Puzzle Fighter II
A bit of a gem, this one (ho, ho!). Shunning the hastily cobbled together world of franchise cashins, Puzzle Fighter (as it shall now be referred to in place of yet another tongue-twisting Capcom title) surprised in not being the spawn of Satan. Essentially a game of nail-biting brinkmanship fought with colourful stones, its counterattacking system is pure, liquid genius.
Rather than offering a disconnected race to bust blocks, departed pieces are instead dumped straight on top of your opponent’s stack, with a timer preventing their destruction for increasing periods of time. What’s more, the pattern in which these fall varies between characters, from Sakura’s relative fortitude to the outright suicide of Dan. Consequently, some of the most satisfying match conclusions ever are possible, as your very last pair of gems coincides with others becoming destructible, creating a chain reaction that instantly knocks out your smug opponent.
On top of all this, X’ mode has been added, bringing the same kind of high-level tweaks that will soon be found in the battler that started it all. While veterans will complain that this makes playing against the CPU easier than it should be, online matches are improved significantly. Well, when they aren’t afflicted by crippling lag, the like of which can’t cope with two-player Sonic matches (bit of review bleed there, our apologies!). Nevertheless, whether you’re a puzzle fan or not, it’s wallets-at-the-ready time, folks.