Review: Let's see how many times I use the word "classic"
Retro collections are all the rage these days. But I really don't think I have to explain that to anybody. Five of these suckers have released within days of each other: Tecmo Classic Arcade, Midway Arcade Treasures 3, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary, Taito Legends and the purpose of this review: Capcom Classics Collection.
The Capcom Classics Collection loads up 21 old school Capcom arcade games and one Super NES launch special in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (man, did the Super NES have the greatest launch or what?). The games run the gamut of classic arcade genres like the top-down shooter, the side scrolling shooter, the platformer, the beat 'em up and the 2D fighter. And for once, the title of the collection is a good indication of what you get. These are true Capcom Classics. The video game world would be a very different place without these games and they still hold up incredibly well today.
The Capcom Classics Collection had me salivating for it's release ever since it was announced at E3 and it was revealed that two of the greatest trilogies ever would be included in it: Ghosts 'n Goblins and 194X.
The Ghosts 'n Goblins series was made up of Ghosts 'n Goblins, Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. They tell the story of the young knight Arthur rescuing his princess from the devil. They are the forebears of the Maximo series. They are some of the hardest platformers in existence. So that's why it's a real treat to play the original arcade versions after all these years. The NES and Genesis conversions are great and all, but the control was very stiff in both games. This stiffness was apparently in the arcade titles as well, but it's not as bad and they had absolutely stellar graphics compared to the home translations. Since Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts was already an SNES-only game, it comes across perfectly in CCC.
The 194X series is an even greater benchmark in it's genre of choice. It practically created the top-down shooter genre as we know it. It also has given video game writers twenty years of quips on the fact that it is a WWII shooter created by a Japanese company that puts you in the cockpit of an American aircraft attacking the Japanese. It's mind boggling, but it's the truth. But the point is is that 1942, 1943 and 1943 Kai (never released in the US) are awesome shooters. This is where Ikaruga was born. A forgettable PS2 shooter from a few years ago called Silpheed even referenced 194X by making the alien ships look like the P38 bombers seen in this classic series.
The arcade versions of the series here play great and 1943 even has a co-op mode. I'm a little disappointed that the NES versions didn't make it onto this disc as I think they're different enough from the arcade editions that those who grew up with them would like to give them a try again. But what we get is still a fantastic set of shooters and any fan of top-down shooters should be well schooled in the 194X series if they're not already.
It's these six games that made me want CCC a whole lot and when they delivered the rest of the collection became gravy. Like, I didn't have a lot of experience with some of Capcom's other classic shooters Forgotten Worlds, Legendary Wings, Section Z, Vulgus, SonSon, Exed Exes, Commando and Mercs. But I gave them all a play through and they're all pretty fun. Not 194X fun, but fans of these shooters will enjoy them and I really had a blast with Forgotten Worlds and it's jetpack based and "tilt-to-aim" shooting style. And Mercs is just complete and total action. I never played it before (but I played a lot of it's prequel, Commando), but Mercs is the game Midway's Total Carnage should
I'd have to say the game I was most disappointed with was Final Fight. Not because it was bad but because I remember it being much faster paced in my youth. It just seemed slow and stiff here and apparently nostalgia has pulled a fast one over on reality for me. It's still good, but it's not the same
. Other people have been disappointed that the NES version of Bionic Commando was left off CCC for the inferior arcade version, but I never played either so I will just say that I was bored with Bionic Commando here and leave it at that.
On the other hand, Street Fighter II is surprising for what it did include. With the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection still selling well it's amazing to me that Capcom would put Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo on this disc. But on they are and they play great. There's a little but of loading between bouts, but it's not terrible and if it's needed to make the game smooth, then so be it. I was always more of a Mortal Kombat guy, but I got my Street Fighter fix just like anyone else and these three games are just good.
Then you come to the weirdest game in the bunch, Pirate Ship Higemaru. Pirate Ship Higemaru looks like Bomberman and plays a lot like Bomberman. You are your ship's captain and by picking up barrels that make up the maze of the level you can throw them at the invading pirates to knock them off your ship. It works just like Bomberman (made before Bomberman was a gleam in Hudson's eye) and it's awesome. A true hidden gem.
Because this game was created by Digital Eclipse, the kings of the compilation, the graphics and sounds are recreated beautifully. Not a hair is out of place as they would say (and this is very important to Guile). While everything may not look twenty-first century next-gen, but it sparkles with the cool of the old arcades. And I dare you to play any of the Ghosts 'n Goblins games and not come away with the theme in your head. It's impossible.