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Capcom Puzzle World Review

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Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

★★★★★

After raiding its back catalogue for two Classics Collections in recent months, it’s no surprise to see Japanese behemoth Capcom delving once again into its illustrious past for nostalgic thrills. But while Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is one of the finest puzzle games to ever grace a console, the other titles in this flaky retro package are a crushing disappointment.

A clever twist on the Tetris ‘falling blocks’ formula, Puzzle Fighter pits players against another human or the computer in a series of tense matches where clearing rows of gems dumps rubbish on your opponent’s screen, rewarding patience and strategic play by forcing your rival into an impossible situation. Crucially, the game is also brought to life by ‘superdeformed’ versions of familiar brawlers from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers franchises, cutesy characters that don’t get involved in the puzzles but instead act out stylish moves that reflect the state of play, bringing drama and much-needed eye-candy to the experience. And as each of the squat fighters boasts unique combos that can be unleashed to chuck trash on your opponent’s screen, choosing a mascot also brings extra strategy to the experience.

However, aside from Puzzle Fighter’s irrefutable charms, this retrospective bundle isn’t the brain-tickling experience it’s cracked up to be; the three bubble-bursting Buster Bros games (Buster Bros, Super Buster Bros and Buster Buddies) are tedious and achingly similar, and the Breakout clone Block Block is hampered by clunky controls that can’t match the slickness of the paddle controller used in the arcade original.

Worst of all, when you consider each Capcom Classics Collection compilation features up to 20 retro classics while Puzzle World only has a paltry five, this latest bout of archive plundering isn’t worth the hefty cover charge.

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