While the N64 struggled – another one of Nintendo’s systems skyrocketed. Despite being a positively ancient piece of hardware even at the time, the GameBoy had a renaissance in the late 90s thanks to – that’s right – Pokemon.

Nintendo tried to capitalize on the popularity of their pocket monsters by using the franchise to prop up the N64. We saw a number of spin-offs show up on the system, to varying degrees of critical success. Although Hey You Pikachu!’s mic probably wasn’t worth the plastic it was made out of, some worthwhile titles did come through.

The first we’ll be discussing on this list is Pokemon Puzzle League.

Pokemon Puzzle League is actually a sequel to the Super Nintendo’s Tetris Attack – and is part of a franchise of sorts that has continued on with the DS’s Planet Puzzle League, with all games using the same basic gameplay.

The goal is to clear blocks by aligning three or more of the same colour either horizontally or vertically. You can only move adjacent blocks, and only horizontally. As you clear blocks, the ones stacked on top will fall down, filling in the gaps left behind, and potentially causing a chain reaction where yet more blocks are cleared. Combos cause demoralizing garbage to be foisted upon your opponents. Ever more blocks rise up from the bottom of the screen as this is going on – and you’ve got to stay on top of it all!

Pokemon Puzzle League takes great advantage of its Pokemon license. Numerous characters straight from the anime appear as competitors in the title’s stadium mode, and pop up in other modes and menus. Music from the 2.B.A. Master album is also used throughout the game. The title even opens with a rare instance of N64 FMV: a clip in the style of the Pokemon TV show explaining Ash’s participation in the Pokemon Puzzle League.

Pokemon Puzzle League is packed with a plethora of modes:

  • Puzzle University consists of playing short puzzles built on the basic mechanics of the game. You’re faced with small stacks of blocks and a limited number of moves to clear them all.
  • In Time Zone, your enemy is the clock. You must work to clear all of the blocks in a limited amount of time.
  • Team Rocket’s so called “Spa Service” has you trying to clear blocks down to a certain level in a series of missions.
  • Marathon is, of course, an endless game where you simply clear blocks until they clear you. This mode can be played in either the standard 2D mode, or a 3D mode in which many more blocks appear across each row and form of a rotating cylinder.
  • 1p Stadium Mode is really the main mode of the game. Here, you’ll battle a series of ever more difficult trainers (mostly consisting of the Kanto region gym leaders) as you progress toward your dream of being the very best.

Pokemon Puzzle League may not feature the most original gameplay, but its meaty number of modes and options, as well as fun use of the Pokemon universe make it well worth a try.

Let me know what you think of Pokemon Puzzle League and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below, don’t forget to rate and subscribe.

Check back next week for entry #42 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.

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