By: Johnny Big Fudge Marcondes
Super Puzzle Fighter II has been one of Capcoms most charming and enjoyable games in their long and diverse library. Taking familiar fighting game characters from various Capcom games and putting them in a chibi artstyle with gem/puzzle mechanics for gameplay sounded like a gaming fever dream. However, it’s honestly one of Capcoms best games outside of their bigger titles. Super Puzzle Fighter II on the Playstation 1 has been a fan favorite for years and many including myself have been longing for a new Puzzle Fighter game. When word came out earlier this year about a return to Puzzle Fighter fans were pretty excited, in that excitement fans quickly turned from joyous to concerned as the new title would be a mobile game.
While there’s honestly nothing wrong with mobile games, the reality of fans finally getting a new puzzle fighter game only for it to be a mobile app did leave a bad taste in a few peoples mouth. Super Puzzle Fighter II is an incredibly addictive and fun game that’s become a favorite for many. Honestly Super Puzzle II had a helping hand in develop my love for puzzle based games and I put hours upon hours of my life into it. Puzzle Fighter for mobile phones is a bit of a hit or miss for many. There’s this serious draw back to modern day gaming where micro transactions tend to rule and make up a good portion of the game itself. No other medium quick exploits micro transactions quite like mobile games, especially free mobile games.
Puzzle Fighter mobile is no exception to this rule as it is loaded with micro transaction options for new characters, gems to power up your characters special moves and more. Nevertheless, Puzzle Fighter is kind of the ideal mobile game. Now I know a lot of Puzzle Fighter fans will be ready to serve my head on plate for saying that but hear me out, Super Puzzle Fighter II while an amazing and fun game still had that basic gameplay mechanic and aesthetic that a lot of mobile games today utilize. It’s a gem dropping game with Capcom characters and given the advancement in mobile games it does fit perfectly in today’s market.
Show me the money
While micro transactions are a very common aspect in mobile gaming, unlike most free to play games Puzzle Fighters micro transactions don’t necessarily seem forced or really needed to enjoy the game. Sure you can choose to pay for a character you want, or you could play ranked matches and missions to unlock new characters and power ups. There’s this definite give and take with the game where it does offer you that cop out and short cut if you want, but honestly if you just play enough you will eventually unlock whatever you’re after. Even though the game does offer a good portion of content for their paid customers, there’s an incredible lack of overall content available.
Outside of playing ranked matches or missions there’s really not much to do which really makes playing the game a little less enjoyable. Missions are given to you three at a time and range from easy to expert in difficulty, each mission is essentially just you battling an A.I opponent with no real challenge or handicap involved to make it interesting. When you complete a mission you unlock a treasure chest where the loot is random ranging from coins to skill set boosts for your characters. It’s fairly linear and repetitive but that isn’t the main issue, the main problem with mission mode is that once you’ve completed all three you have to wait around four hours for the missions to respawn. Yes, yes you read that right, you have to wait four hours for more missions. Don’t feel like waiting? Well then, in true mobile game fashion you can pay to unlock a mission. Payment is through the gems you get for ranking up, don’t have enough gems to unlock more missions? No worries, pay real currency for fake currency to unlock basic missions.
Gems that don’t shine
For a good portion of your time early on in Puzzle Fighter mobile the missions are all straight forward where the only challenge you have to worry about is “defeat your opponent”. This one track mindset in missions really keeps things from being interesting. While I wouldn’t mind simplistic mission goals like that for easier opponents or levels the addition of “expert” level challenges could have really added a layer of depth to the game. Instead of just beating the enemy why not give us a bigger challenged like like having locked gems that need a bigger chain to break already tossed in the beginning of the level giving your opponent an unfair advantage?
Puzzle games are about challenge, you’re supposed to have this challenging situation you have figure out, something exciting that makes you feel a sense of self accomplishment upon completion. Puzzle Fighter Mobile doesn’t have that, the game doesn’t reinvent the wheel and shows you something new but familiar it just gives the classic a face lift and honestly makes you long for the original. The overall content is incredibly dull, the missions aren’t challenging and a lack of other play options make long play through sessions just feel repetitive and boring. Outside of ranked missions there’s little to no incentive to keep playing outside of a handful of games.
One thing that does standout about the game and something many complained about initially is the games art style. Super Puzzle Fighter II had these adorable chibi characters perfectly rendered in game and really helped each battle pop, Puzzle Fighter Mobile doesn’t use the same aesthetic but does have something similar. While still technically a chibi design, Puzzle Fighter Mobile’s look is more or less a weird mash up of traditional chibi characters with a pixar like look the them. Some characters look fine in the art style like Haggar(who looks like buff Freddy Mercury) but some really look off like Chun Li. Puzzle Fighter Mobile kind of looks like if Capcom took the art style from Street Fighter IV and Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and put them through a chibi generator together, again it really becomes hit or miss with some characters.
The more of the game you play the more you begin to warm up to the design, there were a few times where I would get wrapped up in a game and then look at some characters do moves and it looked great…Then there were times where I looked up to see a character perform a special attack and it looked incredibly odd and displeasing. Super Puzzle Fighter II on the PS1 was gorgeous and the HD remakes of the games in later consoles really helped sharpern the games looks and made it even better. Puzzle Fighter Mobile on the other had kind of stands out in a trying too hard fashion, perhaps it’s due to MvC Infinite but the art styles drastic change can be off putting to fans of the original. While the game has a back and forth nature visually where you either love it or hate it, to call it up ugly is a little on the harsh side but it definitely pales in comparison to the original.
Saving grace and final thoughts
Ranked missions are easily the best aspect of the Puzzle Fighter Mobile, facing off against actually challenging and intelligent players really reminds you why the game is so much fun. The fast paced back and forth and building up a massive gem to dump massive loads of pieces one your opponents screen is consistently fun. Ranked matches embodies what made the game so much fun growing up and while fun it does also shine a light on how boring mission mode can be. After each ranked match you won you’re taken to E.Honda’s sushi shop? Where you’re giving a chance to spin the wheel and unlock prizes like coins, gems, characters etc. It’s a fun incentive to keep playing ranked matches but once again in mobile game fashion you’re only given a couple of spins until you run out of boats and have to pay to refresh or wait.
Puzzle Fighter Mobile doesn’t really reinvent the wheel when it comes to enhancing it’s predecessor, but it does add one interesting element to the game. Unlike Super Puzzle Fighter II you aren’t off to fight alone, instead you’re able to have up to two assist characters with you which does tend to shift the playing field. Having two assist characters really adds a much needed layer of excitement in online battles and could either make or break a round. Assist characters each are assigned their own gem color which they specialize in, for example Chun Li’s skill sets are dependent on the blue gems so arranging a giant blue gem and destroying will activate Chun Li to come in and attack your opponent for additional damage. This use of assists really helps Puzzle Fighter liven up a little and makes the game more strategic than just puzzle based.
During my time playing I would assign an assist that I could use for quick strikes and an assist that required a little more footwork in gem building but dealt greater damage to help balance the team out. At the end of the day Puzzle Fighter Mobile isn’t a bad game by any means, it’s still this addictive and fun game with colorful versions of familiar characters. Nostalgia does play a massive part in the games appeal but even without it you’re still left with a fun and solid gem based puzzle game that could rival any other on the mobile market. The lack of content does hurt the games lifespan but with ranked matches and plenty to unlock there’s always incentive for going back even in short bursts. With that being said, if you’re looking for a challenge you can always find me surfing the ranked match options just look for BIG_FUDGE and see if you can handle the mighty Haggar.