Panel de Pon (パネルでポン) is a puzzle video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Super Famicom home video game console. It was released on October 27, 1995 in Japan, and was later ported to the North American and European markets as Tetris Attack. The rebranded Tetris Attack was later re-released in Japan as Yoshi no Panepon (ヨッシーのパネポン) for the Satellaview satellite modem service and Game Boy handheld game console. An altered version of the original Panel de Pon was also released via Satellaview in 1998 under the name BS Panel De Pon - Event '98. The original Panel de Pon was released in Japan on the Wii's Virtual Console service on November 27, 2007.
Panel de Pon is the first game in the long-running Puzzle League series, and has seen numerous sequels for most of Nintendo's game consoles in markets worldwide.
In Panel de Pon, the evil devil king Thanatos has cast a spell over the world of Popples to cause fighting amongst the fairies. The Fairy of Flowers, Lip, is unaffected due to her magic stick. Lip must defeat each of her fairy friends in a puzzle game to return their personalities to normal, then proceed to face off against Thanatos.
Upon completion of Hard Mode, the player discovers that the final boss, the goddess Cordelia, is actually Lip's mother and queen of the fairies. She informs Lip that the events leading up to this moment were a test to see if Lip had the strength to become the new Queen of the next generation of fairies.
In the version of Panel de Pon released as part of Nintendo Puzzle Collection for the GameCube, similar but younger fairies take the place of the original characters, and several new characters and stages have been added. The plot is otherwise very similar; however, the ending is very different.
In Panel de Pon, the player is presented with a playfield consisting of a virtual grid of squares, each of which can be occupied by a colored block. Blocks are stacked on top of one another and rise steadily toward the top of the playfield, with new blocks being added at the bottom. The player must arrange blocks in horizontal or vertical lines of three or more matching colors by swapping blocks horizontally two at a time. As matching lines are formed, the blocks are cleared from the screen and any blocks above them fall into the gaps. The game is over when the blocks touch the top of the playfield, or another game-ending condition is met (such as reaching a time limit or clearing blocks below a set line).
The player moves a two-block cursor around the playfield using the D-pad and swaps blocks within the cursor using the action button. A block may be swapped with an empty space, and blocks that are moved into an empty column immediately fall toward the bottom of the playfield. The player can cause the playfield to rise more quickly by pressing either shoulder button. The cursor is free to move while blocks are clearing, allowing the player to form other matches and line up chains.
Clearing more than three tiles in a single move scores a Combo, while Chains are scored when falling blocks from one clear cause another clear to occur. Both of these events score extra bonus points, and in multiplayer Versus games, these also send "garbage blocks" to the other player's playfield.
Panel de Pon provides several single-player modes. Story Mode takes the player through the game's main plot, pitting the player against a series of foes in a head-to-head match. The objective is to cause the computer-controlled player to lose. In Endless Mode, the player is challenged to play as long as possible with a continuously rising stack of blocks, which increases in speed over time. Timed Mode challenges the player to score as many points as possible within a two-minute time limit, and Stage Clear mode takes the player through a series of stages in which the objective is to clear blocks below a set line. A Puzzle Mode is also provided, which presents the player with a number of puzzles where he or she must clear all of the blocks in a set number of moves. (Blocks do not rise in this mode.)
In addition to the game's single-player modes, Panel de Pon also provides several multiplayer modes that are essentially two-player variants of the single-player modes. One or both human players may be substituted with a computer-controlled player with a selectable difficulty level.
Panel de Pon (PdP) was ported to North America as Tetris Attack in 1996. This version, while essentially identical in gameplay to PdP, replaced the original characters and backgrounds with characters and scenes based on Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Some music tracks were also changed for this rebranding, and the game also includes a slightly more advanced computer-controlled player in certain modes. This rebranded version was then re-released in Japan several years later.
The game was updated and rebranded again in 2000 for the Nintendo 64 as Pokémon Puzzle League (PPL). This version, based on the Pokémon anime, includes a training mode, a puzzle editor, and a 3D game mode that takes place in a cylindrical playfield. Pokémon Puzzle Challenge (PPC) was released around the same time for the Game Boy Color, retaining most of the features of PdP while introducing "Garbage Mode" and a new "Intense" difficulty level.
Panel de Pon was ported again in 2003, this time for the GameCube as part of Nintendo Puzzle Collection, released only in Japan. This version features new characters (the descendents of the original PdP characters), updated graphics and sound, and a four-player competitive mode. The game's release in North America was quietly cancelled.
An adaptation of Panel de Pon is available in the Game Boy Advance title Dr. Mario & Panel de Pon, released in Japan in 2005. This version, also released in North America as Dr. Mario & Puzzle League, contains generic graphics and background and no story mode at all, making it the first game in the series to be released on only the merits of its gameplay.
The most recent version of the game is Panel de Pon DS in Japan (Planet Puzzle League in North America), released in 2007 for the Nintendo DS. This version includes new backgrounds and music, stylus-enabled gameplay, and the ability to play against other players worldwide via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. Aside from an unlockable background featuring Lip (from the original Panel de Pon) in the Japanese version, the DS version continues the storyless presentation of the Game Boy Advance title. A limited-function version, known as Chotto Panel de Pon in Japan, and A Little Bit Of Puzzle League in Europe, was released for the Nintendo DSi via the DSiWare service on the Nintendo DSi Shop. This version includes most of the original release's single-player features, and excludes multi-player gameplay entirely.
References in other media
In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, one of the various objects that Kirby randomly transforms into when using his "Stone" (down+B) special attack is one of Lip's garbage blocks from Panel de Pon.
Also in the games, there is an item called Lip's Stick, named after the Panel de Pon character replaced by Yoshi for Tetris Attack. Lip's Stick poisons the opponent that it contacts, as a flower is planted atop his or her head. While some in-game graphics exclusive to the Japanese market were replaced with more recognizable items, Lip's Stick was left as-is with its trophy explaining its Japanese-only origin.
Also present in Brawl are four collectible Stickers depicting characters from the Nintendo Puzzle Collection iteration of Panel de Pon, marking the first time a Panel de Pon character is intentionally shown to audiences outside of Japan. The character stickers, however, had their names translated to those of the Super Famicom characters. The red heart block is also present. The game also includes a remix of Lip's theme, which plays on the PictoChat stage.
- Official Panel De Pon website
- Japanese Dr. Mario & Panel de Pon website
- Nintendo Puzzle Collection Japanese website