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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Capcom Classic Collection Reloaded (Capcom for PSP)

By Michael Palisano

Complimenting last year's excellent PSP compilation, Capcom Classic Collection Reloaded includes 15 additional classic titles, though nine of these are variations on Street Fighter, 194X and the Ghosts 'n Goblins trilogy, which lessens the variety. Each title has been faithfully reproduced with arcade perfect visuals and controls. Players can unlock additional items such as artwork and playing tips as well. The game also lets you play with friends wirelessly and share games via wireless connections. While the somewhat focused selection of titles will appeal mostly the hardcore retro gamers, this is still a solidly entertaining collection of timeless games.

Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded takes a slightly different approach in its title selection than many other compilations on the market. Instead of trying to stuff in as many different titles as possible, the developers have instead featured multiple installments of several series. There are three Street Fighter II titles, three version of 1942/1943 and three Ghosts 'N Goblins titles. Of course, more obscure games and other classics are included, but this trilogy of trilogies predominates this time around. Their inclusion on the same disc makes it easy to trace the evolution of these series in the palm of your hand, but also has the unfortunate side effect of making the compilation feel much smaller in terms of selection than it is. While the inclusion of the three SFII titles seems rather dubious initially, there are subtle differences between the games that make their inclusion feel more material to the collection than it would seem at first. Players can select from the original Street Fighter II, SFII Champion Edition or SFII Hyper Fighting. While the changes between the original game and Hyper Fighting seem minor these days, these small enhancements, additional characters and moves made the games landmark releases at the time. From a gameplay standpoint, each one seems to be very much intact and the game's classic look and feel benefits nicely from the PSP's letterboxing format. Performing some of the special moves and combos was a bit difficult to get used to on the PSP controller, but the game's interface was decent nonetheless.

Still, the controls on these classic fighters were superior to the disappointing implementation of some of Reloaded's other games. Sadly, these problems involve Ghouls 'N Ghosts, which suffer from substandard controls. The games remain much harder than many players will probably remember and some of the iffy controls make things even more so. It was difficult to make Arthur move consistently in a single direction. These problems are difficult to overcome and make the second game almost unplayable until significant time was invested. Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts was a tad easier to control for some reason, but still wasn't perfect. Oddly enough, Ghost 'N Goblins was the best of the three and didn't suffer from any of these problems, making their appearance in the latter games all the more glaring. The awkward controls made movement more frustrating than it needed to be and this made these translations frustrating to play, since we found ourselves taking hits and losing lives thanks to these controls. You can accommodate your play style to these controls after awhile, but the games never really feel as natural and fluid as they should. This has to be considered extremely disappointing, since the GnG trilogy's inclusion is probably one of the main reasons many players will want to purchase this title.

The final trilogy included here consists of 1942, 1943 and, 1943 Kai. This classic shooting series set a very high standard with its trademark loop de loops, power ups and massive attack bombs. Many subsequent shooters, notably those from Psyiko showed more than a passing resemblance. The original games have held up well as you'd expect and they still have the solid play mechanics, addictive controls and ingenious enemy patterns that players have come to grow and love. Their simple approach makes them ideal for the handheld platform and their translations are excellent with flawless controls and tight gameplay. These games benefit the most from the ability to be changed and played sideways, where they really come to life. Shooter fans will also be happy to note that Capcom has included the excellent and under-rated Eco-Fighters in this compilation as well. Eco-Fighters is definitely a gem with great visuals set against a barren earth, cool boss enemies and tons of great weapons power-ups. It's horizontally scrolling and features colorful environments and some really interesting play mechanics. The game's interesting storyline and cut-scenes add up to make this the great obscure gem players who love these types of things will enjoy the most.

Capcom has also included a pair of more traditional shooting titles, Exed Exes and Vulgus which are similar in approach and design. Exed Exes has a unique design with a bee type influence with plenty of interesting enemies, bosses and power-ups making for an exciting, if somewhat simple shooting experience. Vulgus dates way back to the mid-80's and also represents Capcom's first released game as well. This makes it a landmark worth playing for that reason alone and while its simple play mechanics make it fun for short bursts, you shouldn't go into it expecting too much. These have appeared on other Capcom discs as well and they've both been translated beautifully to the PSP. Each can be played in multiple configurations and can also be scaled up to fit on the PSP's sideways screen to be played in their original dimensions for a more accurate translation. It takes some getting used to the controls using this screen size, but once you figure out the right angle, the experience is quite excellent with the larger screen offering a much more vibrant experience that makes it hard to look at the comparatively tiny views offered in the standard vertical mode.

You'll probably get a bit tired playing these series and find yourself looking for a change of pace. Other games on the disc provide just that with a good selection of titles covering a wide array of genres. Classic titles like Merc, Commando, Pirate Ship Hiigemaru, Son Son, Knights of the Round, GunSmoke and, King of Dragons round out the selection. Of these, most players will probably be most familiar with Commando, the classic combat game which hasn't lost much of a step over the years. It's still just as addictive as you remember and the gameplay mechanics and controls work well here. Merc is somewhat similar to Commando, but it's odd directional scrolling and somewhat quirly approach makes it less immediately appealing than you'd expect it. Still, this is a solid conversion that offers some good gameplay. Some of the games like Pirate Ship Higermaru (a very simple platform puzzle title) haven't aged gracefully and aren't as good as you remember. Knights of the Round is also somewhat disappointing, playing as a kind of dungeons and dragons version of Final Fight while the King of Dragons is somewhat dull as well. The obscure puzzle action title Son Son offers some enjoyment, but its simplistic play mechanics and graphics aren't likely to lead to long-term play value. These feel like remainders for the most part, with the first PSP compilation enjoying the lions share of the better game. It effectively fills in the blanks from the first PSP release in terms of title selection. The inclusion of these extra titles makes this feel deeper and offers some variety which should make arcade fans happy.

This makes a fairly comprehensive selection of titles, but Capcom has gone a step further and implemented a clever system for unlocking extra content. Each time you finish playing a game, you are given a status screen which shows you the number of plays, button presses, and continues for that game. Each element is then converted to coins, which you can then use in the special slot machine mini-game to unlock extra content such as artwork, cheats and play hints. This is a pretty cool system that rewards players not just for high scores, but for other elements as well. It allows you to unlock something new each time you play and is quite addictive in itself. In addition, players can also share some of these games with other PSP owners in ad-hoc mode and play against friends wirelessly as well. These additions add value to what is already a fairly solid collection and make the games even more addictive. One other minor problem we found was the long load times between games, which is somewhat annoying, but the quality of the emulation more than makes these waits worthwhile. Despite some problems Ghouls 'N Ghosts' controls, the impeccable emulation of the other games more than makes up for this. Some players will probably not want to sit through all three installments of these series, but hardcore retro gamers should enjoy this approach to classic gaming, which sure beats having to search through multiple discs to enjoy a franchise in order. Overall, Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded is an excellent compilation that should please retro gamers with an excellent selection of solidly emulation titles.

Grade: B

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