Can you match them all? Find out next week when Nintendo Switch Online adds Pokemon Puzzle League to its N64 section.
This particular Match-3 game has been around for quite a while, but has had a strange and convoluted release history. The name of it is supposed to be “Panel de Pon.” That’s what it was called in Japan when it first saw release in 1995, but when the decision was made to bring it Westside, execs felt the cutesy fairies wouldn’t match the Raw 90s Play It Loud sensibility very well. The game was given a marketing makeover, tying its visuals to the then-new Yoshi’s Island game and its name to the Tetris brand.
“Tetris Attack” showed up in America in 1996. The game had nothing to do with Tetris beyond both of them being in the puzzle genre. And when Nintendo lost exclusive console rights to Tetris a few years later, the game needed ANOTHER makeover to sell it on the N64. Well, Pokemon was brand-new and white-hot, so Panel de Pon was once again rebranded to tie into the anime as “Pokemon Puzzle League.” The colored squares were now gym badges and the opponents were Pokemon anime characters from the Indigo League arc.
Panel de Pon was sold one more time, on the GBA, but it was just called “Puzzle League” there. The name no longer made sense because the word “league” was taken from the Pokemon game. Finally, many years later, the original untouched fairy-filled Panel de Pon made its official US debut on Nintendo Switch Online. The game was in its original Japanese, but the Yoshi-fied variant that was in English was was off-limits due to the word “Tetris” being all over it.
With this addition, NSO will now have two versions of the same game, just on different consoles and with wildly different marketing strategies. Look for Pokemon Puzzle League July 15.