Final Super Flock Joint Evil Puzzle Commando HD II…
What do you get when you throw together some classic side-scrolling, a pinch of twin-stick shooting, a handful of hadokens and a more-than-advised amount of Motherflockers? Yes, Capcom have snapped up eight of their recent XBLA titles and placed them all onto a single disc for our enjoyment, but is Capcom’s collection greater than the sum of its parts? Read on to find out.
Game: Capcom Digital Collection
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Inevitably, this tweaked version of Capcom’s classic Street Fighter II is the standout title of the bunch. For those of you without degrees in the Street Fighter lineage, this iteration is a HD remake of 1994’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which itself was the fifth version of the original Street Fighter II first seen in arcades in 1991. Phew, got all that? Don’t worry, all you really need to know is that it’s rather good. Amongst the feature set that include newly drawn graphics and HD visuals, there’s online and offline multiplayer as well as the single player and training modes. You can also switch back to the original old school visuals if you want a blast from the past, plus the gameplay itself has seen some ultra-fine tuning which include the added ‘dip-switch’ options – a feature that will delight hardcore fans who want to delve deep into the nitty-gritty of the game’s mechanics.
The crux of the gameplay sees you take one of several diverse characters around the world to fight others in a best-of-three rounds format. Each character has a set of special moves that can be initiated by carrying out certain button sequences, all of which are particularly intuitive even on a regular pad. There are times when the difficulty levels seem a little skew-whiff; on several occasions I found myself breezing through the hardest settings, yet seemed to get whitewashed on the easiest. It’s hardly a deal breaker though and it’s something that can be avoided altogether if you’re planning to take your skills online which is certainly enjoyable in its own right.
Overall, it’s pleasing that a lot of care and attention has been given to assuring that Super SFII Turbo HD Remix is an improved experience rather than a mere rehash. So whether you’re a casual fan of the genre or even a Street Fighter II veteran, this tweaked up version of a seemingly timeless classic offers something for everyone and by doing it all so well, makes it a must-own title.
Final Fight: Double Impact
It seems the early 1990’s were a particularly dangerous time for attractive young females, especially on side scrolling arcade beat-em ups. This time it’s Mayor Haggar’s unwitting daughter, Jessica, who gets swiped by a criminal gang in attempt to blackmail him into doing their bidding. Fortunately, Haggar is a Martial Arts master (of course) and decides to take the gang on with the help of Jessica’s boyfriend Cody and his sparring pal Guy.
Originating from arcades in 1989, Final Fight had you fighting through hordes of gang members as one of the aforementioned main characters on your journey to save Jessica. Final Fight: Double Impact recreates the original for consoles complete with a superb looking arcade cabinet, excellent music score, online drop-in co-op, plenty of unlockables in the form of concept art and the sneaky bonus addition of Magic Sword – a 2D fantasy based side-scroller. Like other games of similar stock such as Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, there’s no fancy button combos just the usual punch, kick and jump. You can perform a special move such as Cody’s spin kick to clear out your immediate area but it drains a little health so it’s better saved for emergencies.
There’s a good amount of visual options too: You can remove the arcade cabinet altogether and adjust screen sizes, then tweak it in a number of ways. My personal favourite was with the cabinet on and the upscaler set to ‘arcade monitor’, which gives the screen some phosphor glow and scanlines to simulate the old machines. It’s completely superficial of course, but for any nostalgic dweebs out there like myself, the options are all very welcome and look very cool.
Like Super SFII Turbo HD Remix, Final Fight: Double Impact is a decent package on its own let alone part of a bundle. The quite awfully written dialogue and the horrific amount of cliche somehow make Final Fight all the more whimsically pleasing, whilst for gamers who’ve played it before on one system or another will rejoice in making the bonus stage guy cry after smashing up his car and will find solace in the oddity of eating food from underneath trash cans and old tires. After twenty-odd years Final Fight is still a lot of fun and for some, there’s plenty of fond memories waiting to be rediscovered.
1942: Joint Strike
It’s World War II and somewhere deep in the pacific there’s a bucket load of planes and ground artillery practicing synchronised swoops and ballet like movements in preparation of your timely arrival. Of course, where else could we be but Capcom’s classic vertical scrolling shoot em’ up, 1942. Despite its great legacy founded in the mid-eighties, the original might not have quite stood the test of time and that’s perhaps why Backbone Entertainment gave it such a make over for 1942: Joint Strike. The gameplay remains the same for the most part though; pick one out of the Lightning, Mosquito and Shinden fighter planes (all of which mimic real planes) then fight your way through waves of enemy aircraft and ground artillery until you reach a boss fight at the end of the level.
One significant upgrade is in the visual department. 1942: Joint Strike looks superb whether it be the barrage of explosions, super smooth frame rates (even in spite of the amount happening on screen) or the great WWII background painted beneath you. There’s also some nice presentation throughout the selection screens and menus that keep the game in character well. A lot of the features from the original game’s sequels are also on show including energy bars, charge-firing and land based enemies which all improve on the original ten-fold.
1942: Joint Strike’s main twist is the enjoyable co-op which can be taken online or kept local. When working together special attacks become available (hence the idea of Joint Strikes) that provide a different angle to the game in the form of teamwork and provides plenty of opportunity to rack up big scores and hit the leaderboards hard. On a negative note, Joint Strike is particularly short and after playing for a while, especially if playing solo, there might not be much play time to be had. However, thanks to the visual slickness, nice retro design and some highly fun vertical shooting, it’s a nice addition to the collection, albeit a slightly short lived one.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
This 1996 arcade puzzler offers some addictive Tetris-like gameplay combined with super-cutesy parodies from Capcom’s beloved fighting series. Two linked gems slowly fall from the top of the screen which can be rotated to your liking until they eventually drop into place in your alloted area. By linking coloured gems and then dropping a glowing crash gem of the same colour onto them, you can clear those gems. Whatever you clear gets dumped onto your opponent’s side and visa-versa, then drops can be made even more devastating by performing large breaks and even combos of breaks. Rinse and repeat until one player’s area is filled up with gems, who as a result loses the game. Puzzle fighter offers some competitive and fast paced puzzle battling that’s highly entertaining, even more so when taken online against other players.
There’s a lot of nice tongue-in-cheek towards the Street Fighter II series in the character design and the backgrounds. However, these characters haven’t received any HD treatment which makes them look slightly out of place with the polished visuals of the play area and backgrounds. It won’t deter too much though as the three game modes: “X”, “X’ ” and “Y”, go along way to help keep your attention firmly on the gems. The first one is the default arcade experience with the second a slightly tweaked, apparently more balanced version of it (I noticed little difference). Finally, the ‘Y’ mode has you rotating blocks at the bottom of your pile instead of the ones that fall from above.
Most fans of the genre will quickly be caught up in the ‘oh, just one more game’ loop, although for others, what you get from Puzzle Fighter will ultimately depend on your affinity to puzzle games in the first place. Saying that, there’s a huge amount of depth and strategy to be found under the hood and with the game’s quick paced battling and its addition of online play, even the most puzzle loathing of gamers will find some enjoyment here.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2
I know what you’re thinking: It would be totally awesome to have an overly extending metal arm that’s shaped like a claw and enables you swing from stuff to, um…other stuff. Well, you’re in luck with this sequel to the remake of 1987’s Bionic Commando, that just happens to be host to a whole bunch of swingy, shooty, solid platforming action. Gamers who’ve played the original and its remake will be instantly familiar with the look and feel of Rearmed 2 as you take the role of the gloriously red moustached protagonist, Nathan ‘Rad’ Spencer, who this time round is dropping into the Papagayan Islands to save his FSA associates (and the world!) from ruthless dictator Sabio.
Fittingly, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and remains largely faithful to its predecessors except for perhaps a few enhancements such as jumping and the removal of top-down sections. The shooting is straightforward (literally, it’s a one way gun), whilst the enemies aren’t particularly smart and only provide any real challenge in their placement and how you approach them. Swinging is still the heart and soul though; navigating through the levels this way feels fluid and intuitive despite the odd frustrating moment and has an added gameplay element of momentum when combined with the newly added jumping mechanic.
Rearmed 2 doesn’t really attempt to break many platforming molds and because it’s essentially a new game, it won’t stir much nostalgia of the original up, if any. However, there is local co-op, a challenge rooms mode (time trials), a heart meltingly retro soundtrack and some great 2.5D visuals that hold everything together nicely. On top of that there’s some longevity in finding and upgrading weapons as well as some quirky bosses that have some really odd methods of trying to kill you – a Judo chopping giant robot being a great example. Although fans may have found more bliss in the original remake rather than this sequel, Rearmed 2, despite feeling a little uninspired, still has something to offer and certainly doesn’t do any harm to Capcom’s collection.
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3
Originating from the mid-eighties, Commando was a vertically scrolling shooter that saw you fending off wave after wave of enemy soldiers in true Rambo-like fashion. Like its predecessor, Commando 3 isn’t a remake, but a another sequel that keeps true to the series whilst at the same time bringing it up to modern day standards. With a twin stick shooting mechanic, a handful of different weapons to find, a little vehicle play and a relentless amount of enemies, Commando 3 offers a good amount of intense action that can be served up alone or as part of a three player local/online co-op.
As well as the basic right-stick shooting, you’re given grenades and the limited usage M-Crash attack that’ll help you out if things start to get out of control, plus amongst the crates holding weapons you’ll find there’s also POWs waiting to be set loose by shooting their cages. The level design itself, although not groundbreaking by any means, does manage to give you some variety and a lot of the challenge is based on maneuvering well and being mindful of the environment.
Commando 3 does grow quite tiresome after a while, even if you factor in how short it is anyway (1-2 hours tops). There is some nice comic-book inspired visuals that sweeten the deal however. These appear on your screen at the beginning of missions and during the M-Clash attacks and all vary slightly depending on which of the three characters you chose to play with. Overall, there’s some solid shooting to be found here, unfortunately it’s just a bit too thin on story and originality to keep you coming back for more, especially when there’s plenty of other similar shooters that do it all considerably better.
Rocketmen: Axis of Evil + It Came From Uranus DLC
Based on a discontinued constructible strategy game (don’t ask), Rocketmen: Axis of Evil adds some more twin stick shooting madness into Capcom’s diverse bundle. There’s no strategy, or anything constructible for that matter, just a whole bunch of alien shooting which by itself is quite solid. The whole game is decorated in a cel-shaded comic book style that constantly throws cutscenes at you full of speech bubbles and disengaging static images. Dialogue is as cheesy as a bus full of bree and the fun it pokes at itself doesn’t really come off as well as was probably intended.
The game begins by throwing you into a character creation screen which is a surprise to see in a downloadable shooter. There’s not a whole lot to customise asides from basics such as skin tone, outfit colour and hair to name a few, however, it’s still a nice addition that instantly adds some investment – something that’s often overlooked in similar titles. Once you’re done here you’ll be thrown into the game to find and save the leader of the alliance, who incidentally has been kidnapped by the bad guys, the Axis of evil of course.
Rocketmen tries to fit a lot of ideas into a relatively small play area. There’s numerous weapons, upgradeable characters via experience points accumulated throughout missions, a decent four-player co-op and even some further objectives to be discovered that has you tapping buttons to unlock goodies for later upgrading. Unfortunately, the whole experience is jolted somewhat by an infuriating camera that plods along, often leaving you at the edges of screens waiting to advance or causing you to miss doors that hold extra bonuses. Asides from some fun co-op, all you’ll find is a story you’ll want to skip so you can start shooting again and a camera that frustrates. The DLC is a nice touch despite committing many of the same sins as the main game, but even so, it’s still possibly the weakest title in the line-up.
Perhaps the most bizarre game in Capcom’s collection is the herding puzzler, Flock. Welcome to a world where aliens are snapping up farmyard animals left, right and centre. Why? No idea, but by using your spacecraft, you must usher these different animals into the giant Motherflocker (um, spaceship) to complete that level and progress. There’s also some twists which make it a little less simple. For instance, each animal has a different traits and react differently to different parts of the environment; sheep can’t pass fences until you’ve soaked them enough to shrink and can then squeeze through and cows can stampede through fences if you aggravate them enough.
You’ll be using each animal’s abilities in a number of clever (and some not-so-clever) ways throughout the game and for the most part the idea is quite pleasing. Unfortunately, it’s all too often frustrating and not nearly as much fun as you’re led to believe by the game’s excellent presentation. The very nature of having to herd creatures around that are intentionally programmed to be annoyingly disobedient means that patience will wear thin eventually, even for the most persevering gamer.
Despite the inevitable annoyance, Flock is oozing personality from the zany soundtrack you’re greeted with, to the polished cartoony visuals that all go some way to making this strange sci-fi/sheep herding concoction a fun place to visit. On top of that and a decent single player mode, there’s multiplayer and leaderboards, plus an excellent level editor that allows you to share your creations with others. Flock will test your stomach for puzzling in several unusual ways, no question, but remains a nice addition regardless and offers something completely different from the other titles in the package.
There’s a couple of games that might not appeal to individuals and plenty of areas in each that would’ve benefited from a little more tender loving care than they’ve actually received. However, for gamers who can’t get online and others who’ve been torn on purchasing the items individually, this package is almost a no brainer, especially when you factor in its savings as a bundle.
What should be said is that like most downloadable titles, finding online play is not always an easy task and if you don’t intent to play online or local multiplayer at all, then some of the included titles might lose a little of their charm. That aside, Capcom have stuffed enough diversity and for the most part, good quality into a single package to warrant a purchase. So if you fancy a slightly updated trip down memory lane or even if you simply crave some more pick-up-and-play in your life, then this might be the compilation for you.