Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review – History Lesson

A night in the museum.

Posted By | On 15th, Jul. 2022

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium Review – History Lesson

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium  doesn’t particularly mess with the winning formula that the original release last year struck, and that most of Capcom’s legacy game collections in general have been hitting over the last few years. Here we have a collection of 32 games from Capcom’s heyday as an arcade game developer, meticulously curated and emulated on all modern systems. The games include support for different control schemes, save states, infinite credits, and other concessions to help accommodate modern player sensibilities – other than that, these are almost entirely identical to the games you may have once played in arcades long ago.

There was a time when arcades represented the zenith of video game technology and hardware. New consoles were always announced in terms of how well they stacked up to arcades, and getting an arcade game running nearly identically on a home console (“arcade perfect ports” as they were called) was the ultimate bragging right for any home console. So there is something almost surreal about seeing so many classic arcade titles running without skipping a beat on everything from the (cargo pants) pocket sized Nintendo Switch to your hulking PC tower, to everything in between. In many ways, that is the ultimate testament to how far video games have come as a medium – the games included in this collection may not be cutting edge by today’s standards, but they absolutely were once. Now any console can run them nearly perfectly through brute force emulation. Progress!

These games also represent a throwback to a time when arcades were where all of the best developers in the world cut their teeth. From Sega to Namco, Konami to Nintendo, to, yes, Capcom, arcade games were where they all got their starts, designing games so compelling that players would actively feel the compulsion to stay and spend endless quarters in an attempt to conquer the challenge those games posed. A lot has been said over the years about the style of game design arcades demanded, and how that differs from what console gaming would go on to become, and how modern console sensibilities don’t necessarily allow for the old school pure arcade style of video game design.

"Perhaps the most impressive thing about this collection of games is nothing less than just how well so many games in here actually hold up."

But you know what? Perhaps the most impressive thing about this collection of games is nothing less than just how well so many games in here actually hold up. A surprising range of genres is represented here, from fighting games to brawlers, puzzle games to shooters, platforms to action games, and more still. And yes, quite a few of them have since been bettered by other games that would follow in their footsteps and continue their lineage. But I was remarkably surprised by how well some of these games hold up. Take, for instance, Knights of the Round. This brawler based on the King Arthurian legend of old is a surprisingly engaging and addictive experience, one I actually did want to spend time with well beyond the necessities of this review were past. Knights of the Round is fun to play, and actually represents some of the first steps towards longer form storytelling and role playing mechanics that games of its ilk would begin to take (yes, there was a time when you could just… have a game without having a dozen RPG systems overlain on top, these arcade games represent that time).

There is Speed Rumbler, a game that has a very Mad Max like idea of what 21st century America would look like (no further comments will be made on this one point), which creates this fascinating blend of driving, shooting, and action gameplay. Once more, what is most remarkable about this game is how well it holds up. ECO Fighters, a side scrolling shooter that takes on a prescient ecological friendly theme, working more as a relic of its time than as a particularly compelling example of its genre today (unlike the former two games I named). 

Honestly, there’s a lot of games to go through, and almost every single one of them presents some reason to look into them. Some are curios, examples better of what games were once like than anything meaningfully compelling in today’s day and age. Others actually hold up well – apart from the ones I mentioned above, the Street Fighter and Darkstalker games in particular (which makes sense, Capcom’s fighting games are practically timeless after all). Also timeless – Block Breaker, a remarkably literal and straightforward translation of Atari and Steve Wozniak’s Breakout (I may have spent more time on this one than any of the other ones in the collection). I would argue for any fan of Capcom, or just an enthusiast of the medium, the collection of games here is more than enough to justify spending some time on this virtual museum of Capcom’s greatest (and some more obscure) hits.

"So, yes – if you’re an enthusiast of the medium, or a fan of Capcom’s arcade glory day? Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is well worth your time, and I would say it’s worth it to check out most, if not all, of the games. A lot of them may not have held up as well, but even they hold some value as a sort of time capsule."

Games aside, as mentioned, there are multiple other bonuses here. A snazzy interface and online functionality for sharing scores aside, you also get control remapping and save states, an in-built achievement system, the ability to play games in their original aspect ratio or stretched to fill the screen, play them with a scanline filter, add a 3D arcade cabinet as the border to get that real arcade feel, add wallpapers and art… you can even change the orientation of the screen (to get the true vertical arcade screen experience, and you get some pretty detailed manuals on each game as well. Almost none of this will mean anything to someone who wasn’t already a fan of Capcom arcade games (or just arcade games in general) – but then again, if you’re not a fan of arcade games, I honestly don’t know why you would even be playing this.

So, yes – if you’re an enthusiast of the medium, or a fan of Capcom’s arcade glory day? Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is well worth your time, and I would say it’s worth it to check out most, if not all, of the games. A lot of them may not have held up as well, but even they hold some value as a sort of time capsule. Video games have come a long way since the heyday of the arcade – but that doesn’t mean we have to forget the medium’s roots, after all. Capcom certainly isn’t. 

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.


THE GOOD

A lot of the games hold up surprisingly well; Options to customize the experience and accommodate some more modern sensibilities are appreciated; Games run well,

THE BAD

If you didn't have any interest in arcade games to begin with, there's not much here for you; A fair few of the included games don't hold up as well (though they do have value as time capsules into their era of game design).

Final Verdict:
GOOD
Fans of arcade games, and especially of Capcom's arcade lineage, will find a lot to find in Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, which stands as a great testament to just how far video games have come as a medium.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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