Title: Capcom Arcade Stadium
Release Date: February 17, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Some of my earliest arcade memories involved me pouring countless hours and quarters into various Capcom Cabinets. Games like Street Fighter 2, Final Fight, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins felt revolutionary at the time and helped pave the way for a new gaming generation. While Capcom has rereleased several versions of their arcade library previously, Capcom Arcade Stadium takes advantage of the Nintendo Switch’s hardware, allowing retro gamers many different options to relive some classic cabinet gaming.
Capcom Arcade stadium offers 32 classic games spanning from 1984 to 2001. Two games, 1943 and Ghost ‘n Goblins, are offered free for a limited time as an incentive to purchase bundle packages for more games. There are three different bundles to choose from: Dawn of the Arcade includes games from ’84 to ’88; Arcade Revolution with titles from ’89 to ’92; and Arcade Evolution which contains games from ’92 to ’01.
There is also the option to buy all bundles at a discounted price. Each bundle contains ten games and is priced around $14.99. I tend to prefer this approach instead of other companies that typically sell individual games for $5 each. It also, in a way, helps promote lesser know gems that could get more play when bundled with more popular games.
The choice of titles in each Capcom Arcade Stadium bundle contains some undeniable classics. A few titles don’t really stand the test of time but are typically still fun and entertaining to play. Overall though, the majority offered in each bundle has some truly great arcade experiences. Of course, I can think of plenty of titles that I would have liked to see, but the way Capcom Arcade Stadium is set up lends to possible other bundle purchases down the line.
Games are presented as a row of various arcade cabinets you can scroll through. It’s a fairly simple layout but one that I prefer over past Capcom arcade compilations. Each cabinet can change in its layout and appearance. This allows for numerous display options that can be saved for each title. Cabinets vary in size, shape, and color. Display options allow for a filter reminiscent of CRT lines and frames to add a bit of color to screen borders.
Probably the most interesting feature, though, is the possibility to re-orientate your screen. While this may seem a strange inclusion at first, it actually perfectly fits with the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode. Some early shoot ‘em up titles like 1942 originally had more vertically oriented screens, which can feel awkward on wider displays. I wasn’t able to find a way to make an attached joy-con work with that orientation without it being super confusing but detaching them or using a pro controller works perfectly fine.
As nice as it is to have various cabinets, there is a surprising lack of original arcade cabinets associated with the titles shown. I know this might seem like a minor gripe, but it would have really scratched my nostalgic itch to play these titles in a digital version of their original cabinets. I suppose it is possible with a future update or maybe possible unlock-able I haven’t reached yet, but it seems like a no-brainer to have from the start of the play experience.
The more you play, the more things you can unlock, like frames that border your screen. Some of these do help to make up for the lack of original cabinets. While not amazing, it’s nice to have an alternative reason to keep players gaming.
To earn even more money, you can do specific challenges on associated games. These challenges rotate and serve as a way to compete with others in online leaderboards. Challenges range from simple point gathering to wackier modes like performing with your screen turned upside down. It’s a neat little addition that keeps things fresh, even if it’s discouraging, knowing my resulting score was never high enough to be considered for online leaderboards.
Capcom Arcade Stadium offers a couple of different options to suit various play styles. Although you can put in as many coins as you want, you can also select your starting number of lives and difficulty. On top of that, you have a rewind feature, and various save points you can utilize. There is even a variety of speeds you can alter, making gameplay incredibly easy or extremely difficult. I was strangely hypnotized by this mode and found myself messing with this way longer than I anticipated. For games that I’ve played most of my life, it really did feel like a new experience when messing around with speeds.
Game emulation mostly plays as I remember them in the arcade with a few exceptions. I did notice some changes in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo with country flags and some backgrounds. They’re not huge changes, and most I doubt will notice, but I want to note it just in case some gamers are opposed to any alterations like that. Emulation seems to run smoothly, but with so many different versions of these titles out there, I’m sure there are minor variations I’m not noticing. Still, I found that playing these titles brought me right back to the arcade experience I was looking for.
With several different gameplay modes, speeds, challenges, and the content of games offered in each bundle, Capcom Arcade Library does a spectacular job introducing these classic titles to the Nintendo Switch. The vertical Orientation and possibilities offered in handheld mode, in particular, will unlikely be replicated on any other system.
While I did miss the classic cabinets in each title, there are still plenty of frames and other display options to choose from. Next to an actual arcade, Capcom Arcade Library will give you the retro gameplay you’re looking for and may even save you a few quarters along the way.
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