Capcom Puzzle World Preview
Titles to be included in Capcom Puzzle World are Block Block, Buster Bros. Collection, and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo.
Block Block is a Breakout (or Arkanoid, if you prefer) clone where players use a moving paddle at the bottom of the screen to rebound a ball into bricks organized around the top half of the screen. Originally released in 1991, the sharp 16-bit graphics should look great on the PSP's screen. One concern is that of the aspect ratio--Block Block used a rotated monitor that was taller than it was wide, whereas the PSP screen is much wider than it is tall. Judging from the screenshots and video clips Capcom distributed at the media gathering, the PSP version will include multiple display modes so that players can orientate the play field to their liking.
Next up in the pack is Buster Bros., or, to be more precise, three different versions of it. Capcom is basically converting the PSOne's Buster Bros. Collection to the PSP, which included Buster Bros., Super Buster Bros., and Buster Buddies. They're all variations on the same idea. Players control a man with a harpoon gun, and have to pop bubbles within a set time limit. The levels start out fairly simple, as single screens with a few ladders and platforms, but later become more complex with conveyors, multiple floors, and animals thrown into the mix. Super Buster Bros and its follow-up, Buster Buddies, brought improved 16-bit graphics, multiple playable characters, and multiplayer play to the formula.
Last, and certainly the most-anticipated game in the collection, is Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo. This gem-smashing puzzle game has millions of fans the world over, and why not, since it combines an addictive multiplayer puzzle game with the characters and scenes from Capcom's fighting franchises (Street Fighter & Darkstalkers). The aim is to match and destroy the gems that fall on your side of the screen, which causes more gems to fall on your opponent's play field. By destroying larger gems and larger clumps of gems, you can inundate your opponent with massive piles of gems. Of course, they can do the same to you. Back and forth it goes, until someone wins. The version of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 included in Capcom Puzzle World will incorporate the "Y" and "Z" modes that were previously only available in the Japanese Dreamcast version, which received only a limited release at the end of the console's lifespan. Y mode incorporates a meter that allows players to swap gems as the match goes on, thus leading to more frequent chain reactions and counter-attacks. Z mode, meanwhile, makes it so that the size of the opponent's playfield shrinks when you complete successive chain reactions.
All of the games in the collection will feature ad hoc WiFi support. Sadly, online infrastructure connectivity won't be included. Awww. Nevertheless, the local WiFi modes will allow for 1-on-1 matches as well as CPU-managed tournaments for as many as eight participants.
Capcom Puzzle World is still in development, so features may change and new goodies could be added. The company plans to publish the game late in Q2 2006, so expect it sometime in May or June.
2/22/2006 Frank Provo