Aug 29, 2007
Not only is the title to this classic puzzler a mouthful, it’s also not entirely true. First off, there's no true hand-to-hand fighting - it's all done with puzzle blocks. Secondly, while much of this old Capcom quarter-muncher has been reworked to look nice and pretty on your expensive high-def television (backgrounds, bricks), for some reason the developers decided not to touch the actual character sprites that visually play out the results of each puzzle battle. They look like the same old, jaggy-edged sprites with Vaseline smeared over them, smoothing the edges - and while that can be quite an exciting idea when it comes to babealicious characters like Morrigan or Chun-Li, it looks totally out of place in this otherwise very sharp, pretty game.
But that’s a small annoyance in an otherwise awesome puzzle game. With four different play modes to tackle (X’, X, Y and Z) plus online multiplayer modes and basically arcade-perfect control and balance, you’ll find yourself smashing gems for a long time to come.
The first three modes all play similarly. Pairs of differently colored gems fall from the top of your well. Your job is to link them up into strings or larger gems, eventually destroying them with a special, explosive gem of the same color. Complete enough combos and you'll send ridiculous amounts of garbage pieces to your opponent. Whichever combatant's pile clogs all the way to the top first is the loser.
The coolest addition to this Puzzle Fighter update is Z mode, which plays totally different than the classic game. Rather than dropping gems, a big pile raises up from the bottom of your well. Using a cursor, you rotate gems around to create groups and score combos. If it sounds familiar…well, it is. This a similar setup to the one found in Planet Puzzle League on the DS, and other Nintendo puzzlers before that.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD is a remnant of the heady days when Capcom could brand anything with the Street Fighter moniker and sell a ton of copies, but it was also the exception to the rule back then - rather than a quick cash-in on a franchise flying high, this game actually had a bit of originality to it. And it’s just as much fun today as it was back then.