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Mizuki Yamada, Producer of Puyo Puyo, SEGA — Interview Series

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Hosoyamada-san, Producer of Puyo Puyo — SEGA

Good news, Puyo Puyo fans: SEGA has just conceived a brand-new chapter for its thirty-year-old series, and has made the game—aptly titled Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop—available to download on iOS via Apple Arcade. To learn more about it, we caught up with ex-Sonic Team and Puyo Puyo producer Mizuki Yamada. Here’s everything we were able to learn from the rather brief, albeit insightful discussion…

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Hosoyamada-san. Before we discuss the latest chapter in the Puyo Puyo series, let’s talk about your background in the gaming industry. How did it all start for you?

Hosoyamada-san: I joined SEGA’s Sonic Team in 2002 and from there worked as a planner, director, and reviewer of action games, such as those in the Sonic series. For the past 18 years, I’ve been director and producer for Puyo Puyo titles; and now, in my role as general producer of the Puyo Puyo series, I take care of the “Puyo PuyoIP as a whole, as well as title production, game design and reviewing.

Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop has recently released on Apple Arcade. Tell us a bit about it. What can returning fans expect to find in this latest episode?

Hosoyamada-san: Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop rivals console releases in terms of itsamount of features. For example, it has a new story that’s fully voiced, lots of rulesets and characters, 2-4-player online battles through GameCenter, a photo mode where you can share your shots on social media, and more!

We’re also planning to release new modes and characters over the next several months following the game’s release, which should excite and feel new to fans of the series, too. In the ver.1.1.0 update released in April, a new mode called “Challenge Adventure” was added, alongside the co-op mode “Team Score Attack” and a number of characters.

Would you say that Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is a beginner-friendly game? Could, say, a newcomer to the series enjoy it all the same?

Hosoyamada-san: We made the latest Puyo Puyo with newer players in mind. In previous games, we didn’t have explanations at either the start of the game or for each ruleset. However, now newer players should be able to check out the explanations then jump right in.

Additionally, you can select “Autoplay” where your first eight moves in a battle are performed automatically for you. There’s alsoPuyo Touch” where the Puyo will automatically drop to the place where you touch the screen. I encourage new players to give both options a try!

With the game being on Apple Arcade, we made sure to include newbie-friendly character profiles. These feature character birthdates and other information that were made public for the first time with this game’s release. (Puyo Puyo fans also enjoy these a lot!)

Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop - Announce Trailer

Puyo Puyo has been going strong for well over thirty years now. In your own words, why do you think it’s as successful as it is? Is there a hidden ingredient?

Hosoyamada-san: The basic concept of Puyo Puyo is that its an action-puzzle game where you line up 4 or more Puyos of the same color in order to create satisfying combos. When I first started working for the series, the concept was a little different, so the recent Puyo Puyo titles are infused with my own spin on the concept.

I’m also a fan of the series, so I have both that perspective as well as a more objective one. Those perspectives have really helped me as a professional game designer to reconsider the IP. (I’m always thinking about where to take the game next!It’s difficult to improve a gameplay loop that feels as complete as Puyo Puyo does, so instead you have to come up with ways of bringing the IP to the latest platforms and services.

I have so many things I want to do, but you have to form and shape them one at a time. Summarily speaking, there’s no real hidden ingredient per se, but I do believe that constantly bringing the IP to the latest hardware is necessary so that people of all ages can enjoy it.

Hosoyamada-san, you have been working with SEGA to create Puyo Puyo games for a little over twenty years. Tell us, what is it about the series that makes you want to get up in the morning?

Hosoyamada-san: People fill out questionnaires on “Puyo Day” or when they purchase the game, so I enjoy reading them, as well as checking out what fans are posting on social media. Nothing usually strikes me at that stage, but then after some time passes, I notice that certain things I’ve seen have stuck with me. It happens all the time, and it can spark ideas

It’s honestly really useful to see what people love about the game, as well as hear their constructive criticism, too. So, if anyone reading this has anything like that, I’d love to hear from you!

Changing the subject a little, the entertainment-based content I engage with inspires me a lot, be it games, movies, music, comics, anime, books, social media, events, shows, or whatever.

It might sound strange, but the things that intuitively look fun to me seem to be the ones that gain attention and often come up in conversation. I think it’s really important to immerse yourself in entertainment as much as possible. That being said, I don’t have all the time in the world to check out everything, but when I do have the time I try to.

What really helps me is when devs on my team recommend me things during casual conversation. When my superiors recommend books to meI always buy them online and read them right away. It’s great to have many people around you who can recommend things to you.

Apologies for overstepping our mark here, but would you mind telling us what’s next for Puyo Puyo? Are there any other projects that are currently in the pipeline?

Hosoyamada-san: I’m very sorry, but I’m unable to answer that. 

However! Puyo Puyo usually has many wheels turning at the same time. For example, right now Puyo Puyo Tetris, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, [and] Puyo Puyo Champions are still selling well, with tournaments in Japan happening on a regular basis. We even provide support for livestreams and TV programs who want to feature the IP.

A large team has been overseeing Puyo Puyo!! Quest for over 11 years in Korea and Japan, and Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop for Apple Arcade has a team behind it, too. We’re also licensing the brand and making merch, as well as checking it all!

Granted, the game is more popular in Japan than in places like the US, but if you want Puyo Puyo to blow up in your region, please get out there and spread the word!

Naturally, we’ll continue to release games on console, as well as branch out into other areas going forward, so I hope you join us on the journey, and we can have a blast together!

Any final words for our readers?

Hosoyamada-san: Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is available and doing well on Apple Arcade. While we’re still working on upcoming content updates, it’s no exaggeration to say that the development scale has been the largest for any Puyo Puyo game, so keep an eye out for future updates!

Even though Puyo Puyo is a well-known game in Japan (most people have played it at some point in their lives), unfortunately our research revealed that while the rest of the world is also aware of the IP, many have yet to play the game.

It’s the type of game you need to playnot just see or hear aboutto really understand what makes it so fun, so please give the series’ games a try, whether it’s on Apple Arcade or console, etc. Even just getting a few battles going with your family or friends will really help to spread the word about Puyo Puyo!

Thanks so much all of you for your support!

Thanks again, Hosoyamada-san!

 

For more information on the latest chapter in the Puyo Puyo series, be sure to check in with the folks over at SEGA via their official social handle here. Alternatively, you can visit the Puyo Puyo feed here.

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