Review: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

spiit_hd_remix_logo_final.jpgPlatform: Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Release Date: 8/29/07
Genre: Puzzle
Players: 1-2

Capcom has once again resurrected its classic puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, this time around giving it a hi-def makeover in the new HD Remix version now available for download on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network (coming to PC at some point as well). At a cost of $10 (or 800 Microsoft Points), Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (SPFIITHDR for short- title is too long to keep typing) is a tad pricy compared to the majority of other downloadable XBLA and PSN offerings out there, but once you experience the addiction it provides the price of admission proves itself to be a tremendous value you can’t afford to miss.

In SPFIITHDR there are four different modes of play, each of which offers a varying take on the familiar puzzle game mechanic of combining similarly-colored gems together to clear them from the play area. X Mode is the classic Puzzle Fighter method, stipulating that you build large clusters of like-colored gems and use special crash gems of the same color to explode the lot. Then there are the Y and Z Modes, with the former challenging you to simply connect gems in strings of three or more to clear and the later mixing things up by having you rotate groups of four gems at a time on a screen that gradually fills from the bottom up. And finally there is the brand new X’ Mode that runs on the traditional X Mode rules but features new-and-improved game and character balancing.

With the different rules in place, each mode has a unique play style to it, all coming together to make this one variety-filled puzzler. Classic X Mode, for example, requires more strategy and forward-thinking than the others, because in order to become a top player you must plan out your gem layout and pull off powerful chains and combos. While on the other side of the coin you have the more direct style of Y Mode, which delivers a much faster paced form of puzzle action.

Whether you play by yourself or with others, SPFIITHDR is all about head-to-head puzzle competition. Basically, it’s a puzzle game with the mindset of a fighting game, as you and a CPU or human opponent battle to clear gems from your respective fields of play and fill up each other’s screens, all the while your chosen fighter avatars (including favorites from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers franchises) duke it out in the center as gem clusters are cleared. With this competitive focus, SPFIITHDR is clearly at its best in multiplayer, be it locally with a friend on one console or online against others in Player and Ranked matches, complete with worldwide leaderboards to judge your talents by.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t hold any value in single-player, though, as it most certainly does with a full-featured Arcade mode containing four play types and four difficulties to hone your skills in. But like with a fighting game, playing solo can only take you so far — the only way to see how good you are is to take on other human players.

Beyond the additions of the X’ Mode and online play, SPFIITHDR’s major upgrades can be seen in the presentation, as the “HD Remix” portion of the title plainly indicates. The stage backgrounds, gems and gem effects have been remastered for full 1080p HD resolution, giving the title a more graphically vibrant, eye-catching appearance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if much effort went into redrawing the character sprites, as they have a noticeably fuzzy look to them when set against the newly HD-ified surroundings. No disappointments with the sound though. All the cutesy fighter sounds and familiar Street Fighter tunes pack a walloping dose of nostalgia.

Before wrapping up, I should also point out a few differences between the two versions in case you have both platforms and are stuck choosing which to get it on. Obviously, the XBLA version comes with Achievements (12 in all), so that’s a selling point if you’re one of those Gamerscore whores. Another selling point on the 360 is the inclusion of voice chat, which for some reason Capcom didn’t implement on the PS3. On the other hand, the PSN version controls better considering the Sixaxis D-pad is far superior to the clunky atrocity of a D-pad found on the 360 controller. From what I could tell, the loading times also seemed to be a bit swifter on the PS3.

But whichever the platform, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is competitive puzzle gaming at its finest. While playing solo against CPU opponents may eventually wear a little thin, going gem-to-gem against other players really couldn’t be any more addictive. Overall, this is one downloadable title you simply must add to your XBLA or PSN collection, no questions asked. If you still aren’t sold, go download the demo versions available on both platforms and give the game the old “try before you by” treatment. Soon after I bet you’ll be rushing to unlock the full version.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!