Review | Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium
Shmups and Fighters Galore
After a rocky launch for the first release, Capcom is back with a new Arcade Stadium touting 32 classic Japanese and English language arcade games. How has their RE Engine-powered emulator faired this time? Far better! Gone is the noticeable input latency of the first release, and it’s been rock solid with no technical issues for me. So, let’s break down this expansive (and kinda expensive) collection of classics. This is a review of the full $40 Bundle.
The Nitty Gritty
I’ll break this review down into two parts. This first one will focus on the emulator package as a whole and then I’ll get into a game list breakdown. The first thing you’re greeted by is one heck of a song in the intro screen and a retro-arcade-inspired art style that I really enjoyed. So much of the value in these collection titles is about the packaging around the older titles. You get manuals for each game explaining how they work. Score, Timed, and Special Challenges which greatly add to the longevity of things. Per-game-specific settings, including invincibility if you own that DLC. This is an incredibly microtransaction-heavy title with each game being its own separate DLC or you can own the entire thing for $40 US.
The typical display settings are on hand including what type of display frame you view the action through, what artwork you want to fill in the gaps on the left and right of the screen when needed, and a range of various filters to mimic the look of a CRT monitor’s scanlines and options for rotating the display. That final one is great for all of the various shoot-em-ups or Shmups that are in this collection. If you have a rotatable pc monitor they play well when it’s turned on its side.
The emulator itself allows for a large amount of save states per game and real-time rewinding, which comes in very handy with how punishing these quarter munchers can be. The right trigger is for rewinding and the left trigger will cycle through various game speeds. Everything can be played while online to compete against the world in a mix of best score/time rankings that will end up being the heart of the game for the most hardcore of fans.
The biggest issue with the 1st Arcade Stadium was input latency. Playing on a Series X with a wireless Elite 2 the games felt snappy, with zero noticeable lag for me. It was also stable as well, which was a big issue with the recent Pac-Man collection released on the console. Overall if the game’s on hand interest you this is a well-put-together package of very similar games. You can buy what you want piecemeal but get large savings if you buy the entire package.
There are 32 titles in total so I’ll give each a short descriptor here for you.
#1 – SonSon: Released in 1984 it’s loosely based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West. You’re a monkey boy, much like Sun Wukong, fighting from left to right as you attempt to find a Buddha statue. It’s very old, and doesn’t feel great to play, but was interesting to see.
#2 – Savage Bees: Originally titled Exed Exes it was renamed for its US release in 1985. It’s a vertically scrolling single or co-op shooter where you kill yourselves a lot of bees. It has a damned cool style and is balls hard. I found myself using the rewind feature a lot on this one.
#3 – Gun.Smoke: Another vertical scrolling shooter released in 1985, this one has your feet firmly on the ground as you play Billy Bob, a bounty hunter tasked with savagely murdering various criminals in the Old West. It is extremely difficult though the control scheme is cool. X shoots up and left, A shoots straight up, and B shoots up and right.
#4 – The Speed Rumbler: Also known as Rush & Crash this is one of the coolest games in the collection. You start out in a car and have full control as you drive around and shoot. At any time though you can exit the car and fight on foot. If your vehicle is destroyed you’ll need to survive long enough to get a new one delivered. It’s fast paced, controls surprisingly well, and was one of my favorite titles in the 2nd Stadium.
#5 – Hyper Dine Side Arms: Another 1986 release is our first horizontal scrolling shooter. It’s a classic flying mech shooter with five different weapon upgrade types that you can change between on the fly as you unlock them. It felt well balanced for an arcade game and looks great as well.
#6 – Hissatsu Buraiken: Translating to “Deadly Ruffian Fist” and known as “Avenger” in the US, this one is a Japanese-only rom that is a vertical scrolling beat-em-up that is pretty terrible. The perspective makes the lead character look really weird, it’s terribly balanced, and the controls felt off most of the time I was playing it.
#7 – Black Tiger: Released in 1987 and known as Black Dragon in Japan this is the first hack and slash platformer, and it’s not very good. You’re a barbarian trying to fight off three dragons to save your kingdom and this game is brutally difficult while not controlling particularly well. It has an interesting (because it’s so weird at times) art style though.
#8 – Street Fighter: We all know this 1987 release, and boy has it not aged well. While graphically decent it controls like absolute trash. When playing solo you can only be Ryu, though Ken is available for player 2 if you go head to head. It’s kinda incredible just how big a leap the 2nd game in the series was over this one.
#9 – Tiger Road: Another side scroller, this 1987 release tasks you with rescuing a group of children who were kidnapped by warriors of the Dragon God. You are the master of the Tiger Technique and must face down your rivals to save the day while obtaining the lost scrolls of your ultimate Double-Headed Tiger Fighting Technique. It’s alright, doesn’t feel the best but it was fun to play through.
#10 – 1943 Kai – Midway Kaisen: This is a remake of the original 1943 and was released in 1987. The graphics were updated, and the stage number was reduced from 16 to 10. The special weapons were changed, and everything is a heck of a lot tougher than the original. It’s a remake of a classic and it was a lot of fun to play, the soundtrack was really freaking good too.
#11 – Last Duel – A racing game! This 1988 release takes place in a weird alternate version of 2012 in a different galaxy. You’re trying to rescue your queen in a modified spaceship that’s also a car. Levels can take place either on a road or in space with the main mechanics being jumps in the car and barrel rolls in the ship. There is a timer as well, but it stops once you reach a boss. It’s real hard to see what’s coming in the game and I used rewind a LOT to beat it.
#12 – Rally 2011 LED STORM: Similar to Last Duel this is a vertical scrolling racer released in 1989 and is also known as Mad Gear. The opening segment is surprisingly fully voiced in that classic low-bitrate style but the game itself wasn’t very fun. It’s still hard to see what’s coming and it felt particularly unfair a lot of the time. Graphically it looks pretty nice though, at least for what you can see on screen at any given time.
#13 – Magic Sword: Another side-scrolling fantasy fighter, this one came out in 1990. It’s very similar to Black Tiger. It looks a lot better, and the controls are tighter as well. It’s not great but with co-op, I could see it being fun to play through. The sound effects do get a bit grating at times, though.
#14 – Three Wonders: This 1991 release features three different games. First is Midnight Wanderers which is a bad platformer. Next is Chariot which is a slightly better side-scrolling shooter, and finally is Don’t Pull which is an interesting puzzle game. None of them are great, and the first one is pretty darned bad.
#15 – The King of Dragons: This is a 1991 side-scrolling hack n’ slash where you can choose from five different classes. There is an Elf, Wizard, Fighter, Cleric, and Dwarf. Controls are jump and attack, and overall, it’s a good bit of dumb and nice-looking fun but it is really basic feeling.
#16 – Block Block: This is Capcom’s 1991 take on the Atari classic Breakout. Control-wise it felt a bit too unwieldy with the analog stick and I hope they can smooth out the controls in a future patch. It’s Breakout/Arkanoid, so you know what you’re getting overall.
#17 – Knights of the Round: Arthur, Lancelot, and Percival are attempting to unite Britain in this 1991 side-scroller. It looks really nice and controls well enough that I ended up beating the whole thing twice. It’s not very long (when you can rewind mistakes) but it was a lot of fun and I could see it being far more so in co-op.
#18 – Saturday Night Slam Masters: This 1993 game has an incredible title in Japan, Muscle Bomber: The Body Explosion. Featuring character designs from the artist of Fist of the North Star this game looks great and is some good dumb fun. It also features Mike Haggar from Final Fight!
#19 – ECO Fighters: Known as Ultimate Ecology this 1993 release is a horizontal shooter where you’re taking down a company hell-bent on deforestation and planet annihilation all in the name of profit. The main feature is a big-assed ever-evolving weapon that hangs off a rod at the front of your ship.
#20 – Pnickies: Similar to the later Puzzle Fighter games this 1994 release has a really weird name I’m probably pronouncing wrong. It’s mostly meant to be played against other humans as the computer AI didn’t put up much of a fight against me. It was still fun though, and the artwork in the background of each match was well-drawn.
#21 – Darkstalkers – The Night Warriors: Here we start getting into the fighters with this 1994 release. This one took the systems of Street Fighter II and added in air blocks, crouch walking, and chain combos. This is the first of multiple games in the series on offer.
#22 – Night Warriors – Darkstalker’s Revenge: The 1995 follow-up added in two new characters as well as making the bosses from the first title playable. It looks fantastic and plays really damned well, and while it seems like it would be a sequel it actually has the exact same plot and endings as the first one.
#23 – Street Fighter Alpha – Warrior’s Dreams: This 1995 release is also known as Street Fighter Zero in various territories. It was the first new fully new entry in the series since the original II back in 1991. One of the biggest additions was the three-meter super combo while it also brought over air blocking and chain combos.
#24 – Mega Man – The Power Battle: A 1995 spin-off of the main series you can choose from Mega Man, Proto Man, and Bass. Co-op is available and it’s essentially a boss rush that feels more like a fighting game.
#25 – Street Fighter Alpha 2: Release a year later in 1996, this is one of my most played SF games of all time. More a remake/refining of Alpha than a true sequel this title added in more characters and gameplay systems and is one of my favorites of all time.
#26 – Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo: Another 1996 release this is a light parody of Street Fighter II but with similar gameplay to Pnickies. You have your two blocks/gems and attempt to build up combos you can break with Crash Gems. It’s super fun and is always good to see in a compilation.
#27 – Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters: Similar to the first one this 1996 entry focuses on three stories about saving Roll. It’s a bigger is better approach with more on offer and it’s fine. It’s a similar boss-rush-style fighting game and not like a traditional Mega Man title at all.
#28 – Vampire Savoir – The Lord of Vampire: This is the third installment in the Darkstalker’s series and released in 1997. It added four new characters and featured an a new story. The biggest change was the new Damage Gauge System where there is only one round and instead you focus on taking down two health bars in total with no regenerating health in between rounds. It’s very good!
#29 – Capcom Sports Club: One of the unique releases on offer, this 1997 title offers up three different sports games to choose from. First is a terrible soccer game that feels far too basic, next is a basketball game that feels a little better, and finally is a very bad feeling tennis game. This one is not very good.
#30 – Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix – This 1997 release takes the deformed style of Puzzle Fighter and puts it into a proper fighting game. Characters are pulled from multiple franchises across Capcom and it’s really damned fun. Controls are simplified and it’s easy to pick up and learn in comparison to their more serious fighters.
#31 – Street Fighter Alpha 3: This 1998 offering is the complete opposite of Gem Fighters, as it is an incredibly technical and awesome fighting game. Featuring gorgeous graphics, a huge roster, and great music it’s probably the best overall game in the collection. A true classic.
#32 – Hyper Street Fighter II – The Anniversary Edition: Released in 2003 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the series this is the definitive kitchen-sink version of Street Fighter II. It has a ton of options and is cool to see.
That’s it! What a long list of games in this well-put-together package. It’s a bit light on content outside of the games, but every option you could want is here, things run great, and the full package is a decent value. If you’ve got the itch to play through a bunch of classics, some real stinkers, and a few really cool games you probably haven’t heard of before then Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is what you’re looking for.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC|
|Release Date||July 22nd, 2022|
|Developer||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
|Publisher||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
|Rated||T for Teen|