"Anyone that knows me will tell you I'm not exactly the biggest puzzle guru out there. In fact, if I play anything that resembles puzzles or even a strategy type game, chances are that I'll suck at it. I can usually play the basic puzzle games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, and Bust-A-Move. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not always open to a new puzzle game. I had never heard of Super Puzzle Fighter II before, and when I stumbled across the game, I thought I'd go ahead and give it a shot. To my sur..."
Anyone that knows me will tell you I'm not exactly the biggest puzzle guru out there. In fact, if I play anything that resembles puzzles or even a strategy type game, chances are that I'll suck at it. I can usually play the basic puzzle games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, and Bust-A-Move. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not always open to a new puzzle game. I had never heard of Super Puzzle Fighter II before, and when I stumbled across the game, I thought I'd go ahead and give it a shot. To my surprise, it's a great time waster and just all around cute.
The game is basically a mix of a fighter game and a puzzle game. While there actually isn't exactly any kind of fighting going on, you do your attacks through combos you can make while playing. If you do make some combos, chances are your character will do one of their special moves from their respective games to the other character. It's just there for show, but you can "attack" your opponent by making combos and dropping certain blocks on them which I'll get more into in a minute.
For a puzzle game, the graphics for Super Puzzle Fighter II are pretty nice. There are a handful of characters in the game, and each one have been cut down, or are "chibi" sized. The characters in the end do look cute, but since this is an actual port of the game, the characters seem to be a bit compressed, but overall, they look really nice. And cute. You'll see what I mean if you play as Felicia at all. Her battle stance during a match is just so adorable. Each character also has their own level with a different background. Most of these are pretty well done. While they're not exactly the clearest, they're pretty colorful and seem to match the characters. The animations of the characters and the game itself is pretty good, but there times when a slow down will occur when there are a lot of gems at once on either side of the field.
To my surprise, the music in Super Puzzle Fighter II is excellent. Each character has their own theme song, and most of them are pretty catchy and are somewhat remixes of the characters from their respective games. For example, if you're facing Ryu, you'll notice that his theme is a remix of his battle theme from his appearances in Street Fighter. I especially love Ken's theme. As for sound effects, they're okay for the most part, but the gems crashing and whatnot sound pretty dull. The characters voices are their Japanese battle voices, and seem to be pretty good, but sometimes you can't hear what they're saying at all.
Like with any puzzle game, there has to be some way to make combos and clear out gems. The basis of the game, as mentioned earlier, revolves around creating combos by stacking gems on or around each other and then making them disappear by using the appropriate gems. It's a simple concept, really. You have a random set of colored gems drop down. You can pile the colors together or place them how you want. In order to get rid of these, you need to use something called Crash Gems. These are like the colored gems you get, only they look different. They have a dot in the middle of them and when you place the correct color on the same color, those gems disappear. If there are more than one of the same colored gems connected, then all of those disappear as well.
While doing that is of course important, the game rewards you a lot more if you can rack up some pretty big combos and/or chains to attack your opponent with. Whenever you get rid of gems, counter gems will drop on your opponent. These have timers in the middle of them, and once they reach zero, the counter blocks will turn into gems. The color of the gems depend on what color the counter gems are. Getting higher combos and more chains will result in dropping a lot of counter gems onto your opponent. So instead of going for simple 2-4 gem combos, the game encourages you to go for combos that exceed 20 gems or more. While it may seem a bit intimidating at first, it's really easy to do once you get the basics of the game.
Connecting gems of the same color together will also help out in the long run. If you can connect four of the same colored gems together to form a square, you'll create a Power Gem. You can get these to grow bigger and bigger by placing the appropriate colored blocks on top or next to the power block to increse it's size. The bigger the Power Gem gets, the more counter gems you'll throw at your opponent. Planning ahead is key to forming many of these to get good combos. From time to time, you'll also find a shiny diamond that drops down. Whichever that diamond lands, those colored gems will disappear. For example, if you place the diamond on a green gem, all of the green gems on your side of the field will disappear. This is a great gem that's really helpful for getting out of tight spots, but they don't appear often, so use them well.
Unlike most puzzle games, Super Puzzle Fighter II's character selection is somewhat important. You have 8 playable characters right off the bat: 4 from the Street Fighter series [Ryu, Ken, Sakura, and Chun-Li] and 4 from the DarkStalkers series [Felicia, Donovan, Morrigan, and Hsien-Ko]. While there are some characters you can play as by using certain button codes, those are the 8 default playable characters. Each character has their own unique counter gem set up and strength and weaknesses. This puts more depth into the game and makes you carefully choose your character. This is certainly a nice change of pace from the same old type of puzzle games.
There are a few game modes that you can select from. There's the classic Arcade mode, which pits you up with either 3 opponents [Easy] or 8 opponents [Normal and Hard]. Selecting Normal and Hard might not be all that challenging either considering that you can severly handicap your opponents (except for the final match) by going to the Options menu and set the difficulty there. Along with the Arcade Mode, there's the Puzzle mode and the Link mode in which you can connect your GBA to a friends and play your friend assuming they have the cart. While there's not that many game modes to do nor is it that long of a game, the game still brings you in with it's simple yet addictive gameplay feature.
Overall, Super Puzzle Fighter II is an excellent puzzle game that should be in any puzzle gurus collection, or perhaps even Street Fighter or DarkStalkers fans collections. While the chibi characters and indepth gameplay might not be everyones cup of tea, Super Puzzle Fighter II is certainly a great time waster and if you're looking for a solid puzzle experience, you'll find it here.
Community review by peterl90 (June 09, 2007)
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