It’s no secret I am a Street Fighter fan. Heck, I grew up playing all of the Campcom and SNK fighting games, including Dark Stalkers. I came to know several of the players and really reached a point where I could play pretty well with several of them.
Still, nothing quite prepared my for that day I walked into the arcade in the Memorial Union at Arizona State University, looking at this strange game that has just been added. It was a puzzle game featuring kid-like versions of my favorite fighters from the Capcom franchises, and it just looked a little odd. It would not be long, however, before I would really come to enjoy Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Over the years, many games would come and go, but there was just something charming about that game that stood out, so much so that when Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix was released on Xbox Live Arcade, I knew I had to get it.
You got cute in my Street Figher
The first thing you notice when you start playing Super Puzzzle Fighter is the game is just insufferably cute. You choose from child-like versions of some of the most famous Capcom fighters, from Ryu to Chun Li to Felicia. Each character has their own little catch phrases, motions and animations which help add to the charm of the game. As you destroy gems within the puzzle, the characters react, doing anything from sticking out their tongues at the opponent to unleashing a barage of their more well known special attacks if the combo is high enough. They are even cute when they loose.
There is no denying the fact the characters in this game are cute.
Don’t let the cute factor fool you, though. Super Puzzle Fighter is a puzzle game at heart, and your choice of character can make a big difference in how you play the game.
Looking beyond the surface
At first, Super Puzzle Fighter looks like a straightforward puzzle game. You have gems falling from the top of the screen, and it is your job to match them up with other gems of the same color. It is not a match 3 type game, however. Far from it. If you put four gems of the same color in a square, the will actually form one larger gem, which will add a score multiplier when destroyed.
Along with the regular gems, you get Crash Gems. Touch these gems against gems of the same color, and you destroy them. As long a gems of the same color are touching, you can keep the destruction going, adding to your multiplier and leading to those attack animations I was referencing earlier.
The other important thing about building those combos is it allows you to throw counter gems into your opponent’s gem field. Much like the extra lines in Tetris, these extra gems make it a little harder for your opponent to match up gems for combos and use Crash Gems effectively. This is also where your choice of character makes a difference. Each character has different pattern of counter gems, and quite honestly some of the patterns are better than others. This can tend to unbalance the game a bit, but it can also give added challenge to good players. allowing them to intentionally choose characters with bad counters.
Combos create major counter gem issues for your opponent and lead to great attack animations.
Instead of having levels you reach by removing a certain number of gems or reaching a certain score, you win a round of Puzzle Fighter when your opponent’s gem level hits the top of the board. You then progress to the next challenger, slowly working your way through the puzzle tournament much like you would in any other fighting game.
There are also two variations on the puzzle play in the game. On one, if you put 3 gems together, they vanish, similar to Bejeweled. The other is more akin to Planet Puzzle League, where the gems are advancing from the bottom of the screen, and you have a box of two squares you can move to switch up the places of the gems. While these add some variety to the game, neither is as good as the Crash Gem original.
While Super Puzzle Fighter may not be some sort of amazing puzzler that is better than the standouts in the genre, it does offer a unique take on the standard puzzle game. It’s worth playing if for no other reason that you have never seen anything quite like it. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix gets a 4 out of 5.