When it decided to bring some of its classic arcade games to current-generation consoles, Capcom went about it in a curious way. Rather than simply releasing the collection on disc, it opted to offer them up both individually and in packs via XBLA. To purchase any of the individual games, you were required to buy the base pack (Game Pack 1) for 400 MSP ($5 USD). Once you had that, any additional games could be purchased. What was odd about the whole process was that although the games were released over a three-month span (February – April), anyone who wanted to get the best deal had to wait until the All-In-One Pack dropped on May 21.
By way of comparison, the All-In-One Pack costs 2,000 MSP ($25 USD). Since you need to have the base pack to use it, you're looking at a total of $30 USD for the entire collection. If you bought each of the individual game packs along the way, you would have spent $45 USD. And if you decided to buy the games individually for some reason, you would have spent $53 USD for it all.
Since the actual games are the same, no matter how you acquire them, you can read the reviews of Game Pack 2, Game Pack 3, Game Pack 4 and Game Pack 5 for details on the individual games included in the collection. What's not included in those are the two bonus games, 1943 Kai and Vulgus. These two games are only unlocked once you have purchased the other 15 games in the collection. Since the All-In-One Pack includes everything, purchasing it automatically unlocks the two bonus games.
1943 Kai is basically a "remixed" version of 1943: The Battle of Midway that appeared on Game Pack 1. It looks and plays like its namesake, though the weapons and enemies have been revamped. The player's plane has also switched models. Instead of the P-38 Lightning, you're now flying a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 with an optional laser attachment.
Aside from the new look, 1943 Kai ups the ante a bit in terms of difficulty. The rules haven't changed, but the enemy patterns are more intense, and the level of skill required to successfully navigate the later levels is higher than the standard version of 1943. It's really more of an expansion pack than an entirely new game, but it's a darn good expansion pack.
Vulgus is Capcom's first shooter, and that's about all it has going for it. Gameplay is bland, enemies are interchangeable, and the soundtrack is one 30-second loop on repeat. About the only thing Vulgus does prove is that you don't always catch lightning in a bottle on your first try. As a free bonus game, it's a historical curiosity and nothing more.
In addition to the bonus games, there are also a series of extra galleries that unlock scans of the deluxe manuals that were included with the games when the Capcom Generations series was re-released on the original PlayStation in Japan, back in 2005. Capcom went to the effort to Photoshop out (or simply delete whole pages, in certain cases) all references to the PlayStation on the XBLA release, but otherwise left the scans untouched.
While the scans are nice, it is a little disappointing that Capcom didn't bother to create any new content for the Capcom Arcade Cabinet release, especially since the only way to unlock all of the extra galleries is to purchase all the games. At the very least, the Japanese manuals could have been translated into English, as the vast majority of North American gamers aren't going to be able to read the text in its original form. What's the point of a bonus that most of the audience isn't going to be able to enjoy?
Just like the games in the prior packs, the two bonus games feature a number of configurable video options, allowing you to adjust the aspect ratio, apply smoothing or emulate CRT scan lines. 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. 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 gives you the ability to play specific levels to improve your performance. 1943 Kai also offers online co-op play via Xbox Live, in addition to local co-op.
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 screen shots 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 that 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.
We've seen all of the games in the Capcom Arcade Cabinet in previous collections on previous platforms, but that doesn't mean the new version isn't worth it, especially on the Xbox 360, which isn't compatible with the Xbox release of the Capcom Classics Collection. M2 has done a mighty fine job with the emulation, accurately reproducing both sound and scan lines for an authentic feel, even while playing on HD monitors.
Despite the fact that there are some duds, the collection as a whole is worth picking up if you have even a passing interest in retro gaming. It's just too bad Capcom didn't go a little more in-depth with the extras.
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