docky What’s up with this Puyo Puyo curry and why does it say Game Gear?
Others have chimed in already but What’s up with this Puyo Puyo game on Game Gear and why does it have curry on the cover? is the right question.
Puyo Puyo was big enough of a phenomenon in Japan to have spin-offs. One mode called Mission Mode or Nazo Puyo (“mystery Puyo”) present in certain versions became its own dedicated game. In this mode, players are tasked to solve puzzles in prearranged Puyo Puyo sessions. Here is the first dedicated game, Nazo Puyo.
Nazo Puyo was sold exclusively in a bundle with a Game Gear as part of Sega’s “+1” promotional campaign so it was never sold as a standalone cartridge. But it got enough praise to receive standalone sequels!
The Game Gear game / “curry” you were asking about is the third and easily most popular Game Gear episode: Nazo Puyo Arurunorū. In order to spice up the appeal of another standalone purchase, this episode includes a dedicated story mode in which Arle goes on an adventure to find the best ingredients to cook the tastiest curry. The game’s subtitle is a cute phonetic pun (アルルのルー → Arurunorū → Arle’s roux).
For some reason, Arurunorū is also the one of the four games included in the yellow Game Gear Micro, because compiling the three Shining Force Gaiden games wasn’t awesome enough. I guess the common theme is either “games that require you to strategize your next move” or “small talented developers Sega screwed over eventually”. (Nah more likely it’s simply because the Game Gear is yellow. More on that later.)
Arurunorū served as the basis for a Super Famicom version, Super Nazo Puyo Rurūnorū. (Notice that the subtitle is slightly different.) This game is pretty much a remake of the Game Gear game with more stuff in it. The premise is the same.
Here is the last stage, which ends with a “fight” (i.e. series of puzzles) against a popular Puyo Puyo character named Rurū (Leroux / Rulue depending on the translations). She gives her name to this remake, Rurūnorū (Rulue’s Roux) and appears on the Super Famicom cover which you posted.
Rulue gets her own story mode in the remake, also revolving around curry. Somehow this game kinda made Rulue the standard Nazo Puyo character instead of Arle and so she was the star of the sequel, Super Nazo Puyo 2. This sequel does not really revolve around curry anymore, although there’s a fun callback in the introduction.
Now, to answer a relevant question: why curry? I had never asked the question myself, and I don’t remember curry being mentioned in earlier games but that was maybe twenty years ago so I would not trust my memory on this… Arle’s very extensive page on Niconico’s dictionary does mention that she is known to love curry so maybe it was already established in one of the original Madō Monogatari games where she and the puyos come from, or possibly it became a meme in one of the comics released in Compile’s fan-oriented publications or Disk Station issues.
It should be noted that Arurunorū specifically uses Vermont Curry on its cover. Vermont Curry is Japan’s #1 brand of ready-made curry blocks. It’s known to be enjoyed by kids thanks to the use of apples and honey in the recipe. Arurunorū’s yellow package is a direct parody of their packaging.