No Quarters Required
HIGH A collection with well-polished presentation.
LOW The platformers are less than stellar.
WTF Did there really need to be three Street Fighter II games!?
I have a soft spot for arcades. Dark, noisy rooms, wasting too many quarters on games that were intentionally unfair, and the feeling of freedom while hanging out with friends. Arcades were a huge part of my early gaming experience, and it’s good to see titles from this bygone era made available for new audiences. It’s even better when they’re offered with the kind of love and care that Capcom Arcade Stadium offers.
With such a wide range of genres, control styles and graphics, each player’s enjoyment will surely vary, but one thing that Capcom does well is the presentation. Everything about Arcade Stadium looks like it belongs in a brick-and-mortar arcade thanks to details like being able to change the cabinet for each title, using the control stick to ‘insert’ the quarter, and even seeing the attract screens for the ‘cabinets’ to the left and right. It’s fantastic little details like these that make Capcom Arcade Stadium pop.
Of course, there are modern niceties, as well. Players are able to adjust the difficulty and even speed up or slow down the action within each game, along with the now-common ‘rewind’ function that allows players to retry a section without having to replay the entire level. These are all excellent additions for modern players since arcade games were primarily designed to eat quarters, not to be player friendly. There’s also local multiplayer, online score challenges, and a whopping 30 save slots! So many fantastic upgrades help round out this well-made collection.
As for the games themselves, those are hit-or-miss, but it’s still great to see them on newer platforms. There are a total of 32 selections available for Capcom Arcade Stadium. The basic download comes with one free title (1943) but there are three DLC packs of 10 games each that can be purchased individually, or for a slightly discount when picking up all three. The last game (Ghosts ‘n Goblins) can be purchased individually.
Pack 1: Dawn of the Arcade (’84 – ’88)
Made up of the earliest titles, Pack 1 definitely shows its age.
Pirate Ship Higemaru involves throwing barrels at pirates, but controls a little clunky and didn’t keep my attention long. Commando is a run-and-gun, top-down shooter – the gameplay is okay but a little bland, and is improved upon by another game in the collection
The shmups in this pack were my favorite, but still feel a little outdated.
Vulgus is an early space-themed shooter, but it’s a little slow to begin and (unfortunately) does not offer a continue function when players get a game over. Players also get two side-scrolling shmups – Section Z and Forgotten Worlds. Section Z is a slog, but Forgotten Worlds flows a little smoother. The original 1942 is included, but the free one, 1943, is superior in every way.
Then there’s Legendary Wings. A fantasy-themed shmup that includes side-scrolling sections where the player walks and jumps until reaching a boss. An intriguing concept, but it never excels at either part.
There are also some dedicated side-scrolling platformers, but as a whole, these are the least enjoyable. Bionic Commando and Tatakai no Banka both feel clunky and I was ready to move on after a short time. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts rounds out the first pack – it’s too difficult to truly enjoy and I still don’t get its appeal, but it controls better than the other platformers included.
Pack 2: Arcade Revolution (’89-’92)
A stronger contender than the first bunch, Pack 2 has a quite a few legends.
Street Fighter II is here – a legendary fighter, and not much more needs to be said. There are a few side-scrolling brawlers like Final Fight and the slightly goofy, but well-made Captain Commando and a beat-’em-up based on a manga set in ancient China, Dynasty Wars.
Players can also try their hands at older arcade platformers like Strider and Mega Twins. Both have large, colorful graphics, but I found the controls and gameplay to be a little lacking.
The sequel to Commando, Senjo no Okami II, is included, but only the Japanese ROM version. It’s an excellent top-down run-and-gunner that improves on everything from the original in Pack 1.
Three shmups round out Pack 2 — 1941: Counter Attack, a sequel (yes, sequel) to 1942. Varth Operation Thunderstorm takes place on an alien planet, but players will quickly notice the influence of the 1942 series. Carrier Air Wing is a side-scrolling shmup that veers towards a slightly realistic plot, but ends up feeling held back by sluggish gameplay.
Pack 3: Arcade Evolution (’92-’01)
If I could only purchase one pack, this would be the one. By this point in the industry, arcade games were beginning to be finely-tuned and all the selections here are worth playing, even if there is some repetition.
The two SFII games included are Hyper Fighting and SFII Turbo – both fine entries. Also included is another fighter featuring large mechs, Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. I had never heard of it before, so even though I stink at fighters, it was a treat to play something fresh.
Pack 3 also includes three excellent beat-’em-ups. Warriors of Fate is a sequel to Dynasty Wars and improves on its predecessor. Powered Gear: Strategic Variant Armor Equipment sees players taking control of a mech suit to battle across a dystopian future. This is known as Armored Warriors in the West, so I’m unsure why only the Japanese ROM was included here. Last of the beat-’em-ups is Battle Circuit, a quirky alternate-future brawler that allows players to fight as a pink ostrich, an alien, or a humanoid shapeshifter.
A set of four well-designed shmups round out Pack 3. 19XX: The War Against Destiny and 1944: The Loop Master are further evolutions of 1942‘s gameplay, but they probably won’t change the minds of those who didn’t enjoy the earlier versions. Giga Wing is another top-down shmup, but this one takes place in a dystopian future and features a wild special attack to keep things fresh. The best of the bunch has to be Progear – a steampunk-themed horizontal bullet-hell that plays fast and hard while oozing charm.
Capcom Arcade Stadium is a wonderful tribute to a mostly-bygone era that was important and influential in the history of videogames. Hopefully, Capcom will releases more titles and expand the collection, but even if they don’t, this trio is a worthy purchase for any player looking for some authentic arcade action.
Disclosures: This game is developed by and published by Capcom. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and multiple games within the collection were completed. Zero hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence, Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. While the descriptors sound concerning, these are older arcade games that are tame by today’s standards. The blood and gore are mild and never over-the-top. The language, tobacco and alcohol use, and partial nudity are so rare that I can’t think of any specific instances from my time playing.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Numerous games within the collection offer subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized, though each game’s display can be altered to fit the screen differently, which may impact text size. While I did not finish all 32 games, none appear to have sound cues that impacted gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. All non-directional buttons are fully remappable on each individual game. Directional controls are tied to the left stick and left direction buttons and cannot be changed. Each game has unique controls, which can be accessed and altered from the in-game menu.