Capcom’s latest compilation is a handy grab-bag of their more obscure two-dimensional arcade fighting games from the mid ‘90s which have been repackaged with online modes to whet any fan’s appetite.
Although, this game has been marketed as a celebration of 35 years of Street Fighter, this compilation feels more like a tribute to their Darkstalkers franchise – a pastiche gothic horror fighting series which comprises five of the ten titles in this collection. Collating the first three games and the two enhanced versions of the third game which were never released outside of Japan, this is almost a definitive Darkstalkers set and feels like the real reason to purchase.
When you set the list out, you can clearly see this is not a Street Fighter centric collection and for that franchise we already have the fantastic Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection anyway. In the Darkstalkers series we have Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (1994), Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (1995), Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire (1997), Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (1997) and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire (1997). There are also Darkstalkers cameos in the quirky tile-matching puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo (1996) and the comedic chibi fighter Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix (1997).
Capcom have included a Street Fighter which wasn’t in the original franchise compilation, Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition (2003). It is more of a medley of the entire arcade Street Fighter II releases in that you can switch out character sprites from each of the five games and was originally released only in Japan and the US for arcades and Sony’s Playstation 2.
Gothic horror your thing? Cyber mechs? Fantasy? Capcom has you covered!
To round out the collection, they have also included the rather outlandish mech fighter Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness (1995) and fantasy themed Red Earth (1996). The former was mostly a Japanese arcade game (Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation too) with limited arcade distribution across Europe and the US and the latter was purely released in Japan and the US with no home console ports until this compilation.
Each of the games have been ported well enough with no hint of visual or audio anomalies but only true fans intimately familiar may detect any discrepancies. Of course, some hold up better than others (the Darkstalkers’ games have been terrific to play through for their beautiful character designs and background art; Cyberbots is less visually pleasing and even feels – possibly by design – clunky to control).
The offline single-player and local multiplayer can provide enough value for money in terms of longevity (considering the AI difficulty by default is punishingly hard and still can be increased multiple levels higher). There are a lot of options to customise the experience such as Movement Speed, Power of Attacks, image bordering and most allow switching from the US to the Japanese versions (which have the occasional character difference or combat balancing).
Yet, it’s the online multiplayer that is the reason you will likely keep coming back as these types of games have always been at their best against human competition. The rollback net-code has been flawless for my attempts to win on Switch and unfortunately my absolutely astounding perfect loss ratio can only be blamed on my inexperience with the majority of the games on offer (or inadequacy, take your pick).
How are the extra bonus features?
The bells and whistles surrounding the game are all nice and present with some attractive menus, character artwork and entire music soundtrack for each game. Although, I was admittedly disappointed to discover no descriptive framing for each of the releases similar to how Capcom did it for the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. In that version, there was an exhaustive amount of information and sprite images to provide context for each of the releases and really helped to explain the differences between games. For that to be missing from this set means I have had to resort to sites outside of the game for the historical background for each instalment which has been less than ideal and gives the feeling of a more slap-dash approach (in spite of all of the other work the developers have clearly done to get the ports perfected with online connectivity).
It’s a shame as otherwise this is a fantastic collection. It arguably could have used maybe a few games more to match the previous Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection with a few licensed games clearly missing to make it the ultimate fighting game set (the Capcom Vs games could likely generate its own collection if licensing weren’t a factor).
Verdict – So, for the casual fighting game fan this might not be the first choice as these games are relatively obscure in comparison to the previously released compilation. But, for anyone remotely interested in either replaying these games on modern consoles or with a curiosity due to familiarity with Capcom’s mainline fighters, this is well worth a look. Having versions of these games – some of which were never released outside of Japan or arcades – with great online servicing and all in one package, is a terrific selling point. It may not generate the required buzz for a well-needed Darkstalkers modern sequel, but possibly enough to tide most Capcom fighting fans as they eagerly await the arrival of the next main instalment, Street Fighter 6 in 2023. Hadouken!