Capcom’s Beat Em Up Bundle is the new installment in the long list of games that try to recapture the old feel of video gaming. In the 80’s and 90’s, a time when games were centered in the arcades and cornered boxes mashed in two dimensional frames, Capcom was the top dog in making fighting games. Every arcade had a version of a beat em up game developed by the Capcom’s innovative fight engine. At the time seen as the greatest innovation to have arrived after the Van Damme movies in the fight genre.
Games like Street Fighter, Final Fight and King of Dragons were the staple of most arcade houses, with their simplistic button mashing strategy endearing them to players of all ages. As time moved, so did the games and their designs and graphics changed to harness a better version of the games presented back in the day.
Capcom has now released it’s latest bundle comprising many of the famous games that were played back in the day. The new bundle comes with a whole array of classics from Capcom’s golden era. There are also two games which have been brought from the arcade chamber to the consoles, Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit. Other titles include Final Fight, Captain Commando, The King of Dragons, Knights of the Round and Warriors of Fate, all feature local and online multiplayer to help bring the games into the modern age.
Capcom’s Beat Em Up Bundle has unique games within the compendium, However they do not share any connection within the larger narrative at play. The games have the same gameplay and control modulation across the board. Most of the games use a single attack and jump button. This allows for a fewer movements, with a maximum range of four to five moves being used by each player through these fixed controls. This can get a little getting used to. That is exactly how the most famous game on the compilation, Final Fight, works and as mindless and simplistic as it sounds – and it undoubtedly is the crass sense of humor and cheesy violence is as irresistible as an 80s action flick.
The Beat Em Up bundle has a familiar sound, the 8 bit polyphonic music simmering within the confines of the games on offer. Every game has unique sound which sets them apart from the other. To the fast paced music of Final Fight to the medieval tunes of Knights, each game creates that authentic retro feel through it’s soundtrack.
Knights Of The Round is considered to be one of the best in the genre and you can see in its adoption of a block move why the scrolling beat ‘em-up is sometimes compared to modern games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. Although that does flatter Knights Of The Round, as the combat is still incredibly simplistic by comparison. There are also horses you can ride though, which also feature in Warriors Of Fate – which has some of the most detailed graphics in the bundle and a similar ancient Chinese setting to Dynasty Warriors.
Where things get really interesting and wacky though is with Captain Commando, whose four playable characters are the Cap himself (An unofficial mascot of the Capcom industry at one time), a ninja, a knife-wielding mummy, and a baby in a robot suit. Unfortunately, the game itself is one of the most simplistic so the wackiness isn’t quite enough to keep you interested. But thankfully Battle Circuit has it’s back when it comes to sheer oddness and actually being a good game.
Battle Circuit is probably the best overall game in the bundle but Armored Warriors is certainly the most unique. It is actually the predecessor to the slightly more famous fighting game Cyber-bots and features giant customization robots. Picking up weapons to use for a limited time is a common part of even the simplest scrolling beat ‘em-up but here you can also switch out arms and legs, as well as making use of both a main and sub-weapon.
One of the major features of the game, outside of the sandbox, has to be the gallery. Whilst exploring the main menu the players can find the gallery neatly tucked in amongst the array of games on offer. The gallery gives you the option to browse several images from each of the game’s production history. Everything from key art to rough sketches and arcade cabinet designs is gathered for each title. It’s a great bonus feature.
The majority of the design documents are done all in pencil, which really lends to old school feel of this collection. All of the games in the bundle were created in the late ’80s or early ’90s, so it’s interesting to see how much traditional art was used to design these early video games. There is an impressive amount of finely detailed illustrations created for each title, and all of that hard work had to eventually be stripped down to make low-resolution pixel art. The amount of effort poured into these design documents has given me newfound respect for how much work they put into these games back in the day.
Games Included in the Bundle
- Final Fight (1989)
- The King of Dragons (1991)
- Captain Commando (1991)
- Knights of the Round (1991)
- Warriors of Fate (1992)
- Armored Warriors (1994)
- Battle Circuit (1997)
For any one who has grown up in the 90s; Capcom’s Beat Em Up bundle is a massive trip down memory lane. In an era of shoddy 2D characters and shoddier 8 bit music this bundle is sure to make you cringe and smile and think of how far we have come on the gaming front. Overall it is an attractively presented package, that is sure to entertain one and all with it’s fun fighting titles and a larger than life experience.