One of the truest arcade classics has arrived on mobile – and Puzzle Fighter is just about perfect for iOS and Android devices. It’s still as deep as ever, mind.
While it’s not quite the console-based Puzzle Fighter revival I’ve been wishing for, the unique combination of brawling and color-matching puzzle action makes Puzzle Fighter a perfect fit for phones – and while easy to pick up, when played online, a high level of strategy is pretty much required.
If you’re new to the world of Puzzle Fighter, it might take a while to fully grasp the strategy of more challenging battles. Have no fear – we’re here with tips for that. Even if you’re an old arcade Puzzle Fighter pro, this new iOS and Android Puzzle Fighter mobile app offers up some major tweaks to how the series plays – and we’re going to go over those too. Basically, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get to it, starting out with this – the basics of how this new free-to-play generation of Puzzle Fighting works.
Puzzle Fighter Mobile Guide: how to play the new iOS and Android Puzzle Fighter
If you’ve never played Puzzle Fighter before, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a game with a name like that: a mash-up of the concepts around something like Tetris, Columns or Puyo Puyo and the basic top-level mechanics of Street Fighter. That means rather than aiming to fill your opponent’s screen you’re aiming to deplete their life bar, and there’s also things like super moves and different special moves to worry about. All attacks are simply triggered by matching gems together and then exploding them, with the gems you destroy determining what attack comes out.
Gems, Crash Orbs and Dealing Damage
In Puzzle Fighter, Gems are the square blocks you see. They drop in pairs. Rarer are Crash Orbs. These are color-coded to Gems, and placing a Crash Orb next to a Gem of the same color will destroy (break) that Gem and any other matching Gems attached to it. Rarest of all are Diamonds – these act like jack-of-all-trades Crash Orbs, breaking all of any given gem color.
The more gems you break at once the better your damage output, and breaking specific layouts of gem that vary from character to character can trigger their special moves. Individual gems drop when gems below them break, so you can create chain reactions if you’re clever.
The larger gems you see above are Power Gems. These large blocks are created by stacking gems of the same color into square or rectangular shapes. Building and then breaking this is how you trigger special skills – so for instance Ryu’s Hadouken special move/skill is triggered by breaking a two-by-two power gem. More powerful moves and fighters might need you to build much larger power gems, but the result will be a far more powerful attack.
Gems, Crash Orbs and the UI can be seen in the above screenshots. In this version of Puzzle Fighter having your Gems stack to the top of the screen forces you to take ‘overstack’ damage, so be careful about how many gems you stack up in search of a big combo.
In the bottom right of the game screen you’ll see a circular button – this is the button to trigger your Super Move. This can only be used once it’s charged, and it charges by breaking Gems. Each character in your team has an affinity, and breaking gems that match your affinity (more on this in a moment) will charge your super move better. Simply tap the button to execute the move – its strength is determined by your character level.
Original Arcade Puzzle Fighter fans will be very familiar with these fearsome special gems – but on iOS and Android Timer Gems will only show up in online play once you reach the Bronze League. Timer Gems are special gems that count down to 0 and are difficult to break before they reach 0 – you’ll want to send Crash Orbs or Diamonds their way as a priority.
Every time you break gems you’ll send power gems across to your opponent’s screen, making their life harder – but they will also do the same to you, so be careful. The pattern of the timer gems you send is determined by your character, and is plainly visible at the start of every match. The next screenshot will show that, actually…
Puzzle Fighter Mobile Characters, Teams and Assist Fighters
Rather than just pick one character, this version of Puzzle Fighter has you choose three – a main character and two assist fighters. Your main character determines the bulk of your team actions, but each time your main fighter activates a skill/special move, your assist fighters will join them and combo with moves of their own.
In addition to this, each character in Puzzle Fighter mobile has an ‘affinity’ to a certain type of gem. Ryu, for instance, has an affinity for Blue Gems, so breaking those will trigger special effects when Ryu is in your team and charge your Super Meter more quickly.
Finally, the pattern of Timer Gems you’ll send to your opponent is determined by your character choice. Easier to play characters will have simpler Timer Gem patterns, while harder characters will have more difficult to clear patterns as a reward.
Each character in your roster in Puzzle Fighter has their own unique character level determined by the strength of their moves. New moves can be unlocked and existing moves improved through opening chests you receive naturally through gameplay or by buying chests if you want a fast leg up. As you clamber up the ranks your characters will improve so long as you spend the in-game gold to upgrade them once you have the necessary skill cards.
Puzzle Fighter Mobile Character List and Affinity
- Ryu (Street Fighter) – Blue Gem Affinity
- Chun-Li (Street Fighter II) – Blue Gem Affinity
- Ken (Street Fighter) – Red Gem Affinity
- M. Bison (Street Fighter II) – Red Gem Affinity
- E. Honda (Street Fighter II) – Yellow Gem Affinity
- Blanka (Street Fighter II) – Green Gem Affinity
- Nash (Street Fighter Alpha) – Yellow Gem Affinity
- Dan (Street Fighter Alpha) – Red Gem Affinity
- X (Mega Man X) – Blue Gem Affinity
- Servbot (Mega Man Legends) – Yellow Gem Affinity
- Frank West (Dead Rising) – Green Gem Affinity
- Chuck Greene (Dead Rising 2) – Yellow Gem Affinity
- Mike Haggar (Final Fight) – Green Gem Affinity
- Jill Valentine (Resident Evil) – Blue Gem Affinity
- Dante (Devil May Cry) – Red Gem Affinity
- Morrigan (Darkstalkers) – Green Gem Affinity
How to Unlock New Characters and Moves
Being a free mobile game, Puzzle Fighter of course has an element in it where you can give Capcom some money as you play. That comes in the form of chests that you can open to receive in-game loot, and that includes characters – though if you naturally play and make a point of playing at least a match a day you’ll get a lot of stuff for free.
Ryu begins the game already unlocked, and Chun-Li and some other bonuses will quickly be made available to you through the tutorial. After this you can buy characters directly from the rotating in-game shop when they crop up or you can buy a chest for a random chance of a character alongside gold and move cards to either unlock or upgrade moves for your already-unlocked characters.
As well as all this, if you run dry of the freely earned in-game gems you can cough up some real cash – but in our experience Puzzle Fighter is more than generous enough where you won’t have to do this unless you really want to.
Don’t forget to tackle the daily single-player missions – an easy source of freebies, while E. Honda will give you a spin of a special wheel every time you win an online match against another person – that too offers loot that can include all-new characters.