Throwback Thursday: Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo

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Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo is one of those games that shows what happens when you take a popular license and apply it to something incredibly different. This is a puzzle game kind of like Columns. You match different colored gems as they fall on to the board. If you stack 4 or more gems together in a box shape, it creates a mega gem. The only way to get rid of the gems is to have either a diamond, which destroys every gem matching the color it lands on, or a crash gem of the same color. When those gems are broken, a pattern of gems (each character has a different pattern) falls on your opponent and they have 5 turns to get rid of them before they become solid.

You can also create chain moves which increase the amount of counter gems that fall on your opponent. What makes this game different is super deformed versions of Street Fighter and Darkstalker characters fight each other at the bottom of your screen. Each time you break a gem, your character throws a punch. The bigger the chain, the more powerful the move your character makes. The round ends when a player’s gems get to the top and they are K.O’d. After each round there is dialogue that is exchanged between the two characters just like in the Street Fighter story mode.

This game is important to me because my friend Dave and I would play the Playstation version on a number of occasions when we were still in high school. One day in 2000, Dave informed me that he had lent the game to his friend who wound up moving to Texas. She had taken the game with her and all he was left with was the case the game came in.

Not being one to panic, I consulted eBay and found that the game currently sold for 150 dollars for just the disc was definitely too much to spend on a single game so I looked into it more and found a PC version for 20 dollars which was much more tolerable. The PC version was terrible. This was early 2000’s so most PC games forced you to use the keyboard and mouse. Using a keyboard with two people in a fast paced puzzle game is crowded and infuriating.

Then I found the Dreamcast version for 15 dollars. Of course this was during the early days of eBay where it was super easy to sell counterfeit items, so I received a burned disc with a faded inkjet label of the Japanese Puzzle Fighter artwork. Surprisingly, the Sega Dreamcast’s anti-piracy features are non-existent and the game booted perfectly. While playing on bulky controllers weren’t ideal, the game was much sharper on the Dreamcast and the boot times were way faster than the Playstation. It satisfied our Puzzle Fighter needs, but it still wasn’t the same as the Playstation version.

2003 came along and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 was released for the Gameboy Advance for a retail price of $29.99. I purchased the game so that I could practice on the go and perhaps finally get good enough to crush anybody who stood in my way. Another benefit of the game coming out on a new American platform was that it killed the demand for the Playstation version and I was able to get a new, sealed copy for 30 dollars. The Playstation version was now on the table and the three year hiatus was over.

As I was about to bust out my personal copy, Dave asked me if I remembered what happened with his copy of Puzzle Fighter. I of course remembered. Well it turns out that the girl from Texas returned back to Crystal Lake, IL and Dave asked her about the game. Unfortunately she traded everything she owned to Gamestop because she was done with video games. But, since Puzzle Fighter was disc only, they refused to take it as a trade and she kept it instead of throwing it out. The case and disc were reunited at last and I was able to keep my sealed copy.

Dave and I would play this game every so often for the next 4 years. There were other games to play and World of Warcraft consumed most of that time. In 2007, Dave passed away in a car accident on Christmas Eve. He was 24 years old at the time. Of all the things that he left behind, I insisted that I be able to keep the copy of Puzzle Fighter Turbo since it was the one game of his collection that we bonded over. The rest of his games went to his brothers, but I made sure Puzzle Fighter remained with me.

7 years later, I still have that copy of Puzzle Fighter and have made it a point to expand that specific game collection. I know have complete copies of the Gameboy Advance and Sega Saturn versions. Every so often, I play Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo on the Playstation to test controllers, but it’s not the same. The Playstation version will forever have a place on my shelf as a reminder of the good times I had with Dave. There are other reminders, of course, but this one has a special video game link to it.