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Picture the scene: Row upon row of arcade cabinets, all lined up and ready to chow down on some coins. From dingy classics stuck in a corner through to the latest arrival that has crowds gathered around it, the arcade is a social hub of competition and passion. You can challenge a stranger to a round of Street Fighter, attempt to finally break your high score record on the nearest shoot ’em up or go for gold on some weird new import from Japan.

It’s a golden age of gaming, amplified by amazing cabinet designs, arcade owners slyly increasing the difficulty on those roms to make you burn through your cash, and prizes more ludicrously priced than the latest Nvidia graphics card. That particular experience was a rarity before the crap hit the fan in 2020, and is nearly non-existent today save for a few dedicated locations across the world and in particular, Japan.

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Capcom Arcade Stadium then, is a digital alternative that seeks to capture the feel of that era from its 1980s heyday through to the peak of its success in the early 2000s, and while the games on offer might not be too every taste, it’s the way in which this package is produced that makes it feel like a time capsule full of retro treasure.

It’s worth noting that Capcom has three distinct arcade game download packages that you can purchase seperately if you’re a steadfast believe in one particular era being better than the other, or you can grab all three in one go. Those packs are:

  • Pack 1: Dawn of the Arcade (1984-1988)
  • Pack 2: Arcade Revolution (1989-1992)
  • Pack 3: Arcade Evolution (1992-2001)

Combined, that makes for a total of 32 games that includes a ton of fantastic classics from the past. And Street Fighter II. Lots of Street Fighter II. The debate that’s worth having though, is one on value. Depending on your currency, there’s a little investment in each game to get the full pack, and while one fan might happily throw down some cash for good ol’ schmup glory in the 1940s series, another Capcom fan might pull their nose up at a battle of Britain that adds roving laser-toting death fortresses to World War II history.

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Maybe you’re a Final Fight fanatic who doesn’t enjoy Ghosts ‘n Goblins because you have good taste, maybe you’re happy to see how Street Fighter II iterated on its formula over the year, or maybe you’re as shocked as I am to discover that someone made a Pacific Rim jaeger fighting game several years and didn’t bother to inform me. You absolute bastard, you know who you are.

What isn’t up for debate though, is that a number of jewels in Capcom’s arcade crown during its glorious reign in the 1990s won’t be found in this collection. Captain Commando, the most Hyper of Street Fighter, and Strider are must-play classics, but you won’t be spotting any cabinets for Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes, Darkstalkers, and  Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara.

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Those heavyweight names from another era are likely being saved for another release down the line, an omission which does mean that Capcom’s collection can’t lay claim to having the best pound-for-pound library of games available in one sitting outside of a MAME torrent on the Pirate Bay.

Of course the other question here, is just how well do these titles hold up when viewed under a modern les? Again, that’s where your mileage may vary more than ever. These are games from a more punishing era, one where the cobwebs of that time may show up under a magnifying glass, like having a baby in the 2010s and naming them Daenerys. That retro flavour is part of the arcade charm though, and there’s more than enough games on offer to spend an hour blasting through. Especially when you have infinite coins to insert into the cabinet, thank the gods.

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I still find it weird that Capcom is literally selling god mode DLC for the collection, but hey here’s a chance to finally get gud or buy a dollar’s worth of invincibility.

On the other hand, what is here is presented in one of the most luxurious packages that goes the extra mile. Too often you see an assortment of arcade games slapped together with minimal care put into the presentation, but Capcom Arcade Stadium is pretty much the closest you’ll come to walking into a coin junkie shop. The only thing that’s missing is apathetic staff who can’t wait for their shift to end.

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Every sprite on the screen feels like an instant hop down memory alley, and the fact that they still look and move so brilliantly is a testament to just how well-designed these games were at the time. There’s a number of features on hand to really sell the idea of being in an arcade, such as changing your viewpoint to one of the classic arcade stands that became Capcom’s signature device for dominating Japanese cafes with rows upon rows of the units.

The emulator that each game runs through includes rewind gameplay, select difficulty, and adjust game speed options, and if you feel like pledging your support to China’s government you can even delight in seeing Hong Kong’s flag replaced with the flag of the People’s Republic of China. Yay, censorship!

Beyond that, there are numerous other options to fill out the rest of the screen with custom wallpapers and frames, or you can stretch the game to go full 16:9 at the expense of making it look like a lethal face-lift straight out of Star Trek Insurrection. Don’t do that, stick to the Snyder Cut 4:3 aspect ratio instead and learn to love the box.

Last Updated: May 31, 2021

Capcom Arcade Stadium
Almost three dozen games, a trip into a bygone era, and plenty of reasons to have a pocket full of coins jangling away as you peruse the offerings. Depending on your fondness for the past, Capcom Arcade Stadium has a divisive collection of charming cult classic titles and time-wasting distractions, but it's all presented in a package that lures you in with bright lights, loud sounds, and plenty of nostalgia.
8.0
Capcom Arcade Stadium was reviewed on PlayStation 4
77 / 100

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