We adore the Street Fighter series, but we miss the days when Capcom also used to release more quirky fighting games alongside it.
Capcom Fighting Collection bundles up ten of these curios – originally released in arcades in the 90s – for modern audiences. And while their pixelated visuals may not have the same charm that they once had, the gameplay of each and every one of these games has at least stood the test of time. Sprinkle in some wonderful bonus features and extras, and you have a package that’s very exciting for fighting game fans.
Let’s get the most disappointing thing about Capcom Fighting Collection out of the way first: five of the ten games it includes are from the Darkstalkers series. That wouldn’t be much of an issue in itself if it wasn’t for the fact that three of them – Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire, Vampire Savior 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire – were essentially the same game with changes to the character roster. Still, it’s good for Darkstalkers fans, we guess. And both Vampire Savior 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire previously haven’t been available outside of Japan.
In any case, it’s not all bad news as the Darkstalkers games are still very fun to play. For those who have never taken the plunge, the series is essentially Street Fighter with a horror theme. You’ve got a surly vampire named Demitri who plays a bit like Ryu, while a 5,000-year-old Egyptian Mummy is reminiscent of Dhalsim thanks to its stretchy arms and legs. Add in Lord Raptor, a zombie who plays guitar, Sasquatch, a rotund and jovial Yeti, and many more, and you have a handful of games that are certainly full of character.
Despite being a collection of Capcom’s more obscure fighting games, there are some Street Fighter games here as well. Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition is present after being omitted from 2018’s Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. A modified version of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, it’s notable for the fact that it allows players to select from all variations of the Street Fighter II roster. That means there are up to five versions of character, each with their own nuances.
The other two Street Fighter games included in Capcom Fighting Collection are thankfully a little more leftfield. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is essentially Puyo Puyo but with gems instead of blobs. What makes it really special, though, are the chibi-styled Street Fighter characters battling it out in the middle of the screen as you puzzle away. Those chibi-styled characters are used again in Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, a more traditional fighting game that still has some gem-infused quirks. Hitting your opponents makes gems fly out of them like they’re a valuable piñata, and by picking them up you can power up your special moves.
Related: The Best Fighting Games on PS4
That leaves two games that are neither Darkstalkers nor Street Fighter related. The first is Cyberbots. A spin-off of Armored Warriors, some players may find its characters familiar if they picked up 2018’s Capcom Beat’ Em Up Bundle. Cyberbots allows players to select a pilot and then a mech to do battle in, allowing for many unique match-ups. The combat feels a little simplified compared to other games in the collection, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Just the audacity of it makes it worth spending some time with.
The last game in Capcom Fighting Collection, Red Earth, is perhaps the most interesting. For one, this is the first time it has ever been made available on a home console. Then there’s also the fact that it has RPG elements. Red Earth has just four playable characters, though it has a cacophony of grotesque and horrendous creatures for you to face off against. Starting out at level one with your selected hero, the idea is that as you play you gain experience and level up, giving you access to new equipment and moves.
In the arcades, a password system was employed so that you could keep your progress between sessions. Here, thankfully, you can simply set your level via a menu. Along with other unusual features, such as being able to consume food during fights to restore your health and a range of orbs providing you with magical power, Red Earth is very intriguing indeed. There are certainly some ideas here that we’d like to see in a modern fantasy fighting game.
All games in Capcom Fighting Collection are enhanced by menus that allow you to tweak things like CPU difficulty, number of rounds and so forth. You can even choose whether to make it easier to access secret characters in each game if they have them. Within each game, there are also numerous screen options to choose from – you can stretch the 4:3 image to fill the screen, for example, choose from a range of borders, and apply various filters.
Being ports of the arcade versions, it’s also nice to find that training modes have been included, allowing you to practice your skills at your own pace. Accessibility has been given consideration, too; the buttons are remappable in every single game, and even advanced manoeuvres such as special moves and super moves can be mapped, making them ever so easy to pull off.
The extras here that are really going to get fighting game fans’ juices flowing are the Museum and online play. You can listen to the soundtrack of every game at your leisure, and peruse a fantastic selection of concept and promotional art. It’s all unlocked from the outset, too, so there’s no need to grind for the good stuff.
We haven’t been able to test Capcom Fighting Collection‘s online multiplayer extensively, but we have had some matches and it appears to work well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise given that rollback netcode has been implemented. Ranked, casual and lobby matches are available, so you can choose how competitive you want things to be. There’s even a spectator mode so you can simply watch others in action if you wish. It’s just a shame there’s no cross-platforming matchmaking to make it easier finding matches in the long-run.
Whether you’re a fighting game fan who remembers some of these classics from yesteryear, or someone new to the genre who’s open to digging into some past treasures, Capcom Fighting Collection is well worth picking up. Sure, it’s fairly Darkstalkers-heavy, and the lack of cross-platform play is unfortunate, but the hours of fun that can be had from this collection far outweigh such disappointments. Capcom has once again plundered its extensive back catalogue and come up with the goods.