"Oh, no," you say. "Another Capcom game with 'Super' and 'Turbo' in the title. What character and story hybrid do we have this time?" The answer is Darkstalkers and Street Fighter Alpha 2 - but don't let that discourage you. Capcom delivers a real gem (pun intended) with this self-parodying puzzle game.

Character creation
Smother your opponent with blocks

   Capcom, best known for the Mega Man and Street Fighter series, took a marginally unique concept and ran with it. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo has everything a puzzle game needs: simplicity and two-player support. They didn't try to drown us with game-slowing graphics (the few cutesy graphics are well placed and unobtrusive); instead they perfected the simple yet addictive gameplay.

   SPFIIT looks very Tetris-like at a glance, and playing it confirms that notion to an extent. The game gives you a series colored, two-square gems, which you rotate and place on the bottom of the stack. You are then given two more gems to deal with, Tetris-style, ad infinitum. The difference is that you try to arrange the colored gems to be adjacent to gems of the same color. Arranging a 2x2 (or larger) square (or rectangle) of gems causes the gems to meld into a single monster gem. Every so often you're given a colored spherical "destroyer" gem, which when placed next to a block of the same color destroys them both, setting off a chain reaction for every adjacent block of the same color.

Drop patterns
Unique drop patterns

   As in other Street Fighter games, you begin by choosing a character. Your choice doesn't solely effect your on-screen mascot, however. Each character has a unique "drop pattern" that determines what colors of trash blocks are sent to the opponent when lines are cleared. Trash blocks spend either 3 or 5 turns in an indestructable state before becoming "normal" game blocks. Drop patterns work like built-in handicapping; a bad drop pattern means that your blocks will be easy to destroy once they're sent over, and may actually assist your opponent! Special note: While Dan's drop pattern is unquestionably horrid, he does have an unlimited number of taunts for power two-player action! Destroying large gems causes more pieces to fall on your opponent, as does destroying blocks in chain reactions. Break huge gems in chain reactions for maximum points!

   The appeal of the game is derived mainly from the addictiveness of trying to destroy blocks faster and more stylishly than your opponent, but the polished graphics and little bonuses deserve mention. Capcom uses super-deformed characters that taunt and punch each other according to the success of their gem-destroying endeavors. The title is a veritable sea of in-jokes for Capcom fans. While calling them "adorably clever" is going too far, they're at least unobtrusive.

   The biggest drawback is the one-player mode. The one-player mode suffices as a diversion for an hour, maybe two, but grows old extremely quickly. Capcom tosses out some carrots to reach for in the form of unlocked character colors and new "modes," some of which are pretty nifty, but it's not enough to carry the game. Playing just not the same withou a bud next to you to insult as you execute a four-chain explosion of death. All in all, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a winner. It's not Tetris, and it's not a fighter; it's a well-done hybrid title that is simply a lot of fun.

Retrospective by Andrew Kaufmann.
Vaulting by Andrew Vestal.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Developer Capcom
Publisher Capcom
Genre Puzzle
Medium CD (1)
Platform PlayStation, Saturn, PC
Released 2.97
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo FAQ
17 screen shots