If you grew up playing Capcom games in the 90s, then you’ll know of the abundance of arcade brawlers that were released. While the majority of people know about games like Final Fight and Captain Commando, mainly from the cameos in some of the Versus titles made at the time, Capcom had a portfolio of side-scrolling brawlers that were present in many arcades in Japan and North America. The Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle is a collection of some of those games that didn’t catch on in the mainstream, but still offered plenty of hard-hitting action in the arcades and home consoles. There’s some fun to be had within this collection, but if you lack the nostalgia for the genre then it’ll be a bit harder to get much out of it.
The Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle has a total of seven classic titles that were released between 1989 and 1997. The games included are Final Fight, The King of Dragons, Captain Commando, Knights of the Round, and Warriors of Fate; all of which have been released on various platforms over the years. The final two games, Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit, were never released on home consoles until now and round off Capcom’s arcade releases for the genre during that timeframe. Every title included is the arcade version of the game with an option to switch between the Japanese and North American releases at the main menu.
There’s nothing brand new about these games, so you can expect pretty much the same experience, even if a few of them feel a little dated to play through. There’s a lot of action, multiplayer fun, and the flashes and sounds you remember from the arcades. But even if you’ve played these games plenty of times before, it’s still interesting to go back and see what was different about the game between the different regions.
For this collection, however, each game can be played either offline or online with other players. The games that have up to three or four players at a time end up being the most fun online, despite many of the connection issues you can occasionally run into. Sometimes the game will either freeze up or lose its connection to other players when trying to sync up everyone in the game, which can be a little annoying when you’re playing through any stage of any game.
If that ends up becoming too frustrating then you still can always play offline with your friends, which is still fun. Games like Final Fight are shorter than the rest of the titles included, but having another player with you makes the complete experience a good time. This helps in some games where later portions get pretty difficult, but you have unlimited continues and can even modify some of the gameplay options in the main menu before starting a new game.
The last two games in the collection, Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit, are definitely a big step up above the others in terms of quality and flashiness. There are a lot more sounds and frames of animation for character sprites and the background, all of which give these games a very high level of detail compared to the others. Some of the sounds and special moves you have in both games can be recognizable by long-time Capcom fans that have played fighting games like X-men vs. Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom, as some of the same animations and sound clips are reused in these games.
The only major inconvenience that can happen in both Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit is how chaotic and crowed the screen can get with effects and enemies that appear. Keeping track of your character can be difficult when this happens and cause you to either get hit or lose some lives in the mess.
The Gallery section of the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle is filled with a few extras for every game, but it still feels meager compared to other Capcom game collections. There are lots of concept art, promotional material, and design documents that give insight into the development of every game included in the bundle, some of which haven’t been seen outside of Japan.
But beyond these images, there’s nothing else to appreciate about these seven games. No developer interviews, no sprite galleries, sound tests, commercials, and trailers, or anything extra that would otherwise be included in any other collection of retro games. Why these kinds of things are absent could be because of the time these arcade games were made, but it’s otherwise unclear.
If side-scrolling, co-op fun is what you enjoy experiencing, then you’ll have fun playing through each of the games included in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle. These are the same games that have been around for years with nothing new added to them, but that doesn’t make it any less to play them with a few friends who love beating down the bad guys together. The online play is a welcomed addition, even if it can be difficult to get a stable full game working for everyone involved. Those who aren’t a fan of the genre will find it hard to fully enjoy everything here, but it won’t hurt to relieve some stress by beating down everything in your path for a little while.
This review was based on a digital review code for the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle on the PlayStation 4, provided by Capcom.