IGN Review of Capcom Classics Collection Remixed
Old-school compilation packs are perfect for handheld gaming. Not only are they easy to pick up and play, ideal for nostalgia, and a great source of variety, but they're also inexpensive lessons in history that show us what paved the way for the highly-complex games we play today. When done right, these sets can be surprising sources of entertainment (the GBA versions of the Pac-Man Collection, Activision Anthology, and Namco Museum have certainly proven that). But the real question for we, the PSP owners, is, "When are we going to get that kind of high-level fun for our mobile PlayStation?"
Thus far, we've only seen two attempts: Midway's Arcade Treasures (which paled in comparison to its previous counterparts) and the Namco Museum Battle Collection (which was actually rather good). Luckily, Japanese giant Capcom has also thrown its hat into the fray with Capcom Classics Collection Remixed, a handheld version of one of the better console compilation packs of 2005. This move to the portable realm is a pretty decent one too... even if its game selection isn't as strong as its console counterpart's.
Now to be fair, the PSP version of Capcom Classics Collection really shouldn't be classified as a "port." With the exception of only five games in the set (Final Fight, Section Z, Bionic Commando, Legendary Wings, and Forgotten Worlds), the remaining 15 titles found in Remixed weren't available for the PS2 or Xbox editions at all. In fact, some of the PSP inclusions are games that were sorely missed from the set-top version -- 1941, Magic Sword, Captain Commando, Black Tiger, Strider, and Side Arms are all must-have additions for any self-respecting arcade fan of the 1980s. It's good to see them pop up again here so that newer audiences can enjoy them.
I'm also happy to report that the emulation of every last piece of software in Capcom Classics Remixed has been handled very, very well. Once again translated by the team at Digital Eclipse (the same crew that did the console edition last year), the game's move from ROM to PSP is pretty seamless. There's almost no slowdown, audio problems, or video hitches to speak of whatsoever, and that's a big victory for a retro-pack fan like me who has seen countless compilations that botch my yesteryear favorites.
Another nice plus for Capcom fans is that Classics Remixed also benefits from several presentational advantages. Loading between games and menus only takes about 12-15 seconds, with no loading to worry about again until you switch to another title. Additionally there are plenty of bonus goodies available for every game -- the ability to learn about the history of each individual title, several pieces of unlockable art, and hidden gameplay tips among them. Users can even switch between various viewing modes with differing results in every title.
Some games, for instance, will offer an original viewing option or a friendlier "Stretch" mode, while shooters allow you to tilt the screen 90-degrees to take up the entire PSP viewing area. Some titles even have "Enhanced" viewing options that squeeze more information onto the screen at one time, and users can customize their controls to use only the analog stick and directional pad during vertical viewing mode if they like (expect some discomfort if you have big hands, though).
One of the most appealing aspects of Classics Remixed, however, would have to be its easy multiplayer interface. Not only does it have one of the quickest buddy locators I've seen on the PSP so far, it's easy to jump in and out of games with just the touch of a button. Hosting players can even choose to ignore unwanted opponents on a permanent basis if they feel so inclined, and high scores will be permanently logged and saved on your own system as well as your buddy's if you're playing together over the network.
Despite all these strong elements, Classics Collection does run into a number of hiccups that keep it from realizing its full potential. At the top of this list sadly, is the fact that, as easy and fun as multiplayer may be, there isn't an in-game sharing feature (which is fast becoming a standard in even the most complex handheld videogames). Not being able to hook up multiple systems to play on one UMD with a collection of titles this small and easy to load is pretty disappointing. Also disappointing is the lack of a "save state" option to keep your progress when jumping between games. With the setup as it is now, once you switch games and decide to play one title over another, you'll have to start all over again when you return. For a portable title that boasts such long-winded games as Strider and Magic Sword, that kind of functionality is sorely missed.
Above all else, though, the biggest hurdle that Capcom fans are going to run into is this set's inferior game selection. As fun as the seven titles I mentioned earlier may be, eight of the remaining new additions aren't anywhere near as compelling. In fact, the top-down brawler known as Avengers and the bizarre shooting duo of The Speed Rumbler and Last Duel skirt the border between awful and terrible. Moreover, the original Street Fighter, Quiz & Dragons, Mega Twins, Three Wonders, and Varth range between poor to okay at their very best. Sure, some of the stronger titles helps even things out a bit, but in terms of overall quality, I've definitely seen better selections out there.
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