Puyo Puyo

As we touched on previously, the first Puyo Puyo game was released in 1991, the brainchild of designer Moo Niitani (real name Masamitsu Niitani). The first home releases were very simple, with only single player modes where you can either make chains endlessly for highscores or the "Mission" mode where you have to clear preset boards with certain numbers of Puyo.

Puyo really became what we know it as today with the arcade release a year later, also called Puyo Puyo, but with a competitive multiplayer mode added. It also added a story mode, populated with Madou Monogatari characters. While the MM games have some sort of semblance to a coherent plot and believability, the Puyo games have taken the characters and even minor villains from the games and turn them into hilarious caricatures. Some of the characters you will find include:

Arle Nadja Arle Nadja
The heroine of the series who loves curry. She uses elemental magic and her battlecries will be stuck in your head forever and ever. Her actual characterization throughout the series seems to be based on being completely dismayed at the actions of other characters.
Carbuncle Carbuncle
Arle's sidekick, who she calls Kaa-kun. He is sickeningly cute and happy and you can't help but love him. He usually doesn't do much except being cute and shooting laser through the gem in his forehead. Also loves curry.
Draco Centauros Draco Centauros
A dragon girl in a China dress. She wants to be Arle's rival and will randomly challenge her and other girls to beauty contests. The color of her tail is a hotly debated subject among the fandom.
Schezo Wegey Schezo Wegey
The Dark Wizard. He uses ancient Dark magic and wields the Dark Sword. He wants Arle..... 's magic power. Or so he claims.
Witch Witch
A proud witch who always keep a broom handy. She's always experimenting and looking for ways to strengthen her magic.
Skeleton-T Skeleton-T
A skeleton that drinks tea who serves as one of the early enemies. This guy is a joke and can kill himself faster than you can kill him.
Suketoudara Suketoudara
The aforementioned fish with limbs. His dancing will haunt you in your darkest nightmares.
Harpy Harpy
A tone-deaf winged girl (not actually a harpy). She will sing to you and then you'll probably skip the cutscene, because her singing is actually that bad.
Satan Satan
The main antagonist of the series. Is actually a powerful magician (although you'd never know it considering how he's like in the games) who comes up with silly plots involving Arle. In the English version his name was changed to Dark Prince by the PC squad.
Rulue Rulue
A martial artist who has an unhealthy obsession with Satan for some inadequately explored reason. Hates Arle because Satan likes her.

There are also many more characters but these are the main ones, most of whom recur throughout the whole series, even in the newer games where most of the original cast has been discarded.

The mechanics of the game is exactly as described in the introduction. You make chains and drop garbage on the opponent field. This is the competitive Puyo at its simplest form. In single-player battles, each CPU will even have their own strategy for playing, such as Suketoudara firing quick 2-3 chains at you, Harpy stacking Puyo on the left and rightmost columns to try to make "luck" chains and Skeleton-T's strategy seems to involve him mashing his face into the controller. It is a nice touch and indeed many human players will utilize similar strategies to these CPU players.

A notable fact about this game is that it spawned quite a few official clones that were distributed in the West, and since the original was never released on consoles in English, these clone versions were the games that introduced many Western players to the series. Puyo Puyo was licensed to Sega who replaced the cast with Sonic characters and called it Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and to Nintendo who did the same with Kirby characters and renamed it Kirby's Avalanche (Kirby's Ghost Trap in Europe). There are also various other lesser-known clones, such as a Lion King-themed one called Timon and Pumbaa's Bug Drop and Qwirks, a generic clone marketed with the name of creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov, despite him not being involved in any way with the game.

For those of you who feel like going through the story mode with hilarious pseudo-English translation, an English version of the arcade release can be found by looking for the ROM called "Puyo Puyo (World)".