When it comes to the puzzle genre of video games, there are a select few that deserve special attention. One such game is Super Puzzle Fighter, an arcade classic from Capcom. Those of you who have played it are surely nodding in recognition and those of you who haven't are in for a treat. Because this arcade classic has arrived on Xbox Live Arcade in the form of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix (how's that for a long name?).
The play is in the vein of a top-to-bottom puzzler like Tetris or Dr. Mario and the puzzle action is accompanied by combat featuring stars from other Capcom arcade games like Street Fighter. This combat is for show only, but makes the game a bit more exciting. Players join falling pairs of multicolored gems to create larger gems or long strings of the same color. Periodically a special Crash Gem falls and when it touches a gem of its color, it explodes along with all connected gems of that color. So the name of the game is detonating large gems, long strings of gems, and destroying gems in combos when possible. Difficulty increases through the single player game and finishes with a rather difficult boss battle.
The single player version is very enjoyable but SPF2THDR (ha!) really shines, as it did in the arcade, with its multiplayer. Players work through the standard puzzle but eliminating gems from your playing field drops penalty gems on other players' screens. Long strings of gems and combos are deadly in this mode and the play is intense with the ability to turn the tables at any moment. Local play with up to 4 players is possible as well as play over Xbox Live. I've played this game with friends both locally and online and we just can't get enough. For those of you who are Super Puzzle Fighter veterans, you will notice that a couple of new gameplay types (Y Mode and Z Mode) have been added. These are plenty of fun, but I tend to stick with the classic version both in single and multiplayer.
The music and sound effects are a lot of fun but I'll be honest, after a couple of hours, the high-pitched combat shrieks of the characters can start to take their toll. I haven't detected any significant changes from the arcade version of the game and frankly it would seem strange if they had been revamped. Overall, the sound is in good shape and has the ability to make your living room sound like a full-blown 1980's arcade with just your console.
Again, not much has changed from the arcade version but everything has been polished up a bit for presentation on modern displays. I want to say that some of the special effects have been pumped up from the arcade version but I can't be certain. Either way, the graphical presentation is solid, colorful, and enjoyable.
If you're into puzzle games, especially multiplayer puzzlers, you can't afford to pass this one up. Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix harkens back to a golden era of hyperactive arcade play yet is perfectly enjoyable in a 3rd generation environment.