Puyo Puyo Fever

After Compile disbanded, Sega (who now owns the game license) finally decided to continue the Puyo series with its own installment in 2004. The name Fever is a play on the word "five", since the game is the fifth installment, and was released in English as Puyo Pop Fever. Sonic Team, the developers of the Sonic franchise (as the name implies), was put in charge of developing the game.

In Fever, Sega decided to completely "reboot" the series, with a whole new cast and a different art direction. The artwork is very reminiscent of Sonic games with stylised bold outlines and stringy limbs, as opposed to the conventional anime style used in previous games. The entire cast was done away with, apart from Arle and Carbuncle, and we are introduced to a completely new set of characters such as the following.

Amitie Amitie
A spunky and well-meaning student of magic who doesn't have much up there. She and her friends study in a magic school located in Primp Town. She uses similar magic to Arle and replaces her as the main character of the series. She always wear a red Puyo hat which she treasures.
Raffine Raffine
A ladylike student of the magic school. She is a capable martial artist although she is not very good at magic, resorting to using items to enhance her fighting skills. Her character is set up to be Amitie's rival although their rivalry was never established like Arle and Rulue's. Most fans either find her personality very cute or very grating.
Klug Klug
The typical nerdy type of character. He's the best student in the class but, in a typical anime fashion, still gets regularly beaten by more important characters. He carries around a haunted book which no one seems to mind and uses astronomical magic.
Rider Rider
A shy and timid girl who has long horns on her head that she is very self-conscious about and tries to hide it by wrapping her hair around them. She has the power to control lightning. Her name is actually pronounced something similar to "Riddel" and was famously mispronounced by Amitie in the English version as Rita.
Tarutaru Tarutaru
A huge student with a typical crush on the alpha female of the school, Raffine. His power is based on plain attacks such as stomping and tackling. He's such a boring character that even the designer named him Tarutaru which roughly translates to "ordinary". Pretty forgettable.
Ms. Accord Ms. Accord
The teacher at Primp Magic School ( the only one apparently doing the job, although given there are around 5 students there it's not surprising). She carries around a talking cat puppet called Popoi. In the story, she has lost her Flying Cane and the students were tasked with finding it. May not be all she seems to be.
Oshare Bones Oshare Bones
Known as Oshare Kobe in Japanese, which translates to "fashionable skeleton". He is a FABULOUS skeleton who replaced Skeleton-T as the pathetic character who you will swiftly trample over on your path to ultimate Puyo conquest.
Hohow Bird Hohow Bird
This annoying creature will annoy you incessantly with his insistence to add "hm hmm" ("hohow" in the original Japanese) randomly to his sentences and attack voices.
Ocean Prince Ocean Prince
A pink, fishy royalty. He speaks in an archaic dialect and in the English script will quote the Bible in his attack voices for some reason.
Yu Yu
A friendly ghost who loves to pun, giving English translators endless amounts of headaches.

The story, as usual, will follow an easy, medium and hard course, where you get to play Amitie in the first two and Raffine in the latter. We see a return to the Sun type of story progression in Fever.

As for the gameplay we also see quite a prominent addition to the mechanic, namely the Fever mode. A Fever gauge is filled up similarly to the special power gauge in Yon by offsetting and a time counter, starting at 15 seconds, can also be increased through certain methods. Once the gauge fills up Fever mode starts.

In Fever mode you are given a pre-made chain which you can set off or build up into an even larger chain. The further you get in Fever mode, the larger the pre-made chains will be. The garbage generating power in Fever mode is significantly lower compared to chaining outside of Fever for obvious reasons, although the damage you can do there is still quite respectable. Once the timer runs out, you are returned to your previous state of the main board.

Like previous additions to the rule of Puyo, Fever adds a bit of flavor to the gameplay and gives you something else to think about. The main reason for Fever mode though, is that Sega decided to push the game to be much more beginner-friendly. The fun in Puyo comes from fighting your opponent with large chains and exchanging huge amounts of garbage, although for a beginner who can't chain well they are left feeling a bit excluded.

Unlike the previous two revisions of the Puyo rule, the Fever rule was actually mostly well-received among competitive circles. Many top players enjoy playing Fever rule as an alternative to the relatively bland Tsuu rule. On the other hand, due to the changes in the cast and artstyle, players who are fans of the original series ended up feeling a bit alienated and many are not fans of the Sega-introduced changes.

The PC release of Fever was also the first Puyo Puyo game that officially supported online play. The game was originally released with free online although recently Sega has locked the game to paid members only. It offers pretty good experience for players in or around Japan but due to the location of the server people in the West generally will get huge lags. It is still possible to play an earlier version of the game using an IP-to-IP method and for many Western players that is the method of choice if they want to play Fever mode against their pals.