Best Games - Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
The time between the creation of Tetris and someone wanting to play Tetris competitively, in head-to-head fashion, is probably nanoseconds. At first, players would have been able to play against each other's scores. Who got the most lines, or who could reach a certain score in the shortest amount of time, or who could beat Alexey at his own game. When you are working with soviet era computers, I’m sure you took what you could get.
Once the game was on more capable hardware, like the NES, it was inevitable. The official Nintendo version of the game didn’t have competitive multiplayer included, but the Tengen version did. There is an entire story behind that, but I’m not writing about Tetris today. I’m writing about Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. A game that might be the pinnacle of head-to-head puzzle games.
When you are playing a head-to-head game, say a fighting game, or Chess, or Battleship, it is assumed that each player starts out on roughly equal ground. Now, one player can work very hard at getting good at the game giving them an advantage, but just based on the rules of the game, neither side of the board should have an inherent advantage. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is the ultimate expression of that.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is VS. only. Even if you play by yourself, you will be matched up against a computer opponent. There is nothing zen or meditative about this game.
Like Tetris, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a game about dropping things into a well. In this case, the things are gems. If you stack up a bunch of the same color, they become larger gems. There are also special exploding diamonds. If you drop one of the same color on a column or series of connected gems, they all break. The ability to combo those gem breaks into other gem breaks is the very core of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
As the name might suggest, this game is part of Capcom’s fighting game renaissance. There are chibi versions of characters from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers games that give Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo an attraction that the gem based gameplay might not otherwise have on its own. It wouldn’t have needed it. The game is that strong.
Here is where it’s a different sort of puzzle game than Tetris. If you play VS. Tetris, the most skilled player will almost always win. The one who has had the most practice. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is more intuitive than Tetris. It’s more improvisational, more dynamic. After a couple of games, a new player will probably give an experienced player a serious challenge. It’s a game with almost no learning curve, and a variety of strategies to victory. In that way, it is something like a fighting game. It is very difficult to get yourself into a hole so deep that you can’t dig yourself out of it with a series of good moves. It’s likely that you can set yourself up to deliver a powerful attack almost by accident. This is a game about taking advantage of the opportunities before you, not necessarily strategizing your way into them.
I could be wrong. There could be an extremely high level of play in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo where combatants plan many moves in advance. That has never been my experience. This is the accessible, party friendly, head-to-head puzzle game.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a great game to introduce to people who don’t really play games. Simple to pick up, and fun to play, really it’s just one of the best games.