ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Nish

Capcom Classics Collection

Capcom Classics Collection
reviewer: Nish
rating: 3 out of 5
developed by: In-house
published by: Capcom
released: 18th November 2005
rrp: £19.99
formats: PS2 (tested), Xbox

Even though the first of the next generation consoles is almost within reach of gamers’ well worn fingertips there’s still a desire to step back, to reflect, and once more caress the glories of a previous gaming era. At least that’s what certain developers seem to think. Yes, it’s time for yet another retro compilation, but this one actually contains more substance than just fragile memories.

King Arthur enjoyed game hunting as much as the next royal
King Arthur enjoyed game hunting as much as the next royal

Capcom Classics Collection serves up 22 games from the arcade vaults for today’s gamer and there’s no need for a pocketful of 10p pieces to enjoy them. Using “classics” in the title isn’t a cheeky selling point either – some of these games are amongst the most significant in gaming history.

Once again it’s retro specialists Digital Eclipse handling the conversions (Midway Arcade Treasures, Namco Museum) and they’ve done a bang-up job. Almost all of the titles are arcade perfect and the package as a whole is lovingly presented right down to the Zangief spinning clothesline loading motif. Also, bundled with each game are associated extras including potted histories, trivia, artwork, revamped soundtracks and tips. This is not to be sniffed at; the only bonus you used to get at down the local arcade was when the ‘jump’ button hadn’t been hammered down until it was dead. But let’s get back to the games.

The main draw for veteran gamers, particularly shoot-em-up fans, will be the chance to reacquaint themselves with gems such as Commando, Gunsmoke and the 1942 series. These are pretty much how you remember them (including Commando’s glorious high score theme) with gameplay no more complicated than furious single button-stabbing with the occasional considered press to throw a grenade or execute a daredevil roll.

The game I was most eager to play again was Bionic Commando, a sequel of sorts to Commando (it features the same character albeit sporting funky blue hair). Prior to this compilation I hadn’t clapped eyes on the game since the Commodore 64 conversion (ugly, ugly graphics but killer tunes). I had fond memories of the game, which is often dangerous when it comes to these retro offerings. I soon discovered the game to be ridiculously hard and progress only achievable through liberal use of continues. It wasn’t much fun at all (even the tunes weren’t as good as the C64 version – I now have even more respect for the sound smiths from the 8bit days).

Actually masochists are well catered for by the Classics Collection since it features three games from the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series: the original; it’s even tougher sequel, Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts; and the SNES title Super Ghoul’s ‘n’ Ghosts. These games are as tricky as ever and initially off-putting because of it, but the quality and sheer addictiveness of the gameplay soon shines through. The SNES game allows you to earn further continues so there is an added element of challenge to the game.

And so to Street Fighter II (I suppose Final Fight really should get a mention first, but playing it really did destroy a precious memory – it’s really, really dull and cursed with infinite continues). Again three versions of the game are collected (the original game, Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting AKA SFII Turbo) although there’s no sign of the original Street Fighter but perhaps that’s just as well. As a nod the recent anniversary edition of the games there is an option to match-up different edition fighters against each other, e.g. Turbo Ken versus original Ryu.

I have to admit that even as a massive SFII fan (not that I’m much cop at the game) it was slightly disappointing re-playing the game in its original form: slow paced and with some unbalanced characters, i.e. Guile and his repertoire of throws. However, this is still SFII in its purest form and you can see why every incarnation since has been evolution rather than revolution: the basic mechanics are faultless. The same cannot be said of the conversions though. Some of the sound samples are a little rough and inconsistent, but less forgivable are the loading pauses before and after each bout. It seems extraordinary that a 15 year old game and arguably the ‘main’ game of the package could be handled so sloppily.

It’s perhaps telling that the blurb on the packaging doesn’t list all the 22 games in the package; some are a little obscure…at least to non-arcade aficionados. I found that many of the lesser known games weren’t worth sticking with beyond the initial play but others might be attracted to them (I should add that I wouldn’t include Forgotten Worlds in that group though). However, the main criticism should really be what has been excluded rather that what has been included such as Strider and U.N. Squadron. It’s not hard to imagine a second collection appearing featuring those games and with a host of others such as Side Arms, X-Men and perhaps even The Punisher.

Despite these complaints this is arguably the best of the retro packages available – the quality of the best games far outweigh the weaknesses of the so-so ones. I expect this to be reasonably priced when it receives its PAL release (£19.99 or less would be ideal) and it’s well worth snapping up.

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