Release Date: October 24, 2006
Arcades are a big part of my childhood. Despite living in a relatively rural area where a PlayChoice10 was considered a fairly big deal and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was met with cheers and buckets of quarters, I managed to get in a good load of playtime down at the local dark and smoky electronic playground. They all had silly names, didn't they? Mine was Token Joe's, and that's where I got introduced to one of the titans of the quarter-munchers, Capcom, with that wonderful fiend Black Tiger. Capcom Classics Collection: Reloaded tries to get a little of that back and shove it into the palm of your hand — portable nostalgia without needing to mess with getting an emulator to work.
CCC: R is one of two titles for the PSP that serve as smaller helpings of the PS2 and Xbox CCC offering (Remixed is the other PSP installment). This particular disc goes through 18 different titles of various acclaim, all emulated in near-perfect detail on the mini-screen. It makes little effort to go beyond giving you those classic arcade titles and not much more — don't expect new modes, "remixes," or anything except the games, an interface, and of course, the obligatory museum that all these nostalgia packages seem to involve. It's very simple to deal with: pick a menu option, pick a game, and get going.
The game selection itself is sort of an odd collaboration of 1980s and very early '90s games in itself. There are the legendary games played by nearly everyone who was old enough in the '80s (1942, 1943, Gun.Smoke, Commando, Ghouls & Ghosts, Ghosts & Goblins, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, MERCS), the 2D fighting game that created an industry (Street Figher II, IICE, and II Turbo), a pair of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups (King Of Dragons and Knights Of The Round) and a smattering of things that no one's ever even heard of, particularly in the U.S. (1943KAI, Exed Exes, Eco Fighters, Vulgis, the oft-maligned Son Son and one even I've never heard of, Pirates Of The HigeMaru), which won't make most folks cheer out loud but certainly don't diminish the returns any. The set is lacking strongly in platformers and has no puzzle titles to speak of, but given that neither were what you would call "arcade standards," it's not very surprising.
Discussing these games on a technical level is a daunting task; given that most of them came out before 1988 (HigeMaru and Vulgis are from 1984!), there's absolutely no showboating here. Graphics are clean, simple, and functional for their respective time periods, and most all of them sound awful, as was really the standard for arcade machines up until the mid-1990s. Controls are also a direct affair, though surprisingly (at least for me), the analogue nub is far more useful in many titles than the cross-pad, particularly those that need lots of diagonal movement. Otherwise, it's not unlike any experiences you've had in an emulator like MAME. Minor but notable additions include optional rapid fire (a godsend in some of the shooters, not so much so in others) and several graphics modes available by tapping Select.
These are split just about 50-50 between normal orientation (PSP Horizontal), which are rather tiny and often require moving the scoring information off to the right to make it visible, or PSP Vertical, which gives you the best overall picture but requires holding the PSP with the buttons pointed upwards. While this looks pretty, it's not very comfortable and virtually eliminates the analogue nub as useful, especially if you steer with your left hand, since the nub is very near to the right of the unit. I couldn't stand to play anything for more than a few minutes like this before my arm cramped up. (No video modes are available in the Street Fighter II games, which use a PSP-compatible wide resolution.) Most games also have checkpoints, where the game will automatically save itself at certain points for coming back to later. In something like 1942, this will make a player very, very happy over the course of 32 levels.
Outside of the games themselves, the major feature of note is the Capcom Slot Machine. Each game gives "game rank" based on your performance and various things you've done (Did you finish the game with no continues? Did you finish the game? Did you land every shot? Did you play at 4 AM?), which accumulate over time. It's not hard to end up with thousands of these things, and the only value they have is in the Slot Machine. By cashing them in for rolls on the machine, you can earn various bits and bobbles like art work, game music, and a few cheats. Given you have unlimited continues in each and every game and it's not difficult to play for hours and make millions of points, cheats don't bring much to the table, and artwork or music will only make some of the audience really happy. That doesn't matter, though; that's all just fluff; the games were built originally to be nearly infinitely replayable, and on a portable, bursts of gameplay are much more suitable anyway.
The only diminishing return on CCC: R is one that tends to knock the PSP around to begin with: load times. The game is slow to start, slow to go into the menus, slow to load each game, and in games with lots of assets — especially SFII — is even slower to play (SFII has to reload between every fight). It's really rather clunky, but once you're in and going at it, most everything is arcade clip and everything you'd expect, with no slowdown of which to speak. There is a set of multiplayer modes, but with a few exceptions, these were not games built to have a second player get involved — many were just "alternating two-player" in the arcades — so it really becomes a minor draw overall.
Capcom Classics Collection: Reloaded becomes a labor of love, really; you have to have a strong appreciation for these much older games, or the real charm of the entire title will be lost on you. If all you want is Street Figher II, you'll find better collections elsewhere. However, those players who grew up wasting their time, energy, and no lack of their parents' money in places like Token Joe's, where the lights never worked but the monitors still glowed, this collection will hit just enough right notes to justify the price.