Disclaimer, March 1: It's important to clarify that Capcom Arcade Stadium is not a traditional collection of games, but a digital platform available for free in the eShop. You get 1943: The Battle for Midway for free, but aside from that, you need to buy packs of 10 games from different eras. You can find more information here.
With a new generation of consoles now on the market, Capcom has decided to return with yet another compilation of its arcade classics. Capcom Arcade Stadium includes more than 30 games that were released in the arcades from 1984 - 2001, and it also features new in-game challenges and global leaderboards to keep players hooked. We've seen many of these games routinely come to different console generations over the years, so is this collection really worth picking up to experience them again?
With the collection containing more than 30 games, I won't be reviewing everything included, but I'll instead be providing a general overview as to what is on offer. Right off the bat, one thing that I was pleased to see was that many of the heavy hitters you'd expect from a collection like this are included. The line-up includes Street Fighter II, Ghosts n' Goblins, and Commando - three timeless classics that have transcended their stay within the arcades. Sure, these have been included on countless compilations such as the Capcom Classics Collection on PS2 and Xbox, but things would feel incomplete without their inclusion.
As well as these juggernaut titles, there's also games such as Powered Gear and Tatakai no Banka that were only originally available within Japanese arcades. Having these titles included is a real plus, as it means that western players will likely be able to experience new classics that they didn't play themselves personally growing up. A shortcoming of the catalogue, however, is that almost a third of the games fall under the banner of two core series: 194X and Street Fighter. Sure, these are undoubtedly two of Capcom's biggest arcade franchises, but I would have personally favoured a much more varied line-up.
As I grew up in the early 2000s, I completely missed out on the boom of arcade gaming and most of what I experienced within the collection was completely new to me. Three games in particular stood out to me and these were Mega Twin, Cyberbots, and Forgotten Worlds. Cyberbots felt fresh compared to the many other fighters in the collection as it sees you duke it out as giant mechs. Mega Twin is a gorgeous side-scrolling platformer that reminded me a lot of the Wonder Boy series, and Forgotten Worlds is a blisteringly fast shoot-em-up that presents you with plenty of flexibility when it comes to fitting your ship with weapons.
The presentation here is certainly worthy of praise as it evokes that feeling of standing and playing games within a crowded arcade hall. Each game is displayed on its own arcade unit, and whilst you're playing, you can see other units around you lighting up with other games. A subtle but appreciated touch that adds to the authenticity is that you have to physically enter coins into the machine if you are to die and want to continue. The criticism that I have in this regard is that I wish that each arcade unit was themed after the game it displays. Each unit you play has the same basic design and it feels pretty bland to keep looking at.
Just like we've seen in many other retro game collections, there's the opportunity here to create save states and there's the option to rewind. Within each game you can tweak the difficulty level and the game speed, which proved to be an absolute lifesaver in titles like relentlessly punishing Ghost n' Goblins. You can also tweak the size of the display, you can change its orientation, and you can add filters to give the action more of a retro look. What's great too is that you can save individual settings for each arcade cabinet that you use, so you don't need to keep jumping back into the settings every time you switch games.
Alongside these features, there's also a number of challenges that will help to keep players invested. You can compete against the entire community in both score and time-based challenges for each game and there's in-game achievements known as Triumphs that you can unlock. New Special Challenges appear in the game every single week, and they have specific rules such as giving you only one life or making you play upside-down. These just seem like a silly and fun way to help keep the game fresh and challenging for veterans.
Capcom Arcade Stadium is a lovingly-crafted collection that compiles together many of the publisher/developer's finest titles from its glory days within the arcades. Many of its juggernaut franchises like Street Fighter and Ghost n' Goblins are present here, as well as lesser known Japanese exclusive titles such as Powered Gear. It is unfortunately padded out with a few too many titles from the 194X and Street Fighter franchises, but I was willing to overlook this due to the care and attention poured into its many challenges and settings.
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