‘Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop’ Apple Arcade Interview: Series Producer and Director Mizuki Hosoyamada on Gameplay, Collaborations Like Tetris, Controls, Potential Ports, Sonic, and More

TouchArcade Rating:

Ever since Apple Arcade launched, SEGA has been an interesting supporter of the service. We’ve seen new exclusive games, App Store Greats, and even (sort of) multi-platform launches like with the return of Samba de Amigo. After a brand-new exclusive Sonic game, SEGA’s newest Apple Arcade release is Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop () out now. Ahead of this launch, I had a chance to talk to Mizuki Hosoyamada from SEGA who has worked on Sonic, Billy Hatcher, and Puyo Puyo games over the years to discuss Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop, the Puyo Puyo series, plans for the game, potential ports, his favorite games, and a lot more.

TouchArcade (TA): Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at SEGA.

Mizuki Hosoyamada (MH): I joined SEGA’s Sonic Team in 2002 and from there worked as a planner, director, and reviewer of action games, such as those in the Sonic series. For the past 18 years, I’ve been director and producer for Puyo Puyo titles; and now, in my role as general producer of the Puyo Puyo series, I take care of the “Puyo Puyo” IP as a whole, as well as title production, game design and reviewing.

(Editor’s note: He then listed the games he has worked on)

  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
  • Sonic Battle
  • Sonic Mega Collection Plus
  • Sonic Gems Collection
  • Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary
  • Puyo Puyo7
  • Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary
  • Puyo Puyo!! Quest
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris
  • Puyo Puyo!! Touch
  • Puyo Puyo Chronicle
  • Puyo Puyo Champions
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris 2
  • Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop

TouchArcade (TA): For a lot of newer fans, Puyo Puyo Tetris on Switch and PS4 was the first main game we had in the West. How has it been for you seeing the Puyo Puyo franchise grow so much in the West since you started working on it many years ago?

MH: When working on porting and reviewing older titles in the Sonic series, I got to see what made the games so well-known and popular in The West, and while Sonic fans were familiar with Dr.Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, they still didn’t know about Puyo Puyo, so I could tell that Puyo Puyo wasn’t very well known in The West. Feeling that the gameplay and the game’s setting deserved more of an audience, I worked on the development and release of Puyo Puyo Tetris in Japan, earning a chance to increase the IP’s impact in The West. Knowing that the Puyo Puyo awareness increased, and also knowing that there are many ardent fans makes me very happy.

TA: Since then, we had Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 arrive simultaneously on multiple platforms worldwide, and it was excellent. I bought it on all 4 platforms and have played it too much. What learnings from the original did you take into this game?

MH: For the release of Puyo Puyo Tetris, we first needed to create Tetris characters and basic rules, which meant it was difficult to get all of our ideas into the game. When making Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, we introduced lots of features for players of the original to enjoy, as well as listened to feedback from those players while creating the game, allowing us to create a fuller title. Fans of the original mentioned they were pleased to see certain characters return, with the two new characters Marle and Squares proving to be popular.

TA: Tell us a little bit about how Sonic got into Puyo Puyo Tetris 2.

MH: The main reason is that many Puyo Puyo Tetris fans are also fans of Sonic, and we heard many requests concerning a Sonic appearance. On top of that, our SEGA of America staff also suggested to include him in the game as a surprise. Once we got the okay from the Sonic team, we went ahead and implemented him. Incidentally, a lot of people who have experience working on Sonic games-myself included-work on the Puyo Puyo team, so in a way the Sonic Team is the Puyo Puyo Team. Also, another reason why we have Sonic-esque Puyo skins is because we work right next to the Sonic Team in the same studio.

TA: The Puyo Puyo series has had many games across consoles and mobile platforms over the years. You’ve worked on multiple titles, music, and more for the series. Which has been your favorite so far?

MH: Of course, I have an affection for all titles I worked on, right from my first, Puyo Puyo (15th Anniversary). However, I recommend our latest game Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop the most. When designing a new game, we always put all the knowledge we obtained from previous games into it and on top of that, we were able to create it for the latest devices. We always aim to make each new game better than the last, so we would love it if you played our latest one first!

TA: Now, I want to discuss Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop, the upcoming Apple Arcade exclusive. What led to bringing a brand-new Puyo Puyo worldwide on Apple Arcade rather than other platforms?

MH: Several SEGA titles are available on Apple Arcade, and during our conversations, releasing a Puyo Puyo game for Apple Arcade came up, too, also thanks to the good reception of games like Puyo Puyo Tetris and the popularity of the series in the esports community. As a non free-to-play service, Apple Arcade’s business model allowed us extra room for creativity. Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop introduces a compelling narrative for fans to enjoy, so we have been very happy to work together with Apple to bring Puyo Puyo to a global audience!

TA: Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop also features a new narrative with characters from across the Puyo Puyo games. Can you tell us a little bit about the story and whether it is going to be a good entry point into the series for newcomers?

MH: The story was designed so that new players can dive right in, and it begins with Amitie waking up after hearing a voice in her dreams. The same members who worked on the narrative for Puyo Puyo Tetris and other games worked on the narrative for this title, which is fully voiced in English and Japanese. We’d love for you to check it out!

TA: How was it working on touch, controller, and other input methods for Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop? What inspired the new photo mode in Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop?

MH: The game’s controls were made with the iPhone and iPad touch screens in mind, but has also been optimized for tvOS and MAC. It also supports a variety of controls, so hopefully you can find the right control system for you. You could even play at home with your favorite Bluetooth controller and then use the screen directly while you’re out and about.

With regards to the Photo Mode, we tested a similar mode previously, but this is the first game to see it implemented. As the game is on iPad and iPhone, we think players will have a great time being able to share the game’s content with each other, so hopefully they give it a try!

TA: The App Store mentions that more characters and rules will be added in updates. Would you consider Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop a complete experience with content comparable to a main console title right now?

MH: Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop has even more content than a console release. You can even see info you wouldn’t normally see inside the game, such as character birthdays, and so on, making it perfect for newer players.

TA: Are there plans to bring other SEGA properties into Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop like Space Channel 5, Like a Dragon, Sakura Wars, etc?

MH: We have no plans at present character-wise, but the game does feature special Puyo designs, such as Sonic from Sonic the Hedgehog and the Morolians from Space Channel 5.

TA: SEGA seems to have a very good relationship with Apple and has six games on Apple Arcade. Was Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop always planned to be made for Apple Arcade from the start? Are there plans to bring it elsewhere in the future?

MH: SEGA and Apple have a great working relationship, releasing Puyo Puyo Fever for Mac, Puyo Puyo Fever Touch for iPhone, and now Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop exclusively for Apple Arcade.

TA: What should we expect when it comes to the music in Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop: new arrangements, new songs, or older tracks?

MH: You can look forward to both new songs and arrangements of older ones. Our promotional trailer features a remix of a Puyo Puyo Sun song, which fans seem to be enjoying.

TA: The English series logo is used for the game even in Japan. It feels like this is the first time that has happened. Was Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop designed with the international market in mind?

MH: Yes, up until now the Japanese and international logos did usually differ, but the Sonic IP has always aimed at a global audience. So, taking inspiration we wanted to keep the logos consistent with the global release of a Puyo Puyo game.

TA: Obviously Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop is the main focus, but I was wondering if SEGA would consider localizing Puyo Puyo Quest or prior mobile titles in the West. Is this something being considered as I’d love to see more from the Puyo Puyo series in the West.

MH: While we wanted to release Puyo Puyo!! Quest to a Western audience, in the end it was only released in parts of Asia, and at present we have no plans to release it further afield. Fans can really have an influence on development, though, so if enough people love Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop in The West, then that would make it easier to produce games for that audience and celebrate Puyo Puyo titles together.

TA: On that note, are there any plans to bring some of the older console titles like Puyo Puyo Chronicle or the older Compile-era games that we never saw outside Japan to the West on mobile or other platforms through remasters?

MH: At present, we don’t have any plans to produce older titles for Western audiences. I myself did work on porting a few older games to modern consoles back then, but there are a lot more hurdles than you might think, so for Puyo Puyo, we decided to focus on releasing new games. Of course, we know there is demand, so maybe one day…

TA: Are you or any of the Puyo Puyo series staff involved in the Madou Monogatari 4 by Compile Heart that was recently announced?

MH: I’m currently in the review stage of characters, etc. from Puyo Puyo. Personally, I’m really looking forward to the game’s release!

TA: We learned a few months ago that the Puyo Puyo Tetris series crossed 3 million units sold worldwide. This specific crossover is one I love, but have you ever thought of working with other puzzle series like Panel de Pon, Magical Drop, or Bust-A-Move?

MH: I was so pleased when Puyo Puyo Tetris achieved over 3 million in sales. Thank you for your support!
With regards to collaborations, I am unable to comment on the IPs of other companies. However, I will say that I enjoy playing and researching all kinds of puzzle games the world has to offer, and always think about how a collaboration with Puyo Puyo would work. Puyo Puyo Tetris was an idea I had back in middle school, and I had no clue that one day I’d not only become a developer for Puyo Puyo but also help make the Puyo Puyo and Tetris collaboration a reality.

TA: What are your thoughts on the current state of gaming platforms like new consoles (PS5/Xbox Series X), upcoming hardware from Nintendo, Steam Deck, and mobile?

MH: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 has been released on multiple platforms including the latest ones-creating games on the latest hardware is one of the great fun elements of being a developer. So many people play games these days; I really hope people continue to get enjoyment out of them. I don’t know what releases lie ahead, but I’m looking forward to seeing more new platforms that make me want to develop games for them.

TA: What are you currently playing and enjoying when it comes to games?

MH: On console, I’m playing Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, while also getting a lot of fun out of dipping into the classics and new releases available on Apple Arcade and smartphones.

TA: What was your favorite game of 2023?

MH: It has to be Super Mario Bros. Wonder, because it really does feature a lot of wonder. Also, whenever I watch Street Fighter 6 tournaments, I get the urge to play.

TA: How do you like your coffee?

MH: The biggest size available of an iced-latte, easy on the ice but heavy on the low-fat milk, please! Oh, and my kid would love a warm milk, too!

TA: Do you have a message for the Puyo Puyo fans and newcomers reading this?

MH: It’s been 18 years since I first started to develop for the Puyo Puyo series, and while I’ve been lucky enough to release games for various consoles, the scope of Apple Arcade is enormous, so I really hope many people enjoy Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop. If it becomes popular on a global level, then we might be able to bring back older titles, as well as take the series in new directions, so please support us on this exciting journey!

I’d like to thank Mizuki Hosoyamada of SEGA and Jennifer Tam from Apple for their time and help here.

You can keep up with all our interviews here including our recent ones with Dave Oshry of New Blood, Digital Extremes for Warframe mobile, Team NINJA, Sonic Dream Team, Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, and more. As usual, thanks for reading.

  • Puyo Puyo Puzzle Pop

    Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Puyo Puyo, the classic and widely loved Japanese matching puzzle game, exclu…
    Buy Now