My Favorite Easter Video Game: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

Lining up holiday-related content, I thought I would take the chance today to talk to you about my favorite Easter video game: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo/Super Puzzle Fighter II X. Yes, you read that correctly.



puzzlefighter4Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was a Capcom spin-off that leveraged elements of Street Fighter, which was prominently in its Alpha iterations at this time. Capcom saw fit to sprinkle in a few more fighting properties to include Darkstalkers and Cyberbots, theme everything with super-deformed (SD) characters and pit them in visceral puzzle-based combat.

The game was released first in arcades in mid-1996, but it would touch down on the PlayStation and Saturn just in time for that holiday shopping season. While U.S. gamers had puzzle games with versus concepts, Puzzle Fighter saw fit to have the players’ actions result in their character performing fighting game moves. This even culminates in huge chains and combos triggering a super art move that blasts the opponent and shines with the satisfying sunburst effects akin to finishing a round with a super move in Super Street Fighter II Turbo or Street Fighter Alpha.

Street Fighter was still quite hot at this time, so I think most of the magazines enjoyed the departure in which Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo took the theme and characters. The magazines were on top of covering this game, and I would surmise Puzzle Fighter featuring Devilot is how a lot of U.S. gamers at the time found out Cyberbots actually existed.

So I saw this magazine coverage heaping praise at the puzzle combat, covering the game’s unlockables that featured the bonus characters and then eventually detailing the home releases of the game. Even though online dates place the PlayStation version of the game at the end of 1996, this means that magazines didn’t get a chance to cover it until 1997. More confusingly, the back of the U.S. PlayStation version of the game lists copyrights from 1996 and 1997 (in game the title screen only shows 1996?), but it also includes testimonials from Next Generation with a four-star review in October 1996, and a “Puzzle Game of the Year” honor from Ultra Game Players in its December 1996 issue. We might have another “when did this game actually release?” case on our hands here …


IMG_4016It took GamePro until its March 1997 issue to have a review of the PlayStation version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. The game was theoretically three to four months old by the time readers would eye it over, so it was relegated to the capsule-style of review that merely issued a score and four paragraphs of description.

Still, the GamePro review gave it very high marks in three of four categories, with sound being the outlier at 3.5 out of 5 … the Japanese speech in the game was declared to be “incoherent chatter,” which made it annoying for the reviewer. Or something.

The game was getting the stamp of approval from magazines, and this places us at March/April of 1997. I was the fresh owner of a Sony Playstation, having received the system that Christmas with Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot and a packed-in demo disc.

Easter was one of the holidays in which my immediate family would travel out-of-state to visit our extended family members. Being set to turn 16 years old in a matter of months, my parents finally deemed me to be “too old” for the tradition of hunting out hidden candies and gift baskets. The solution: Handing me cold, hard cash instead.

Perhaps my parents thought I would be upset about it, because that first year they slid me a decent sum of money. I had no complaints at all because that amount would purchase a brand new game for my shiny new toy.



This is probably going to sound strange, but when we traveled to where my extended family lived, there was a store nearby that I absolutely loved visiting every time we were in the area. That store was Best Buy.

Back in 1997, I wasn’t aware of any Best Buy locations being in my area, even in the bigger metro area. Twenty-five years ago, this store was a different beast for video games. In the very center of this large store was a video game department corraled with video game racks. Not only did the store boast a selection of video games I simply couldn’t find where I lived, I could sit there for hours playing on the demonstration units littered throughout this department.

For several years, this store was the sole source of me being able to play on video game systems such as the Atari Jaguar, 3D0, the Phillips CDi, the SEGA CD and more. I was bewildered by my samples of games such as Hotel Mario, Road Rash (CD version), Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales and Prize Fighter, I flexed my thumb mashing to show off in WWF Raw on Super Nintendo, and I got rare previews of games such as Justice League Task Force and Donkey Kong Country 3.

I cannot describe how cool this store was to me up through the early aughts. When my only video game option in town was Walmart or I had to beg my parents to drive 20 minutes to look at a few stores in the next town, Best Buy was my cliched “kid in a candy store” environment. My parents would drop me off at the video games, and even if they had left me there for an hour, I still didn’t want to leave it behind.

As fate would have it, on that Easter vacation in 1997, we ended up at that Best Buy location. And this time I had money burning a hole in my pocket!

With all of that coverage of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo fresh in my mind, I spent the $39.99 on the price to take the PlayStation version of the game home with me. Well, it had to go over to my cousin’s house until we went home after Easter, but, lucky me, he had just gotten a PlayStation as well!


puzzlefighter2Up until this point, I would say Tetris Attack/Panel De Pon was the ultimate puzzle game, but Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was the rare puzzle game that rivaled it. The charm of Puzzle Fighter attracted my friends into playing it as well, much as Tetris Attack had done prior. If Puzzle Fighter had a little more depth in its game modes like Tetris Attack did, it might have slid past Tetris Attack to take the top spot on the puzzle game podium.

While most puzzle games that released in the U.S. tried to piggyback the Tetris concept of using universal pieces to create groupings that are then cleared from the playfield, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo uses a stock of red, green, blue and yellow gems the player can stack on their playfield. If four or more of the same-colored gem is placed together, it then forms a power gem block. Round orbs called crash gems will then break these gems when placed next to one of the same color. Because your gems do not clear from the playfield until you trigger them with crash gems, skillful players can craft giant power gems along with Puyo Puyo-style drop chains.

Clearing gems preps an “attack” from your character, and each character is assigned a specific pattern in how they drop counter gems onto the opponent. If an attack is pending, a player can also clear gems from their playfield to reduce the damage, or if the clear is big enough, completely shift a counterattack over to the other side. Every so often, the player is given a rainbow gem that acts as a wild card that clears gems of the same color away from the playfield, but at half the number of counter gems sent to the opponent (unless you know a certain trick to fool the game into sending the full amount over).

puzzlefighter3The PlayStation version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is mostly a port of the arcade game, and you get the standard arcade mode for one or two players, plus a versus mode that streamlines the setup for two-player competition. The exclusive attraction to this home version is the Street Puzzle Mode, which challenges players to master using every character in the game to tackle difficult CPU opponents. This doesn’t change the gameplay itself in any manner, but the mode offers a number of unlockable features that will reward players who are really into the game.

Each character has six “challenges,” and each unlocks some sort of feature, with some being activated in a “Goodies” menu that appears when the first item in the mode is unlocked. These features range from special win icons, voice sample/sound effect collections, special character colors, music collections, new difficulty modes, unlock methods for the secret characters, intermission movie collections and illustrations. It might not be worth it to everyone who touches the game, but those who are really into Capcom, Street Fighter and digging into extras involving the characters will find a lot to like.

I know I’ve come clean on this before, but I was one of those people who loaded PlayStation discs into their Sony Walkman portable CD player. Street Fighter Alpha was actually the reason I finally wanted to own a PlayStation**. My aunt and uncle gave it to me as a Christmas present in 1996, and I mostly knew the music in the game by the remixed CD-quality versions included in the home port (that remixed Adon theme is so good!).

The same treatment was given to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, with an option to switch between the remixed and original music tracks. When you dig into Sakura’s unlockables in the Street Puzzle Mode, one of these unlockables is an original song, “I Want You to Know,” which is a full-featured version of Sakura’s stage theme music complete with lyrics. Being as enamored with the Street Fighter Alpha audio as I was, this was an incredible extra to discover.

Since 1996/1997, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo has popped back up in a couple of places, such as with downloads on the Xbox 360/Playstation 3, and being included in game collections. It most recently resurfaced in the very cool Capcom Fighting Collection for current systems, which includes accessibility improvements and online play.

I love seeing how much people have enjoyed this game over the years, but I had a special experience with it. As such, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is definitively my favorite Easter video game.

**I realize these games released on the SEGA Saturn as well, and most Capcom titles performed better on that system. To explain, between having to clearance dump 32X items, and SEGA stealth launching the Saturn to beat PlayStation to the market, virtually no stores in my area carried SEGA Saturn products. If you lived where I did, your options were PlayStation or Nintendo 64 for that generation of consoles. It took going to college and moving to a metro area for me to find SEGA Saturn products in stores. At this point in 2001, stores were desperate to get rid of their Saturn stock, and I picked up a lot of games at low prices. The exchange of this, however, was FuncoLand trashed the original Saturn cases and instruction books to free up space on shelves. Thus, at least 25% of my Saturn collection is loose inside colored FuncoLand cardboard sleeves.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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