Pocket Power: Capcom Classics Reloaded

Though today you can stuff stereoscopic 3D and console-quality graphics into your backpack, that once seemed inconceivable. Handhelds have evolved quickly, but we shouldn’t forget the games that made them great in the first place. Though these games lack raw processing muscle, they have a power all their own.

There are exceptions to this, but most of my handheld gaming is not done in binge sessions on the couch. Typically when I am logging hours into the handheld system I am on a flight or in the back of a van, traveling to some game related event or a gig in the I wish I was a rock star portion of my life. Despite being rather small in size, traveling with thirty different games isn’t the most efficient use of space, plus I am not a small person so the less contorting I have to do searching for games to swap out in the confines of a plane seat the better (hate to demystify the job, but game journalists typically don’t fly first class).

These are some of the reasons I love these retro collections that have been released over the years. Sure it is a quick buck for the publisher that works purely off of nostalgia and not all of these collections are created equal, but there are a few that are well worth the price of admission. Capcom Classics Reloaded for the PlayStation Portable is one such collection, and while there may be a certain amount of repetition among the titles there is still plenty to keep me busy on a flight if I happen to be in an old school arcade type of mood.

Ghouls n’ Ghosts

Capcom Classics Reloaded contains 19 games in the small UMD disc, though roughly half of them are devoted to three franchises. While this reduces the variety of options, the repetition is composed of 1942, 1943, 1943 Kai, Ghosts n’ Goblins, Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Street Fighter II The World Warrior, Street Fighter II Champion Edition, and Street Fighter II Turbo, the quality of these games makes up for it. The 194x games are good for an overhead vertical scrolling shooter fix, and the Street Fighter II’s were the gold standard for fighting games in the ’90s and basically why tournament fighter style games became as big as they are. The Ghouls n’ Goblins games will provide you with endless action platforming frustration as Arthur is repeated stripped of his armor down to his skivvies before he dies over and over again, and if you are skillful enough to reach the end you are rewarded with having to start the game over and play through a second time before reaching the boss. They were basically the Dark Souls of the 2D era of gaming, without ever questioning whether or not you even praise.

Knights of the Round and The King of Dragons provide good old beat ’em up action set in a medieval fantasy world, basically if Double Dragon actually had dragons, kind of like Golden Axe but with more fluid controls. Games like this aren’t as common these days, but they were everywhere in the arcades in the ’80s and ’90s, and were great mindless fun and a quick way to clear up the clutter those quarters were causing. For when you want to get in touch with your inner Rambo, Mercs and Commando are overhead run and gun shooters where the player basically takes on the role of an ’80s action hero who is capable of taking on entire armies, tanks, and helicopters single handedly. Gun.Smoke is pretty much the same idea in regards to gameplay, except the setting is in the wild west and the player is a cowboy.

The King of Dragons

Eco Fighters, Exed Exes, SonSon, Vulgus, and Pirate Ship Higemaru finish off the roster giving us a psychologically unsatisfying 19 games. Eco Fighters is a horizontally scrolling shooter that would make Captain Planet proud as the 1993 title did have an eco friendly theme. Exed Exes is another vertically scrolling shooter. The title does kind of hint this game may star a character based off of Steve Buscemi’s character in Billy Madison with a list of ex lovers he crosses out, but thankfully the actual game has way less psychotic overtones.

SonSon and Vulgus are both very old school, both being released in the year of George Orwell. SonSon is a sidescrolling platformer where the player takes control of a monkey who is trying to reach a statue of Buddha, but to reach his goal he must use a fireball shooting staff to get leaping fish and rodents, both of the flying and pedestrian variety. It is a fairly simple game, but a good example of how there can be enjoyment and challenge within a simplistic design. Vulgus is another vertically scrolling shooter, because there aren’t enough of those in this collection. There are no distinct levels in the game, it just loops endlessly with increasing difficulty. Interestingly enough, it is Capcom’s first arcade game. Pirate Ship Higemaru has the player assume the role of Norwegian fisherman Momotaro as he traverses a maze of barrels and uses them to battle pirates.

Eco Fighters

Capcom Classics Reloaded is a useful one stop shop for a nostalgia fix or for a younger gamer to check out some gaming history. Some of the titles hold up better than others, but overall this is a solid collection and a lot of enjoyment can be gained from it. There are some glaring absences in this collection such as Final Fight, Magic Sword and Bionic Commando, which can be found in Capcom Classics Remixed. Personally, Reloaded is what I consider the superior collection, but both are worthwhile collections that include many of Capcom’s earlier gems.

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