Capcom Digital Collection: review

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Sensibly decorated with a budget price tag (many online retailers are selling it for less than £20), this collection represents a significant saving over buying each of the eight games individually. The big question is: are the games actually any good?

The best game here is arguably – deep breath – Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. As you and your opponent fiddle around with gems on the screen, your avatars (super deformed Street Fighter and Darkstalkers characters, each with varying attack/defence attributes) trade hits as you attempt to overload each other’s screen. This is achieved by joining gems of the same colour to make larger versions, before destroying them by dropping the correctly coloured bomb on top. Gems sent from your opponent each carry a timer, which counts down with each move you make. They cannot be joined or destroyed until the timer reaches zero; unless you manage to destroy adjoining gems. The best tactic therefore is to build up a tidal wave of gems for attack, rather than hitting out little and often. There are four game types. Two are nigh-on identical, while the other two turn the game into a match three or match four puzzler. Each mode is as addictive as the very best puzzlers can be; because this is one of the very best puzzlers.

From the best on to the worst. Rocketmen: Axis of Evil, which includes the tiresomely-named It Came From Uranus expansion pack, is awful. Seemingly designed to be as tedious as possible at every turn, this is a twin stick shooter with a leaden pace. You can’t even force the whole horrid experience onward, as the screen only scrolls forward when the game decides you’re allowed to progress. Add in a levelling system for every character stat you can imagine and for every weapon, plus shoddy presentation which sees a lame script acted out in comic book scenes which regularly cut lines of dialogue off before they’re finished, and you have a game which outstays its welcome before the end of the first level.

Blanka: "These graphics are SHOCKINGLY good." Guile: "God, please, stop with the crappy puns! You win!"

A much (much) better twin stick shooter is Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. A very brief experience, but one with a big dollop of fun smeared over it (which wins bonus points for offering sections where the player can run soldiers over in a tank). It only really has long-term appeal for leaderboard chasers, as the score multiplier rises steadily the more kills you make without getting hit (up to a maximum of 24X) and instantly resets when you get shot.

The final old-school shooter is 1942: Joint Strike. Again, the game is very short, and can be finished in about half an hour. A vertically scrolling ‘bullet hell’ shooter plastered with WWII paint, you take one of three planes to shoot the heck out of everything that gets in your way until you reach the boss vehicle. Which you shoot the heck out of. Even on the lowest difficulty it’s an unforgiving experience, best played with somebody else (which allows you to make use of the eponymous joint strike attacks). Another good one for leaderboard chasers, however.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is an odd beast, a modern platform shooter with a strict retro design philosophy. You can only shoot straight ahead, but this is rarely a problem. More annoying are the fiddly controls for your bionic arm, which you rely on for swinging from ceilings and exposing enemy weak spots. Perverse enjoyment whilst taming it quickly turns to vein-popping frustration when you fall into instadeath or find yourself forced to retread your steps. Simple puzzles and a netro (neo-retro – our word) soundtrack keep things ticking along nicely, but it’s not as enjoyable or memorable as the games it seeks to emulate.

"Weighing in at a tidy 158 pounds, Guy likes to look after himself, waiting for the right man. Cody enjoys long walks on the beach; Haggar enjoys looking surprised and keeping his nipples their whitest."

Turn to Final Fight: Double Impact, and you’ll see this disc is pretty much nine games in one. Firstly of course you have Final Fight, the classic brawler that surely everybody reading this aged 25+ has played. Like most games of its ilk it hasn’t aged brilliantly. It has us practically drowning in nostalgia, meaning we greatly enjoy the brief time it takes to play through; but those new to the game aren’t likely to be impressed. FF:DI also includes lesser-known fantasy brawler Magic Sword, an epic(ish) fighter with simple platforming spread across fifty small levels; now with added autosave. Our lasting memory of the game is fighting bears who, it seems, are able to throw Guile’s Sonic Boom.

Sonic Boom doesn’t mean anything to you? Never played a Street Fighter II game? Then (a) where the hell have you been for the last twenty years? And (b) Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is a great place to start. Oh yes, those old backgrounds and tunes (both ‘remixed’) bring back memories for the rest of us, but the game still stands up well today – especially in shiny HD flavour. It seems odd that the animation hasn’t been improved more (if at all), but the addition of online play is more than welcome. Be warned, however; the few people playing are pretty darn good.

Drawing crop circles is all well and good, but writing rude words in gigantic letters is a much better use of your time.

Finally we have Flock!, a great little animal abduction simulator. Chase terrified livestock through the levels to your mothership’s tractor beam, being careful of complications such as bottomless pits, animal-terrifying scarecrows, night-time predators, and – um – gates along the way. A few too many of the levels are there simply to introduce new gameplay elements, and the singleplayer campaign is too brief. Thankfully, offline co-op and a level editor (which also means you can find and download the best/newest user created levels) help stretch out longevity.

It’s tempting to avoid scoring this altogether as, more so than almost any other disc, the value for money it offers will vary wildly from person to person for a variety of reasons. If you’re a sucker for retro experiences and you don’t already own most of these games, however, you can’t go wrong with a budget RRP.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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