It's tempting to gorge on this collection of seven distinctive arcade games as an all-you-can-eat brawler buffet, but the genre's innate repetitiveness means it's most enjoyable to feast on one quality Capcom coin-op at a time. The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle is a delightful history lesson in the technical pixel-artistry of CPS brawler design, starting in 1989 with Final Fight as a genuine classic, and then continuing through the 1990s with fondly remembered street fisticuff games and hack-and-slash fantasy titles. Over twenty years later, Capcom's style and craftsmanship showcased in the coin-ops previously unavailable on console -- Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit -- justifies a purchase of the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle in its own right.
With two brilliant retro games in one bundle, the gameplay in Castlevania Requiem is excellent.
Viewed as a traditional 32 game retro collection, there's value in journeying through PS4 Capcom Arcade Stadium's history from 1984 to 2001. It's a pleasure to revel in the origins of CP System, as it evolved from CPS-1 to CPS-2. There's a celebratory feel in the balance between Pack 1 and 2's popular hits, alongside Pack 3's cult favourites, plus targeting leaderboards to achieve Timed and Score Challenges is addictive when earning CASPO to reach a higher Class. As Zac Zinger's infectious song, A Brand New Day, plays over Capcom Arcade Stadium's title screen, there's a party vibe to dancing between game selections, especially when discovering Pack 3's superb, less widely available shmups like CAVE's Progear.
Pleasingly, developer Rocket Engine also included the 1993 X68000 Japanese computer port of the original 1991 Cotton coin-op for retro and pixel art fans who want to return to the classic game by Success. The spellbinding arranged soundtrack is also a truly Fantastic Night Dreams collection of talented all-star Japanese composers, and you can unlock listening to the altered tunes and a demo of the story in the Visual & Sound menu option. Even if Fantasy Zone was released earlier than Cotton, and if Parodius is arguably better known in the cute-'em-up subgenre, Cotton Reboot! is a Success-ful retro remake to bewitch you into being sweet on the Cotton series.
Released in Japan in the same month as Thunder Force IV, when magazines felt fatigued with an overabundance of Mega Drive shmups, Gleylancer became hidden behind the likes of Gaiares, Gynoug, Hellfire, and Zero Wing as competition. Yet, it could attract attention today, since using the Rewind feature to complete 11 stages in less than an hour snags easy Platinum Trophies on both PS4 and PS5. Once precious trinkets have been grabbed it's most fun to practice each stage using save states to improve your skills, and see how far you can legitimately progress. Gleylancer deserves better than to become lost again, as just another Ratalaika Games easy Platinum release.
Capcom's Production Studio 4 built Spencer Mansion to remain as haunting as the monsters that inhabit it. This 1996 PS1 game has minor skeletons in its closet, including a stingy save system, sluggish load times, and bewildering puzzles as terrifying as the creepy Chimeras. The GameCube renovation stole some of its thunder, but riding this ghoul train's balance of power between vulnerability, survival, and Colt Python carnage is gruesomely gratifying. The lumbering Lurch-like controls become reanimated as you adjust to speed run through its halls, and the tense atmosphere is more memorable than any dusty antiques on its shelf. There's a stack of content hidden in the basement of the 1997 Director's Cut, with extra difficulty levels and secrets adding replay value beneath the creaky pre-rendered floorboards. Panic-building level structure and a spine-chilling audio arrangement establish Resident Evil as a horror-ific humdinger of a PS1 game for Hallowe'en.
With four games as a showcase of the exploratory level design of early 1990s European-style run-and-gun titles, Turrican Flashback's ex-Factor 5 games had an undeniable x-factor, and the first two Amiga Turrican releases are noteworthy as some of the best 16-bit computer games. Alongside the console bedazzlement of Super Turrican and Mega Turrican, there's plenty of platforming fun to be found, and the 2D visuals are well presented through varied display options. Yet, the gameplay becomes repetitive when bouncing between four titles, and Turrican Flashback feels incomplete as a collection representing the scope of the series. Still, retro gamers might not dwell on the modest number of games included, as soon as they hear Chris Huelsbeck's sublime soundtracks booming once again.
There's replay value to be found in the Hard difficulty setting, or chasing 29 Trophies for a Platinum, as well as an unlockable New Game+ challenge. Yet, even the inclusion of an extra Infinite Mode highlights how the core gameplay becomes repetitive, plus the four main areas of Arcade Mode can be beaten in less than an hour. If the idea of exploring to save villagers reminds you fondly of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, or perhaps you remember isometric arcade brawlers like Dungeon Magic and Wizard Fire, then the nostalgia conjured up from Battle Axe mixing together two formidable old genres may still hack-and-slash its way into your heart.
Perhaps if you wished that Double Dragon IV followed in the first two arcade games' presentation style, then Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl's 8-bit throwback approach is not for you. Regardless, for those of us who crave more in the same vein of Technōs NES bickety bam beat-'em-ups, then playing Mall Brawl may just be your retro Wolvie berserk style. What else are we gonna do? Snootchie Bootchies!
There's a generous amount of content, which at 20 hours is four times the completion size of the original. Since this retro remake is a game of three thirds, it'd be a disservice if followers of the original lost faith from initial impressions of the unsightly side-scrolling action, and an overly gabby god game. Yet, fans won't be on cloud nine if a lack of support towards Actraiser Renaissance discourages Square Enix from being devoted to ActRaiser as a promising series.
At the same competitive £4.99/$6.99 launch price, Gynoug's a great 2D shooter companion to Gleylancer. Therefore, if Ratalaika's setting its sights on Mega Drive horizontal shmups, then hopefully Hellfire could eventually blast onto modern consoles, as it was also partially published by Masaya.
The game's best design choice is how its variety of playable characters significantly alters the gameplay mechanics. Cotton Fantasy's Producer, Shinya Nagatomo, told Issue 231 of Retro Gamer magazine that "It's an all-star game with not only characters from other games, but also new systems from other Success games". This means controlling Ria incorporates the risk/reward Buzz System from Psyvariar, and you can unlock playing as the final boss character, Tacoot, with wand flinging abilities. It's these deeper systems, and unlockable stages that make Cotton Fantasy an intricate cute-'em-up that core shoot-'em-up fans will relish mastering and replaying.
As a first-person platforming game, with massive triple-jumps, and boss battle shoot-'em-up stages, playing Jumping Flash! feels like burrowing down the rabbit hole into a distinctive and unconventional gameplay experience. The masterful music compositions by Takeo Miratsu match the colourful and vivid visual themes of each of the six worlds perfectly, ensuring that the presentation in Exact Inc.'s 1995 game has aged gracefully. Arguably as a result of its position among the PS1's launch, the main flaw in Jumping Flash! is its short completion time. However, controlling Robbit feels accessible for such a skyrocketing protagonist, so you will hop right back into each of the 18 stages to dig up secret modes, or to vault your way towards achieving a flashier time attack speed run.
It's disheartening a previously Japanese exclusive Mega Drive game, patiently anticipated since 1994, is now known for poor presentation due to Version 1.00 releasing with gameplay breaking emulation errors — like Stage 2's missing scaffolding obstacles, and invisible enemies. There was a narrow window for Halloween 2021 hype, and even though thankfully a week later Version 1.01 patched in the omitted sprites, still Panorama Cotton could be haunted by the infamy of Ratalaika's conversion. Since many gamers never experienced this rare game, it'd be a shame if they believed an initially bad PS4 port directly correlates with the quality of the original.
If you flash back to a concern exacerbated from our Turrican Flashback review, Wonder Boy Collection's paltry four titles puts pressure on retro gamers to question its value for money, because it omits series defining titles and key console ports when compared to the more expensive Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection from Strictly Limited Games — which has sold out of its 2,000 PS4 retail copies. It's also worse value than retro compilations that released within weeks of the Wonder Boy Collection, when set side-by-side against the cheaper and more complete Pac-Man Museum+ and the superior extras in Sonic Origins.