Back to the arcade
Growing up in the ‘90s in rural Canada meant that I saw the decline of the arcade early. However, I’ve always had an overwhelming fondness for them. My mind is so focused on video games, that I can still point out the bowling alleys that had a Metal Slug cabinet. I recall the time that one place had Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and X-Men vs. Street Fighter. What a win! When I went to Japan, I stopped in every tobacco-scented game center I crossed paths with.
I recently changed my life by getting a decent arcade stick. It’s very difficult to find any cabinets these days (I wonder if the Galaxy Theatre still has Virtual On), but the feeling of slamming my fingers across a cluster of big ol’ buttons eases my longing.
But a good arcade stick is nothing without games to play using it. Capcom Arcade Stadium is still one of my favorite compilations to fire up for some button mashing. Yet, it left me with a laundry list of titles I yearned for. I kept waiting for more packs to be announced. Instead, we’re getting Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, which feels a lot like when you tell a cashier that you brought your own bag with you and they pack everything into a plastic bag anyway. Thanks, I guess.
Capcom Arcade Stadium had a lot of the company’s heaviest hitters. When you already have Street Fighter II, the 1942 series, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and Final Fight, where do you go? I’m tempted to throw shade and say, “to their actually good games,” but I really love those series, so that would be disingenuous. However, Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium just proves that the well runs deep. So, so deep.
First off, Capcom checked off the top game on my wishlist, Saturday Night Slam Masters. It’s a pretty simple wrestling game, but its simplicity makes it satisfying to slap the attack button. Plus, it has Mike Haggar in it, which will always land a game high marks in might book. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the updated version, Muscle Bomber Duo, or the sequel, Ring of Destruction. This is perhaps Capcom’s way of ensuring I buy Capcom Arcade 3rd Stadium one day, but also Ring of Destruction kind of sucks. I still would have rather had the option to play it.
You also get the Darkstalkers series strangely close to the release of Capcom Fighting Collection but only one version of Vampire Savior rather than all three. It also includes Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Super Gem Fighters Mini Mix. The downside here is that there’s no online multiplayer; something of a downside for the collection as a whole.
The well runs deep
The way I rationalize it is that if you’re strictly a fighting game fan, the Capcom Fighting Collection is probably better for you. However, if you’re like me, and you miss the taste of grape soda and queso cheese nachos, then Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is more for you. It’s easy to fine-tune for your taste.
Switching between gamepad controls and arcade stick is simple. There is a ton of ways to view these games. Do you just want to see the game in all its pixel-art glory? Sometimes I do. Other times I like to play it zoomed out so I can see the cabinet. I turn the filter to G, so not only do I get scanlines and curvature, but I also get cathode glow and can see the demos playing on adjacent cabinets.
Is it a practical way of playing games? No. It never was. But it causes my brain to release chemicals that make me feel good, and at the end of the day, that’s the best thing I could possibly hope for.
If you have experience with Capcom Arcade Stadium then expect the exact same sort of thing here. Nothing has really changed except the game selection music and that horrible auto-tuned song that plays on the main menu. You can swap the game select music and UI color back to the original’s if you want. I compared the two titles side-by-side, checking to see if there was any difference in filter quality, and I couldn’t tell the difference. Not that Capcom ever indicated otherwise. It just demonstrates how identical the framework is.
I don’t really know why this wasn’t just another pack of games. It doesn’t make much of a difference, I guess. it just means I need to remember which game is on which before I boot them up. You still get all the same changing challenges. Your experience doesn’t carry over, so you need to level up all over again.
Regardless of whether or not Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium bills itself as a separate title, it really is just more packs of games. Considering the framework itself is free and you just buy the games separately, that’s not necessarily a huge problem, it’s just kind of weird.
Sticky joystick not included
Perhaps it’s inevitable, but I’m still left with a wishlist after Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium. Alien vs. Predator would be at the top now, but since we’ve had two compilations without any of their licensed titles, I’m not sure how good our chances of seeing it again are. I mean, without dropping a mint on the Capcom Home Arcade unit.
However, what is included definitely satisfies. It’s a good mix of solid games, straight classics, and relative unknowns. Some of the games haven’t seen ports in a hog’s age, if at all. It’s definitely nice to see Mega Man: The Power Battle and its sequel again. And maybe Rally 2011: LED STORM isn’t a game I’ve heard of, nor is it one I particularly enjoyed, but I feel enriched for having experienced it.
I might even say that I enjoy the selection for Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium more than the original’s because I haven’t had as many chances to play a lot of these games. For Saturday Night Slam Masters, I’ve been playing the SNES version all this time. It’s a lot like walking into an actual arcade; you’re never quite sure what you’ll run into.
Everyone will have their own expectations. If you want to compete at these games, you’re going to have to settle for leaderboards or offline play. If you want a minimize the barrier between you and the game, you could do worse. But if you want Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, I have bad news. There is no such thing as a perfect compilation, and CAS still has room for improvement.
It might be worth noting there is only one bundle of games, and a press release I have refers to it as “CapcomArcade 2nd Stadium Bundle 1.” Could there perhaps be a Bundle 2 at some point? They fooled me once…
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is almost everything I want from a compilation. It not only provides a handsome slew of games, but it pays reverence to the experience, as well. Beyond that, it gives a lot of options that are pretty easy to figure out and configure. Switching between a controller and arcade stick is a breeze, as it should be. Maybe one day I want pixel art, and maybe the next I want phosphor glow. My eyeball-destroying tastes are catered for.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]