31st Oct2018

‘Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

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It’s fair to say that right now, in videogaming, retro is king. Old franchises have been resurrected and/or remastered; new games chosing to 8-bit look; “mini classic” consoles aplenty… and, of course, video game compilation releases by the bucketload. But we’ve had re-release after re-release of the likes of Atari games, Sega Megadrive games, Capcom Collections, SNK games etc., so what makes the brand-new Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle so special?

Well as a beat ‘em-up fan it not only contains the obvious choice of Final Fight (1989) and Captain Commando (1991) but lesser-seen titles like The King of Dragons (1991), Knights of the Round (1991) and Warriors of Fate (1992), which gamers may remember from arcades or previous console releases. However the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle also includes Armored Warriors (1994) and Battle Circuit (1997) – two games which have previously only been available in arcades, giving new (i.e. younger) gamers a chance to play these retro gems at home and making it easier for those folks who DON’T have an arcade near them (cough, Arcade Club, cough) to play some awesome arcade-only games! Plus all of these titles exemplify some of the best side-scrolling games of the arcade era that WEREN’T made by SNK.

Speaking of SNK, like a lot of their beat ‘em-up titles, the games within the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle use very familiar gameplay mechanics, each skinned in different fashion. The King of Dragons, Knights of the Round and Warriors of Fate are very much fantasy-based, feeling and playing much like SEGA’s more famous Golden Axe franchise. Armored Warriors, Captain Commando and Battle Circuit are, on the other hand, based in sci-fi. Of the three Captain Commando and Battle Circuit are IMHO virtually interchangeable, however Armored Warriors sees you battle in a mech suit, making this a standout amongst the entire collection! The most well-known title in this compilation needs no introduction however, as I doubt there’s a gamer out there who DOESN’T know what Final Fight is!

Whilst beat ‘em-up aficionados, like myself, will appreciate the ability to play all these games at home and have them all available in one release, there a couple of downsides to the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle. Firstly, a few of these games have been released before in other Capcom collections (in the PS2/Xbox release Capcom Classics Collection Vol.2 and Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded on the PSP to be precise). Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but this is a collection of retro games, appealing mainly to retro gamers; and retro gamers are pretty much guaranteed to have one or both of those aforementioned previous-gen titles already, especially considering their easy availability. Which means this would be essentially a purchase to get the two “arcade” only games. The other issue is… Well, these are 6 side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups. Six pretty much identical side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups. OK, so they may LOOK different but they all play pretty much the same.

Speaking of gameplay, playing co-operatively with friends was a huge draw for the arcade beat ‘em up genre, and Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle preserves that popular feature. All seven games in the collection support drop-in local and online multiplayer co-op play. In addition, a variety of customisable options are available to tailor gameplay – such as number of lives, continues and difficulty: perfect for those aforementioned newcomers who might not be used to the hardcore action found in a few of these titles (for example the difficulty level in Final Fight ramps up tremendously towards the end of the game so some players might need all the lives and continues they can get!).

Like a lot of previous “collections” this release is not just about playing the games, its also about appreciating the history of the game as well. Which is why the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle features comprehensive galleries of each game’s history including: stunning art, design sketches, development documents, archives of the original game sleeves and instruction cards.

The only REAL downside to the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle – for me -is that it’s not available physically. I for one would have loved to see this released in a limited edition, with perhaps some physical copies of the gallery art, etc. Hell, if Capcom had seen fit to throw in a statue of these classic games too and I have no doubt that version would have been a day one purchase for me!

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