The puzzle genre is an interesting one simply because it resists evolution. While the graphics and sound may improve, the basic premise remains constant: Players drop blocks to block out (so to speak) their opponent. This sameness makes it seem odd that so many puzzle games are released every year - including Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. But the occasional good puzzle game (like Baku Baku) makes the genre seem fresh all over again.
Mixing well-known characters from Street Fighter and Dark Stalkers with the puzzle game concept, players of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo battle it out Columns-style in a fast-paced, color-matching contest. Sound easy? It's not. The action in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo completely revolves around combating an individual opponent who possesses his or her own strategy, strengths, and weaknesses. It may sound crazy, but the same strategic elements that go into a Street Fighter or Dark Stalkers match are represented here - and you have to think and move quickly in order to win.
Like good puzzle games of late, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo's two-player mode is killer (playing either by yourself or against the computer). Blocks drop two at a time, and you must match similar square colors with a single circle "detonator" that blows up the combination. Get a big enough color combination going and the pieces are sent over to your opponent (who is then unable to get rid of them for up to five turns). The game sports three basic modes of play: against the computer, against a friend, or practice. No matter how much you prepare though, you'll still be lucky to survive when the pieces stack near the top.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo has the same look as other Capcom games, only with a younger feel to it (each character is represented in a dwarf-like form). The graphics, animation, and sound all have a cartoon-ish look, and work well within the game's context (how seriously can you take a puzzle game with a "dragon punch?"). Capcom also pokes fun at itself with hidden characters and other fighting-game style Easter eggs (such as different colored fighter costumes, etc.).
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo offers excellent replay value, and is a great puzzle game that's sure to appeal to most fans of the genre. Fighting game addicts looking for a new Street Fighter fix will undoubtedly be better served by the upcoming arcade title, Street Fighter 3.