Capcom Fighting Collection is almost upon us, with the usual marketing heads and Internet influencers having early access codes to showcase and market the title for you. In effect, you’d get the same experience from watching captured footage from a CPS2 arcade board, or just random Fightcade streams. There’s no reason to assume the Collection won’t have equally as competent emulation as what you have access to now. This makes the Fighting Collection a nice collection for arcade purists for sure, and online for some of the games is nice, but the reality of competition is that you can already play all the games in this collection in the aforementioned Fightcade, or FC for short. Sure, it’s illegal to download ROM files and all that, but again, not many really give a damn. As these are direct ports of the arcade games, Capcom is fighting their own shadow here. Not all games have online in the Fighting Collection, something FC provides, and if they’re raw arcade ports, they lack options and additions some titles got with their home ports. For example, Cyberbots had three additional playable characters, Chiyomaru Kagura, Princess Devilotte de Deathsatan IX (a fan favourite), and SHADE, that weren’t accessible in the arcade original. They also added full-voiced dialogues to the game. If you’d be going with the Saturn port of the game, you’d get a nearly arcade-perfect port, something Capcom had a knack for doing for the Saturn. Few cut frames of animation here or there because the hardware is a fair trade in exchange for more content and voices. We may disagree on this, but seeing Capcom already has done all this work for the previous port, there should be no reason to have their subcontractor do any less than their best to match up against these older ports. Of course, arcade perfection will be used as an excuse and some will buy it. Capcom has already made their money on these arcade games though. CPS2 encryption wasn’t broken until the millennium had changed, and at that point, Capcom had moved on from the system and wasn’t making profits off of them.
Shuhei Matsumoto had an interview with John Carson of Gameinformer about Capcom Fighting Collection, which of course serves more as a PR fluff than anything else. Though not just for the customer, but also for the industry as well. While fans have seen this collection more as a Darkstalkers collection with some other games thrown in, the reality seems to be that KOBUTA and MUUMUU, long-time programmers at Capcom, finally wanted Warzard/Red Earth ported to home consoles. Matsumoto confirms that the versions will be arcade ports and specifies that they’ll be versions used in tournaments. While it is nice to see these titles preserved for modern consoles, the fact that emulation and gaming archiving scenes have already done that. All these versions, and many others of these titles, have already been preserved for future generations. It may be through emulation, that has been more of a necessity than anything else. Game companies themselves have been notoriously bad at archiving their own code and artwork, something that Sega is infamously bad at; they’ve lost all the masters and source codes for Saturn games. This is why all Saturn games’ ports, like Princess Crown on the PSP, are running through Saturn emulation. Emulation which isn’t exactly accurate still. Saturn’s architecture wasn’t exactly orthodox and is a challenge to tackle properly. While we can discuss whether or not emulation is a proper contender against an official product, the question of how these have been ported to modern systems does make it relevant. If these are running on an emulator, then the comparisons should be completely relevant. If they’re proper ports made to run on modern hardware, then we should give them all the support we want. I’m guessing all the games in Fighting Collection will run through emulation, so in practice, there shouldn’t be any difference in you choosing between Fighcade and Fighting Collection; you’re getting the same shit anyway, except FC can update its emulators for even more accurate results.
Matsumoto: I genuinely want these titles to be played once again on current gen consoles. I also want people who may have seen them but never had the chance to play them to get this opportunity. That said, we do not think that this will necessarily increase the possibility of these series being revived.
This quote also damns the whole Capcom Test, an old thing they’ve done and which I discussed two posts ago. Matsumoto lays it down nice and flat, something that game companies don’t really like to do. Transparency is a positive thing and grows trust with the customer, but that also means competition sees what you’re doing. Take the quote as it is; game series will not see a revival from you buying Collections. This will, at best, see Capcom putting out more collections. A few years ago I went through Capcom’s Investors report, which mentioned the revival old of IPs. This is the route they’re going with it, packaging old ROMs with emulators. Things like Mega Man 11 and Street Fighter IV were only possible due to these games having an internal champion that took it upon themselves to see pitch the title and take all the heavy glory. These games may make or break them. The future of old Capcom IPs is a zombie state in collections of all sorts, repackaged lovingly with bare-bones ports with bells and whistles added to them via picture galleries (of artwork you can track down on the Internet in higher quality thanks to scanners [I doubt there’s going to be much new content in this regard]) and online play (which is already provided by emulators that are probably more accurate than what Capcom is packing in.)
Old fans and customers had hoped for new entries in long-sleeping IPs, but ‘lo, just pay for ROMs and emulators.
This isn’t bashing Capcom or telling you not to buy the collection. This is more about whether or not Capcom is giving you any better options than what is currently available for all, piracy or not. Capcom could take some actions if they wished to do so, but that might sour the relationship with the hardcore fighting game fanatics that play these games all day around. This barebones collection is for the people who want to play certain titles online in an official capacity, Capcom enthusiasts, and new fans who just can’t be arsed to track down the proper ROM file and an emulator. Capcom’s fighting an uphill battle against an enemy of their own making of sorts, and with the promise of this Collection not affecting any future game developments and being just the raw arcade ROMs with their usual unrealistically high expectations for sales numbers, all this is so goddamn awkward. The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, while admirable in scope in most cases, suffered from games stuttering, game dropping inputs, input delays, bad online code, the game volume having issues, and stuff like that. There’s no promise of Capcom, or their subcontractor, making things any better, except for online play. That’s what the talking heads and PR always seem to go towards nowadays and how online play has to be 10/10. There’s never a moment given that the games themselves need to be more than what’s already out there, especially when you can go for a better online play for all these titles now with FC and other alternatives.
What is the supposed reason for this Collection to even be? Maybe people will buy it and play and for an hour or two, then move onwards to something else, because that’s how things just seem to work nowadays. Hardcore fighting game players probably will throw in the money and never even touch the game because Fighcade exists. I’ll probably buy it just to get a legitimate version of Red Earth to play at home. That’s as good a reason as any. Putting this kind of thing together probably is relatively cheap, and can give support for future Collections as well as bring in some cash into Capcom’s coffer. If this Collection’s core reason to exist is to celebrate Capcom’s fighting game history, it’s not doing so well. While I’d like to see Capcom doing collections of games that haven’t seen wider ports from the original arcade and one-console-ports, that might not be the most sensible in terms of marketing and sales. Bolting all these one-time titles with Darkstalkers is a good move, something they probably could replicate by using the clout Rival Schools has among Capcom fans and throwing in Star Gladiator games and Kikaioh to form a theoretical Capcom 3D Fighting Collection. Power Stone has its own collection on the PSP already, which honestly is superior to the original games in many ways. It having an anime and all other stuff might just make the Capcom executive veterans nostalgic enough to try to put it out as a digital-only upscale for Steam. I’m eager to see what’s it gonna be when the game launches tomorrow, and despite all the perceived negativity I have here, there’s always a slimmer of hope its (hopeful) success just might give Capcom some ideas to try out something else that isn’t Street Fighter when it comes to fighting games. That’s a one-in-a-million chance though, so don’t rely on it.