There’s nothing like selling yourself short. The front of the box for this retail Xbox Live Arcade collection proudly boasts of containing eight games but there are in fact nine – Final Fight: Double Impact contains the often forgotten hack and slasher Magic Sword as a bonus. We can understand why Capcom have done this – people would probably be a little disgruntled to boot the game up to find only eight games on the menu – but it’s still odd that they’ve not thought to mention Magic Sword on the box at all.
2011’s Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 is the newest game present. It was rated highly upon release but reviewers and fans alike agreed that it was too expensive – a whopping 1,200 MSP. That’s about £10 in real money. Considering Capcom Digitial Collection can be bought online for less than £20, the price issue is no longer relevant. If you missed out on it first time round, it’s a very slick and polished run and gunner with some excellent physic-based set-pieces. Swinging around with the main character’s bionic arm takes a while to get used to, but after the first level you’ll be hurling explosive barrels at enemies without hassle. Also pleasing are the nods and winks to the 8-bit original, such as the chip tune soundtrack and the way the screen goes pixilated when pausing the game.
Then we’ve got two HD re-releases – (breathe in) Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (breathe out). The developers of the former spent a great deal of effort making sure it’s authentic to the original, re-drawing every animation frame in glorious HD. It’s so true to the original that no extra animation frames have been added – what you get here is precisely SF II in HD. If you’re expecting Street Fighter Alpha quality animation then you’ll be disappointed. How does it play? Like good old Street Fighter II, unsurprisingly, albeit without the warm feeling of nostalgia that the original gives us every time we fire it up.
Puzzle Fighter II hasn’t had quite the same amount of love and attention lavished on it. The backdrops have been re-drawn and there’s online play but the rest of the sprites have simply had a filter applied to them to smooth them out. The result is some very blurry looking characters duking it out on the centre of the screen. We’re still glad it’s on this collection though – the PSone and Sega Saturn original are very hard to find nowadays.
Unlike the previously aforementioned, Final Fight: Double Impact has been preserved in its full nostalgic glory. There are a few little additions such as optional challenges with unlockable artwork and an online mode, but other than this it remains true to the arcade original. Bonus game Magic Sword isn’t quite as entertaining as Final Fight is but it’s not too bad and there are two endings to see, each of which unlocks a different achievement. We quite like the ability to free people from prison cells, who then tag along for a bit to help you in battle.
1942: Joint Strike and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 both date back from 2008. 1942 on first glance appears to be a run of the mill vertical shooter. Play it with a friend though and you’ll find that it does have one trick up its sleeve – tag-team attacks, such as creating a lightning bolt between your two aircraft. Commando 3 on the other hand is a cartoony twin-stick shooter with the ability to jump into vehicles and man gun turrets. Both of these games have a very similar difficulty level – nobody should struggle to beat the first three or four stages but to reach the final level you’ll need to memorise enemy attack patterns and use smart-bombs wisely.
Commando 3 isn’t the only twin-stick shooter on offer. There’s also Rocketmen: Axis of Evil, for which Capcom has also kindly included the expansion pack. This is another game that’s knocking on a bit – it was first announced in 2007 and released in 2008 – but unlike the two games above, it really does show its age. It looks very dated, the camera is restrictive and the levels go on for far too long. Often the main character – whose skills can be upgraded as the story progresses – becomes surrounded in enemies, causing instant death. When respawning, any weapons being carried are dropped and you go back to your default pea-shooter-like pistol. You might be able to take two or three enemies down with it before dying again, and thus this cycle continues until eventually you’ve managed to fight them all off. The expansion pack missions can be played at any time but we wouldn’t advise attempting them without boosting your stats first. We thought we’d have a crack at them but with only the minimal skill levels it’s impossible not to die every ten seconds or so. Games like the Alien Breed remake have long superseded this.
Flock! is amusingly is the black sheep of the package. The visuals still look the part with Little Big Planet-style patchwork textures coating the environments and there hasn’t been much like it on XBLA since. The idea is to round up various animals using a UFO and force them back to a mothership, all within a strict time limit. It’s a game that’s slightly more frustrating than it needs to be as the animals occasionally get stuck in the corner of a map and it can take ten seconds or so of analogue stick twitching to set them free. The B-movie inspired music gets tedious quickly too, but it’s still a nice enough little game and the ability to make your own levels has been thrown in for good measure.
The only real gripe we can aim at this collection is that we would have much rather had the original Bionic Commando: Rearmed, or indeed any other game, than the incredibly tedious Rocketmen: Axis of Evil. The online lobbies are very quiet nowadays as well (Final Fight was the only game we managed to find somebody to join in with) but this isn’t exactly Capcom’s fault. Bear this in mind if you’re going to be buying it simply for achievement harvesting – there’s a generous 1,650G to be had but I’d estimate that about half of those are online related. So, if it’s your friend’s birthday coming up soon…