There are also two new modes of play that were previously confined to a limited Japanese release of the game on Dreamcast. Y mode forgoes crash gems and challenges players to line up three or more gems of the same color in order to destroy them. This mode also features a power meter that fills as gems are destroyed. Once the meter is filled, players can activate a special gem that transforms all gems of whatever color it touches into gems of its own color. This makes for huge
chain reactions when used correctly. Z mode has players rotating gems as they steadily rise from the bottom. As in the normal game, the object is to stack gems and break them with a crash gem. The extra modes are a nice addition, but we imagine most players will stick to the standard mode more often than not.
Graphically, the game looks nice, though not mind-blowing. The gems and explosions in particular are very detailed. We like that each gem color has a related elemental explosion and sound effect. For example, a blue gem will explode with water and a splashing sound. The character sprites are a little disappointing, especially in light of the work being done on Street Fighter II HD
. It looks more or less like the sprites are simply anti-aliased versions of the originals, which leaves them a little blurry and not particularly well-defined. Still, they're certainly passable and the attack animations add charm to the game as they always have. The use of stereo is nice, as often times you'll be so busy looking at your own playing field that you don't know what your opponent is doing. Rest assured, when they attack you, you will hear
it. It's terrifying, in a good way.
In the end, Puzzle Fighter
is a damned addictive game and easily the best puzzle game on XBLA (and one of the best games overall for that matter). It appeals to casual players and hardcore gamers alike, it plays beautifully, and online play adds the "just one more game" factor that nearly kept us from working at all the day it came out. It's simple: if you like puzzle games, you need