Revive Nintendo's Panel de Pon series
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We the undersigned hereby request that Nintendo create a revival entry for their Panel de Pon franchise of puzzle games, with the world, setting, and tone of the original Japanese games intact.
Panel de Pon, otherwise known as Puzzle League, is a classic Nintendo puzzle game, over 20 years old and counting. Tetris Attack and the Pokémon-themed spinoffs are far from lacking in charm, but Panel de Pon is the original, and by far the most unique.
The puzzling gameplay is nothing short of addicting. The unique gameplay style--scrambling to match three or more panels in a rising stack, struggling to bury your opponent in garbage blocks before they can do the same to you--creates a much more active, action-focused experience than any other puzzle game. Matches in this franchise can get intense, thrilling, and frantic, and are a joy to watch and to play.
Its graphics are bright and colorful. The beautiful anime-styled pixel art and soothing shapes of the panels combine with the catchy, wonderful music to create a friendly, inviting atmosphere that no company but Nintendo could hope to provide.
Most of all, Panel de Pon's characters and universe are unlike any other in Nintendo's lineup. The game's lovely, dreamlike setting of Popplus and the fantastic designs of the fairy characters starring in the first two games in the franchise provide wonderful potential for storytelling and merchandising alike. The main character of the first game, Lip the flower fairy, could easily stand among the likes of Mario, Link, or Samus as one of Nintendo's most recognized and beloved mascots.
Panel de Pon is nothing if not a lovable franchise.
That said, a growing number of players are disappointed and dissatisfied with how it has been treated over the years by its own parent company.
It started early, as the game underwent the localization process in 1995. Concerns were raised at Nintendo of America that the game's art style and setting would appeal only to girls and fans of Japanese animation. When the game made its international debut, it was as a hastily-reskinned Super Mario Bros. spinoff starring the cast of Yoshi's Island. No more fairies. No more Popplus. As if that weren't enough, false advertising was put into play--the game was advertised as a Tetris spinoff, a franchise Panel de Pon's gameplay could not be more unlike. (Henk Rogers of The Tetris Company has made the statement that Panel de Pon should have used an original title so it would be able to stand on its own merits, instead of banking on the success of a larger franchise it has nothing to do with.)
This train of thought was understandable back in 1995, but it has continued in some form up until the present day. Consistently, games where Lip is featured in a prominent role have either not been released internationally, or have been edited explicitly to remove her from the game. The sole exception is a minigame in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which, as is tradition for Animal Crossing, fails to mention her by name. Even in Super Smash Bros., a celebration of Nintendo and all of its history, Lip has yet to show her face, even as an Assist Trophy. With even more obscure characters such as Sukapon and Takamaru appearing as Assist Trophies, the complete absence of Lip is baffling and upsetting. Lip's wand, known as Lip's Stick, has appeared as an item, as has her garbage block as one of Kirby's Stone transformations, which makes the absence of Lip herself even more troubling. As if this weren't enough, the description for the trophy of this item has failed to even reference Lip ever since its original appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, only discussing Lip's Stick's effects--and in the European version of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, it is alleged to come from Tetris Attack. (As mentioned above, Tetris Attack does not feature the fairy characters.)
Then came the killing blow: 2007's Planet Puzzle League (also known as Puzzle League DS in Europe, or Panel de Pon DS in Japan) .This game was nothing short of a travesty. Its gameplay was slow, clunky, and watered-down. Its music lacked the fun, boppy atmosphere of the first two games. And worst of all, the fairy characters were completely absent in what can only be a misguided attempt to appeal to Western players, abandoned in favor of a generic computer theme no different from any other shovelware DS puzzle game. Any fan of the fairy characters will tell you this is their least favorite entry in the franchise by far. Japanese audiences, by and large, agreed.
Japanese players did receive one small concession in the DS title: a stage based on Lip from the original Super Famicom Panel de Pon. But, as is now sadly tradition for the series, this was nowhere to be found in the international release.
Unfortunately, the failure of Planet Puzzle League did not convince Nintendo that audiences wanted more of what made Panel de Pon so great to begin with. Instead, it convinced them audiences didn't want Panel de Pon at all. And so the franchise died a quiet, undignified death.
Panel de Pon is loved by many. But it's a series that is dearly missed, too.
Nintendo believes the series has no pull in the west. This is patently untrue. Panel de Pon has many Western fans who would love to see its gameplay, world, and characters make a return. The rise of competitive gaming has brought forth a new angle with which to market the series--as a competitive puzzle game. Puyo Puyo and the Classic Tetris World Championships have both risen to prominence in recent years, and have cemented a place for themselves in the eSports scene. These games are prime examples of competitive puzzle games reaching mainstream audiences. Now it's time for Nintendo to throw their hat in the ring and reintroduce the world to their flagship competitive puzzle game. In addition, much has changed about the gaming market since 1995, and now games with prominent female leads, such as Bayonetta, Splatoon, Shantae, and Celeste, are celebrated in the West, not shunned and ignored. And if ever there were a video game franchise that could profit off merchandising dolls, plush toys, amiibo, and whatever else to kids and casual audiences, Panel de Pon would be it.
So please, Nintendo, bring Lip back. Bring the fairies back. Bring Popplus back. Bring Panel de Pon back.
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