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This month we flex our muscles and unleash our fighting spirit on a fighting game where your jabs and uppercuts come in the form of clearing small amounts of colorful gems and your super attacks come from huge multi-gem combos. This May, Together Retro is tackling one of the most surprising games Capcom ever produced, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
The fatigue that modern gamers feel when Capcom announces yet another version of Street Fighter IV was just as acute back in the 90’s when Capcom was milking Street Fighter II for all it was worth. The difference? Capcom had a sense of humor and an appreciation for irony back in the day. Enter ‘Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo’. Don’t let the glitzy name distract you – this is the only game in the series (well…kinda. We’ll talk about that in a second) and it was given this name precisely because someone at Capcom in 1996 was as tired of the ‘add an adjective fighter’ sequels as we arcade warriors were.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a game that borrows some of the best elements of Darkstalkers and the Zero / Alpha incarnation of Street Fighter that bridged Street Fighter’s II and III and infuses it all into a puzzle game that is equal parts Tetris and Bustamove.
Don’t get distracted by the big head / small bodied pugilists pummeling each other in the center of the screen. The action is on the sides as you race against your opponent to match colorful gems, building the largest cluster you can until a strategically timed “crash” gem comes out, giving you the ability to destroy a chain of gems that match its color. Kill a few gems and your Street Fighter or Darkstalkers avatar will throw a couple of jabs or trip your opponent’s avatar. Hit the screen with a huge crash and your super deformed Ryu will throw a Super Hadoken big enough to shatter the enemy.
At first the actual characters might seem superfluous given that everyone plays by the same rules. There are no combos to remember or hit boxes to visualize – just match colors and blow stuff up. But each character actually has a gem drop pattern of their own, lending to strategies that are not apparent right away. Do you take a character like Ryu who is fed a constant stream of all gem colors and can always be relied on to throw a punch or do you bet big with a character like Felicia who has to withstand a beating while she builds up a devastating combo?
Although this game may have been created as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the way too many versions of Street Fighter II that were around back in the mid 90’s, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo has certainly received its own fair share of ports. In addition to the arcade original, you can find this game on the following platforms/services:
- Nintendo: Gameboy Advance
- Sega: Saturn, Dreamcast (Japan Only)
- Sony: Playstation, Playstation Portable (as part of the Capcom Puzzle World), Playstation Network (PS3 only, released as HD Remix)
- Microsoft: Xbox Live (Xbox 360 only, released as HD Remix)
- Other: Windows PC, Blackberry, iOS (Capcom Arcade)
Some of these versions are to be preferred over others. Those seeking something akin to the arcade original would do well to seek either the Dreamcast or Saturn releases, though the Playstation release is not bad by any means and even carried on the ‘better than arcade perfect’ tradition of packing in more modes and features.
It is a safe bet that a common choice this month will be the “HD Remix” editions that were released on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live networks – this version features higher resolution graphics, rebalanced characters, and a few areas where content was added and, inexplicably, a few areas where content was removed.
Most of the other releases should be treated as novelties or distractions. The PC game lacks a multiplayer option. Itt is hard to recommend mobile because this is a game where touch controls really will not suffice. The Gameboy Advance port, while cute and featuring a little extra content, is not really the same thing at all.
Tell us all about your high scores or brutal defeats on the forums. Bonus points for anyone who shares a picture of themselves playing the GBA version on a Gamecube hooked up to a GBA player using component cables and a Hori Gamecube arcade stick.