Inside Pulse 12

Review: Capcom Classics Collection (PS2, XB)

There’s two schools of thought for why companies are putting out large compilations nowadays. The first is that Midway, Namco, Tecmo and the like realize there is money to be made in retrogaming and that even selling a package of them for 20-30 bucks is better than letting them rot un-played and unloved by future generations of gamers. The second is that the quality of gaming has taken a nosedive into the outhouse in terms of quality and originality and that these compilations are an attempt to revive nostalgia and company loyalty, getting gamers to remember when these companies put effort into their publications. One’s a “little” more cynical than the other. but both are believable.

Now Capcom has joined in the party, releasing 22 games onto a PS2 or Xbox DVD for the nice low price of $19.99 USD. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Well, remember that things can be deceiving. Midway’s first Arcade Treasures was AMAZING. The second was merely pretty decent and involved a Mortal Kombat fiasco with them pulling the game on MAT2 and putting it only on the collector’s edition of their then latest MK game. The third was a highly niche collection geared towards racing fans. And even then the games were mediocre. Tecmo’s collection? Everyone I knew was ecstatic for it because it offered TECMO BOWL, pound for pound arguably the best football game ever. And what did we get? The ARCADE Tecmo Bowl, which was meh. Everyone wanted the NES Tecmo Bowl, and Tecmo kept quiet until the last second it wasn’t the version everyone wanted. It made sense, as they can’t publish the amazing version of Tecmo Bowl thanks to EA and their NFL exclusivity (another reason Electronic Arts needs to have their chiefs of staff shot in the genitals), but the reaction on the Internet when it was revealed WHICH Tecmo Bowl we were getting was pretty damn nasty. And sales of the collection suffered. The collection was also soundly trashed by reviewers collectively, no once again we see that a lot of games for a little cash isn’t always the way to go.

But this is Capcom, right? These guys already released an amazing Mega Man collection for consoles about a year ago. But then look how badly they handled the Mega Man collection for the GBA.

So which is it? Did Capcom give us an amazingly collection every gamer needs to own? Or did Capcom pull a Tecmo on us?

Let’s Review

1. Compilation

Let’s take a look at the games here by name.

1942
1943
1943 Kai
Bionic Commando
Commando
Exed Exes
Final Fight
Forgotten Worlds
Ghosts and Goblins
Ghouls and Ghosts
Gunsmoke
Legendary Wings
Mercs
Pirate Ship Higemaru
Section Z
Son Son
Street Fighter 2
Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition
Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting
Super Ghouls and Ghosts
Trojan
Vulgus

22 games on paper that look AMAZING. However the reality is quite different.

First off, There’s too much of Capcom being Capcom on this disc. There’s three versions of 1942, 2 versions of Ghosts and Goblins and 3 versions of Street Fighter. Now long time readers know 2D shooters and fighters rock my world, but this is simply awful. I like all these games and I realize all Capcom did was show all their Japanese only Sega Saturn “Capcom Generations” discs together and sell them to Americans, but really there’s only 15 games here and 7 variants. And that’s with me being nice counting the console only Super Ghouls and Ghosts for the Sega Genesis as separate. Still, 15 games for 20 bucks is a great deal.

Second, I would not consider the following games classic: Exed Exes, Pirate Ship Higemaru, Section Z, Son Son and Trojan. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some of these games, especially the SHOOTERS. God knows anytime I can get some 2D shooter action, I’m as happy as a little girl who just got a magical flying pony. But they are not classics, especially to American gamers, and really, most people are buying this for Final Fight, the Street Fighter games and the Ghost and Goblins Games. Which brings me to my third point.

JESUS CHRIST CAPCOM, what the bloody hell is wrong with you? Is it SO beyond the reach of your developers to make an arcade perfect version of the classic Street Fighter games? We 2D fighting fans have waited over a decade for someone there to get it right. It’s not that hard. Why are there load times for these games? My god! It’s STREET FIGHTER II. If SNK Playmore can make their KoF games based on NEO GEO technology not have load times on the Xbox and PS2, I think you guys could too. These version of SF2 are amongst the worst you’ve ever put out. The controls are awful. Simply AWFUL. When I’m able to play through SVC Chaos or SF Third Strike and can pull over the super specials in those games without even having to think, and then I go over to Capcom Classics Collection and half the time it doesn’t register my shoryuken, there’s something royally wrong there. The sound effects aren’t right, music cuts out at the damnedest times, Hyper Fighting doesn’t even remotely feel like the actual game. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Quite honestly Capcom, you screwed up the game series that kept you alive in the 1990’s so badly, one has to wonder what the hell is going on there. Here’s a thought. Go back to the Sega Saturn. Go look at THAT Street Fighter collection and not the pile of crap you put out for the anniversary collection and give modern gamers THAT Super Street Fighter II if you’re ever going to publish another game with some version of “Street Fighter II” in the title, because it is the ONLY time you have gotten a home version of these games RIGHT!

Finally, Capcom DID pull a Tecmo. Instead of giving us the far more popular and enjoyable NES Bionic Commando that had a plot, diverging paths and was an overall amazing game, they gave us the terrible Arcade Bionic Commando, disappointing a lot of people.

So what we see is that there’s actually a decent amount of crap beneath the very nice exterior of this collection. But that crap is still overshadowed by the fact we have a ton of great games for an amazingly low price of 20 dollars. I’m still highly disappointed Capcom just did a bait and switch with their old Generations games and that the SF2 games are craptastical, but I’ve still got half a dozen excellent shooters to play through, and Final Fight (missing the Japanese only levels they remembered to give us in the GBA version), so what’s here is decent. It’s just too bad Capcom had to screw up the Street Fighter games, which are going to be the main selling point of this collection for the majority of the people buying it.

Now there are positives obviously. There’s a lot of amazing games here from the 8 and 16-bit eras and I’m really happy modern gamers get a chance to play some of my personal favorites from my childhood. I focused a lot more on the negative here, but then Capcom really pushed my buttons here with what they gave us.

So I have to say decent, but it could have been better. A LOT Better.

Compilation Rating: 6/10

2. Graphics

Remember all of these games are from the days of the NES and Sega Genesis. Sure these games were amazing and revolutionary visually in their day, but they’ve obviously not aged very well. Especially poor Commando and Gunsmoke.

I’m personally happy with the visuals, even though I wince at SF2CE looks like compared to even SSF2 or Capcom vs. Marvel 2. These games are a wonderful cross section at how graphics have evolved over the past 2 decades.

Of special note is Final Fight, which still looks pretty good to this day. Trojan, Legendary Wings, and Section Z are visual favorites of mine in this collection as well.
So we’ve got some decent graphics throughout the whole compilation, even if I may be feeling that way because I grew up with these games and they still look beautiful to me. I’d rather play 1943 Kai over the latest 3D crap platformer anyday.

Graphics Rating: 6/10

3. Sound

Besides the issues with SF music cutting out at the end of battles, there’s really no issues with the sound, except that the music and sound effects show their age. To counter this, Capcom has included a few sound remixes as options for a few games. It’s always nice to include an extra option like this, but really I only used it for the sake of reviewing purposes, and I can’t imagine too many people taking advantage of this option.

The Arthur trilogy’s music is still a personal favorite of mine. The Street Fighter music still remains dear to me from all the years spent at the arcade hearing it. Final Fight is still great in every way possible, and that includes the music and sound effects.

The rest of the games are still passable aurally, but not much more than that. Easily forgettable, but they are in no way bad or annoying. Just nothing you’re likely to have stuck in your head.

Again, we’ve got little to complain about here, and I’m happy Capcom gave people that aren’t going to enjoy midis a bit of an option here.

Sound Rating: 6/10

4. Control and Gameplay

I already touched on the fact that the SF controls are well below the level of quality they should have been, but there’s another game that I should focus on here, and that’s Forgotten Worlds. Since neither the Xbox nor the PS2 joysticks can accurately capture how that game was played in the arcades, they had to switch around the controls here. In the arcades you had a joystick that you could swivel/twist/ rotate to control your firing direction. This isn’t possible with the console version, so Capcom controlled this via buttons. This slows down the reaction time compared to the arcade version considerably, and as this is a 2D shooter, that loss of control/gameplay is a huge hit to the game. Sad, but a fact of life. Truthfully, I’d rather have had them not include FW as the shooter in me cries foul over this, and it really does give you a startling difference in the gameplay.

The rest of the games have been emulated very well. The shooters have tight controls and you can thankfully use the D pad instead of the analog stick for these games in order to ensure precision. Final Fight plays beautifully. Gunsmoke is a bit off as you’re using six different buttons in order to play this, and although I only played this one in the arcade a few times, I really don’t remember the arcade setup having so many buttons.

Overall, controls are quite good for the vast majority of these games. And as retrogames tend to survive the ages due to their gameplay, this is quite a relief indeed.

Control Rating: 8/10

5. Replayability

22 games, each with 4 different things per game to unlock, which can only be achieved by completing various conditions. Aside from the horrible mess Capcom has yet again made of the Street Fighter games, this is the best compilation released for this generation of consoles since Midway Arcade Treasures 1. It’s a great way to show younger and/or newer gamers the best of what the later 80’s/early 90’s had to offer. Sure they might scoff at the graphics first but after an hour they’ll be laughing at the comedy in Ghoul’s & Ghosts, they’ll be addicted to 1942, and they’ll appreciate the sublime nature of Vulgus.

This is one of those games you can spend months with and still not have gone through the entirety of what there is to offer here. It’s impossible not to give this game a perfect score in this area.

Replayability Rating: 10/10

6. Balance

If you didn’t grow up with 1980’s arcades, I need to explain something to you. Back then games were designed to be amazingly addictive. But they were also designed to be insanely hard. This was so that you’d have to keep pulling quarter after quarter out of your bock and jamming them in the coin slots. You’d NEED to beat the game, even if it cost you a whopping five to ten dollars to beat them. That’s what made Street Fighter so brilliant from a corporate outlook. The thrill was at any time someone could come up and take you on in two player mode, and you get a mere two rounds out of someone for a quarter. If they wanted to play again, they’d have to put in another twenty-five cents. Time on the game could be as little as a minute if they had the unfortunate chance of playing a SF master.

And the same can be said for almost every game on this compilation. Even the very good players are going to use about 6 continues AT THE VERY LEAST to beat a game on here. If you’re playing these games for the first time ever, or after a long absence, then we’re talking dozens of continues being used. Now imagine this was in the arcade. Dozens of continues = dozens of quarters = $$$$!

So when we crotchety retrogamers are sitting there telling you whippersnappers that you have no idea what difficult games are and then when we were kids, games were so insanely hard, it was commonplace to raise Lucifer himself in order to swap your soul for the ability to beat Gradius on 1 life, well…it’s not that much of an exaggeration.

These games are hard and will test your merit as a gamer. Some of you (re: a lot) may end up throwing your joystick in disgust or using 4 letter words that would make a sailor blush. But now you know what gaming used to be like ALL THE DAMN TIME. “Ugly” graphics and games providing an actual challenge may be too much for the modern gamer’s abilities, but I’d like to think this will show people why gameplay is so much more important that graphics, and give them a sense of pride in defeating a hard game instead of just beating a pretty easy one.

Very hard compared to modern games, yet commonplace in regards to difficulty for arcade games from this era.

Balance Rating: 5/10

7. Originality

All of these games are emulations/ports of the original arcade classics. Many of these have been ported to several systems before. As I’ve mentioned, CCC is pretty much just a merging of several of the Capcom Generations compilations for the Saturn.

However, these games are the inspiration for so many others. Without Final Fight, we might not have had Streets of Rage or Guardian Heroes. Without Street Fighter, we wouldn’t have Darkstalkers or Capcom vs Marvel. Ghosts and Goblins was a huge influence on the side scrolling action genre, and Vulgus was one of the first shooters ever.

These games have a strong legacy behind them, and if Capcom hadn’t made these there would be no Resident Evil, no Cannon Spike, no Dungeons and Dragons: The Arcade Game (which needs to be released onto consoles besides as a Saturn import!!!), no Duck Tales, and no Viewtiful Joe.

Capcom Classics Collection may have its issues, but it is still a great tribute to the golden age of gaming, when innovation and a love of the industry came before a need to create third rate games and market them to a larger casual audience as cool or actual quality in order to turn a heavy profit.

High marks here, with a bit shaved off for being ports

Originality Rating: 8/10

8. Addictiveness

I’ll admit, I used to play the heck out of a lot of these games, Street Fighter 2 being chief amongst them. I love Final Fight and bought it as soon as it came out for the GBA. That was my whole reason for originally picking up the system?

The rest of the games though were enjoyable, but I never got obsessed with them. games like 1942 and Section Z weren’t as fun as say Gradius, R-Type, or River Raid to me. Commando and Gunsmoke weren’t as fun as Smash TV or Gauntlet. And so on and so forth.

These are good games, but the key for me is that for each game on this compilation, there are 2-3 games in the same genre I enjoy far more. Yes, even Street Fighter. Give me Night Warriors or KoF ’98, and even Street Fighter Alpha over SF2. ESPECIALLY this version of SF2. Ick.

The unlockable art, tips, history and cast lists add to the addictiveness as I suffer from a well known Pokemon addiction and thus I “gotta catch ’em all.” But then you’re playing to unlock and not for the joy of the game, so I have mixed feelings there.

I have to say I wasn’t as into CCC as much as I was MAT1, which greatly surprised me. But then my favorite Capcom games weren’t on this collection. For me it was a collection of decent and good games, but not the ones I would consider GREAT. But then, I think Cannon Spike is one of the five best Capcom games ever made, so I’m obviously not Capcom’s target audience.

Still, when they bring out emulations of Duck Tales and Dungeons and Dragons, I’ll be first in line.

Addictiveness Rating: 6/10

9. Appeal Factor

Aside from the gamer who feels a game is only as good as it is pretty, most people can have a lot of fun with CCC. It’s got a nice mix of shooter, fighting, action, and beat em up genres on here. With 22 games, it’s hard to imagine a person not liking one or two of these venerable favorites. And especially for the price. I paid 29.99 for Final Fight One on the GBA. Now I get it on my PS2 along with 21 other games for ten dollars cheaper! What’s not to love about that.

The great thing about CCC is you will find something on here to treasure and feel nostalgic about. But sorry graphics whores, there are no spikey haired characters with no personalities for you to write slash fan fic about. Nor are their large breasted female characters with awful gameplay.

Appeal Factor: 8/10

10. Miscellaneous
I have mixed feelings over this whole compilation. Out of it all, I’d really only call Final Fight and the Street Fighter 2 and Ghosts and Goblins games “Classics.” The 1942 series is close, but there’s so many better shooters from the 8 and 16 bit era I really can’t put these games in that league. Bionic Commando? Maybe, if it was the NES version. Legendary Wings is a niche cult favorite, but not a classic. And that leaves 10 games on this collection that I wouldn’t have put in a list of Capcom’s best games, even for the 8 and 16 bit time frame. That’s half the collection. And that’s a shame.

It’s nice to get 22 games for under a buck each, and to have some unlockables, but compared to Midway Arcade Treasures 1 which has Rampage, Gauntlet, Smash TV, Joust, Paperboy, Spy Hunter, Marble Madness and Defender, Capcom Classics Collection really pales in comparison. It’s about on par with MAT2, and at least Midway gave us some excellent emulations of Mortal Kombat games on those.

As I said at the beginning, this collection is good, but it’s also highly disappointing and could have been so much better.

Miscellaneous Rating: 5/10

The Scores

Compilation: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 6/10
Control & Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 10/10
Balance: 5/10
Originality: 8/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Appeal: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 5/10

Overall Score: 68/100
FINAL SCORE: 7.0 (GOOD!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Capcom Classic Collection is a definite purchase considering how many games you get for twenty bucks. I certainly wouldn’t call a lot of the games on here “classics” and the biggest one of all is also butchered to the point where Street Fighter zealots belief that Capcom hates the most successful franchise is only going to grow from this. But all the middling issues with the collection aside, CCC is a wonderful taste of nostalgia that should delight any gamer, no matter their skill or age.