These days, Capcom is best known for a number of beloved franchises such as Mega Man, Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter. But like many older game development companies, it also has a storied history on the arcade side of the industry. In an effort to relive those days of yore, Capcom has released Capcom Arcade Stadium, a collection of 32 titles released between 1984 and 2001. While die-hard Capcom arcade fans will likely want to grab the full set of games, others may prefer to invest in one of the game’s three smaller game packs.
A treasure trove of options
Immediately, I was drawn to Capcom Arcade Stadium‘s structure. To start, you can download the game for free, which grants you access to 1943: The Battle for Midway. If you decide you want more, you can either buy one of three packs of 10 games or go all in with the entire collection. Strangely enough, Ghosts ‘n Goblins stands on its own as a separate purchase. Collectively, this provides the 32 games in question. I actually really like this strategy, because it’s probable that many people may only want a handful of the games. While I would ideally like to have seen each game be a separate item (or maybe accessible via a build-your-own bundle), this method allows you to have full control over your available experiences, a theme that runs throughout the entire collection. It also sets a precedent if Capcom decides to ever create DLC for the collection.
Speaking of customization, Capcom Arcade Stadium provides a whole suite of options that let you fine-tune your experience to an incredible level. In every game, you can (where applicable) adjust the difficulty to varying degrees, choose from five different play speeds, and alter extra life point requirements. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the difficulty option does, but best I can tell, it partly controls how many enemies appear on screen at once. I haven’t really had a need to tinker with it too much, however, as the abilities to save wherever and rewind the last portion of gameplay have let me finish some games even on their hardest difficulty with ease.
Each game also offers a range of display options to choose from. You can stick with the original aspect ratio or stretch the game out. In some vertical shoot ’em ups, you can even turn the screen sideways so that you can play using the length of the Switch instead of its height. You can throw on one of a handful of decorative borders or simulate looking at an actual arcade machine. As a small note, in this mode, you can even see the joystick move and buttons press as you control the game. It’s a nice little touch that goes a long way for me, despite not particularly caring for this display style.
As far as the games are concerned, there are four fighting games, 13 action games, and 15 shooters in the full collection. Many of these games allow for local co-op play, with some accommodating up to four players. One nice feature is that most games include both the English and Japanese versions, which you can switch between with the push of a button from the selection screen. A few games only have Japanese versions, and even fewer only have an English version. However, this is something most people won’t care too much about, and neither affects your ability to play the games. In addition, each game contains instruction manuals within its menu, teaching you the controls and giving you important information if you’ve never played before.
Playing games rewards you with Capcom Arcade Stadium Points, or CASPO, for short, based on your score and how long it took to complete the game. With enough points, you can rank up in the collection and unlock new display borders. Ultimately, this feels a little pointless, though it’s about the closest you’ll get to any kind of bonus here. There are also special challenges you can compete in based on score, completion time, and other special rules, which can earn you additional CASPO, as well as a place on the global leaderboards.
Street Fighter II? More like Street Fighter too much
One area I was thoroughly disappointed in was the lack of any type of museum content. Often in collections such as this, there are tons of archival features, including sound tests, concept art galleries, or developer commentary. Capcom Arcade Stadium has none of this. Maybe it’s a product of these games being arcade releases, but there’s nothing outside of the attract mode movies that play during game selection. It’s also possible that I’ve been spoiled by the likes of the recent Mega Man collections or Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but I can’t help but feel that things are incomplete without such bonus features.
I also would have liked to have seen a bit more variety in game types among the releases. There are definitely some gems in the mix, but after a while, most of the shoot ’em ups start to feel the same, especially after playing in quick succession. A few of them could’ve been taken out and replaced with puzzle games (something the collection is largely lacking), and the package would’ve been better off for it.
And then there’s Street Fighter II. Out of four fighting games, there are three different versions of Street Fighter II. I suppose I should be glad that they stopped at three, given that there are so many other Street Fighter games they could’ve added. But when 75% of your fighting game roster is composed of different versions of the same game, something’s wrong. At the very least, swap one of them out for Darkstalkers or something.
Despite these gripes, I can’t stay mad at Capcom Arcade Stadium for long. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with most of the games and even found a few new favorites. I can’t judge the games themselves too harshly though, as they were released in a much different environment. These games are tough. They were designed to make you cycle through your credit collection. It’s not entirely fair to judge them by today’s standards.
But to its credit, Capcom Arcade Stadium has given players so much freedom to experience these games in whatever way they see fit. If you want to crank up the difficulty and try to clear a game on one credit, you can do so. If you’d rather make full use of the rewind functionality and pump credits in until you prevail, that’s fine too. These games are here not as some test of skill. They’re here representing part of Capcom’s legacy, and in that role, they serve their purpose very well.
All in all, I think Capcom Arcade Stadium is generally worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of older Capcom titles. For those less familiar with these offerings, I would instead suggest that you look at each pack to see what interests you. If you’re only interested in a small subset of the included titles, there’s not much of a reason to fork out for the entire collection when you can get a single pack for about a third of the cost. There’s certainly potential for a great gathering of games here, but given all of the collection’s faults, it falls just short of hitting that high score.
A review code was provided by the publisher.