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CONSOLE: PSP DEVELOPER: Natsume Atari PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (JP): July 19, 2012 GENRE: Puzzle
// review by Matt

You'd be kitten if you said this ain't Puzzle Fighter...

Monster Hunter is a behemoth that makes Capcom so much bank they could probably open their own bank, Monster Hunter Bank. The logo of said bank would be one the charming cats from the cute Monster Hunter spin-off games. This particular spin-off is a suspiciously familiar puzzle game... Did they just re-skin Puzzle Fighter II? Yeah, they did, like the lazy cat-lovers they are.

We're lucky I like Puzzle Fighter, then. The gameplay takes place in your traditional falling blocks styled area, with gems and bombs. Build big square gems, then make them explode with their corresponding colour bomb. Chain them up for crazy points.

Where Ailu de Puzzle separates itself from Puzzle Fighter is with the character exclusive special abilities. Such abilities include obscuring the opponent's "next" box with a fish, or destroying all of a specific colour. This helps keep normally stale and predictable Puzzle Fighter gameplay from becoming a bore. Even when it outstays its welcome, a quick flick of the power switch will put the game in sleep mode while you do something else.


It's cute, but is that ALL it has going for it?

Ailu de Puzzle has a full story mode, entirely in Japanese but still fairly easy to follow. From what I can gather, the mayor of the town is holding a puzzle battle competition, where the winner will have any wish granted. This could be a wish for fame, money, girls, or recognition. Perhaps I could enter and get Suzuka Nakamoto's hand in marriage. What, Tomoko? Who's that?

You can unlock and play as each of the cats in the game, and experience their story, ultimately getting their wish granted. When you defeat another cat in story mode, they are added to the character roster. However, being unable to read Japanese, and with each character in the same style, this could easily just be a roster consisting of the same character over and over.

The game has working adhoc multiplayer for two players who both own a game disc, which is quite an enjoyable experience. However, with Puzzle Fighter II being available on just about every console, it would be much cheaper to grab that and play multiplayer on one screen with two controllers — it's even on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

I've completed three story mode runs, but I can't bring myself to do any of the remaining wishes. Even though special abilities break up the monotony, this is still effectively the same game for 100+ matches of Puzzle Fighter. I'd be better using that time to find out where Suzuka lives and brush up on my Japanese (and maybe my teeth, too). A decent distraction, but not much else.


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