Grab Another Roll Of Quarters
It’s become a bit de rigueur to launch your collection as a base app that you buy new “modules” for. The base app here, much like Zen Pinball 2 is free, and unlike Zen’s offering it also comes with a complete game, Black Tiger. There is also the 1987 collection available at launch, with other collections from the mid-80’s becoming available in the coming week.
You’ll find a lot of the usual collection bells and whistles here, such as a brief history of the game, unlockable cabinet art and other assets, and varying video options that simulate scanlines or blow up the image to fit modern screens. There are also a deeper set of options let you essentially adjust the dip switches and change difficulty, lives, scoring options and… well that is about it. Beyond just emulating the basic arcade experience, all games also have an option to play in a score-attack mode, practice any level you’ve previously completed or put the game in casual mode where you basically can’t die. There are also a nice suite of online options with leaderboard comparisons and, blessedly, online play.
We all know the thing about old arcade machines is that they were designed to eat quarters and not last all that long. Without the artificial roadblock of running out of money, there is little challenge left in these games. Unlimited free continues means you can beat all these games in under an hour apiece and there is very very little to bring you back for more. That is, unless you like to create your own challenge by trying to beat it with as few continues as possible. The collection thoughtfully awards you with a trophy for doing just that, but is that really enough to make these packs worth it? $4.99 for the initial pack doesn’t seem to egregious, but with the rest being $9.99 you may have some hesitation about digging too deep into this pit. To their credit, Capcom is mixing some pretty obscure stuff with the more well know hits. Hell, I’ve never even heard of Pirate Ship Higemaru and I think I’ve heard of everything. If you splurge and shell out $45 for the whole collection (or buy the whole shebang at once for $30) you’ll unlock 2 bonus games to bring the whole collection to 17 games. That feels a little steep for games that are pushing 30 years old at this point.
The initial collection of games is a mixed bag of sorts. Black Tiger is an iconic side-scroller than featured a couple revolutionary ideas when it first came out. Sub-levels within each level and permanent upgrades through purchases might have shown up somewhere else first, but I don’t remember where. It’s a grand trip that lasts longer than any of the other games in the initial collection.
Avengers is not a game I had heard of before this. I had expected an early co-op brawler featuring the Marvel heroes, but instead it turned out to be essentially a top-down version of the venerable Kung-Fu or maybe Ikari Warriors without the guns. You’re tasked with punching and kicking through six very short waves of enemies followed by a boss fight after which you’ll recover one of your six girlfriends. I blasted through the whole game in about 20 minutes and the whole thing was so basic I couldn’t imagine going through it again even if I had a buddy to hit up the co-op with.
The final game in the initial collection is 1943, one of the earlier entries in the vertical scroller series that started it all and is something of a forerunner to the Bullet Hell genre. Things are pretty tame for the most part so it might be considered more of Bullet Gosh-Darn-It but it’s still got the same classic co-op action that has entertained kids and stolen their quarters for decades. Various versions of the game are available on every imaginable platform so it’s fun for a few minutes, but by the end of my 40 minute or so sun through to the Battleship Yamato I was pretty much satisfied I’d never have to play again.
Capcom did a nice job of trying to breathe a bit of life where they could here, but the price is steep for a few hours of nostalgia, and it’s hard to see where any other value lies in this collection. Arcade games were made for a specific environment and removing them and their one artificial barrier that extended their value to put them in your home means that the simplicity and repetitiveness are brazenly naked for the eye to see.