Even after only two packs, it has already been a wild roller coaster ride for the Capcom Arcade Cabinet. It launched with the less-than-stellar picks Avengers and Black Tiger, only to be followed up with what can only be considered a must-have three-pack. After the highs of Ghosts 'n Goblins and Gun.Smoke, this 1986 pack brings us back down to Earth.
This week's three-pack is the very definition of a mixed bag. We get the typical 2D shooter (Side Arms), the side-scrolling brawler (Trojan) and an ambitious action game that is a real mess (Legendary Wings). All three games show how Capcom was evolving as a company, but none of them are as original or endearing as what we saw in the 1985 pack.
Before we dive into the games, let's take brief moment to recap the pros and cons of Capcom Arcade Cabinet. As you probably already know, this is a free standalone program offering 15 different Capcom hits for purchase. The emulator is nice and the program itself is exceptionally easy to use. It offers all kinds of custom options, including changing versions and even modifying the game in some pretty startling ways.
Despite the sleek look and spot-on emulation, the overall cost is a bit steep compared to past Capcom collections. This 1986 pack will run you $9.99, putting each game above the three dollar mark. It's also worth mentioning that some of Capcom's best arcade games are mysteriously absent from this collection. For a more in depth look at the ins and outs of the program itself, make sure and read the Capcom Arcade Cabinet - Pack 1 review.
As a concept, Legendary Wings is the most ambitious of the three 1986 releases. It attempts to mix a Xevious-style overhead shooter with a side-scrolling action game. The results aren't nearly as interesting as the idea. You play a winged man with a giant gun, a recipe that should have delivered one of Capcom's most enduring franchises. As it is, it's easy to see why Legendary Wings never inspired a sequel.
At its best, Legendary Wings is a competent overhead shooter. Unfortunately, it all falls apart the moment the game unwisely switches to the 2D side-scrolling perspective. Suddenly the winged man goes from being past and nimble to being clumsy and unresponsive. It doesn't help that most of the levels look the same. Even the bosses are nothing more than statues that shoot fireballs. I'm sure there are a few ideas worth salvaging, but Legendary Wings simply doesn't hold up.
Side Arms is the spiritual successor to 1985's Section Z, a game that allowed the player to shoot in multiple directions. The astronaut and space station has been replaced with a brand new robot-suited hero and an impressive alien world to conquer. Much like Section Z, Side Arms allows the player to fire in two directions. Instead of physically turning around, the game's "Mobilsuit" allows players to show forwards and backwards at the press of a button.
Side Arms is a major improvement over Section Z, and already impressive 2D shooter. Players will immediately notice how fast the game is, constantly throwing enemies at you at a breakneck speed. Also noteworthy are the diverse levels, offering players an extensive tour of the alien world. And with the exception of a rare TurboGrafx-16 port in the early 1990s, Side Arms has remained elusive on home game consoles. Find out why this 1986 shooter is a real gem.
Trojan is the only non-shooter in this week's 1986 pack and as a result it's under a lot of pressure. You play a sword-wielding fighter in a post-apocalyptic world full of bombed out buildings and outlaw gangs. In execution, Trojan is a whole lot like Kung Fu on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Bad guys walk up to you and you slash them, simple as that. Occasionally you'll need to block an attack with your giant shield, but for the most part the game is about clobbering people whenever they get near.
The controls are a little outdated and the graphics don't quite hold up, but the gameplay is sound and the game is surprisingly fast. Unlike Kung Fun, Trojan understands that you need to mix things up from level to level. While the action largely remains the same throughout the game, you'll find that the backgrounds drastically change from one level to the next. This allows the developers to hide obstacles in new locations and give you something new to fear. The end result is an enjoyable game that knows exactly what it wants to be and accomplishes it.
As a three-pack, this collection of 1986 games is wildly uneven. Both Trojan and Side Arms offer up a good time, but it's hard to justify the appearance of Legendary Wings. No matter how much I talk up Side Arms, this collection pales in comparison to the 1985 pack. Still, I would take this pack over the dreadful set of games we got at launch.