Book Review: Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia
by Alex Lucard on October 28, 2013

Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia
Publisher: DK
Cost: $16.99 (MSRP)/$10.39 (Amazon.com)
Page Count: 208
Release Date: 10/21/2013
Get it Here: Amazon.com

It’s hard to believe that Capcom has been around for thirty years. Why, I remember just yesterday when I received Mega Man 2 as a present from my father and I proceeded to play the hell out of it. I remember the day Street Fighter Alpha first hit arcades, and being the first guy in town to beat the game with Sagat (and on a single quarter no less). I remember playing the first Resident Evil on my Sega Saturn. Wow, maybe it’s just hard to believe I’m that OLD. Regardless, I’ve grown up with Capcom, so it was lovely to see DK and Bradygames team up to put out a character encyclopedia to cover the past thirty years of Capcom’s characters. This 200+ page hardback book is a wonderful read for any fan of Capcom’s library, and I was quite impressed they managed to release it for such a low MSRP. The cover is extremely solid, and each page is made from high quality, glossy paper. The book looks incredible, like it should cost a lot more than it does. Great production values all around. The spine does crack a lot when you flip through it, so at first I was afraid it was going to fall apart like some strategy guides, but it’s held up through vigorous reading, so just be prepared for a noisy read.

Each of the 204 characters in the book gets a full page to themselves. Half the page is art work and half the page is a written biography of them. That does mean venerable characters like Ken Masters have as much information as newcomers like Piers Nivans, or that characters with a long, rich back history like Mega Man have their bio truncated while the book obviously pads bios for obscure or barely used characters like Harman Smith from Killer 7. While some readers may get their ire up from the big names having to share the same amount of space with the midcarders or B-listers, I actually liked that all characters were treated equally, as it makes them all seem equally important. Who knows – perhaps someone new to one of these characters will be inspired to check their game out due to this treatment.

Of course, with only 200 or so pages to this book, the Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia can’t cover every character Capcom has put into a video game. Licensed characters are right out, so don’t expect to see Scrooge McDuck or the protagonists from the two Dungeons & Dragons arcade games. Likewise, series’ that Capcom did not initially create are not in this book, so the cast and crew from the Clock Tower games (originally developed by the late, lamented Human) are noticeably absent. Of course, even sticking to non licensed, core Capcom characters, some guys and gals just didn’t make the cut. A lot of the new comers to Street Fighter IV are missing (Except Seth – he’s in there) and even some classic SF characters like Deejay, Thunder Hawk and Fei Long are missing from the book. Much of the Street Fighter III roster except Alex and Hugo are not in the book. Carlito Keyes, the main antagonist of Dead Rising, is missing, but his sister Isabella gets an entry. Huitzil from Darkstalkers, Tyrant from the Resident Evil series, most Mega Man stage bosses and so on do not get an entry in the book. So fans of those characters may take umbrage with their absence.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of one shot characters, some of which even I had forgotten about, that show up in the book. I was pleasantly surprised to see Fiona and Hewie from Haunting Ground get an entry, as well as Zack and Wiki each getting their own page. I was also thrilled to see the mech from Steel Battalion received a full entry. Now, at the same time, I don’t really think all three characters from Knights of the Round needed their own entry, especially when the book lumped all of the King of Dragons cast together on a page, or that the Servbots needed a separate entry from Tronne Bonne, but then I’m not the one who made this book. Part of the fun of the book is seeing obscure characters like Vanessa Z. Schnieder, the Chiki Chiki Boys and more. If you only want to read about the “big name” characters, then the whole point of doing a historical retrospectus on the characters of Capcom is lost.

So I was quite happy with the Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia. In fact, there were only two problems I had with it. The first is that the book felt like it could have been a lot bigger in terms of depth, character coverage and page count. Of course, that would have raised the price too, so I understand why they went more the more affordable, but less overall coverage, approach. The second is that the book really needed a better editor/set of editors. There are lots of errors throughout the book. Typographical ones like calling Galactus “Galacticus” for example. The sidebars for each character are far from uniform, and as such, it makes the book feel disjointed and piecemeal. There are factual errors too. For example, Firebrand’s currently playable section only lists Capcom Classics Collection and Ghosts N’ Goblins as his playable games, yet it’s somehow missing Gargoyle’s Quest, which can be downloaded from the 3DS eshop. Even stranger, it doesn’t have Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 on the list, even though it talks about his appearance in the game within his bio text. The book is full of small errors that older or more OCD gamers will catch. Perhaps if the book had spent a little more time in the editing process, some of these, if not all, would have been caught.

Overall, I’m exceptionally happy with the Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia. It’s a beautiful book to look at, full of some great information from Capcom’s past. I especially love that DK was able to put out the book with so much content for such a low cost, with the hardcover and glossy paper just being icing on the cake. If you’re at all a fan of Capcom, you’ll probably be thrilled with what’s here. Sure, you might nitpik a few things here or there, but overall, the book is top notch and a great addition to any video game fan’s non-fiction collection.



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Alex Lucard

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