Back when arcades were a current thing instead of a nostalgic relic, Capcom ruled its own part of the neon and CRT-lit kingdom with an epic string of fighting games, shooters, and beat'em up titles. The latter was always my favorite. I'd dump a whole roll of quarters into a game like Final Fight without a second thought. Looking back, it wasn't a great use of money, but I had a blast playing those games. Now, Capcom has put together a stack of its best beat'em up games into the relatively inexpensive Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle, which should give you plenty of fun for your money if you're looking to get a solid dose of those good old times.
While I normally tend to go into things like a game's story and the way it feels to play for the first time, these are 30 year-old games. Instead, this will be more of a what-you-get kind of overview. I'll review what's in the bundle, what's missing, and how well the games actually hold up without going into the individual stories of these games, because they're all silly and simple as you'd expect an arcade story to be.
Walk Right, Punch, Repeat
The Beat'em Up Bundle features seven titles of varying familiarity. At the top of the list is Final Fight. Some lesser-known games like King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Warriors of Fate and Captain Commando are on there, too. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the inclusion of Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit, two CPS2 arcade games that never made their way to consoles. For $20 that's a pretty beefy list of games, especially when you factor in local and online multiplayer.
Even with this great list, the bundle is missing a few titles, all of which boil down to "licensing sucks." Back in the day, Capcom had a batch of D&D-licensed titles that were bundled together on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and there's an Alien vs. Predator game that is probably lost to the tides of time. The sequels to Final Fight are also missing, but I'm not 100% sure if that's a loss.
I also know that some of these games came out in different versions – these games feel like straight arcade ports with little to nothing changed. I can't speak to whether the game introduces any lag or solves any previous issues, but overall the presentation of these games is faithful right down to the presence of "attract" screens.
In terms of other features, there are a few notable oversights missing from the appreciated additions. You can choose between the Japanese and English-language versions of each game, and you can set the blank sides of the screen to any of a number of background images or just straight-up black. The game features trophies and achievements on Xbox and PlayStation. There isn't much in the way of other features, though. There's nothing like a gallery, sound test, or the ability to apply video filters to the screen for a more "true arcade" experience. In other words, it's a pretty spartan setup that reminds me of the games we saw hitting Xbox Live Arcade in the late 2000s.
The games feel as good as I remember, though. Final Fight is a blast, for example, and will always be one of my favorites. Both of the new titles are unique in their own small ways, too. Armored Warriors has you fighting off machines from the safety of your own exosuit. You can pick from four different warriors, each with slightly different stats. Throughout the levels, you can pick up different melee attacks, ranged attacks, and even different legs that give you new attacks. Because the exosuits are so big, the game gets tougher to play in multiplayer, but it's still pretty fun to see all the different variations.
One thing I noticed with these games is that because they were designed to drain our wallets in arcades, there's not much in the way of real challenge with them. If you want them to be challenging, you'll have to decide how many continues you want to allow yourself, because the game will just let you keep playing and continuing.
That doesn't mean it's not fun, but those who look for a tough time from games won't find much here.
What I Don't Know
There are a couple things I don't know about the game that I want to lay out here. The first is that I don't know how it plays or feels on Nintendo Switch. I spent my time with the game on PlayStation 4 entirely, and it felt fine on modern PlayStation controllers. I also don't know how it plays online, so it's possible it could have laggy netcode or something like that. But then, these games are really made to be played with everyone huddled around one screen, and playing them that way feels good as it ever has.
If you're looking for a dose of nostalgia or love game collections like these, the Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle is a solid way to spend an afternoon. A lot of the art is still great, and the games are part of our history. At just $20, you're looking at $3 per game. That's about what you'd pay on an app store, and two of these have never been on home consoles before. That alone makes it worthy of a spot in your library despite the rather spartan selection of extras.
Disclaimer: We played this game on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the publisher. We played all the way through Armored Warriors and checked out every other game in the collection before starting this review.
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