virus are tapped, however, a triangle is formed and any other virii in the middle become activated as well, allowing savvy players to tap other virus trios and activate virus-busting chains that pile on the points. Players have to make such decisions with haste, though, as virii will congeal if left alone for a period of time, and as time elapses, the virus gauge fills and increase of the rate at which virii congeal. Virii also congeal if they are not matched up while activated inside a link triangle.

Puchi Puchi Virus game play

Thankfully, congealed virii inside of a linked triangle revert to normal, chains reduce the virus gauge and every fiftieth link provides players with a pill power-up that reverts congealed virii.

The PC demo allows players to go at the game for three minutes in an attempt to score as many points as possible, with any score at 10,000 or above awarding the player a ranking code to submit online for the Nintendo DS contest. The deadline to enter the contest is May 1 where 10 winners will be chosen randomly from the entries.

When players pick up the game this May, however, they’ll find a lineup of more than 100 zany patients, some parodying culture, who need Dr. Kevin’s help – potential patients range from Uwegt Bull (a play off filmmaker Uwe Boll) to Sasu Kerrot (parodying Naruto’s Sasuke as a carrot) to Kangafruit Punch, a fruit-laden kangaroo “who isn’t afraid to punch you in the berries.” Each character has a clear condition such as scoring a set amount of points, activating specific chains or clearing a set number of virii within a time limit. Upon clearing a stage, the patient’s information is added to a research album for future viewing. The game also allows for two players to go at it in wireless or multicard card play and friends without the game can bum a demo off of a Puchi Puchi Virus cart via wireless transfer.

While the U.S. is a few years behind on Puchi Puchi Virus, hopefully this prescription won’t expire and we’re still on track to see this quirky puzzle entry in May. If early game play and the Japanese version is any indication of the final product, Puchi Puchi Virus could end up being great for quick bursts of puzzle action on the go. Now, hopefully, after all this time, those Prinny Puchi Puchi Virus stress reliever pre-order bonuses will still be on their way …

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