Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Darkstalkers’ Triumphant Revenge

As the roughly 1,000 ports and remakes of various Resident Evil games demonstrate, Capcom is the rare game publisher that does a good job of keeping its celebrated back history available for purchase. The Japanese powerhouse’s latest retro collection is a celebration of some of its finest, although not most popular, 2D fighting games. There are a total of 10 fighting games featured in the aptly named Capcom Fighting Collection, which showcases that Capcom had a lot more to offer than just Street Fighter when it came to one-on-one combat (though there are three Street Fighter adjacent games because of course there are). Although they can vary quite a bit in terms of how much effort went into them, Capcom collections are generally quite good and thankfully for arcade fighting game fans, this is on the higher end of the spectrum.

In a refreshing change of pace, Darkstalkers gets the bulk of the love here, as half of the available titles feature the Night Warriors. While its star has faded since its ’90s heyday, it’s a nice reminder that the series was once popular enough for separate anime and American cartoon series. All five of the arcade releases are included, including the two Japanese-only ones, which are separate updates of Darkstalkers 3 that were released simultaneously. While the history behind the games can be a bit confusing, the actual Darkstalkers titles have aged gracefully as their detailed sprites look just as great as they did during the mid-1990s.

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Going through the Darkstalkers in order is a fun trip through history. From seeing how the series’ character inclusions grew even more ridiculous over time from monsters to fairy tale inclusions — peaking with a violent Little Red Riding Hood spoof — to how it differentiated itself with unique systems (such as going away from traditional round-based gameplay), there was a lot that made the franchise stand out. This collection makes it easy to see how it has remained a beloved series in the decades since the last entry. If there’s one thing this collection does well, it’s showcasing that Capcom can have a larger foothold in fighting games going forward rather than just being the Street Fighter studio (although there are worse things to be, like being the ClayFighter studio, for example).

Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Darkstalkers' Triumphant Revenge

The other two non-SF fighting games are also a worthwhile affair no matter if you have nostalgia for them or not. Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness is the first one and is a spin-off of Armored Warriors, an awesome mecha-themed brawler that was released as part of 2018’s Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle. Just like its predecessor, this has more text and exposition than is generally seen in the genre. This extends to the character selection as the player’s choice of pilot determines which story they will see, while their pick of mecha determines their gameplay style. It’s pretty standard Capcom fare beyond that, as it plays like Street Fighter but with giant robots (and that does sound awesome), so it’s a quality addition and worth switching to when playing online, something that is thankfully super easy to do when in a room with friends.

1996’s Red Earth (also known as War-Zard in Japan, which is the cooler name) is the other obscure title looking to win players over. While Darkstalkers embraced gothic horror and Cyberbots embraced sci-fi, this goes full-fledged traditional fantasy with characters ranging from a half-man, half-lion hybrid to a “sorcerologist” that uses magical attacks. Intriguingly, there are only four playable characters, which inherently limits the versus mode. However, it works great for the single-player aspect of the game, which sees each hero going on a quest and going up against eight different boss enemies (which all have unique and eye-catching designs). It’s the rare fighting game that puts solo play first and foremost and is all the more unique as a result. As the first game to use the CP System III hardware (which Street Fighter III would later popularize), it’s also the best-looking title in the collection.

Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Darkstalkers' Triumphant Revenge

While Street Fighter isn’t in the bundle’s title, it’s still thoroughly represented in the form of Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition, which basically crams together five versions of Street Fighter II into one game, allowing fighters from one version to match up against those from another version. It’s ridiculous, totally unbalanced, and, most importantly, a complete blast to play. It is beyond wild to see Ryu’s first Street Fighter II form go against his Super Street Fighter II Turbo self and really underlines how much the different revisions helped improve the core gameplay.

Additionally, there’s the off-beat puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, which adds in some nice variety as it isn’t really a fighter, and Super Gem Fighter Minimix, which features chibi versions of SF and Darkstalkers characters duking it out with power-ups. While it’s on the simpler side for a Capcom fighter, it feels truly unique among its catalog due to the simplified inputs and gem mechanic that has your character powering up during battles. Plus, you’ll even see other Capcom cameos, such as Son-Son flying above levels.

Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Darkstalkers' Triumphant Revenge

While the splash screen shows the Street Fighter 35th anniversary logo, it is much more in line with the previously released Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle than the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection in terms of bells and whistles. While the Street Fighter-specific collection had a fantastic selection of character bios and a full timeline to help properly contextualize each release, Capcom Fighting Collection only features a selection of artwork and the soundtrack of each release. It’s disappointing since the history of Street Fighter is more well-known and easier to follow to your average fighting game fan compared to Darkstalkers‘ strange array of releases, two of which weren’t localized into English. Still, there’s a nice selection of game design documents mixed in with the art, so there are still plenty of interesting elements in its galleries.

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While the presentation is good but not top-notch, Capcom did a great job of adding several small quality-of-life additions that bolster the collection. Some of the arcade modes are quite tricky, but they are more manageable here because of its additional difficulties, training modes, and save states that let users brute force their way through the modes and see more of these vintage fighters. Additionally, the fully customizable control schemes even allow for players to map complex special moves to one button press, so players can really break the game if they want to (which is doubly fun when playing against a friend that is doing the same). All of these useful touches make for a collection that is great for both online and offline play, whether you’re a serious competitive player or just want to have fun within the framework of some gorgeous-looking fighters.

Capcom Fighting Collection is an enjoyable batch of 10 classic games, some of which are more well known than others. It’s the more obscure titles that truly make it shine, which is why it’s a slight bummer the game doesn’t present them in a nicer way. However, the games still stand on their own merits quite well and are a testament to Capcom’s widespread and long-running presence in the fighting game genre.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 4 copy for our Capcom Fighting Collection review. Reviewed on version 1.00.

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