Crystal Crisis (Review) Nintendo Switch

Crystal Crisis (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Crystal Crisis by developer Nicalis is a love letter to Capcom’s Super Puzzle Fighter II:Turbo, a Tetris-style puzzle game starring the fighters from the Street Fighter II franchise.  Crystal Crisis is essentially the same concept, but with characters from various Nicalis IPs (i.e. Cave Story, 1001 Spikes, Code of Princess etc.). The game’s premise involves a group of villains – Akuji, Ballos, Eilse and Jim Hawkins – as they seek to harness the power of the Red Crystal from Cave Story, which is capable of destroying the universe. To prevent this threat, a small group of heroes have banned together to battle the villains and to destroy the red crystal once and for all.

The game starts with an optional tutorial that explains the in-game mechanics. This feature stars the goggle-wearing, armor-cladded JohnnyTurbo, the iconic mascot who was used by NEC to advertise its Turboduo console here in the States. If the player completes the tutorial, Johnny Turbo unlocks and becomes a playable character in all available game modes (i.e. Arcade, Story, Versus and Online Multiplayer (known as ‘Go Online’ in-game).

Crystal Crisis’ roster is comprised of twenty ‘puzzle’ fighters. When the game starts, only ten of these fighters are available to the player, and the rest must be unlocked through various means (i.e. how to unlock Johnny Turbo was mentioned earlier in this review). While the game benefits from competitive, 2-player action, there is a competent, single-player mode, where the player can challenge the CPU in ‘Arcade’ mode or battle a series of enemies through ‘Story’ mode to destroy the Red Crystal. In addition, the player can test their mettle in modes like Survival, Inline and Tag Team, among others.

Gameplay involves matching cubes of the same color to earn points, while battling against a series of opponents. Like Puzzle Fighter, the playfield is divided in half to separate the player from their opponent. The ‘fighters’ occupy the center of the screen, and the puzzle boards are on the edges of the playfield adjacent to each other. 

Crystal Crisis refers to its blocks as ‘crystals’. As these crystals slowly descend the playfield, the player must match the right colors together to create what are called attack ‘chains’. These chains can be cleared by matching them with a Sparkling Crystal of the same color. When a match is made, the crystals in question will explode and then reappear as damage and/or debris against the current opponent. In addition, the player can build a ‘Cluster’ by stacking the same colored crystals together, and then clearing with a Sparkling Crystal for twice the damage.

Unique to Crystal Crisis is the ‘wrap around’ feature, which involves pushing the falling crystals past the left and right borders of the playfield. This mechanic can be used to manipulate both crystals, allowing the player to drop each block at the furthest edges of the screen. Moreover, the game includes a feature called the ‘Burst Gauge’, which can store up to three levels of power. This gauge fills as the player clears crystals and makes combos. When this gauge is full, the player can perform ‘Burst Attacks’ specific to the character they have chosen. For example: each fighter possesses a defensive and offensive Burst Attack. The Defensive Burst Attack could clear part of the player’s playfield (and send clutter to their enemy) or buff the player’s character to protect them from attack. The Offensive Burst Attack generally targets the enemy’s character, which can interrupt their performance during the game.

As mentioned earlier, Crystal Crisis includes online multiplayer via the Nintendo Network. The game supports up to four players in Normal, Tag-Team and different ‘Variant’ game modes. The online community for Crystal Crisis (especially at the time of this review) is solid and populated by very competitive players. There are no latency issues either.

Crystal Crisis is clearly the 21st Century version of Super Puzzle Fighter II: Turbo by Capcom. It’s addicting, challenging and fun, and it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch (especially when it’s played in portable mode). Fingers are crossed that developer Nicalis sees the potential of Crystal Crisis – and how it fills a gap left behind by the absence of a new Super Puzzle Fighter – and releases a sequel. Gamers everywhere hungry for this style of game will rejoice.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nicalis
Publisher: Nicalis
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $39.99

Crystal Crisis Official Website:

Review Score
Gorgeous 2.5D graphics and smooth animation.
The soundtrack is high-energy and memorable.
Classic puzzle gameplay with plenty of nostalgic flare.
Crystal Crisis is clearly the 21st Century version of Super Puzzle Fighter II: Turbo.
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