I believe it's safe to say that Capcom Arcade Cabinet did not launch with the strongest set of titles. While it's easy to love 1943: The Battle of Midway, it takes a little more effort to fully embrace Avengers and Black Tiger. Even through these weren't Capcom's most exciting arcade hits, the three games proved the Osaka-based company had a good idea with their PSN (and Xbox Live Arcade) compilation.
It only took Capcom two weeks to get their act together. This is the 1985 pack, featuring three genuine classics - Gun.Smoke, Section Z and Ghosts 'n Goblins. This is a strong pack that probably should have led off the Capcom Arcade Cabinet. Not only were all three titles big hits in the arcade, but they also enjoyed a healthy life on home consoles. This is as close as we'll ever get to a must-own three-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 1985 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 mentioned before, this 1985 pack is the highlight of Capcom's retro collection. All three games hold up well and it's fun to tinker with their various options. I was especially impressed with Ghosts 'n Goblins, a notoriously challenging arcade game that is finally manageable thanks to tweaking the difficulty, more powerful attacks and an increase in armor pick-ups.
Being able to finally hear the sweet, sweet sound of the ending in Ghosts 'n Goblins is reason enough to recommend this 1985 pack, but let's take a closer look at all three of these arcade hits.
Ghosts 'n Goblins
You play Arthur, a well-armored knight who is on an adventure to save the girl of his dreams from Satan himself. To do this, Arthur will need to battle his way past zombies, ice monsters, flying dragons, a Cyclops and much, much more. Oh, and he'll need to do it twice in order to see the real ending.
Each stage has its own look and style, complete with unique enemies to defeat. Some levels are little more than walking from left to right through a graveyard, while other parts of the game are more vertical. By the time the final boss shows up, Arthur will have fought his way through an abandoned village, haunted forest, ice castle and even an underground lair.
Not to be confused with the long-running TV show of the same name, Gun.Smoke is a Commando-esque action game starring a bounty hunting cowboy. The player shoots their way through ten different boss encounters, each with their own level designs and unique obstacles. By the time the ride is over, you'll have fought off Indian chiefs, outlaw gang members and even ninjas.
What sets Gun.Smoke apart from other overhead shooters is way you unload on the enemies. There are three action buttons, each firing in a different direction -- left, right and straight ahead. There are multiple weapons to pick up along the way, as well as a horse to mount for times when you need a little more armor. Much like 1943, Gun.Smoke benefits from this emulation's rapid fire buttons. A little harder than the home ports, but Gun.Smoke remains one of Capcom's best shooters.
Section Z takes us to the third millennium, where humans are forced to deal with an ominous space station hovering next to Earth. You play a nameless astronaut who rushes through 26 stages of side-scrolling 2D shoot-em-up fun. While not as diverse as either of the other two releases, this shooter makes up for it with a nice variety of enemies and a few exciting boss battles.
The gimmick here is that our hero can do more than shoot forward, he can also turn around. The game is full of enemies coming from all sides, offering a unique experience for an otherwise paint-by-numbers space shooter. Many gamers will remember the superior home console port, but that doesn't stop this arcade game from offering an exciting balance to Gun.Smoke and Ghosts 'n Goblins.
If you're only going to buy one pack for Capcom Arcade Cabinet, this 1985 pack is the one to get. Ghosts 'n Goblins and Gun.Smoke are two of Capcom's finest arcade games, and Section Z is no slouch either. All three games are made better when you tweak their options in casual mode and take full advantage of the emulation's rapid fire buttons. It's a shame that not all of the packs are as consistent as this.