In the wake of all the retro collections released over the last few years, Capcom has finally joined the fray. Few companies have as extensive a catalog as the house of Mega Man, and to say that I was anxiously awaiting this set would be a huge understatement. After seeing half-hearted efforts by other companies (hey Tecmo, where are you going?), I was greatly awaiting the entry of that king of 3rd party companies, that monster of game design, that chronic sufferer of sequelitis – Capcom. Just the thought of a slew of its past hits all crammed together on a single disc was enough to make me giddy, and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at just what a neat little collection this was, and must honestly reserve my quibbling for a few minor details.
Twenty-two arcade classics await you, spanning two decades of Capcom's best efforts. From early hits, like Commando, to later smashes, like the incomparable Street Fighter II, there is surely something for everyone here. The mere fact that Gun.Smoke is present was enough to guarantee a purchase on my part. It's one of my all-time favorites, and one of the first games that I thoroughly dominated in the arcade. Sadly, my ninja skills have long since faded, but I can now at least relish the good old days and be a legend in my own mind!
Capcom also added the SNES smash Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, which while not originally an arcade game, deserves a place here due to the presence of the previous two installments in the series. It's nice to have the entire trilogy here, with all of its mind-bending difficulty intact. Truth be told, that's most likely the sensation most gamers will get with a lot of the content here: excruciating difficulty. It's not that the games are particularly harder than any of today's offerings; it's more of a matter of old school skills being so covered with rust that you're liable to get tetanus just by handling the disc alone. Boot this baby up and watch as you are slapped around like someone's abandoned puppy. Forgotten Worlds? Abusive. Ghosts ‘N Goblins? Downright mean. Yes, you will suffer initially, but if you can hang in there and get past the learning curve for each title, you will be greatly rewarded. There's a reason most of these games are considered classics, and it has a lot to do with their masterful design. Once you've dominated their control schemes and enemy patterns, playing them can be a thing of beauty. The Zen-like state I achieved with Command was a thing of beauty, as though everything onscreen was moving in slow motion. Those who frequented arcades in the ‘80s and early ‘90s know the feeling. It's as though you're untouchable.
Additionally, Capcom took things a step further by adding in some awesome rewards for your feats of skill. Everything from official art to sound tests (with remixed tracks!) can be unlocked by achieving certain goals set by each game. Hints and back stories are also included, and this makes these already fun-as-hell games all the more replayable. I would have liked to have seen a few interviews, but the extra content available is still a wonderful treat.
Despite all my gushing, let me get what is perhaps my only complaint out of the way. Though I am more or less content with the game line up, a few notable names are missing. Where's Black Tiger? Side Arms? I would have much preferred these two in lieu of such minor titles like Exed Exes. Granted, this is really just me nit picking, and one of the best parts about this collection is that it's labeled "Vol. 1." I can only imagine future installments packed to the brim with MERCS, King of Dragons, and Knights of the Round; as well as the two I've already mentioned.
Bottom line: Do you love Capcom? Do you love classic arcade games? Then this is the set for you. Only Midway's series tops it, and they've had three installments to get it that good. There are a few titles included that are questionable choices, but this is one collection that definitely deserves a place in every gamer's library.