Capcom’s 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia Shows the Studio’s Slow Decline

Over the past thirty years, Capcom has made some of the best and most iconic series of all time. With this being such a special occasion, Capcom decided to celebrate this in the form of a character encyclopedia (among other things) with the help of DK books and Brady Games. With thousands of popular characters and only 208 pages to fill, is Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia a must have for fans or was it a good idea that fell short?

The character encyclopedia doesn’t leave a strong impression at first glance. For starters, the book is only 7.5” x 9.2”, which makes it about the size of an iPad or a tablet of similar size/shape. The book itself is hardcover (nice thickness) and the front/back cover has a bland picture of character stock on in golden panels. Additionally, no slipcover is included, so there isn’t any sort of alternate design or “hidden” better image underneath.

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Upon actually opening the book, you’re greeted with a fantastic image of various Capcom characters ready to fight. The next page has colored image similar to this one, but a lot more stylized that the first one. The last page before the encyclopedia contains a very short introduction and an alphabetical table of contents. Please keep in mind the table of contents can be tricky to use, as some of the character names might throw you and it doesn’t contain a game listing.

With this being said, I was surprised by the number of niche/weird characters included in this book. Sure a good number of pages are devoted to Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Megaman, but a sizable amount also went to Red Earth, Breath of Fire, Power Stone, Cyberbots and even God Hand makes an appearance. The only downside to these listings is that some of their choices don’t exactly make a lot of sense.

For instance, the Waysiders (Lost Planet 2) are included, but NEVEC is not. This honestly makes no sense, since NEVEC is one the only consistences in the Lost Planet (even E.X. Troopers) universe. Likewise, they could have changed the Waysiders to Snow Pirates and covered them all like they did for other games. Another missing character is Resident Evil’s Hunk, who was skipped in favor of other characters like Parker Luiciani, Piers Nivans, Jessica Sherawat, Jake Muller, and Helena Harper. These are just some examples I noticed, but are in no way the only ones.

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Perhaps the biggest problem with this book is how dated it actually feels. Now, this might seem confusing given it came out this week, but the book devotes a lot of attention to what is currently relevant. To give you an idea, the five Resident Evil characters mentioned above were from only one game and it was either Revelations or Resident Evil 6. Some other examples include a few characters from Asura’s Wrath/Dragon’s Dogma, Jim Peyton (Lost Planet 3), NIlin (Remember Me), even though Dragon’s Dogma is the only one of these games that has a shot of being relevant five years from now.

As far as the actual pages go, they’re actually pretty simple. Every character is given three images, which include a full body shot, another “relevant” image (box art, promotional artwork, sketch) and finally their games logo. The pages also include a brief bio and covers things like who they’re, why you should care, how these characters went on to do other things and things like that. These pages also include a small box with relevant information like their first/only appearance, last appearance and other information based on what’s relevant or available. Some examples include height, weight, weapon of choice, archenemy, hometown and things of this nature.

For the most part, these pages are well done and informative, though some errors do exist. Remember how I mentioned all those currently relevant games being listed? Well, much like the games’ actual fanbase, the character encyclopedia seems to deny the existence of DmC. Only one instance of Dante appears in the book, contrary to say Megaman who gets three separate entries (Megaman, X and Mega Man Volnutt) and that page says his last appearance was in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Obviously this isn’t true, since there was PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, DmC and even if these don’t count, the classic Dante appears in Project X Zone. Other Devil May Cry characters also make no reference to that game, so it’s as if the game never existed. This is just one of the bigger “errors” I noticed, but there are sure to be more if you examine the book closely enough.

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While the character encyclopedia will never replace Wikipedia, it’s still nice to have something of a formal representation of Capcom’s history, even if it makes their recent drop in quality more apparent than ever. Sure the book focuses needlessly on certain things, like the five pages devoted to Red Earth, but that doesn’t prevent it from completely failing at its overall goal. In the end, it’s hardly worth the full $17 dollars, but some fans or hardcore gamers might find some enjoyment for $10 or so dollars