1 PS2 game. 2 PSP games. With titles too long to fit here!
Publisher: Capcom/THQ Australia
Wed, 8 November 2006
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Ah, Capcom - few game company's names will bring a smile to a long term gamer's face as quickly as theirs. Want to know why (if you don't already)? Well, there are dozens of reasons I could give you, but right now how about I just give you the following three? Read on and I hope that'll do the trick for ya.Street Fighter Alpha Anthology (PlayStation 2)
I blame Street Fighter Anthology for causing me to spend even more money on something I couldn't really afford. You see, I'd long been eyeing off the sweet Street Fighter 15th Anniversary Edition Arcade Sticks. It was this game that finally pushed me over the edge and convinced me to purchase one. But I don't regret that decision one bit. The arcade stick rocks (it is great for many other games too - especially my collection of Arcade & Neo Geo ROMs). More importantly (as far as this review is concerned) Street Fighter Alpha Anthology rocks too.
When it comes to classic game compilations, some turn out better than others. Capcom is one of the better publishers at putting good ones together and this sweet disc is no exception.
Let's take a quick look at each of the games included here:
Street Fighter Alpha
This is the first game in the series and it is pretty easy to tell, because it definitely shows its age far more than the others. The graphics look pretty dated. What's more, the control mechanics are not as smooth and the character balance not as consistent as with the sequels.
I wouldn't say the first Streeties Alpha looks terrible though. In fact, considering its age, it still looks fairly good. The gameplay is mostly fine too. But in pretty much every respect, it pales in comparison to the later instalments. Even so, the game is still reasonably fun and worthy of some playing time. It serves as good introduction to some characters that made their first appearance in the Street Fighter series here. Besides, this Anthology would not be a complete one if the series' original game was not on the list!
Street Fighter Alpha 2 & Alpha 2 Gold
In his Buttonhole Q&A, Malcolm Campbell from Hyper magazine named Alpha 2 as one of the Street Fighter games he would chose, if he was only ever allowed to play three games from the series. Regular Hyper readers would know what a big Streeties fanatic Mr. Campbell is - so that alone should probably be enough of an endorsement for Alpha 2's quality.
It is a big improvement over the first Alpha, in every way. The graphics are much nicer, with smoother animation and better looking character designs and backgrounds. The control feels a bit tighter and the characters are better balanced. And, with various additional techniques to use, it has much more depth and finesse to the gameplay.
Streeties Alpha 2 is just a damn good fighting game and it plays just as well now as it ever did. Alpha 2 Gold is, for the most part, the exact same game but it throws some more characters into the mix, along with a few little tweaks. Basically, it makes a great game even greater.
|You know, I have never seen anyone chose to play as this guy. The fact that his name is Sodom probably doesn't do him any favours |
I've noticed that plenty of Streeties fans (like the aforementioned Malcolm Campbell) seem to believe Alpha 2's gameplay is actually superior to its sequel. After giving it a bit more (well, okay, make that WAY more) playing time via this PS2 disc, I'd have to say...they have a good point. She's a beauty!
Street Fighter Alpha 3
This is a very popular game. To see just how popular, just take a look around the internet to see how many people love playing and talking about it. Mind you, there are a few haters out there too; but most of those people seem to be more intent on just trying to give the impression they are smarter than everyone else - i.e. wankers.
You find a lot of those types at Gamefaqs (an awesome site for general game info, walkthroughs, finding out about hidden/bonus content and so forth. But the reviews there are strictly amateur hour and, for the most part, horribly written). I can totally understand someone saying they prefer the gameplay of Alpha 2 Gold over Alpha 3, but giving it a score of 1 out of 10 is both laughable and just plain stupid. It really just shows why those folks are only able to get their reviews posted at places which accept reader submitted content, rather than anyone giving them a real writing gig.
Sorry for going off on another tangent there. I'll return to the topic at hand. As well as being popular, Street Fighter Alpha 3 also happens to be really good. I wouldn't be able to count the amount of hours I've spent playing various incarnations of this game. I have versions of it on CPS2 (through Emulation on my PC), Dreamcast, PSX, GBA, PSP, and now, PlayStation 2!
The one on this Anthology is one of the best versions, especially with the extra characters and modes unlocked (just finish the game once, then hold down select on the start menu to get that going). The graphics and sounds are arcade perfect, unlike some other versions, such as the otherwise wonderful PSX port. And just to make sure I wasn't imagining that, I put them both on at once to compare: The PSX game has slightly less vibrant colours and a few less frames of animation (you'd have to be pretty picky to really notice this, however). Another thing this version has in its favour is that are no loading times to get in the way of the action.
The only disappointment is that they didn't include the sweet "world tour" modes found in some of the home versions. Also, Alpha 3 on PSP has a whole heap of extra characters added in, it would have been really good to see them all included here as well. Otherwise, Street Fighter Alpha 3 remains an excellent fighting game and this is one of the best looking and playing incarnations of the game available.
Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix
Why, exactly, this is on the compilation I'm not entirely sure. It isn't actually part of the Alpha series. But I certainly won't complain about having another cool game included with the package. For reasons that elude me, I'd never actually played Gem Fighter before now. Aussie Ninja was familiar with the game, so last time he visited my Buttonhole cave I got him to run through it and show me the basics. It is a very amusing and humorous title. Plus, the silly tone of the game makes a nice contrast and compliments the other titles on the disc well.
The characters in the game are in their cutesy super-deformed state. The same way they looked in Super Puzzle Fighter. The whole game is played for laughs and the gameplay and controls have been simplified to suit that approach. However, that is not to say it has no depth, or requires no skill. It has plenty of stuff to discover and techniques to learn. Super Gem Fighter is (pardon the pun) a real little gem, which provides a lot of fun and laughs. Particularly for Streeties/Capcom fans, who will notice all the little cameos and references packed into the game.
There we have it; those are the games included on Street Fighter Alpha Anthology. A pretty sweet package, if you ask me. You have the option of using a "filter" for each of the games too, which smooths the graphics out and makes them all look even nicer. I've long been of the opinion that, generally, 2D games age better (graphically, at least) than 3D ones do. I'd say these titles go some way to proving my point; compare the way they look to any 3D fighting games that came out around the same time and you should see what I mean.
The collection could have been made even better with just a few additional inclusions. For instance, I suppose I've been a bit spoiled by modern emulators, but it would've been cool if they'd give more than one type of graphics filter to choose from. It is also a shame that some of the great modes from the home versions (particularly for Alpha 3) are absent. But that's really just nitpicking.
All in all, this is a superb collection of games that hold up well in terms of both their looks and gameplay. The true classics are games that never age badly and I'd say these titles fit into that category. You could play them basically forever and still find new combos and moves to master, or different techniques to use. For instance, I've played a heap of Alpha 3 and I have a decent amount of skill, with a pretty good range of characters. But I have witnessed some true masters playing that game and I am still not even in their league. When you factor in the outstanding competitive two player aspect all Streeties games have, I think it is fair to say the games on this compilation are as close as you can get to being timeless. 10 out of 11.
Capcom Classics Collection Remixed (Sony PSP)
Here's another cracker for all us classic game lovers. Aussie Ninja reviewed Capcom Classics Collection Volume 1 for PlayStation 2/Xbox. The PSP version is a port of Volume 2, which has a different line-up of games on it. The handheld version also includes a few extras and the option to play any of the games in wireless 2 player mode, thus earning the 'Remixed' portion of its title. I can't be arsed going into every single game that's on here, so I'll just touch on a few of them for you now.
There's no Street Fighter 2 on here, which is a bit of a drag. But after struggling (in vain) to play Streeties Alpha using the PSP's craptastic D-pad, I'm not as bummed out by that as I would've otherwise been. In its place is the original Street Fighter. For game collectors it is nice to finally see that game available on any format. It is one title many of us have long wanted, just for the sake of completion. Unfortunately though, the first Street Fighter was made before Capcom had figured out how to implement the ingenious control scheme they devised for its much more (deservedly) famous sequel. Put simply, Street Fighter is what I'd describe as a piece of shit. It truly is damn near unplayable and offers only whatever the exact opposite of fun is.
Captain Commando and Final Fight are both on here. So if you like walking forward and hitting things, you're in luck. This style of games is not for everyone and younger gamers (who started playing in the 32 Bit era) in particular probably won't be thrilled by their simplistic nature. But old timers like me find them to be a very enjoyable way to spend our time. No complex controls to think about, no "interactive movie" nonsense, just going around bashing a whole bunch of baddies into mush. It is a very pleasurable way to relax and let out some tension. Also, the Capcom Classics edition of Final Fight is the first home version to be 100% accurate and arcade perfect in every way (I'm not counting emulators here). Captain Commando is pretty well the same as Final Fight, but I prefer it slightly, due to it having a more goofy setting, inventive characters and a few extra attacks to mix things up a little.
Strider is a legendary game and rightfully so. It still looks fantastic, has wonderfully smooth control and excellent enemy and level design. An absolute must play, in my not so humble opinion.
1941 and Varth - Some people call them shooters, some call them shoot-em-ups and others use the acronym SHMUPS. Whatever label you give them, these are the games where you fly around in a craft of some kind, constantly shooting and dodging a screen full of enemies and their bullets. Very few of these kinds of games get released these days (which is a shame, I believe) but once upon a time they were one of gaming's main staples. Both Varth and 1941 come from the heyday of arcade SHMUPS and are excellent examples of the style at its best. I find 1941's gameplay to be slightly more fun, but Varth features the slicker visuals of the two. If you're in the mood to test your reflexes and blow up a bunch of shit, it is a safe bet either way.
Three Wonders is so good that I'd want this PSP game just for including it. As its name helps to indicate, Three Wonders is actually made up of three different games. Each of them is outstanding in its own right too. Don't Pull is, despite the title, not a story warning against the dangers of chronic masturbation. Rather, it is a puzzle game. You push blocks around in a fashion similar to other classics, somewhat like the Adventures of Lolo series. It is a fast paced puzzler, with some cute presentation, that is well worth playing. The other 2 games in three wonders are related to each other, in that they feature the same fairy tale-esque setting & characters and share a storyline that begins with Midnight Wanderers and continues with Chariot.
|The visuals remind me a bit of the Willow arcade game |
Midnight Wanderers is an adventure/platform game: you go running, jumping, shooting your way through the levels and face a (incredibly cool looking) boss character at the end of each. Chariot is a shoot-em-up, where you control the same character from Midnight Wanderers, only now he is using a sort of hang glider contraption to take to the skies. Both games have gorgeous 2D graphics, lovely music, superb controls and excellent action packed gameplay.
Hopefully that gives people enough idea of what to expect from Capcom Classics Remixed. Of course, there are plenty of other great (and a couple of not so great) titles on this UMD too. I might as well just give you the full list now:
1941, Avengers, Bionic Commando, Black Tiger, Block Block, Captain Commando, Final Fight, Forgotten Worlds, Side Arms, Last Duel, Legendary Wings, Magic Sword, Mega Twins, Quiz & Dragons, Section Z, The Speed Rumbler, Street Fighter, Strider, Three Wonders, Varth.
A damned impressive list, I reckon. If you can't find at least a couple of games to dig amongst all those…I suppose you must be one miserable bastard and you have my condolences. Capcom Classics Collection Remixed is an utterly wonderful compilation of games, from back when Arcades were at their peak. That makes them especially suited to PSP (or handhelds in general), because they were mostly designed to be played in shortish bursts to begin with. It also offers just enough variety to ensure there should be something here for everyone. So I consider this one to be a must for any PSP owner. 10 out of 11.
Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins (Sony PSP)
More PSP old school loving from Capcom! I loved both Mega Man Powered Up and Maverick Hunter X. This is along similar lines, though it is not so much a remake as an entirely new game in the Ghosts and Goblins (or Ghouls and Ghosts) series.
Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins is certainly in keeping with what the series is most notorious for: It is a total ball buster, which will have you screaming profanities you didn't even realize were in your vocabulary, due to its brutally high level of difficulty. Whether that is a good thing, or a bad thing, just depends on your point of view.
Actually, they have tried to lessen the hardness at least slightly, by providing plenty of lives and continues and the option to play on "Easy" mode. How much easier that Easy mode is, I couldn't tell you, because I've not tried it. You see, I know this is pretty silly, but I can just never bring myself to play any game on the easy mode. It makes me feel like a pussy.
In order for the high challenge to be worth the effort, the game is required to be, you know, good. This one is good. Once you adapt a bit to its teeth clenching toughness that certain indescribable quality (unique to the Ghosts and Goblins series) kicks in and you're off on another trip to nostalgia heaven.
I'm sort of in two minds when it comes to Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins' graphics. After getting a good fix of 2D goodness, from all the other games I've covered in this article I feel just as strongly as ever that it is a crying shame 2D graphics are hardly ever used for games any more. On the other hand, although this game uses polygons, the action is still presented in a 2D fashion (much like the PSP Mega Man games and New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS). The graphics remain very faithful to the style of its predecessors and are highly detailed, well animated, atmospheric and just an overall pleasure to look at.
|Curse you Arthur, for starring in such difficult games! |
What's more, the use of 3D elements doesn't hamper the gameplay (as it has done in the past; ruining great games like Earthworm Jim and Castlevania in the process), if anything it just enhances the action, by allowing for better collision detection and more varied layouts for the levels.
Sonically, Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins features some outstanding arrangements of all the theme music fans will know and love, all the series' traditional sound effects are kept intact here too.
This game is definitely aimed at fans of the series, or even just fans of old arcade style run and jump games. I am really not sure whether or not new comers would like it, so if you are one you'll just have to give it a try for yourself and see how you go. The game's difficulty really can be most frustrating and will definitley be off putting to some.
I have read in a few places lately that the PSP doesn't have many games that cater to real hardcore gamers - which I find bemusing, to be honest with you. Looking at my UMD collection would seemingly provide plenty of evidence to the contrary.
If Capcom keeps doing awesome updates to some of their classic franchises, like Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins, the PSP will be home to even more "hardcore" style titles (exclusively, for that matter). This is the kind of game those sorts of people usually claim to be longing for, so I hope they can all stop whinging for long enough to play it. Often, it seems to me, the more you give people, the more they expect. On that note, how about giving us Ultimate Strider, Capcom? 8.5 out of 11
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