When Capcom and fighting games are mentioned Street Fighter is what immediately comes to most people’s minds. This is understandable, given that it’s their most successful fighting franchise, each numbered entry has several incarnations and there have been numerous Street Fighter collections released throughout the years. But this isn’t the only fighting series worth playing they’ve released and while Capcom has pumped out several compilations of their other games, there are still some of their properties that been neglected. Darkstalkers is one of these properties, and they’re among the several games included in Capcom Fighting Collection.
Capcom Fighting Collection contains ten of Capcom’s arcade fighting games. There are a few noteworthy aspects of this collection. All five Darkstalkers arcade games are included which makes it the first time the full series will be available outside of Japan. Darkstalkers and Friends would actually be a fitting title for this collection since half of the ten games are from the franchise. The full Darkstalkers collection includes Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (1994), Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (1995), Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire (1997), Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (1997) and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire (1997). This compilation will not include the extra playable boss characters from the home console versions.
Based on the repetition of the names and Capcom’s history with releasing upgraded versions of their games, it’s hard to nail down just how different they are. This would be the case the Darkstalkers games, and as such while there are five games from this series, they seem like multiple variations of two distinct games. Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge is considered to be essentially Darkstalkers 2 but it’s more akin to an upgrade than a full-fledged sequel. It adds new characters Donovan Blaine and Hsien-Ko and makes boss characters Pyron and Huitzil playable. Aside from new endings and stories for new characters and upgraded combo mechanics, the plot and endings are the same as the original. Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire is Darkstalkers 3, with Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers Revenge and Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire being modified versions of it. Vampire Hunter 2 features the roster of Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Vampire Savior 2 removes J. Talbain, Sasquatch and Rikuo and replaces them with Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron.
In addition to Darkstalkers, the collection includes the two Pocket Fighter games, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996) and Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix (1997), both of which feature chibi versions of characters from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers. The remaining games are Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness (1995), Red Earth (1996) and because they have to include a Street Fighter title, they threw in Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition (2003). Features of the collection include online play with rollback netcode, training and spectator modes and save states. There’s a museum that features design documents, concept art and a music player.
Cyberbots is a spinoff of Armored Warriors which was featured in Capcom Beat ’em Up Bundle. Players choose a pilot and one of four different battle mechs for one on one giant robot combat. Each pilot has their own story and mech has a different playstyle. Red Earth is receiving its first ever home port. This is a fantasy fighting game where players select one of four main characters and complete their respective story. Red Earth pits the player against some interesting fantasy monsters such as Hydron the squid monster and Hauzer the modified Tyrannosaurus. Each character has a choice to make at the ending, giving two possible endings for each character. There’s a level progression system where characters learn more moves that are saved with a password feature.
The remaining three games star the familiar characters most of us associate with Capcom. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is the odd game out in this collection as it’s not a fighting game in any traditional sense, but instead similar to games like Columns or Tetris with a fighting component added. The objective is get clusters of same colored gems together and detonate them to send garbage blocks to your opponent and attack them. It’s not really a fighting game, but it’s fun enough, so it’s a welcome addition to the collection. Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix almost looks like a parody of proper Street Fighter and Darkstalkers games, and in a way it kind of is, but it actually has a deep fighting system. The chibi characters go full on Looney Tunes with their cartoon weapons that can flatten their opponents like a pancake, but the actual mechanics to pull off the different moves make it a fighting game with more serious gameplay than its appearance would suggest.
Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition is the sixth version of Street Fighter II. It’s also unique in that it was designed for PlayStation 2 and then later ported to the arcade in limited quantity. This incarnation of Capcom’s flagship fighter is essentially Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but with the added change where the player can select which version of their character from any of the previous five Street Fighter II’s, provided they were playable in that version. This would include their move set, portrait and character color palette, so Street Fighter II The World Warrior Ken could go up against Super Street Fighter II Dhalsim. For some reason this is the most difficult version of Street Fighter II I had ever encountered. During the review period other versions of Street Fighter II were played on different collections on Switch and PlayStation 4 and the version included in Capcom Fighting Collection is the most difficult version. Game journalists complaining about game difficulty is something that’s constantly ridiculed on social media, but never in my decades of playing Street Fighter II in its various incarnations have I felt such a strong sense of the game is cheating.
After spending time playing through every single game, the conclusion is this is a good collection of fighting games with caveats. Having the full Darkstalkers collection available on modern hardware is great, but the fact that there’s such little variety between each of the games is disappointing since they comprise half of the library. Cyberbots was enjoyable to play through a couple times, but its overall quality isn’t as high as some of the better-known titles in this collection. Red Earth is the biggest surprise. Having never played it before the review, the animation quality was impressive for its era and taking on powerful large monsters in a tournament fighter game isn’t common. The password system feels antiquated, but the multiple endings per character and the creative opponent design made this one of the more enjoyable entries. Hyper Street Fighter II is an interesting way to combine all the different Street Fighter II’s together but playing the individual releases on Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is more fun. But this game’s inclusion is probably the weakest selling point since some form of Street Fighter II is available on about 900 other collections.
Capcom Fighting Collection features local and online competitive play. The online lobbies feature casual, ranked and custom lobbies, though during the review process the online features weren’t tested as no matches were made during any of my attempts, which is one of the downsides of reviewing a game prior to launch date. The Museum was an interesting place to check out a lot of artwork for the assorted games and listen to all the music. The games are presented in the original 4:3 ratio and actually look like they’re on CRT screens. Due to the age of these games, loading times are virtually non existent and the player can change the settings for each game to effect things like difficulty or how many rounds a fight can last. This collection includes both the English and Japanese versions of each game, except for Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2, which only has the Japanese version.
Capcom Fighting Collection is essential for fans of ’90s tournament fighters, particularly of Darkstalkers. That being said, the curated ten games feels like light packaging. The complete Darkstalkers arcade collection is great to finally have, but the lack of variety among them makes the value of the ten game collection feel inflated as they dominate the collection, though the lack of variety has more to do with the nature of the games than this collection. On the other hand, the inclusion of games like Red Earth and Gem Fighter Mini Mix are enjoyable titles that aren’t readily available in compilations and bring more variety to the package. Capcom Fighting Collection isn’t the definitive collection of Capcom’s best fighting games, but it does bring together a respectable assortment of them, several of which were never available on console or in the US. Capcom has put out several collections in recent years that are great for checking out classics you may have missed the first time around and revisiting old favorites from the golden age of Arcade gaming, and this makes a nice addition to their retro collections if you want to spend a weekend checking out some of their fighters that aren’t limited to Street Fighter.