The second installment of the Capcom Arcade Cabinet offers up original editions of Ghosts'n Goblins, Gun.Smoke and Section Z. Assuming you have purchased the base pack (Game Pack 1), you can add these three titles to your collection for 800 MSP ($10 USD).
Since all of the game data is already included in the first pack, downloading Game Pack 2 takes mere seconds. The purchase grabs a key file, and the games are immediately available. Purchasing Game Pack 2 also unlocks demo versions of the Game Pack 3 titles, giving you a chance to preview the next installment.
Of all the games in the entire Capcom Arcade Cabinet collection, Ghosts'n Goblins may be the most famous. This classic arcade game may also be one of the most difficult games of all time. Almost anyone who grew up with an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System played it, but very few beat it.
The difficulty in Ghosts'n Goblins comes from the fact that it requires precision and speed to succeed. In that regard, it is similar to a bullet-hell shooter, only here, you're playing a platformer. Enemies can spawn at any time, weapon power-ups aren't always an advantage (it's sometimes better to keep what you have), and the final boss can only be killed with a specific weapon. If you don't have it, you need to replay the last two stages. Oh, and if that weren't enough, after you defeat the boss, he tells you it was a trap and if you want to save your princess, you need to go through it all again — on a harder difficulty level.
If it weren't for the extreme character of the game, it's likely it would have been forgotten over time, but instead, it stands out. Rather than feel cheap or unfair, the difficulty level in Ghosts'n Goblins is punishing but straightforward. Instead of blaming the game for failure, it drives you to want to do better. In some ways, Ghosts'n Goblins was the Dark Souls of its day. Dying is just part of the game.
Gun.Smoke is a shooter, though unlike 1943 in the first game pack, this one doesn't feature any planes. Instead, it's set firmly on the ground, like Commando. You play a bounty hunter in the Old West, and you're on a mission to bring in some outlaws. You need to fight your way through a series of different towns, taking out the bandits in each one, before facing off with a wanted criminal.
What makes Gun.Smoke somewhat intriguing is the way in which you fire your gun. It's not quite a twin-stick shooter, but you do have the ability to fire up left, up center and up right independent of your movement. These shot types can be combined by pressing two buttons at once, but you cannot shoot directly to the left, right or behind your character. This forces you to always be thinking about your position on the playfield, as you don't want to let enemies slip into a safe zone, where they cannot be shot.
Gun.Smoke provides challenge by initially limiting your speed and range. You can upgrade both during the course of the game (as well as giving yourself some durability by finding a horse), but until you do, you have to play smart. This means using hit-and-run tactics to even the odds against enemies who would otherwise have an advantage. It's a game that initially seems shallow but grows on you the more you play. Due to the nature of the buttons, Gun.Smoke plays much better with an arcade stick than the standard controller.
Last up is Section Z. This space-themed shooter is the weakest link in this game pack, as it doesn't do anything particularly memorable. You are infiltrating a space station and exterminating an alien invasion force. You have the option to shoot left and right, which is needed as enemies come from both directions. Stages alternate between scrolling vertically and horizontally, with bosses at the end of each level.
Old-school shooter fans will likely get some enjoyment out of Section Z, but for most players, it's not going to have much staying power. The challenge is average, and enemy design is by the numbers. It shouldn't make you second-guess buying the game pack, but if you are cherry-picking individual titles, then Section Z will likely be one that gets passed over.
Just like the games in the first pack, each title in Game Pack 2 features a number of configurable video options, allowing you to adjust the aspect ratio, apply smoothing or emulate CRT scanlines. You also have the option to rotate the screen. Both the original Japanese ROM image and the international ROM image are selectable for each title, so you can choose which version to play. Individual game settings, such as difficulty and number of lives, are also available if you want to tweak the setup.
Casual mode turns down the difficulty and increases the player's power level making each game a breeze. The hardcore won't use it (unless they want to see the end of Ghosts'n Goblins), but it means non-gamers can also get some enjoyment out of the collection.
Other gaming options include a score attack mode, where you compete under specific settings to earn a spot on the leaderboards, and a training mode, which lets you play specific levels to improve your performance. None of the games in Game Pack 2 offer co-op play over Xbox Live.
Playing through each game multiple times unlocks artwork in the gallery mode. This can be a new background for the overlay or various pieces of advertising and concept art. Replays can also be viewed here, with additional options such as input display and frame-by-frame playback. Individual screenshots can be uploaded to Facebook, but there is no option to share video.
Finally there is the sound player, which serves as a jukebox for each game. Think of it as including the entire game soundtrack, with each loop available as a separate track. There is a default playlist for each game, which includes all tracks; you also have the ability to create your own playlist. You can mix and match tracks between games (up to 100) when creating a custom playlist.
At twice the price of the first pack, Capcom Arcade Cabinet: Game Pack 2 is pushing the high end of impulse purchase. With that said, it's difficult to pass up a game like Ghosts'n Goblins, even if you already own a previous release for another console. Despite the quality, if you have any interest in the other titles in the collection, you're better off waiting to buy. Capcom has announced an all-in-one purchase option for 2,000 MSP ($25 USD) will be available on May 21. That's a much better deal than purchasing all of the add-on game packs individually.
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