Capcom Arcade Cabinet Pack One: Black Tiger, 1943: The Battle of Midway & Avengers
Release Date: 02/26/2013
If there’s one thing Capcom is known for, it’s tweaking games and re-releasing them over and over again. In the case of Capcom Arcade Cabinet, you’ll be getting fifteen games (and two secret ones!) for roughly $29.99, spread out over two and a half months. The first pack of three games, Black Tiger, 1943 and Avengers was released on the 19th of Feburary, but we didn’t receive out review code until the 26th, so we’re a little late on covering this. In truth, most of the games in this collection have been re-released multiple times, either as standalone downloads or in other compilations like Capcom Classics Collection. The bad part of it is those previous collections contained far more games, for a lot less cash. Hell, for the price of this complete collection, you can get both Capcom Classics released for the PSP, which will give you a lot of these games, and some better ones thrown in to boot. With that in mind, you have to wonder who would pick up Capcom Arcade Cabinet and why. Well, there are two possible answers. The first is that you may not have a system that allows you to play any of the previous re-releases of the titles in this collection. The other is that the re-releases in this collection offer some customization as well as online play. There are also a few extras like unlockable galleries and trophies, but those are minor in the grand scheme of things. Does these new aspects make Capcom Arcade Cabinet worth picking up? Possibly, but only if you REALLY are a big fan of some of these games and know enough people that will want to play online with you. Otherwise you’re just paying a lot more for each of these games than you normally would.
None of the releases in this first pack for Capcom Arcade Cabinet are truly amazing. In fact, 1943 is the only one I MIGHT consider a “classic.” Black Tiger is below average at best and Avengers is downright terrible. Why Capcom chose these as their first games instead of their truly GREAT arcade releases, like either Dungeons & Dragons arcade game, is beyond me. I mean, was their goal to make people run screaming from this collection? I’d rather see Capcom get off their duff and resurrect some arcade titles that have never seen a home console release (or in the case of the aforementioned D&D games, only once, in Japan, and for the Sega Saturn. Ouch.). I definitely wouldn’t say this first pack is worth the five dollar price tag, but 1943 is always fun to play now and then, especially if you like vertical scrolling shooters. Now, let’s take a look a quick look at each of the three games.
Black Tiger: This is an odd and truly terrible action platformer. Now I know I’m not the biggest fan of platformers on my best day, but Black Tiger is one of those games that does everything wrong. Slowdown in mid jump causing you to fall instead of complete the jump, enemies that randomly appear and never stop generating (sometimes even in walls or in the ground so you can’t jump over them and they can’t move or get out), including when you are in mid-jump so you land on them, invisible walls that impede your progress, unresponsive controls so that you jump the wrong way or not at all, jumps that aren’t uniform in height and length so you never know where your character will land, platforms that your character attaches to even when you are hitting to button to let go, enemies that look exactly the same but require a different number of hits to kill with the same weapon, and so much more. I could go on and on about how bad Black Tiger is. It’s eight stages of exactly how NOT to do a platformer. It’s buggy, unresponsive and poorly designed, and it’s definitely a game people would have just kept shoving quarters into back in the day, albeit more out of spite than anything else.
The basis of Black Tiger is that you are a generic fantasy warrior who is going through a dungeon, hack and slash style, to kill a black dragon. Yes, I don’t know where the Black Tiger title comes from, unless it’s a terrible Engrish mistranslation. There are no black tigers in the game. There are lots of orcs, skeletons and Audrey IIs however. You are armed with a morning star and throwing daggers, the former of which you can upgrade by freeing petrified dwarves who will sometimes sell you wares. You can also purchase armour which lets you take more hits before you die. However, there are a lot of ways to instantly die in the game, so expect to purchase the best armour in the game and then get hit by a boulder whose sprite doesn’t appear until it’s right on top of you.
Black Tiger looked okay for its era, especially the blue and black dragons, but you’ll definitely see the same monsters over and over again, albeit with a different colour scheme. Aside from the dragons, the bosses are pretty dull and unimpressive, such as a third rate Firebrand (stage five) or some living slabs of basalt (stages 1, 2 and mini boss of stage 5). I really wish Capcom would have improved the controls. I’d have taken that any day over playing online or a score attack option. What’s the point? Honestly, the Nintendo Wii version of Black Tiger handles better, but this version is much cheaper and has various options for you to play with, chief of which is online co-op play. All in all though, Black Tiger is not a game I’d recommend, nor would I have made it the freebie opener for the series like Capcom has. Black Tiger looks good, but that’s all it has going for it. Otherwise it’s just a terribly designed platformer in every sense of the word. Unless you like spotty controls and uneven jumping, you can easily avoid Black Tiger, as it’s just not worth it.
Avengers: If you had your hopes up that this was the Data East game based on the Marvel comics team, well, get ready for disappointment. Besides, why would that be in a Capcom collection when it wasn’t even in the Data East Arcade Classics collection that was put out for the Nintendo Wii? No, this is a bare bones top down beat ‘em up. You have a button for punching and a button for kicking. There’s no dodging or jumping. It’s all button mashing from beginning to end, and it’s not very good, nor very much fun. Much like Black Tiger, I’m shocked this was included over so many other, better Capcom arcade games, especially when everyone crapped on this game in its previous PSP, PS2 and Xbox re-releases.
Avengers is a six stage game where your character (or characters if you are playing co-op) are out to save six girls that have been kidnapped by a veritable army of goons led by a man known as Geshita. There really isn’t much at all to the game. You just button mash your way through the slow moving legion of enemies that appear on your screen. Their main attack is to hug you, which slowly drains your life away unless you wiggle your D-Pad or analog stick. There’s no skill needed, especially if you have the autofire option on. Only the last two bosses can’t be overcome by button mashing, and in those cases, it’s memorizing their ONE attack pattern and then button mashing to counter when there is an opening. The end result is an exceptionally dull and repetitive game that you’ll be able to beat in a half hour or less, and you’ll never feel the need to come back to it.
There’s nothing positive to really say about Avengers. It’s exceptionally ugly, even for its time, it’s slow, which is something you never want in a beat ‘em up, and the AI is pretty terrible. There’s no challenge or skill involved at all. Seriously, I could just hold R1 down and beat the game. In fact, after playing the game normally, I went back and did just that. There are about eight different enemies (not including bosses), and the only thing that killed me was one stage where I thought the background was swamp or grass and it turned out to be a badly rendered bottomless pit. At least Black Tiger LOOKED good. There is neither substance nor style to Avengers. The game is playable at least, but I can’t think of a reason why anyone would, unless it was free. I guess you can get an easy silver and gold trophy out of playing Avengers if you care about that sort of thing, but it’s still not worth having to sit through such a dull experience. Seriously Capcom, who is part of the vetting process for your compilations?
1943: The Battle of Midway: Now this is more like it. 1943 is an actually top notch vertical shooter. While I much prefer the horizontal scrolling shooters of this era, and there are better vertical scrollers like River Raid, 1943 is still a game any shoot ‘em up fan can have fun with. It’s by far the highlight of the collection, and the 194X series is definitely one of Capcom’s best non fighting game arcade franchises. It’s a bit odd to see 1943 released before 1942, but it’s not like Capcom is releasing things for this collection chronologically.
In 1943, you take control of a Boeing Stearman E75, trying to destroy the Japan air and naval forces. There are sixteen stages, each of which has two sections. The first section tends to be an all air combat experience where you outfly and outshoot Japanese troops. The second half of each stage tends to be an air vs. sea battle where you’ll be shooting at battleships and other naval vessels in addition to fighter planes. The second half of the stage always ends with a boss battle. Most are against a giant enemy battleship, but some stages have you dueling it out with giant bombers or other oversized planes. 1943 is a pretty long game for a shoot ‘em up, especially an arcade one, so be prepared for that.
Unlike a lot of games, 1943 doesn’t have “lives” that the player can lose. Instead, you have a slowly degrading health bar that can be boosted by various power-ups. You lose life by getting shot or by colliding with enemy vehicles. There are enough health power-ups in the game that a skilled player can keep going, but if you don’t feel there are enough, you can always shoot weapon power-ups to turn them into health ones.
Speaking of weapon power-ups, there are lot of them. There’s the seven way spread, the short burst shotgun, the laser, the shell and a few others. Unlike most games, your supply of special ammo is based on a timer rather than until you die or run amount of X number of shots. For this reason, button jamming is especially useful while you have one of these weapons. Even better, if you pick up a weapon power-up of the same type, it gives you extra time on your meter, meaning you can milk your extra powerful shots for even longer. Even today, 1943 stands out as a pretty memorable shoot ‘em up. It’s fun, and because it’s not as fast or frantic as bullet hell games, it’s far more accessible to younger and casual gamers than, well, anything by my beloved Treasure. For purists though, I should point out this is actually the “Kai” version of 1943, which is noticeable by the type of plane used (in the original 1943 you fly a P-38 Lighting and the fact you have the laser power-up). Why Capcom doesn’t just advertise this as the Kai version of the game is beyond me, but it kind of fits considering how screwed up this collection is only three games in.
The bottom line though is that 1943 is a fun game, and by far the highlight of the collection so far. 943 has always been considered a hard game to port, and previous versions have been decried as half-assed. Thankfully, I can say this version of 1943 is the best I’ve played outside the original arcade cabinet itself, and it’s the only game in the collection I can recommend so far. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay four dollars if you want the game on its own instead of five dollars for the three game package, so you might as well spend the extra buck. Which, of course, is probably the only way Capcom is going to be able to sell the other two games in this set.
Besides the core experience of each game, Capcom Arcade Collection gives you a few different ways to play. You have the basic arcade mode, where you can also set the difficulty, number of lives, number of credits and a few other things to customize your experience. There’s a score attack mode where you can post your top score online to compare with players from around the globe. There’s even a casual mode where the games are made much easier, but where you can’t earn trophies. In all of these modes, you can also pick between the Japanese and “international” versions of the game. You can also listen to tracks (MIDIs) from the game, and, as I’ve mentioned throughout the review, engage in online play for co-op fun. All of these extras are neat, but kind of minor when compared to the fact you can find these games for much cheaper in previous compilations. Trophies and online play in no way justify a fifty percent increase in cost AND a reduction of titles when compared to the PS2 Capcom Classics Collections – especially when you aren’t getting the best games the company has put out.
The bottom line is that only one of the three games in this first package for Capcom Arcade Cabinet is worth playing, much less owning. Unfortunately, as we look through the list of the games in the collection, they’ve all been released multiple times before and for far less money. Do yourself a favor and stick with the older collections. You get more bang for your buck and far more games. Capcom, wake me when you decide to starting porting arcade titles people have yet to see in a home release in the last two console generations, if at all. Dungeons & Dragons I & II, Red Earth, The Punisher, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Strider 2, Willow, Warriors of Fate, Tech Romancer, Ring of Destruction, Project Justice, Plasma Sword and Alien Vs. Predator are all arcade games that haven’t been ported to death. Let’s see you do something with one or more of those instead. Finally, it wouldn’t be Capcom if the pack that you are downloading weren’t just unlock codes for content already in the original main download. Tacky, tacky tacky. Basically what would you rather have? Something like Capcom Classics Collection which contained twenty-two games for $19.99, or this collection, which offers fifteen to seventeen games for a cost of either $29.99 (if you wait until May 21st to buy in bulk), $45 (if you purchase all five packs as they come out) or $56 (if you purchase each game individually)? If you choose the latter, I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot, and Capcom should be ashamed of trying to nickel and dime gamers this way, especially with sub-par releases like Black Tiger and Avengers.
Short Attention Span Summary
Capcom Arcade Cabinet is a good idea in theory, but when you actually look at what you are getting it’s a bit of a disappointment. You’ll end up paying between thirty and fifty six dollars for this collection, depending on how you purchase it, and you’re only getting seventeen games. Compare that to the Capcom Classics Collections that the PS2 and Xbox had for only $19.99, which not only had more games, but a far better selection. Are online play and trophies really worth up to TRIPLE the price of last generation’s collection? If you answer yes, than congratulations on epitomizing the old proverb about a fool and their money.