Capcom Puzzle World PS2 Review

Capcom Puzzle World will be popular with different groups of people for different reasons. There will be those who remember playing the original coin-operated games in their local arcade and want to reminisce and enjoy again the classic gameplay. There will be the puzzle game fanatics attracted by a solid collection of puzzle games from yesteryear. Then, there will be the casual gamer who fancies picking something different up for a change to play on the tube.

The genius of this collection is that it will suit each of these groups pretty well. There really is something for everyone here. The more interesting question for us today is whether it represents particularly good value for these different people groupings? Simply put, are there enough hours of play here to justify spending out on what are exotically old games.

Whilst a few years ago, a collection of this nature would be an instant hit, and really not need to do too much in terms of new content, these days we are used to the corporate churn of old franchises. The modern gamer demands a little more from these compilations. Whether it is some original artwork, flyers or addition soundtracks there needs to be something to entice in the cash-in weary gamer.

Capcom Puzzle World certainly starts strong. The package is well presented through some none-too-shabby cut scenes and menus. This attention to detail extends into the loading screens and in game options that are both well presented and in keeping with each related title. Puzzle World scores pretty well in this area with a none-too-shabby collection of artwork and illustrations behind the games. Anyone who played the original in the arcade can’t help but be fascinated by the work that went into these franchises before they even saw the light of day. Back then, with no intertubes to help out, this sort of information was not very forthcoming.

Visually, things are crisp and clear and make full use of the PSP’s super wide screen. A variety of options are provided to stretch the screen, my favourite was the super-long vertical mode that has you rotate the PSP clockwise and use it in that orientation to maximise the screen real estate. They avoid the tell tell fuzziness that has been seen in some previous collection’s over processing of the original artwork and sprite detail. The action stays in focus and at a decent frame rate throughout. The PSP’s screen wraps things up with a confident output that, as we have come to expect, is extremely pleasing to the eye. The music and sound of the originals is also well represented here. The collection does an excellent job of providing a purity of audio experience rather than the over processed cleaned up versions that are becoming more popular in recent emulator engines.

Loading times, that can be something of an Achilles’ heal on PSP games, seem pretty good in the main. A loading animation helps cover some of the gaps if things start to drag. The console is never going to be able to compete with the solid state or hard disk loading times of other hardware, but the developers have obviously taken some time to ensure that loading doesn’t become prohibitive.

The most popular game in the collection is Super Puzzle Fighter Turbo. At first this game can appear to be a derivative Columns clone, but extended play will uncover a nuanced and challenging experience. In fact you can still walk into arcades in Japan today and find experienced players battling head to head on time-worn arcade cabinets.

Puzzle Fighter is here complimented by a clutch of Pang games, or at least that’s what I remember them to be called in the UK. In this collection they are titled Buster Bros. I was unaware the series had so many different versions. Whilst they all exhibit the same play mechanic, it is nice to be able to play through different versions of the game and obtain a more rounded experience of the phenomenon that swept arcades in Japan, and certainly brushed through those dark noisy dens of gaming in the UK.

The collection is rounded off with Block Drop, a game that will be less well known to most readers. This essentially is Capcom’s re-imagining of Arkanoid with power-ups drawn from their other franchises. An unusual idea but one that works well. This game had much less of a western airing than the other titles included in this pack. This is not to say that it is any less of an enjoyable experience. Although it does struggle without a fully fledged analogue control, there is certainly plenty of fun to be extracted here, once you have had your fill of Puzzle Fighter and Pang.

Overall this is a collection that confidently answers the value for money question. At its low retail price, it really does represent a great deal. With this in mind, and the bucket load of fun to be found in each of the included games we would thoroughly recommend you picking up a copy for your PSP. Ideal for intense gaming, reminiscing or just passing the time on the long commute to work.

A great little compilation that represents excellent value for money in anyone’s book.

8 out of 10
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