Back in the good ol' days we used to play Kung-Fu, Double Dragon, and Streets of Rage, and despite the popularity of fighting games perhaps taking some of the joy away from classic beat 'em ups such as these, they still have a place in the hearts of many. That's perhaps why Capcom has got the nostalgia juices flowing with their Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle, which is a package filled the company's finest moments in the genre. Or rather... a collection that should have been filled with the company's finest moments in the genre. In fact, no licensed games are included, meaning neither Alien vs. Predator nor any of the Dungeons & Dragons games are present.
Instead, we find Captain Commando, Final Fight, King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Warriors of Fate, Armored Warriors, and Battle Circuit. The two latter stand out for the simple reason that they've never been released for home use, which is obviously nice, and since there are no more games than that (some collections have 30-50 games, making it impossible to really cover each and every one), we thought we'd go through them individually.
As the name of the collection indicates, all of these games are beat 'em ups; games where you go from left to right and hit a lot of enemies in the face along the way. If we take them in alphabetical order, Armored Warriors is first out, a spiritual sequel to Cyberbots with a hysterically rapid pace and an overdose of lovely Japanese robots to play as and blow up. The music is forgettable and sometimes borderline annoying, but the graphics are still cool and the pixel work is stunning. Be prepared for high difficulty though, so play with two friends for maximum assistance and chaos. Overall, this is one of the three best games in the collection.
Battle Circuit, like Armored Warriors, has never been released for home use, and perhaps we can see why. Capcom has probably not seen a market for this Japanese sci-fi game, where you can choose from bounty hunters such as extraterrestrial plants and a pink ostrich. Then there are missions to accomplish like defeating a gang that has a floppy disk (because nothing screams sci-fi as much as floppy disks!) that can destroy the world. Everything with this game is strange, but it's also entertaining and supports up to four people at the same time.
The next game is one of our personal favourites, Captain Commando, which is the best game of this collection, having surprisingly great features like super attacks, weapons, and a fair amount of Japanese insanity (like the character Baby - which is just a baby behind the levers of a robot that can drive an even bigger robot). It's colourful, varied, has the right amount of challenge, and is a classic that has stood the test of time.
Final Fight is a game that really doesn't need an introduction, as it's in some way the archetype of the genre with shabby streets, graffiti-ridden subways, steel pipes, and a trio protagonists with the Asian martial arts expert, the good-looking all-American hero, and an older muscle man ready to tear apart every enemy that stands in his way. Add to this life-giving pizza, delicious pixel graphics, wonderful chip-music, and memorable bosses. We hate to admit that it hasn't aged as well as we thought it would though, and the controls aren't really that great any more. Still, it stands among the best in the collection.
King of Dragons is the closest thing to Dungeons & Dragons we get in this collection and more than anything else it feels like a direct response to Golden Axe. However, despite a level-up system and fine pixel graphics, it lacks personality and feels like it has passed the age of retirement. We could write quite exactly the same thing about Knights of the Round, although it's a bit more fun with the Arthurian theme.
Finally, we have Warriors of Fate, which is based on manga Tenchi wo Kurau (the same one Dynasty Warriors is based on as well). It still feels fairly entertaining, including battle horses to ride through and a unique graphic style which - together with the HUD - reminds us of Street Fighter II. This is definitely playable, and if you can gather two friends to play with you it's seriously good fun.
All of these games have online support, but we didn't have a whole lot of luck with it, especially for Switch. Also, these arcade games are made for you to throw money into them, hence the level of challenge involved. To play online makes already tough games much worse, and instead, it's offline where these games really shine. Even then, one should know that flat screen TVs with wireless controls have more delay than those old-school arcade controls.
It can't be overlooked that neither Alien vs. Predator nor any of the Dungeons & Dragons games are featured in a collection called Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle; imagine if Nintendo released a Super Mario Platform Bundle with old Mario games but skipped Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. With that said, there are still titles included that have aged quite well and, furthermore, it's a great fit for gaming on the go with the Switch. If you know that you like the genre, we have no trouble recommending this one to you.