Review: Since when are rehashes known as evolution?
Fighting games and 2D games appear to be losing steam in this industry. A decade ago, people were freely spending quarters in arcades to play fighting games such as Street Fighter II. But as technology has progressed, 2D games became replaced by 3D games, and the fighting genre suffered. But over the past year, companies have been rehashing old favorites such as the Metal Slug and Street Fighter series, and releasing them with new features or bundles of older titles on one disk for the new consoles. Capcom is no stranger to this, and their newest release is Capcom Fighting Evolution.
Capcom Fighting Evolution stars over 20 fighters from five classic Capcom Arcade games: Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter III, Darkstalkers and Red Earth (which never saw daylight in the U.S. as an arcade game). The minute you start playing this game you realize that this is a game made for hardcore fans of the arcade games, which I can't say I am. And right off the bat I felt that Capcom Fighting Evolution wasn't even trying to cater to the tastes of everyone.
For a fighting game, Capcom Fighting Evolution isn't abundant with game modes. There's a classic Versus mode for two-player matches. There's the traditional training mode for those that want to try out new moves and practice with their characters. And there's an arcade mode, which sadly ends after a mere six battles. The main thing that separates Capcom Fighting Evolution from similar games is that it is Xbox Live enabled, allowing you to duke it out against players from all over the world. In theory, this should extend the replay value of the game. But if the main product doesn't capture me, I won't be sticking around for the extras. Plus, with the fact that this is a basically a game made for hardcore fans, there aren't too many people online to begin with.
Capcom Fighting Evolution tries to make this game more memorable by incorporating a few unique features. One of them is the fact that prior to each battle, you choose two fighters instead of one. But instead of turning this into a tag-team funfest, this merely gives you the option to switch characters in between rounds. It does inject a little more into each match, which is won by whoever wins two of three fights. This adds a bit of unpredictability, especially if you learn to manage the fighting styles of every character in the game.
The styles are the second unique feature, as Capcom decided to retain all of the original character moves. This is a blessing for purists, but otherwise it makes things far two confusing. The problem stems from the fact that since the characters come from five different games, they each have different fighting systems. For example, the characters from Street Fighter III have the ability to parry attacks, while the characters from Red Earth seem far more defense-oriented. Even the way special moves are unleashed is dictated by the game from which the character hails. For example, the character from Street Fighter II must fill up their Super Combo Gauge before unleashed their super-powerful attack, while Darkstalkers characters can perform chain combos. Learning five fighting systems is complex and time-consuming, and not everyone will step up to the challenge.
As for characters, Capcom Fighting Evolution starts you off with 21 playable characters. That's four from each of the five games, along with an original character, Ingrid. There are also a few characters that can be unlocked when the arcade mode is beaten. The bonus characters are the highlight of the unlockables, as the rest is mainly stuff like art galleries. The character endings upon arcade mode completion are original as well. The character line-up has received its' fair share of criticism. Although obvious choices like Ryu, Zangief and Demitri are here, some of the character choices are questionable. And I feel that hardcore fans wouldn't have minded if the Red Earth characters were completely scraped in return for more characters from the other games, such as Ken or Gill.
Graphically, Capcom Fighting Evolution is definitely outdated. I'm far more used to fighting games like Soul Calibur II, so seeing 2D sprites on my screen wasn't invigorating. It is quite understandable that this is meant to be a tribute to Capcom's arcade fighting games. However, all of the original sprites were re-used, and I feel that adding a few touches here and there would have gone a long way. It's interesting to see that since these five titles were not released at the exact same time, some character sprites look a lot better than others do. As for character animations, once again the original animations were re-used, leaving more to be desired. The only original artwork besides the ending sequences are the backgrounds. The backgrounds fit the style of the game and there are many of them, although it is funny how some of the more recognizable characters that should have been a part of this game are seen in the background to remind you that they would have made this game more enjoyable.
As for audio, I can't say that I was very pleased. The announcer is extremely annoying, and of course everything is said in Japanese. Virtually all of the introductions and character grunts are done in Japanese, to keep the game as authentic as possible. Grunts and ridiculous sounding punches and kicks are all you get for sound effects. And even though the soundtrack consists of classic, original and re-mixed tunes from the original games, they are nothing more than rock tracks that will make you wish this game had custom soundtracks.