Over the last four decades, Capcom has built itself into one of gaming’s most beloved studios. The staggering amount of classic franchises they’ve singlehandedly developed has endeared them to fans of any and all ages. Before the days of Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, though, the studio pumped out arcade smash after arcade smash. Although certainly not their first compilation, Capcom Arcade Stadium is one of their widest-reaching ones. From their humble ’80s origins to early 2000s titles, this is a decade-spanning collection of classics.
Between the death of the industry and the pandemic, you couldn’t go to an arcade right now even if you wanted to. Capcom Arcade Stadium does the next best thing, though, as it brings over 30 quarter-munching machines to the palm of your hand. How this particular collection is handled is a little out of the ordinary. The title itself is free to download, but it only comes with one game. In order to get everything else, you can purchase three different compilations that span certain periods of time. Or if you want them all, you can choose to purchase everything in one complete package.
Before I even get into the line-up of what’s available, I want to call attention to how it’s all presented. Upon booting it up, you are transported into your own personal arcade. Instead of just a simple menu of titles, each classic is given its own little machine, and when you do select something to play, it will be presented in a recreated arcade cabinet. For some, the scaled-down screen may be an issue, but I found it all to be quite charming. There are plenty of other visual options, however. Screen filters, aspect ratios, and even what region version you are playing can all be easily adjusted.
Now onto what most prospective buyers want to know: how many of these titles hold up? Perhaps not surprisingly, most of them are as fun to play now as they were 20 years ago. Everyone and their mother knows that Street Fighter II is still a gem and that Captain Commando remains one of Capcom’s best side-scrolling brawlers. Other well-known releases, such as Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Strider remain incredibly enjoyable to play through as well. Yes, these may have been developed to wring as many coins out of you as possible, but there’s a reason people kept coming back to them.
What really drew me to the package, though, were the oddities that hadn’t been dragged out in quite some time. Sometimes it was for good measure (*cough* Dynasty Wars *cough*), but some had just gotten the shaft due to their oddball nature. As alluded to, the quality of these varies, but most are at least worth checking out once. Personal highlights for me include Pirate Ship Higemaru and Mega Twins. Higemaru is what I imagine you’d get if you took the gameplay of Bomberman but threw it onto a pirate ship. Simplistic, but super fun to play a few rounds of. Mega Twins is a cartoonish platformer that seems like an odd choice for the arcade, but one that fits perfectly on home consoles.
A majority of titles included in Capcom Arcade Stadium come not from the fighting genre, but rather the shooter. A staple of arcades for sure, but not necessarily the first genre that comes to mind when you think of Capcom. This does open the door for a handful of classics to find their way onto the set. 1943 – The Battle of Midway is included for free by just downloading the dashboard, and that serves as an adequate lead-in for newcomers. The real highlights of the shoot-em-up genre come from later efforts, particularly Giga Wing and Progear — a pair of bullet hell classics that have had little in the way of reissues.
As has become a staple for re-releases, Capcom Arcade Stadium includes a variety of quality of life improvements for these oldies. The ability to consistently rewind the action lets you retry troublesome sections until you can clear them, and considering the difficulty of the included games, this is a very welcome addition. Other inclusions include the ability to speed up or slow down the gameplay, and the option to save at any time. Whether you are a newcomer struggling to keep up, or a veteran in search of a new challenge, these let you meld the experience to how you see fit.
Emulation is mostly solid across the board for the set. There is slight input lag on some of the more intense shooters included in the set, but nothing that truly wrecks the experience of playing them. The previously mentioned ability to rewind or slow down the action helps to alleviate some of the frustration that comes from the lag as well. It’s far from perfect, but the industry has come a long way when it comes to accurately emulating arcade titles on home consoles, and Capcom continues that forward trend here.
One of the major disappointments with the package, though, is the lack of online play for any of the included titles. Multiplayer is the lifeblood of a successful arcade game, and while the local play is nice, online play would have been better. To their credit, Capcom did include online leader boards and challenges for everything included, and it’s a nice way to continue the tradition of trying to top the high score on a machine. I’ll never come close to reaching the apex of one of these lists, but at least I have a goal in front of me to strive for.
Like many of their previous compilation efforts, Capcom Arcade Stadium is a content-rich and enjoyable package. There’s a fine variety of options included and very little in the way of duds among them. Something that is of interest to me, though — will Capcom continue to add to the dashboard going forward? With the noticeable absence of fighting games (save for Street Fighter), are they planning a pack of them for a future release? Perhaps a Darkstalkers entry or Mega Man Power Battle? The suite of options already available is good enough, but the publisher could lay the blueprint for future compilations if they continue to build off this one.
This review was based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Capcom.
Similar to the publisher's previous compilations, Capcom Arcade Stadium is a feature-rich collection of above-average arcade classics. The lack of true online play stings, but there are still a wealth of options for vets and newcomers alike to sink their teeth into.