Capcom “Beat’em Up” Bundle – Review – Only for tough guys

A valuable arcade collection, still quite valid today, which could however have received more games, fan service and options.

Capcom’s “beat em ups” classics are among my memories of the arcade scene, some of which are reproduced later on 16 and 32 bit consoles, followed by collections in the following generations, where it was possible to try some among other classics . Although Street Fighter is at the top of that arcade hierarchy, beat’em ups have always been a special genre, perhaps more accessible than many “fighting games” because it is based on muscular battles over more or less long levels, in which it was it is common to face bosses, or bosses, as they were known at the time.

Announced last week, during the Nintendo online event, Capcom Beat’em Up Bundle impacted the announcement, but it did not surprise. Many years after the arcade boom, many publishers re-launch and return to their classics, through small bundles or in the form of launching classic consoles. Now it is Sony that will launch the miniature of the original classic 32 bit, the first system placed on the market, combining two dozen titles.

Sega regularly revisits many of its arcade classics, offering Mega Drive as well, while Nintendo has just launched an online service offering subscribers a wide range of 8-bit NES games. There is no better time in the world to find so many classics. Therefore, far from a surprise, the announcement and launch on the 18th of this collection of beat’em ups with the Capcom label, one of the most prestigious publishers in the genre, was a surprise.

Final Fight is the oldest game in the set, but it still retains the charm that made it special at the time.

The Capcom Beat’em Up Bundle consists of seven games: Final Fight (1989), The King of Dragons (1991), Captain Commando (1991), Knights of the Round (1991), Warriors of Fate (1992), Armored Warriors (1994) and Battle Circuit (1997). All corresponding to the arcade versions, for now only digital. Later on the Japanese will have access to a physical version, with art and entitled to a soundtrack, something that will delight western fans.

While games from the arcade scene, compressed for almost ten years – a decade of arcades – from 1989 (Final Fight), until 1997 (Battle Circuit), it is possible to play them in their multiplayer format, for two or even four players simultaneously . Some games allow up to three players, while Final Fight is the only one that can only be played by two players. The possibility of playing them online reinforces the interest, although it is necessary to emphasize the need for a good, stable connection between all players, under the risk of losing the fluidity that is always essential in these matches. Unfortunately, and while we were able to play online, breaks and disturbances often occurred, causing significant slowdowns. Alternatively, it is always possible to share the commands for a local “two player” experience, much simpler to start and free from signal problems. However, it is always positive to be able to share the game with up to four players online.

As mentioned above, all games share the same genre among themselves: the “beat em up”. It is a game in which the player selects one of several characters, capable of making various offensive movements, from simple actions to special attacks, which enters the scene, in horizontal scroll levels, facing waves of enemies until reaching the head of that level, featuring a health bar to fit successful blows from rivals. As the levels are completed, the difficulty rises and lives are increasingly scarce. Hurry the challenge goes not only to win the last boss but to survive until then.

Captain Commando features multiplayer for up to four players. The action can become chaotic.

These games are marked by great accessibility, producing immediate fun, very typical of arcades. A few seconds after starting the game, we are facing the first opponents and completing the first level. Capcom has become a master publisher of this type of production, perhaps too advanced for its time, thanks to a very large and brilliant staff. Using CPS-1 technology on arcade machines, Final Fight won over fans in 1989 thanks to a superior combination of three points: visuals, fluidity and gameplay. Even today it is a remarkable game, and of the seven that make up the bundle, an unavoidable title. Superior to many of the games produced for consoles years later, it became one of Capcom’s benchmarks, influencing almost all of the games that followed.

Dynamic backgrounds, fluid movements, rich colors and conceptual art continue to impress. Almost 30 years later, the game does not fade. There are lots of items to recover, a reasonable variety of enemies, but it is also a short game that ends in almost an hour, unless you increase the difficulty to the maximum, which will lead you to repeat the game several times until you see the end.

Given the similarity of mechanics, they easily apply the same strategy used to win in Final Fight in other games like Captain Commando. With a more effective presentation and a more emphatic characterization of the characters, this game serves as a great reference after the Final Fight battles.

The gallery contains abundant art from each of the seven games present.

Forming a safe beam in this bundle, the “beat em ups” of medieval fantasy stand out, even sharing some elements with role play games. The King of Dragons allows the choice of five characters, selection of various weapons and lots of resources. Although the levels are short, the action is sometimes chaotic. However, it is a 1991 game, less technically evolved than Warriors of Fate and Knights of the Round. This one also features some mechanics in the role play format, although it is perhaps the least convincing of the three.

Warriors of Fate is the most unknown to Westerners – its popularity has always been restricted to Japan – and also the strongest of this subset. It is a sequel to the arcade game Dinasty Wars. In terms of technological progress, Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit (1994 and 1997 respectively) are more produced titles, benefiting from CPS-2 technology, the same that would serve the cream of Street Fighter II games, these being not only two rare but good games in the gameplay chapter. Visually, they are still quite impressive games, just as the soundtracks, made by composers like Syun Nishigaki, Yoko Shimomura, and Yoshihiro Sakaguchi, are no less remarkable.

Although it can be said that the games contained in this bundle are the best produced by Capcom, there is an absence of weight. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs is an absence that is felt too much. With an opportunity for such a bundle, its non-inclusion is not perceived. Only then would it be the definitive “bundle”, because Cadillacs (1993) is still one of the best, one of the rare and one of the most sought after “beat’em ups” by fans. The true fan service must naturally go through its inclusion.

For now the bundle is available, in Europe, only in digital format.

Unfortunately, there are other limitations to this bundle. One is the absence of image filters. We have already seen how Capcom was able to introduce these options in collections such as Street Fighter, so it is not understood that they are not included in this bundle. There are also no options for audio format, namely the soundtracks. As mentioned above, the online multiplayer option does not always guarantee the best performance, so the appropriate option is to support local multiplayer.

On the positive side, there is the inclusion of a vast set of art allusive to each of the seven games via the gallery, with posters of arcade versions, manuals and art created in the development phase. It’s a great service for fans, but let’s face it, Capcom could have gone further in the scope of the fan offering.

In conclusion, we are facing a very interesting bundle, specially created for fans. A pure historical collection, full of nostalgia and fully playable almost 20 or 30 years later. Other titles could be added, and the absence of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, all too evident, means that it is still not the case that fans have access to one of the best “beat ups” ever. Other games like Battle Circuit and Armored Warriors help to fill that gap and make it evident how Capcom was one of the best producers in the arcade scene.