Pokémon Puzzle League

Pokémon Puzzle League

Infobox VG
title = Pokémon Puzzle League

developer = NST
Intelligent Systems
publisher = Nintendo
designer =
engine =
released = Nintendo 64
vgrelease|United States of America|USA|September 25, 2000
vgrelease|PAL Region|PAL|March 16, 2001
Virtual Console
vgrelease|United States of America|USA|May 5, 2008
vgrelease|PAL Region|PAL|May 30, 2008
genre = Puzzle
modes = 1-2 players
ratings = ESRB: Everyone (E)
platforms = Nintendo 64, Virtual Console
media = Cartridge
requirements =
input =

"Pokémon Puzzle League" is a puzzle game for the Nintendo 64 console. It is based on the popular puzzle game "Panel de Pon", but with Pokémon likeness (the same with Yoshi in "Tetris Attack"). This game was only available in North America starting in 2000, making it the first Pokémon game produced for North America first. The game was not available in Japan; the Japanese received the game's Game Boy Color counterpart, "Pokémon Puzzle Challenge". This is the third "Pokémon" game to be based on the Pokémon anime, the other two being "Pokémon Yellow" and "Pokémon Snap". The game was released on the Wii Virtual Console on May 5, 2008, in the North America region, and on May 30, 2008, in the European region.cite web|url=http://www.vc-reviews.com/news/2008/05/us_vc_releases_5th_may_pokemon_puzzle_league|title=US VC Releases - 5th May - Pokemon Puzzle League|publisher=Virtual Console Reviews|accessdate=05/02/08]


"Pokémon Puzzle League" ("PPL") features the same gameplay as in "Panel de Pon". The objective is to clear blocks from the playfield by arranging them in horizontal or vertical lines of three or more blocks. A continuous stream of new blocks pushes up from the bottom of the playfield, causing the entire playfield to rise continuously. If the blocks reach the top of the playfield, the game is over. The player can temporarily stop the progression of blocks by scoring combos and chains, and in two-player battles, these actions also cause garbage blocks to stack on top of the opponent's playfield.

Unlike its predecessors, "PPL" features a 3D mode in addition to the traditional 2D mode. In this mode, gameplay takes place on a cylinder with an effective width of 18 blocks, compared to the six-block width of the flat 2D field. It also features the original block design from "Panel de Pon" and "Tetris Attack", as well as a Pokémon-oriented design (which is selected by default).

In two-player games, players can select one of fourteen Pokémon trainers to play as. Unlike most "Pokémon" games, selecting a certain trainer or Pokémon only changes the graphics, sounds and music played during the game, but does not give the player any advantages or effects. The trainer's voice plays when the player scores a combo or clears a garbage block, and the selected Pokémon's voice plays when scoring chains. The Pokémon are a visual representation of the player's win/loss record, if one loses a round, they are unable to pick the same Pokémon they lost with for the next round. Thus a standard best 3 out of 5 match involves the knocking out of all of an opponent's Pokémon.


The characters in "Pokémon Puzzle League" either come from the anime and were once exclusive to it, like Ash Ketchum, Tracey Sketchit, and Gary Oak or have appeared in previous "Pokémon" games but appear in the game as they do in the anime like Misty , Brock, and Giovanni. There are 16 playable characters in the game. In the 1P Stadium, only Ash is playable and Gary's Pokémon, Nidoran♀, Growlithe, and Krabby, will fully be evolved into Nidoqueen, Arcanine, and Kingler, respectively, in Hard mode, Very Hard mode, and Super Hard mode when challenging him the second time. These fully evolved Pokémon are not playable with Gary.

Playable Trainers and their Pokémon


Professor Samuel Oak - The leading authority of Pokémon research. He serves as the tutor for teaching the player basic gameplay and techniques at his lab.

Gary Oak with evolved Pokémon - As the final stage before battling Mewtwo, Gary battles the player a second time. This time, his Pokémon have evolved into Nidoqueen, Arcanine and Kingler.

Cassidy and Butch - Rivals of Jessie and James, respectively, who work for Team Rocket. The two of them battle the player in the Spa Service as a bonus challenge to earn more points.

Nurse Joy - A Pokémon nurse who has identical-looking female relatives (all are nurses with same name) in the Pokémon world. She is seen at the Pokémon Center to modify the game settings.

Officer Jenny - A policewoman who has identical-looking female relatives (all are all policewomen with same name) in the Pokémon world. She is seen at the Pokémon Center to modify the game settings.

Delia Ketchum - Ash's loving mother. She can be seen and heard in cutscenes after clearing the 1P Stadium at any difficulty level.

Jigglypuff - A Pokémon with a desire to sing. It is seen and/or heard at all the modes except 1P Stadium and 2P Stadium.

Togepi - Misty's baby Pokémon. It can be seen and heard when playing Super Easy Mode in the Mimic Mansion, Time Zone, Marathon, and in cutscenes after clearing the 1P Stadium at any difficulty level.

Featured Gameplay Modes

1P Stadium

This is the main story-based mode of the game. The player takes on the role of Ash and plays through a linear tournament against other Pokémon trainers to become the Pokémon Puzzle Master. Each round is played against a computer opponent in a single Versus round, in which scoring combos and chains sends garbage blocks to the opponent's playfield. The player may choose from one of five difficulty levels before starting the tournament.

pa Service

Team Rocket steals the player's Pokémon, forcing the player to play through a series of stages in which the members of Team Rocket put on various disguises. Each stage requires the player to clear blocks down to a predetermined "clear line" - the player passes a stage when there are no blocks above the line. The player also encounters two stages in which the goal is to score combos and chains to defeat an opponent. The first of these stages takes place against "Team Rocket 2" (Butch and Cassidy), and is optional (losing does not affect the outcome of the game). The final stage takes place against Giovanni, and the player must pass this stage to win.

Stages start in 2D mode, but eventually switch to 3D about halfway through the game. Spa Service Mode is equivalent to Story Mode in "Panel de Pon".

Time Zone

The player plays on a single 2D or 3D playfield for two minutes and attempts to score as many points as possible.

2P Stadium

This mode allows two players to play against one another in three competitive games. 2P Versus Mode plays identically to 1P Stadium - the objective is for one player to cause the other to lose by filling their playfield. Each player can send garbage blocks to the other's playfield by scoring combos and chains.

Players can also play in Spa Service Mode, in which the objective is to clear blocks down to the clear line before the other player does, or Time Zone Mode, in which the objective is to score more points than the other player in two minutes.

All two-player modes can be played in 2D and 3D, and each player chooses a trainer to play as. By default, games are played in best-of-5 matches, though this can be changed in the Options menu.


The player plays in either 2D or 3D mode, chooses an overall difficulty level and a starting speed level, and plays for as long as possible, scoring as many points as possible. This is equivalent to "Endless Mode" in "Panel de Pon".

Puzzle University

This mode presents the player with a series of puzzles in which the player must clear all the blocks in a predetermined number of moves. There are multiple classes of puzzles, spanning simple "switch the correct blocks" puzzles, to chain puzzles where timing is important, as well as 3D puzzles. Once all the puzzles in the main mode have been completed, the player can access a second set of more difficult puzzles by entering a code on the controller. This is equivalent to "Puzzle Mode" in the Game Boy version of Tetris Attack; however, Puzzle University also provides a puzzle editor, in which the player can create and play their own 2D puzzles, while the Game Boy version of Tetris Attack never did have that feature.

Professor Oak's Lab

Contains several non-interactive tutorials describing both basic and advanced techniques.

Mimic Mansion

Hosted by Tracey Sketchit, this area also contains a number of tutorials showing various techniques. Unlike Oak's Lab, techniques are broken up into several categories and many skill levels, from beginner to advanced, and can be presented both non-interactively and interactively. In Interactive mode, Tracey first shows the player a set of moves, then has the player repeat those moves to achieve the same end.

Mimic Mansion also provides a "Super Easy" gameplay mode which plays identically to Marathon Mode, except that gameplay is overall much slower than normal, and the speed level never increases beyond 1. Scores are not stored from this mode.

Pokémon Center

This section provides access to player records, trainer profiles, and game options.



Background music for this game is based on the "Pokémon 2BA Master" CD, and the song "Catch Me if You Can" from ""'s short feature "Pikachu's Vacation" (as well as the score for the movie itself). Some music also comes from the anime.


The cutscene graphics match the animation of the anime. This game was also known for being one of the few N64 games to have FMVs, and the only one to have crisp, clear, full screen, VHS-quality FMVs, with the only quality suffering being framerate (other games featuring FMVs, such as Resident Evil 2 and Wheel of Fortune, had the videos shown either in tiny boxes in the corner of the screen or in widescreen format, and the quality was usually very grainy).


While regarded by many as purely a system port with a renovated Pokémon scheme, improvements in technology from previous consoles to the Nintendo 64 drastically changed the single and multiplayer experiences. The immediate upgrade in pure processing power allows players to navigate between blocks much faster, leading to elite play both on the console as well as on computer emulators where users can take advantage of a much speedier keyboard. Though never massively widespread, the emulators led to high level online play when there was no such online support for the console.

In addition, the Nintendo 64's more powerful processor allowed for a much more sophisticated computer AI for the 1P Stadium mode. This AI combined the faster navigation with such complex attack and defense routines that developers added not just one, but two extra difficulty levels for advanced players.


For the most part, fans and reviewers rated "Pokémon Puzzle League" positively, noting the "addictive" nature of its "Tetris Attack"-style mechanics. They also praised the hand-drawn graphics and the new element of 3D puzzles that made the game more worthwhile and challenging. Some reviewers believed that it incorporated the popular "Pokémon" franchise into "Tetris Attack" mostly to sell copies. [ [http://ign64.ign.com/articles/164/164801p1.html IGN's review] ] [ [http://www.gamespot.com/n64/puzzle/pokemonpuzzleleague/review.html Gamespot's review] ] The game currently has an average of 83% on Game Rankings. [ [http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/913924.asp Game Rankings scores] ]


*Nintendo Power - 8.1 out of 10
*GameSpot - 7.0 out of 10
*IGN - 8.9 out of 10
*Electronic Gaming Monthly - 9.167 out of 10
*GamePro - 4 out of 5
*Game Revolution - B
*1UP.com - 9.2 out of 10
*Game Informer - 8.5 out of 10
*Cinescape Online - A+


See also

* Pokémon Puzzle Challenge

External Links

* [http://www.tetrisattack.net/ Tetris Attack and Pokémon Puzzle League FAQ and records]

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