The title ‘Capcom Fighting Collection‘ holds a hell of a lot of promise. The publisher/developer has released some of the greatest fighting games in existence. Street Fighter II was the game that basically made the genre what it is. There was an awful lot of that game included with Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, which released back in 1998. But barring the versus titles, there aren’t actually that many 2D Capcom fighters left to fill out a collection such as this. Capcom Fighting Collection is a good anthology of games outside the mainline Street Fighter series. Although it does surprisingly have a more complete version of Street Fighter II than the aforementioned collection for that series.
Truth be told, Capcom Fighting Collection, as my review title implies, would have been better off being called “Darkstalkers and Friends” or something similar. This is basically a Darkstalkers collection with some odds and ends added in. All five of the arcade games in the series are here, although Darkstalkers Resurrection is sadly not. But saying that there are five Darkstalkers games is also misleading, as there are really only three: Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (Vampire: The Night Warrior in Japan) in ’94, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers’ Revenge) in ’95, and Vampire Savior: World of Darkness (subtitled The Lord of Vampire in Japan) in ’97.
The West didn’t get the next two games that were released in arcades in ’97. Their titles are truly confusing: Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire. Despite the titles, the games aren’t sequels. Instead, they’re alternate versions of Vampire Savior with different characters. All of the characters from the three iterations of the series were present in the game’s PlayStation port from 1998, so the West did technically get all three entries. Therefore, half of Capcom Fighting Collection‘s roster of games is Darstalkers games, but three of them are kind of the same game. Ergo, there aren’t really 10 games here. But eight games is also fine.
One more round with II
The Capcom Fighting Collection comes with Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition, which was the last arcade update to the game. This collection sadly doesn’t include either HD update that added new visuals. And those have never been on PC either, which is a shame. Still, it’s one of the most complete versions of the game. But since everything in CFC is clearly an arcade game, so I suppose the HD versions didn’t belong here anyway.
As for what else, Cyberbots, a mecha game, Red Earth, a game that’s unique because you only fight boss enemies, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, a fighting game using visuals akin to the Puzzle Fighter games, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, obviously a puzzle game. All 10 choices can be easily selected from the title menu. You can pick between English and Japanese versions, but those two Vampire Savior games with altered rosters only have Japanese versions. Each game also has a training mode included, which is great for practicing characters before jumping in.
Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind
You can choose to play offline or online mode before getting to the menu that lets you pick your game. Everything can be played online, which massively adds to the value of Capcom Fighting Collection. Beyond that, you can choose between options for each game. These preferences are mostly made up of the options that the arcade machines have prior to booting, such as difficulty and requirements for selecting special characters, like Akuma. There’s a lot to take in, to be sure.
Once you get into the games themselves, you can pause them and even use quick saves and loads. Quicksaving obviously isn’t at all necessary for fighting games, but it’s great if you want to come back to your game later without having to start over. The games all play fantastically. I never noticed any slowdown or strange errors of any sort. The games all have the mode options they had in the arcade as well, which are usually speed options.
As for the games themselves, everything here is a classic. Hyper Street Fighter II is one of the most polished versions of a masterpiece. The character select menu lets you pick between versions of the game with two kinds of super meters, or you can play the vanilla version among others. Despite the game being the granddaddy of the genre, it’s still a blast to play.
Awesome odds and ends
Cyberbots is the aforementioned mecha fighter and it’s very much a standout. The game has you pick a pilot followed by a mech. Since they’re mecha, the game plays quite differently than a standard fighter. You’ve got melee and ranged attacks, plus a dash button that works in air. The game is just as fun as it ever has been, and its sprites and animations still impress.
Red Earth only has four characters to choose from, but they play very differently. This is also the first time it’s been available outside of the arcade. For instance, there’s a ninja that fights with a sword and a mage with ice attacks that briefly freezes your opponents. You don’t completely heal after each fight and your characters level up. If you die, you lose your levels, so you have to play carefully to keep certain advantages. Red Earth doesn’t include special moves and whatnot quite like most of the other games, so it really stands out in Capcom Fighting Collection.
Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix is another favorite of mine, as it also has an extremely unique fighting system. It features characters that mostly appear in the puzzle game, which I’ll get to in a moment and has characters drop gems when they’re struck. I adore the sprite work in this game as well, and the animations are so silly and over the top that it’s hard not to smile while playing.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is a puzzle game that is not a sequel to anything at all, nor is there a non-turbo version. The title is a joke. It’s a competitive puzzle game where you drop colored blocks near each other and then erase them with the orbs bearing the same color. Super-deformed or “chibi” versions of game characters will wail on each other when one player pulls off big enough plays, and trap blocks will rain down depending on your opponent’s actions. It’s a fun game, but an odd inclusion considering that it isn’t a fighting game. This is supposed to be a fighting collection, right?
Now for the stalking
And now for the bulk of the collection: the Darkstalkers games. It’s a series themed on monsters, headlined by the iconic buxom succubus, Morrigan. The games play similarly to Street Fighter II, but most of them are faster by default. The second game, Night Warriors, is slower than the other two, but the first and third games are very quick, especially if you have the speed set to the middle setting and above. The characters have Capcom’s usual top-tier sprites and have lots of unique, imaginative moves.
Players who aren’t familiar with Darkstalkers might be perplexed by all the games here, as they’re all quite similar (barring the slower Night Warriors, really). They mostly use the same sprites for each character along with very similar move sets, so people may have a bit of trouble choosing which game to focus on. They’re very enjoyable, though, and having all of the characters via the two bizarrely-named roster alteration versions is nice to have, even if I’m worried that it’ll fracture the player base.
There are also galleries for each game featuring artwork and music. Capcom Fighting Collection definitely doesn’t do all it could have done with a title like that (maybe we’ll get another one with the 3D games) and anyone that isn’t into Darkstalkers probably won’t be all that interested. But there are some truly great games in here that will be well worth jumping into online for. Getting in and out of the games is lighting quick, it’s super easy to swap between different filters and aspect ratios. The games have aged splendidly, so this is absolutely worth picking up if you desire a great collection of Capcom fighting games, but especially if you’re a fan of Darkstalkers.