Capcom Arcade Stadium

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: May 25, 2021


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PS4 Review - 'Capcom Arcade Stadium'

by Cody Medellin on June 30, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

For old-school fans and arcade novices alike, Capcom Arcade Stadium allows players to bring home the electrifying thrill of an arcade with 32 action-packed classics.

Capcom is a lot like Namco. Both Japanese companies were arcade juggernauts for decades, with a slew of titles getting ports to numerous home consoles. Both were very early supporters of the original PlayStation, which blessed them with some big franchise hits that continue to this day. The companies were also quick to give the system compilation discs of their arcade classics, a practice that has continued for every console generation since then. It should come as no surprise that the PS4 has the latest of these compilations, Capcom Arcade Stadium. It should also come as no surprise that this isn't a simple title to rate.

The Capcom Arcade Stadium compilation spans 32 games from 1984 to 2001, making it the largest single arcade compilation to date from the company. It's focused on arcade offerings, since the SNES title Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, a game that almost always makes its way into these collections, is nowhere to be found. Capcom's arcade games covered a variety of genres, and most of them are represented in this set, especially since most let you choose between the English and Japanese ROM variants. Classic shooters like Vulgus and 1942 are present. Those wanting something akin to Dark Souls can always give Ghosts 'n Goblins a shot or take it easier with the sequel, Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Brawlers like Armored Warriors and Final Fight are present, along with the king of the fighting games, Street Fighter II. Platforming and action fans can either go for something acrobatic like Strider, inventive like Bionic Commando, or more traditional like Mega Twins. There's even something for maze game fans with Pirate Ship Higemaru. Unless you're looking for a racing game or something more off the wall like a quiz game, you're pretty much covered with this selection.

All in all, there's a significant number of games that are new to any Capcom compilation. For those who have purchased Capcom compilations over the years, there's a good chance that you're seeing most of these titles for the umpteenth time. There are a few titles that are appearing on home consoles for the first time. Both Dynasty Wars and Warriors of Fate are beat-'em-ups that did their own interpretations of Chinese history long before Dynasty Warriors took a crack at it. Carrier Air Wing is the follow-up to the side-scrolling shooter U.N. Squadron or Area 88, depending on where you lived, but many may have missed it since it never had a home port. The same goes for 19XX: The War Against Destiny and 1944: The Loop Master, follow-ups to 1942 and its sequels. Cyberbots is a robot fighting game that takes a while to get used to since it doesn't follow the traditional Street Fighter II setup, but it is home to Jin and Devilot, characters that will be familiar to fans of Marvel vs. Capcom and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, respectively. GigaWing shows off Capcom's attempt at a bullet hell shooter, but those fans may be more interested in Progear, an early title from renowned developer Cave.

The emulation for each title is solid, but that's to be expected when you consider that each game still hails from the sprite era and the arcade boards were no more advanced than the CPS-2. What is still surprising is that the compilation adopts some of the features that are heavily associated with emulators, like the ability to toggle different game speeds, rewinds, and even save states. Considering that some of these games can't be beaten via brute force and an infinite supply of quarters, these features make it more palatable for those who have never played these titles before and aren't used to the brutal difficulty of old arcade games. There's also the option to rotate the screen while still keeping the controls logical, so vertical shooters like Legendary Wings can be transformed into horizontal ones without you being confused that pressing up on the d-pad still registers as moving forward. It doesn't make up for the ability to use a real vertical screen on the Switch with a Flip Grip, but the option is still nice.

Tying all of this together is that this all takes place in a virtual arcade. Options are limited, but you can customize a few things, such as where each game appears in the lineup and the type of arcade cabinet each machine uses — all of them reminiscent of what you'd see in a Japanese arcade throughout the years. The customization also falls on the bezels, and while none of them are game-specific, there is something charming in equipping a GigaWing machine with a bezel that features a cow.

Beyond the selection of games, don't expect some of the extras that you're used to seeing in compilations, like snippets of background history on each title, a jukebox, or an art gallery. You get online leaderboards if you choose to play the games in their score attack mode or if you partake in challenge modes that might have you trying to clear the game with your best time. There's also an overall score labeled CASPO that acts more like an XP system, as points are gained by simply playing the games; gain more points for accomplishing feats like beating a game or doing so with no continues. You level up at certain thresholds and unlock more arcade cosmetics, like bezels.

With a mix of familiar games and a few that haven't been released to the home in quite some time (if ever), it seems like an easy call for fans of retro titles who want to play some of these classics on their PlayStation 4 or 5 (with backward compatibility). There are a few curious decisions that don't place this compilation in the best light. For starters, the game has no online multiplayer. The online leaderboards are a nice touch, but with a decent number of these games featuring co-op or versus play, the lack of an online multiplayer feature is disappointing when Capcom accomplished this in its Capcom Beat 'Em up Bundle back in 2018. You have the option to use the system's Share Play to get around this, so it works fine unless you enjoy challenging strangers in online bouts.

Speaking of the Beat 'Em Up Bundle, another thing that players will be disappointed with is how this package not only has some repeat entries from that bundle but also from the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition. For the former, those games are Armored Warriors, Battle Circuit, Captain Commando, Final Fight and Warriors of Fate. For the latter, that's Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting. That's eight games out of the 32 here that both retro and Capcom fans might have already picked up from those previous compilations, and while they're good games, it would've been better if those titles had been omitted in favor of others that haven't been released before or haven't been seen in compilations for a while, like Block Block, Eco Fighters or Three Wonders. Capcom has gone on record saying that more games can be added to the package in the future, so there is still a chance to get some of the missing titles.

The last big issue with the compilation is in relation to the purchasing options available to the player. The price itself isn't an issue, as roughly $40 for 32 games of varying vintages is a pretty good deal. The problem is that the game isn't sold as one comprehensive package, nor is it possible to customize your specific arcade by buying the individual titles themselves. Instead, you're given 1943 for free and Ghosts 'n Goblins can be bought separately or given to you for free if you buy all three bundles, which is how the rest of the games are packaged. It's the same strategy used by Capcom Arcade Cabinet but with 10 games per pack instead of three, and all of them are grouped together by years of release. It isn't exactly the friendliest way to sell a compilation like this, and that feeling is amplified when you find out that it also costs extra to get the individual bezel work for all of the compilation's games and to get invincibility in all games.

Capcom Arcade Stadium is complicated. On the one hand, most of the games are timeless classics and rarely seen in compilations, so it feels fresher than the entries on the older PlayStation consoles even before you factor in the emulation perks and the various challenge modes. On the other hand, the number of repeats from older PS4 compilations makes this feel a bit lazy, while the lack of customization stings when you see the overall purchasing method. It's still a good package for retro fans who want to play on their HDTVs, especially when compared to the PS3 release currently accessible on PS Now, but here's hoping that Capcom simply iterates on this rather than create another compilation specifically for the PS5.

Score: 8.0/10

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