The nucleotide is high, but I’m holding on.
Somewhere along the line, different cultures got different ideas about the way certain things sound, particularly when it comes to rendering them in kid-friendly, comic-book-panel-ready phonetics. While Canadian and American kids parse “woof woof” and “bark bark” as the sound a doggie makes, Finnish kids are listening for “hau hau”, German kids “wau wau”, Russian kids “gaf gaf", Korean kids “meong meong”, and Catalan-speaking kids “bup bup”. (You don’t even want to know what the Burmese have to say about it, especially after the whole Myanmar thing.)
Japanese kids will tell you that “puchi puchi” evokes a small popping sound, not unlike the bursting of small cells of bubble-wrap. Welcome to Puchi Puchi Virus, an action puzzle game of locking down and busting cutesy viral blobs before they do awful things to a hospital roster's worth of virtual patients.
Puchi Puchi Virus comes from NIS America of Disgaea fame, and I think we all know what that means—humorous, over-the-top, weird-ass anime stylings, good presentation, and high but ultimately nonlethal doses of what is known in highly specialized circles of radiology as “WTF Radiation”... probably.
A virus unfortunately named “Puchiris” is spreading through town, turning people into all manner of strange-if-not-particularly-threatening creatures. As medical-child-prodigy Doctor Kevin, it’s your job to get down into the body-battlefields of your patients at the viral level, eliminating ever-growing hordes of viruses (or ‘virii’, as the game insists)—thereby turning your patients back to normal humans from whatever odd-ass, guitar-wielding panda or whatevertheheck the virus turned them into in the first place. (Read it again: Guitar-wielding panda. Oh, yeah—that’s one baaaad virus.)
While you’re playing, your two erstwhile medical staffers—a human female nurse and a giant chicken (don’t ask me, man; I just review ‘em)—hog the upper screen of the DS, running back and forth in a markedly unhospital-like panic to endless, anime-lite music (which more or less suggests how seriously you should probably be taking all of this). The lower screen, meanwhile, is nothing less than the very viral battleground inside your current patient.
Viruses—virii—whatever—assume the form of brightly colored, squirming little blobs that multiply like crazy. You get rid of them by tapping viruses of the same color with the stylus, in triangular groups of three, thus ‘locking’ them down. Once locked in such a triangular group, another tap will ‘burst’ the whole configuration, removing the components thereof from play. You need to accomplish this with some speed, however, or the locked viruses will congeal, forming a kind of post-viral tartar that really mucks up the field of play.
Once you’ve grouped a triangle of viruses inside the body of your sickened patient, you can then enclose that triangle (or at least a chunk of it) within a newer, larger meta-triangle composed of still other viruses, and so on, ad nauseum (literally, in this case). Bursting a large triangle that contains or crosses the form of others results in a burst chain-reaction that racks up points, de-viruses the playfield, and gives you a reward screen with a cured patient spouting some positive-attitude, only-from-Japan weirdness like "What an exhilaratingly nauseating experience!”
Once the viral-replication thing simply gets beyond your immediate faculties of dexterity, you can occasionally employ an area-effect Pill, like a pharmacological smart bomb, to soften up the unplayable, congealed-virus snafu-mess that the lower screen has inevitably become. And it will become a mess; like death, taxes, pregnancy, and the next movie-licensed video game on the horizon, it’s not a matter of if, but of how soon and how bad.
Puchi Puchi Virus is, technically and mechanically, a puzzle game, with the expected demands on your pattern- and chain-recognition… but it’s a puzzle game rolled up in the twitching, anime-draped, caffeinated folds of a relentless action game. Never before have your hand-eye coordination and your DS stylus needed each other so badly in such an immediate, parasitic way. A good eye for finding extant and potential triangles-within-triangles is key, of course, but when things start to get really nutzoid—by the way, did I mention that the viruses are also moving around?—you will at some point find yourself frantically tapping all over the lower DS screen at damn-near-random-as-makes-no-odds, just to beat back the viral tide with the virtual broom that is your stylus.
To put it another way: This is not one of those casual puzzles games that you absently play while you’re yakking on the phone with your friends or otherwise multitasking—this one takes all your attention and all your reflexes for short, intense bursts of time. Eventually, like any self-respecting virus, it hopes to frazzle you out, wear you down, and beat you by attrition—quirky, cute, cartoony, upbeat attrition.