Release Date: November 15, 2006
The games in Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 stretch from 1987 to 1993, which, sadly, was around the time the arcade scene began a long decline into the non-presence it is today. Granted, hundreds of new games continued to pour out from the remaining developers and manufacturers, but the number of actual units being ordered and produced would never see any positive progress until Dance Dance Revolution surprised Konami with its modest success (the games were never released outside of Japan until a few years after their debut there, for fear of being too much of a "niche" product).
This doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be a Vol. 3. I've outlined the decline of the industry just for the sake of showing how long Capcom managed to stick with it. They held on to the sinking ship so fervently, in fact, that this series could easily continue through a fourth volume before running into the current state of the arcade industry, which relies on special controllers in lieu of a graphical advantage to draw increasingly anti-social gamers from their homes.
One notable end of an era is the archiving of the final revision of Street Fighter II, the absurdly titled Super Street Fighter II: Turbo (which I will refer to as Super Turbo from here on). Super Turbo was a fitting end to the series, as it is widely regarded to be the best in the series, and frankly, it's probably the only reason most hardcore gamers will purchase this collection in the first place. It wasn't just the final revision, but the perfected version of the fighting title that triggered the biggest face-to-face competitive community in gaming history. The game that was at the apex of the entire scene, which, by the time Street Fighter Alpha released, was faltering with the rest of the coin-op industry. And this, as the Lord is our witness, is the final document of Super Turbo.
... until a superior, online-enabled Xbox Live Arcade version is released. In all seriousness, this version is something of a milestone, because it is virtually untouched and isn't bogged down by comatose loading screens. Considering that the 3DO version was sought after for years in the absence of a convenient alternative (meaning not the stand-up unit), for some of you, the release of this collection is a momentous occasion.
For those of us who weren't waiting half of our lives for a proper home version of Super Turbo, there are video guides for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players, that analytically delve into the technique of Street Fighter to the extent that, with a great deal of practice, the information presented could set a player on the tournament trail, or what's left of it, anyway.
While Super Turbo was a coda of sorts, the beginning of this whole mess, the original Street Fighter, also receives its long-requested spot on a proper compilation here. At the risk of coming off as harsh, it's horrible.
If I weren't such a professional, I'd stop right there, because not much more needs to be said, but for you guys, I'll get into the slimy details.
As the game's documentation notes at every opportunity, the original SF was one of the first of its kind (remember Yie Ar Kung Fu?), and therefore should not be met with the same critical eye reserved for post-SF2 efforts. Their disclaimers turn out to be worse than one would assume, given the Street Fighter pedigree, which the world will now know didn't exist until the sequel. The game is glitchy, slow, and hard to control, but I'm 100% thankful that it's on this disc. It's obvious that an embarrassed Capcom would want to slide this game under the rug so as not to belittle their later work with the series, but as the Street Fighter name becomes increasingly irrelevant to the publisher's bottom line, now is the right time to quietly push the title forward as a topic of discussion. The fan base is older, wiser, and see this stuff, as bad as it is, for the prototype it really was, despite being a full, original title.
It's interesting to see so many elements from the later, proper games in their vestigial stages here. The "travel the world" theme is here, albeit on a smaller scale, with many of the characters hailing from the same countries. The basic special moves for the shoto-fighters (that's Ken and Ryu, for you scrubs out there), who are the only playable characters, are all here, and incredibly difficult to pull off, thanks to shoddy programming. Even the six-button standard – light, medium, and heavy punches and kicks – premiered here before being perfected by the sequel, although we're getting a much more functional version on this collection, as the original arcade units used special pneumatic "punch pads," which perplexed arcade-goers would hit with their fists and displace air, hoping that their idea of the amount of pressure behind a medium punch would be the same as Ken or Ryu's.
Much of the rest of Classics Vol. 2 falls into one of two categories – Final Fight clone and scrolling shoot-'em-up – with a handful of exceptions, which I will get into first.
The breakout star of this package, believe it or not (and you'll be unsurprised by this if you picked up the first PSP collection, which is something of an analogue to this one, minus a few crucial games like Super Turbo), is Quiz and Dragons, a strange non-game/parody, and it's what you might expect, given the title: a fantasy-themed arcade quiz game. What you might not expect is the subject matter, mostly '80s pop culture with a few science and geography questions thrown in for good measure. As strange as it seems, this works perfectly. Instead of being You Don't Know Jack, the old trivia makes for a much more interesting game, probably much more fun than it would have been otherwise. Questions about "Three's Company" and "The Wonder Years" are much more fun to think through than any modern stuff would be – as long as it's very late at night, and enough people are present.
For those of you too young to answer all but the general knowledge questions, Capcom has included a "modernized" version. The catch: the questions are Capcom-focused, so non-gamers need not apply.
Avengers and Speed Rumbler are antiquated overhead beat-'em-ups that aren't directly related to the Final Fight family tree ... and not very good, either. Both control very loosely and have a strange problem in common: beating up bad guys isn't fun. Speed Rumbler has a car and kind of plays like a proto-proto-proto Grand Theft Auto, but don't let that inspire you to actually play it.
Block Block is an Arkanoid clone that isn't as good as Arkanoid. Strangely, this genre holds up as being fun, some 35 years after its invention.
Strider is probably the impetus to pick up this collection for everybody who doesn't own a PSP and isn't already buying it for Super Turbo. It's a classic side-scrolling action game that is heavily focused on anime-style acrobatics. It's incredibly dated, but it serves as a precursor to the feel of more modern action games, like Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden.
And now, for the Final Fight clones! Captain Commando is probably the best of the bunch, and a must-play for fans of the character's appearance in the Marvel Vs. Capcom games. King of Dragons and Knights of the Round are fantasy takes on the same genre, with one part Golden Axe and two parts (minor) RPG, respectively. And Black Tiger and Tiger Road… are Black Tiger and Tiger Road. These last two are more like side-scrollers, but with Final Fight controls pasted in.
Let's not forget the scrolling shooters! 1941 is a prequel, despite what you thought you knew. Regardless, the game has much more polish and crazier bosses than the original. Eco Fighters is a bizarre dual-analog shooter where movement and aiming are controlled separately, and the goal is to destroy a bunch of things in horribly violent ways to keep them from harming the environment. Last Duel is an awkward overhead affair which allows the player to control the scrolling speed, which ends up distracting from the core gameplay. Mega Twins has platforming elements but doesn't approach the level of genre classics Metal Slug or Contra. Side Arms is basically Section-Z: Super-Hard Edition Alpha X Zero, and Varth is a proto-Raiden, lacking the classic status of that game.
That covers Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2! These titles aren't all forgotten classics, but enough are (Quiz and Dragons, notably) that the package is worth it. With so many good games available, I cannot complain about having mediocre and bad titles on a collection like this. Some of these are games that won't appear anywhere else, especially not on a service like Xbox Live Arcade, where money has to be spent to upgrade the games for online compatibility! Even though Avengers and Speed Rumbler make me twitch with anger when I play them, it's still fun to show to friends how bad some games from the "old-school" era really were, and then load up Super Turbo to purify ourselves. The emulation on every title is much improved over the original collection, which had longer loading times and numerous graphical glitches. The Super Turbo tutorial videos are worth the price by themselves. Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 is the best compilation I've ever owned, plain and simple.
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