Review – Capcom Arcade Stadium
Capcom loves to release compilations of their classic titles. More often than not, they tend to release a collection revolving a specific franchise or overall theme, such as Street Fighter, Disney games from the NES era, or classic beat ’em ups. Capcom had never released a compilation of pretty much all of their golden age arcade hits, regardless of genre, for modern consoles… until now. Capcom Arcade Stadium is pretty much the ultimate way to experience these games with the most pristine of emulations, as long as you put up with its slightly odd marketing approach.
Here’s how these games are being sold: upon downloading Capcom Arcade Stadium for free, you’ll only be able to play two games, the classic shoot ’em up 1943, and the original version of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The latter is a game I just cannot praise for the life of me, the perfect definition of “borderline broken in order to get more quarters from players”. All of the other thirty-two games have been divided into three different packs and must be purchased separately.
The first pack is called Dawn of the Arcade, featuring some of Capcom’s earliest hits, such as Commando, 1942, and Bionic Commando. There are also a handful hidden gems from the company’s earliest years, such as Vulgus (their first game ever developed) and the Pac-Man-inspired Pirate Ship Higemaru. As expected, this is the pack featuring the games that have aged the poorest, with occasionally clunky controls and an unfair level of difficulty. The original Bionic Commando game is nowhere near as fun to play as its NES counterpart, for example, but it’s still worth playing as a part of gaming history.
The second pack is called Arcade Revolution. If you were supposed to pick just one of the three packs available at the moment, this is easily the best choice. Not only does it feature some of the company’s most famous titles of all time, such as Street Fighter II, Final Fight, and Captain Commando, but it also includes what I consider to be the single best game in this entire collection: Strider, one of the main sources of inspiration for future hit titles such as Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. It’s one of the best arcade games of all time and has managed to age gracefully, even though it’s tough as nails.
The last pack is called Arcade Evolution, featuring games released between 1992 and 2001. The flagship titles in this pack are the updated versions of Street Fighter II: Turbo and Super Turbo. Battle Circuit, previously featured in the Capcom Beat ’em Up Bundle, is also included in here. The rest of the pack is comprised of either more obscure action titles, such as Armored Warriors, or shooters like 19XX and the CAVE-developed ProGear.
This a hearty collection if you decide to buy all packs at once. Capcom has already stated it might actually release a few additional packs depending on fan feedback, but what really matters is if these games have been properly emulated, with good controls and decent visuals. Thankfully, they have.
Weirdly enough, Capcom Arcade Stadium runs on the RE Engine. I was confused at first: why would Capcom proudly boast the fact that their flagship engine was powering a collection of arcade ROMs? It took me less than a minute to figure out why. The games aren’t being emulated like your average retro collection. Instead, you’re playing the as if you were looking directly at an arcade cabinet, with a reduced screen size that didn’t feel distracting at all. In fact, it actually helped mitigate the fact that not all of the games in the collection have aged well in terms of graphics and sound.
The games run pretty well, and you can play all of them with an arcade stick if you prefer. Upon booting up the game for the first time, you can actually choose your default setting, with the collection featuring a completely different button layout for arcade stick users. Any technical issues found during gameplay were derived from problems found in these games back in the day, such as the terrible jumping mechanics in Ghosts ‘n Goblins.
All in all, as long as you’re fine with the somewhat odd way these arcade games are being sold, you’ll have a great time with Capcom Arcade Stadium. The vast majority of these games have aged surprisingly well, being as fun and challenging now as they were back when they were first released. Sure, games like Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Bionic Commando are way too clunky for today’s standards, but when you have dozens of other extremely fun games at your disposal, you’ll ignore the fact some of them aren’t worth your time anymore.
A smart way to hide the fact these arcade games have aged somewhat poorly was to decrease the overall screen size by making it look like you are playing straight from an arcade cabinet. Capcom, you clever minx.
You can play all of the games included in this collection with an arcade stick, which was a nice touch. The controls are responsive and each game can be tweaked to suit your needs. Any technical issues found during gameplay were derived from problems found in these games back in the day, such as the terrible jumping mechanics in Ghosts ‘n Goblins.
The same soundtracks from the original arcade games. They aren’t brilliant, but hey, it’s as legit as it can be.
Fun Factor: 8.0
I don’t think that Capcom Arcade Stadium has been marketed properly, with the games being released in separate bundles. However, the complete package is comprised of some classic bangers and some hidden gems. And Ghosts ‘n Goblins as well…
Final Verdict: 8.0
Capcom Arcade Stadium is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
A copy of Capcom Arcade Stadium was provided by the publisher.