For all of the complaints, it's games like Pocket
Fighter shows Capcom is willing to do something off the wall. Immensely entertaining
with a great sense of humor, this Puzzle Fighter spin-off isn't a classic of the
series, though it's worth tracking down. Its quirky gem system is enough to create
tension, and split the game from just standard fighting.
A first for a Capcom
fighter, only three buttons are used for attacking. Punch, kick, and special moves are all
that's required to know for basic brawling. This simplifies the game enough to introduce
children into the fray, yet still makes it a refreshing change for adults still hooked on
the series. Fireballs, dragon punches, and the rest of wide array are all still included.
This is still Street Fighter, at least with various other characters, including Darkstalkers.
Changing everything is the
gem system. As the skirmishes roll on, these colored blocks pop out of fighters like blood
from Mortal Kombat. Collecting them fills three meters at the bottom of the
screen, which refer to special moves. The more gems, the more powerful the moves. It's a
quick, innovative way of leveling up your character in the midst of a match. It also stops
players from standing around, turning a rumble into a frenzied race for colored blocks.
That's not to say the combat isn't strong. It is, just watered down to its basic core. The
special button is a charged, overly powerful move that renders the character in some goofy
way to attack. The super deformed sprites are hilarious, and Puzzle Fighter
veterans will see some familiar sights. These completely original moves are rarely used
due to their timing requirements, but with the common Capcom collision, if you pull it
off, you will be rewarded without worrying about being cheated by the programming.
This is hardly a game for purists, and considering that's the audience for 2-D fighters
these days, this is one that went largely overlooked. There are numerous references to
other fighters from the Capcom universe (and the soundtrack is perfect for the fights,
remixed from other specific titles), and that's a great way to pull someone in with an
open mind. You don't need to spend hours with a strategy or move guide, but that doesn't
prevent this from becoming pure, simple bliss.