The Capcom name is synonymous with classic fighting games. The publisher has always led the way when it came to establishing franchises such as "Street Fighter," "Darkstalkers," and "Marvel vs. Capcom."
"Capcom Fighting Collection" is nowhere close to a comprehensive roundup of Capcom's biggest fighting hits. It laser-focused on 1994 to 2003, rounding up 10 memorable and obscure fighters from the era. Included are "Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors," "Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge," "Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire," "Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers' Revenge," "Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire," "Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo," "Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix," "Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness," "Red Earth" and "Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition."
Each game features online play and quality-of-life improvements such as save states.
Phil Villarreal: I had only a passing interest in the "Darkstalkers" games over the years, so many of these games were new to me. The opportunity to play the obscure or previously Japan-only titles was a treat. Each game plays well. I appreciated the ability to choose the speed at which the fights unfold, and the save states made it easier to advance through the fighter progression.
I would have liked a little more "Street Fighter" and "Marvel vs. Capcom" in the mix, but what's here is spectacular, particularly if you're a fan of the monster-mash thrills of "Darkstalkers" and its spinoffs. What were your first impressions, Sean?
Sean Newgent: Most gamers likely know "Darkstalkers" through "Marvel vs. Capcom"; I distinctly remember playing a Gamecube port of the second one featuring Morrigan and Felicia. I mained Hsien-Ko in "MVC3," so getting to play her in these original titles is a treat. There is a lot to unpack in this package, bursting at the seams with content both popular and obscure.
I found myself drawn mostly to the "Darkstalkers" games, having had passing experience with them (and the bizarre cartoon based on the series) but also "Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix," a game I'd never heard of till playing it. It's addictive, with cute sprites and crisp gameplay.
This is definitely a game collection meant for "Darkstalkers" fans. Even with "Street Fighter" so prominently featured, I don't know that this collection will sate a fan of that series. But letting western audiences who haven't gotten much of a chance to check out the "Darkstalkers" franchise except in ensemble fighters makes the collection well worth checking out for fighting game fans.
Which games — and characters — did you find yourself drawn to Phil?
PV: I had some fun with the Vampire Hunter and Savior games. I tend to drift to feminine characters, and the weirder, the better. Q-Bee — the bee-human hybrid — was hilarious to play with, and furry-friendly Felicia was a couple that stood out for me.
The characters in many of these games are wildly unbalanced, and I found I had just as much success button-mashing as I did playing strategically. That makes the games not worthy of esports status but doesn't much dampen the fun you can have solo or online.
After spending a lot of time with the "Darkstalkers" games and their offshoots, I have a newfound affinity for their oddball take on the genre and their creativity in character design. I started off the game disappointed there wasn't more of a presence from the Capcom heavy-hitter fighters, but I appreciate the dedication to "Darkstalkers" completionism here.
Final thoughts. Sean?
Sean Newgent: I drifted toward Hsien-ko and Morrigan and love the bizarre attacks and animations for everyone. Seeing them get cut in half when defeated sometimes — just some of the more brutal violence is something you don't expect from something not connected to "Mortal Kombat." I agree that I don't know that the games are particularly balanced, and some fighters seem more powerful than others. Of course, that could always come down to how bad I am.
This is the summer of the classic revival — a dirge of big-budget games leaving room for publishers to release curated collections such as this and our previously reviewed "Sonic Origins," introducing or reacquainting gamers with the kind of stuff we grew up with Phil.
As with any rerelease or collection, a publisher could toss it all together into a cheaply made package, but Capcom has done a great job, opening the doors for everyone to get a taste for a handful of games that Japanese audiences have appreciated for decades — but can now become perhaps a little more than cult classics stateside.
And at just $40, it's a pretty good deal if you're itching for some waifu warriors, pixelated punchouts, and anime antics.
The publisher provided a review code. Phil played on Xbox Series X, and Sean played on PS4.
Past game reviews by Sean and Phil:
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Diablo II Resurrected
NEO: The World Ends with You
Rainbow Six: Extraction
King of Fighters XV
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
TMNT: Shredder's Revenge