"Don't tell me, you only know how to play fighting games!"

               -Ryu

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (a.k.a. Super Puzzle Fighter II X in Japan) was developed and published by Capcom and released in US arcades (on the CPS-2 board) in 1996, and later on the Playstation and Saturn on January 22, 1996. The arcade cabinet is covered with multicolored blocks and superdeformed versions of characters from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers, and the packaging for the home versions is similar. The PSX version is very rare and quite valuable to Street Fighter fans (not quite DragonBall GT: Final Bout level, but it goes for $60-80), but the Japanese version of the arcade ROM plays in MAME, CPSMAME, and Callus.

Update: SPF2T was rereleased on the GBA on April 3, 2003, and is available in stores.

The game, like any other CPS-2 game, is mounted on a standard JAMMA frame, and requires only an 8-way joystick and three buttons for each player. Ideally, you'll want two sets of controls; SPF2T is a competitive game.

(For the record, there aren't any other Puzzle Fighter games. The name is a parody of Capcom's insane naming scheme, leading to titles like Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival).

SPF2T plays much like almost every puzzle game since Tetris, although it has more in common with color-matching games like Puyo Pop/Kirby's Avalanche/Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Tetris Attack. Rectangular colored gems fall from the top of the "well" in pairs, and, as in most game, the player can move them left or right as the fall, rotating the pair with button presses, trying to keep the stack from reaching the top of the well (at which point, well, game over.) If gems of the game color are placed together, forming large blocks of color, they will merge into larger gems. This is largely useless, until a circular flashing gem known as a "crash gem" falls. If a crash gem lands next to a gem of the same color, all of the touching contiguous gems of the same color disappear, causing any gems on top of the destroyed ones to fall into the gap (and possibly causing more gems to disappear, if a crash gem falls into place.) The more gems (and the larger blocks of gems) destroyed at once, the more timer gems are dumped on your opponent.

"On your opponent? Huh?"

Like Puyo Pop, SPF2T is a head-to-head puzzle game; it's played against an opponent, whether it be another player or just a CPU opponent. When you wipe out a large number of gems, timer gems, gems with a number on them, fall on your opponent. Timer gems start at 5 and decrement by one every time your opponent sets down a pair of gems; when they reach zero, they turn into regular gems. Timer gems can also be destroyed by destroying a normal gem adjacent to them.

All in all, it's a pretty straightforward puzzle game, with some opportunity for more complicated play; it's not exactly Bombastic as far as complexity goes, though. However, the real draw of the game is the parody of Capcom's fighting games. Before a match, you choose one of the characters (Chun Li, Donovan, Felicia, Hsien-Ko, Ken, Ryu, and Sakura, with Devilot, Morrigan, Akuma, and Dan hidden), each with their own pattern of timer blocks. (Dan, as always, is a parody of the others; his pattern of timer blocks is all red, making counter-attacks a breeze, and the code to play him is simply tapping "down" 14 times while holding start.) As you fight, super-deformed versions of the characters pose in between the two players' wells and do their signature moves when blocks are cleared; dropping a whole ton of timer blocks on your opponent can even unleash a super move. (You can tap start to taunt your opponent, as well, with no actual effect in the puzzle game part of the game.)

The chibi Street Fighter/Darkstalkers characters appear later in Pocket Fighter, another game valued less for its gameplay and more for its nods to the lunatic fringe of Capcom fanboys.

Why go back to SPF2T? It's funny as all get out, especially if you're a big fan of fighting games.

Why might you want to take a pass? There are better puzzle games out there, and you probably don't have to try very hard to get your hands on them. There's a straight Puyo clone on both the SNES and Genesis (the latter is on the GameCube, in Sonic Mega Collection), as well as a geniune Puyo on the Game Boy Advance and the N-Gage (as well as several cell phone platforms), and this really doesn't improve on that classic any.

"I have proven the difference between us: you just suck."

               -Ken

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