Super Puzzle Fighter II HD Remix Review
Allow me to say this: I firmly believe that Super Puzzle Fighter 2 is quite possibly the greatest puzzle game of all time. But what about Tetris? No, not even Tetris can compare. Tetris simply lacks the charisma and character that Puzzle Fighter has. Because lets face it, after a while, once you start pushing 150 bars in Tetris, it becomes far too unforgiving. That is not to say Tetris is bad or anything - hell, it's the second best puzzle game of all time. But to this guy (yours truly), Puzzle Fighter shall forever remain the king of it all. And now that we've got a remixed HD version featuring new modes and ways to play, it just became that much more concrete.
Initially, I wasn't too certain on the details behind the game's new modes. Well, there's X mode and X' mode - the apostrophe signifies a slightly re-balanced version of the arcade standard. So if you want classic Puzzle Fighter gameplay, you head over to either of the X modes. If you aren't familiar with the Puzzle Fighter formula, allow me to explain. The X modes basically have building and stacking identical colors together as much as you want, and in order to destroy them you can connect a stack of gems with the appropriate gem bomb. So a green gem bomb will destroy green gems, and so on.
Now, it's bad enough I'm absolutely obsessed with the original game, now there's Y mode. Y mode is perhaps the most incredibly exciting way to play Puzzle Fighter. Unlike standard rules that require you to build and break gems using gem bombs, Y mode has you putting together strings of three or more gems. Once three or more gems have connected, they'll explode.
What's exciting about this mode is that when time runs out on dropped gems and they form actual stones, the fireworks begin as your entire screen will begin exploding. For instance, a string of reds has exploded, which in turn drops a horde of yellows together and they explode, which in turn connects a pack of greens and reds together and they explode simultaneously. The end result can often lead to a 99-hit ending. It's beautiful. The game is so topsy-turvy, and even if you're one gem away from losing, a simple crash of one set of gems can turn the entire game around. Y mode is especially fun when playing with a friend, trust me.
Z mode is certainly the least favorite of the other game modes. It's similar to various cell phone puzzle games like Bejeweled, where instead of dropping gems from the top of the screen, you have to rotate a pre-set collection of gems and connect them to gem bombs. Instead of items dropping down, lines of gems will instead slowly crawl upwards. Obviously, there will be those who enjoy the mode, as it allows for a lot more control over the placement of each gem, but I personally couldn't be bothered with it.
Another big draw-in for Puzzle Fighter HD is the fact that you take the game online for the first time ever (excluding PC emulation). Leaderboards and a proper online setup is all there for Puzzle Fighter HD, and voice chat should arrive in the form of a downloadble patch sometime soon. Furthermore, yes, you can play the game with an actual friend using a second controller - so fear not. Lastly, Puzzle Fighter features a nifty little gem editor mode, which allows you to create an assortment of customized gem pattern drops. You can enable your custom gem pattern by selecting your character with the Start button.
There are 11 characters to choose from in total, including Akuma, Dan and Devilot as hidden characters on the player select grid. The characters are a mixture of Street Fighter and Darkstalkers (a.k.a Vampire Saviour) characters, but in miniaturized form.
Visually, with the HD Remix tacked on to the game's title, you can bet your bottom dollar that you can expect a new-found beauty to the game and its sparkling colors. Resolution is now up to 1080p, and as opposed to just stretching the image to scale, the guys at Foundation 9 have redrawn and enhanced nearly every sprite in the game in order to abide by the resolution jump. The result is an aesthetic touch that pops off the screen with brilliant vibrancy and detail.
Not only have the gems been reworked, but also the backgrounds have been totally overhauled and updated. Unfortunately, the fighters themselves only saw minimal touch ups, as they're noticeably behind in detail in comparison to the rest of the game. It kind of throws off the entire scheme of clarity the game has going on, but because you don't really concentrate on the fighters much, you'll get over it quick.
We can't present the same sound quality that were found in the Saturn and PlayStation versions of the game. So the sound has been boosted and updated, as well. The soundtrack now boasts a much livelier pitch than ever before, with aural bells and whistles added to the mix that we couldn't here before. The taunting and speech between fighters has remained largely the same. But it's been a while since I've played the original 32-bit version of the game, so perhaps some changes were made - I'm not sure. All I know is that the quality of the audio has been definitely increased.
For a mere $10, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD Remix (as its full name goes) is the absolute steal of the century. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but you get the point. You're getting a timeless classic with a great variety of new modes, and on top of that online gameplay. Moreover, its colors and vibrancy are visually stunning to behold. Add that all up, and you should be thankful that Capcom didn't charge more for the game. Because even if they did, it'd still be worth it. Puzzle Fighter is just that damn great.
9/13/2007 Arnold Katayev