Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix probably has the longest non sequitur moniker of any puzzle game. But more surprising than the name is what Capcom announced during a press event yesterday. Not only is Puzzle Fighter coming to multiple download services -- Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network -- but it will feature some redrawn visuals and a rebalanced character roster... if you want them.
For those who haven't played this charming puzzle game, Puzzle Fighter is a spoof of Capcom's fighting games, using cute super-deformed characters -- from Ryu to Sakura, and Donovan to Felicia (from Street Fighter II and Darkstalkers, respectively) -- in a puzzle setting fraught with colorful bright gems. The objective is simple: defeat your opponent by dropping gems onto their playfield to create big, homogenous interlinking blocks, of which each player must destroy using a crash gem of that color. Of course, the incentive to create huge gems is to send them crashing to your opponent -- the size of the gems determines attack strength. Chaining multiple crash gems with gem blocks will completely overwhelm your opponent, burying them under a cataract of counter gems.
Normally, Capcom's arcade conversions, especially games based on the CPS-1 or CPS-2 arcade system, aren't too hot on HDTV sets. Putting the HD in Puzzle Fighter is Udon Comics, a comic book studio known for their comic renditions of Darkstalkers, Street Fighter, and X-Men Evolution. Udon is redrawing the old menus, character selection screen, and backgrounds, replacing them with manga-like visuals appropriate for HDTVs. The gems and diamonds have new appearances, too, making things a lot brighter and more colorful. There's even a resemblance to Geometry Wars and Jetpac Refuelled -- new effects such as dazzling, smoky explosions appear whenever you crash a gem.
[Click the image above to check out all Super Puzzle Fighter II HD Remix screens.]
But the one thing Udon isn't touching is the character sprites. While in a match, the two characters on the screen aren't redrawn but masked under a blurred filter. They look fuzzy and interpolated with their colors washed out. Should you hate the new visuals, there is a toggle to switch back to the original Puzzle Fighter setting, complete with the original animation and backgrounds.
Despite the lack of new character sprites, the roster is getting some tweaking, which could change the intrinsic nature of the game. In an attempt to balance the roster, Capcom plans to empower certain characters with new gem drop-schemes, while enfeebling others. For instance, Dan, arguably the weakest character in the game, may get an attack pattern that doesn't consist of a completely red gem drop-scheme. But don't worry, old-schoolers! If the rebalanced mode is too drastic for your tastes, you can play the original Puzzle Fighter without the alterations.
And finally, there's something on the way we weren't expecting: a mode resembling developer Intelligent System's puzzle oeuvre, Tetris Attack. It remains to be seen if the Puzzle Fighter interpretation is just as hectic and exiting as the SNES classic, but it certainly seems like a nice bonus, though we haven't had a chance to check it out in action.
Unfortunately for us, we haven't received any word on how much this is all going to cost either, so we'll have to wait until Capcom unveils more details to know if the semi-HD semi-not look is going to pay off.