Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Only once in a great while, a game will hit the market that can be labeled revolutionary. These games usually become smash hits, and then the market becomes flooded with games that mimic the style or at least follow the same game mechanics. One of the games that carry the label of revolutionary is Tetris. This game was so simple, yet terribly addictive. I still find myself sitting in front of the computer (on an important business call, no less), playing a quick game while listening to the person on the other end of the phone ramble on about something or another. Why am I bringing all of this up? Because Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is best described as a Tetris spin-off. Please note that I chose to call it a spin-off, not a ripoff.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo combines a strange premise with familiar gameplay. Basically, Capcom has taken Street Fighter Alpha and Night Warriors and combined them with the feel of Tetris, only with more strategy involved. I know you are probably thinking, "huh, I don't get it..." Read on, and I will explain.
First off, it may be a little deceiving saying that the game is a combination of the above-mentioned titles. The only real connection to these titles is that you pick characters to play as. If you perform specific moves, the character will do an animated attack (not controllable by the player) on the opponent's character. This is more for show than anything else, but it does add a different element to the game.
So, how do you play? It is quite simple to learn, but much more difficult to master. You play in a side by side configuration with either a computer-controlled opponent or a friend. The field is similar to that of Tetris in that objects, in this case, gems, fall from the top of the screen and collect at the bottom. That is about where the similarities stop. The gems fall 2 at a time. Each gem is colored. The object is to match up the same colored gems to build a super gem and the use the special gem to smash your connected gems of the same color. As you smash gems on your side, it drops counter gems on the opponent's side. I know it sounds a bit complicated but after a few rounds, it becomes real clear.
In a nutshell, the idea is to build up gems, break them, and screw up your opponent. Of course, the object is the same for your opponent so that is where the challenge comes in. The farther along you make it into the game, the more frustrating (good frustrating, not bad frustrating) the game gets. You will find yourself setting up for the perfect color combinations when your opponent drops a load of gems on your side, completely blowing all of your plans. The game requires some quick thinking and the ability to adapt to some unexpected roadblocks.
The game would not be much fun if all you were doing was placing a couple of gems together and then breaking them. What makes it fun is the strategy element. Sure, you can group a couple same colored gems together and break them but this only does minimal damage to the opponent. The real trick is to build up super gems and go for the crushing blow. This is not without it's hazards though. The longer you go, the more likely the opponent is to drop the timer gems on to your side and ruin your entire plan so you must pick and choose your times to attack carefully or you may end up K.O.'ed.
There a plenty of game modes to satisfy just about any gamer. The first mode available is the Arcade mode. This mode is dictated by the difficulty setting you chose. For example, if you are set on easy, you only need to defeat 3 opponents to win but on normal, you must defeat 8 and on hard, you must beat 8 extra difficult opponents. The next mode is the vs. mode. This is a good old-fashioned 2-player battle to the end. Each player selects a character, and off you go. The final mode is the street puzzle mode. This is a one-match game that, if you win, unlocks a special goodies menu. I won't give away what is available, but it is worth winning.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Graphics are really secondary to gameplay in a good puzzle game. If the graphics don't just plain suck, a puzzle game can get by on gameplay alone. Well, the graphics in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo are actually pretty good. The backgrounds are all pretty cool and even add to the overall aura of the matches. I think that the developers went the extra mile and added decent graphics to go with a fun game.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a very addicting game. I love games that allow you to beat up on your buddies by using your mind and skill instead of brute force. There are plenty of game modes to keep you playing into the wee hours of the night. If you are a fan of puzzle games, you will really enjoy this game. It is one of those rare games that can be called fun for the whole family. If you have not played this game, it is definitely worth a look.