Coming extremely late in this console generation's life cycle, Capcom Arcade Cabinet seems like the kind of can't-miss idea that should have been done ages ago. It's a free download that gives players access to up to 17 classic arcade games from the 1980s. With some genuine hits on tap, there's little doubt about the quality of the package. What is in doubt is whether or not this collection is too little, too late.
Over the next two months, Capcom plans on releasing a series of five individual packages, most featuring three well-known arcade hits from the same year. This particular pack only contains two games (as the third game, Black Tiger, is currently free to entice future sales) and retails for $4.99. By the time May rolls around, Capcom fans will be knee-deep in hits such as Ghosts 'N Goblins, Trojan, Commando, The Speed Rumbler, Gun.Smoke, Section Z and more. And best of all, anybody who buys all 15 games will have instant access to two unannounced mystery releases.
As a standalone app, Capcom Arcade Cabinet has a lot going for it. It's easy to switch between the different games, and the interface is both intuitive to use and attractive. I also like how deep the customization is. Players can not only change the number of lives, but also when a 1up is awarded, whether or not you'll have to manually add a token, and even switch between the Japanese and International versions of the various releases.
And that's just the beginning of how personalized you can make each game. Tucked away in the main menu is a page that allows the player to tweak practically every element of the experience. Want more lives? You can do that. Want to be invincible and increase the movement speed? That can be done, too. Capcom Arcade Cabinet even allows levels to be revisited and video replays to be uploaded to YouTube.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not a review of the Capcom Arcade Cabinet app. As a game hub, it does exactly what you want and little more. Instead of comparing the emulation to the arcade and getting all wonky, I've decided to make this review (and all future Capcom Arcade Cabinet reviews) about the pack of games.
To kick off the collection, Capcom decided to go with a pack of hits from 1987. This diverse compilation features a 2D brawler (Avengers), a fast-paced shoot-em-up (1943) and a side-scrolling action game (Black Tiger). Let's take a look at each of these games one at a time.
1943: The Battle of Midway
This is the second in Capcom's long-running 19XX franchise. It's a World War II-based overhead shooter starring a puke-yellow airplane and miles of ocean. You buzz around the screen shooting down airplanes flying in formation and large battleships. The red airplanes drop power-ups, such as rapid fire guns and a powerful shotgun attack. On top of picking up speed boosts, this brave pilot is also able to roll out of trouble and send off a powerful lightning attack that destroys everything on the screen.
Of the three Capcom classics released in the first week, 1943 is the strongest entry. The graphics and sound are dated, but the gameplay is quick and the action is always intense. There are eleven levels to fight through as well as two-player support. Best of all, this Capcom Arcade Cabinet port offers auto-fire buttons, making life significantly easier. The levels don't change much throughout the course of the game and you'll see a lot of repeating enemies, but the exciting action makes up for those drawbacks.
Not to be confused with the wildly successful movie starring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. Avengers is a 1987 action game starring a badass action star on his quest to save six women from an evil kidnapper. This weird arcade port is a lot like Final Fight, only with a confusing overhead perspective that does little more than get in the way. Players fight through Paradise City using their three limited moves and picking up weapons (grenades, shurikens, nunchaku, etc.) along the way. There are also a number of hidden locations to uncover and plenty of enemy faces to kick in.
Of these three games, Avengers is the weakest. The gameplay never felt as tightly honed as Final Fight or Double Dragon. What's more, I was never fully invested in Ryu's generic damsel in distress story. The different locations look good and I enjoyed the various enemies, but that isn't enough to make up for a disconcerting camera angle and repetitive gameplay. Designed by Takashi Nishiyama (who would later go on to co-create Street Fighter), you can see how this 1987 arcade port could be an amazing action game. As it is, Avengers is hard to go back to.
You can look at Black Tiger one of two ways: either it's the spiritual successor to Ghosts 'N Goblins or it's the trial run for Magic Sword. Unfortunately, this 2D action game doesn't stack up well against those two Capcom greats. Instead you get an insanely difficult sidescroller with cheap deaths, leaps of fate and every other frustrating trapping of late '80s arcade games. You play a barbarian hero who jumps around and uses a long mace (which also shoots arrows). The gameplay is simple enough, but the gimmick here is that players have to do more than just run from left to right. The game's huge level designs feature both vertical and horizontal scrolling, allowing the developers to hide all kinds of goodies. All the elements are here for a great game, but the frustrating difficulty may turn many gamers off of what could have been another great arcade game from Capcom.
Black Tiger is the type of Capcom arcade game I should love. But there's something about the game's unwieldy difficulty that keeps me from falling head over heels. Over the years I've gotten better, to the point where I have little to no problem finishing this surprisingly short outing. Even with all that work, this is a hard call for me. Black Tiger is not even close to the quality of other Capcom action games, but then again, very few games are.
This is a wildly inconsistent pack and a troubling way to start a collection. Instead of opening with the biggest and most noteworthy hits, Capcom opted for Avengers and Black Tiger. Thankfully one of those games is free, but that by itself may not be worth the 2 GB download . On the other hand, 1943: The Battle of Midway remains one of Capcom's best arcade shoot-em-ups. As a pack, this 1987 collection is hard to recommend. Individually, you may find at least one game worth your while.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
As a game hub, Capcom Arcade Cabinet delivers the goods. It's a good-looking program that is easy to use and packed full of games. Too bad this first pack of games isn't more impressive. 1943: The Battle of Midway is great fun, but Avengers left me cold. On the other hand, Black Tiger is free...just as long as you don't mind downloading a 2 GB file.