Say what you will about Capcom's treatment of current franchises, the team loves their classics. Over the years, it's released a number of compilations to celebrate past arcade releases, including two Capcom Classics Collections for PS2, Xbox and PSP, as well as the Capcom Generations games for Sega Saturn (in Japan, anyway). Now it continues that tradition again, this time on the downloadable front with Capcom Arcade Cabinet for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
The collection is structured for Cabinet, and in a rather ingenious way. The initial game, selling for $4.99, comes with three arcade games to choose from – the top-down shooter 1943, the beat-em-up Avengers (not to be confused with Marvel's franchise), and the side-scrolling actioner Black Tiger. Over the next few weeks, other games will be added to the line-up for $9.99 per three-pack, including favorites like Ghosts n' Goblins and Legendary Wings, as well as obscure titles like SonSon. Those who buy all the games will get two bonus releases as well.
Capcom hasn't lost its touch when it comes to emulation of its hits. These games are quite loyal to the original arcade design, right down to the insert coin screens and the side art, which can be a little goofy for its own good. And unlike the previously released Final Fight: Double Impact, you don't have to worry about losing your progress during a pause – though, obviously, the real enthusiasts will wait till it's "game over" before using the bathroom.
The initial games offer some great variety as well. While the Avengers game won't be confused with, say, Bad Dudes, it is moderately enjoyable, especially with a friend in tow. Black Tiger is quite challenging, especially in the later levels, when enemies pound you from every given direction. And 1943 is a classic shooter, one with power-ups and boss enemies galore.
The gameplay is rather basic for each title, but that's the idea, since these were 80's arcade offerings and not, for instance, Resident Evil 6. They're all quite good in their own right, and the fact you can have a friend join in (for Avengers and 1943, anyway – Black Tiger is solo) in either local or online co-op is awesome. The leaderboards go a long way in keeping things competitive as well, and you'll find new Achievements and Trophies to unlock as well.
Now, we haven't played the other games yet, but preview versions are available, and both Gun.Smoke and Ghosts n' Goblins have a lot of promise to them. But there is a negative – some of the game choices kind of stink. Who would play SonSon more than once? It's a decent game, but hardly a classic. And what is Pirate Ship Higemaru? Was there a particular reason that some of the more obvious entries weren't considered? Strider would've fit in nicely here, along with the original Street Fighter and maybe even King of Dragons. Maybe Capcom is saving those for a second go-around with the Cabinet. Hope so.
But despite some iffy choices down the road, the package as it stands now is quite valuable, and will only get better with some of the truer classics coming our way. Capcom Arcade Cabinet is a novel way of getting us back into the games of old, with some surprisingly modern features to keep the competitive edge going. Plus, hey, you can save your quarters.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]