Every time we turn around, there's a new classic arcade game appearing on Xbox Live Arcade, or another arcade compilation hitting store shelves. And now you can carry not one, not two, but 20 of Capcom's best and most beloved quarter-munchers around with you wherever you go, all without the hassle of learning to parallel-park a semi trailer full of arcade machines. Technology, she is grand, no?
Well, mostly grand, at least. This collection actually left us with a few tokens left over. The only Street Fighter here is the original - as in, the one before they started numbering them - despite the fact that the console version of this collection had three variations of Street Fighter II. None of the three Ghouls 'n Ghosts games from the full-sized collection appear here either, and the only WWII-era shooter (there are three in the console version) is 1941: Counter Attack. It's a rip-off that so many of Capcom's heavy hitters are missing (though many have resurfaced in the newly-announced Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded ).
Don't get us wrong: there are still plenty of gems in this treasure chest. The acrobatic actioners Strider and Bionic Commando rock, and beat 'em-ups like Captain Commando - the only game we can name that gives the player the choice of playing as a mummy, a ninja, a Captain America wannabe or a baby driving a robot - and Final Fight are definitely worth a go.
Add in hack-and-slashers Magic Sword and Mega Twins, or shoot 'em-ups such as Forgotten Worlds and the aforementioned 1941: Counter Attack, and you're golden. Even the trivia game Quiz & Dragons is oddly fun, though the answers are all circa 1992. Many of these games don't even appear in the console version of this collection, so it's great to have them.
Arcade screens in the 1980s were roughly 800% larger than the PSP screen, so it can be hard to see enemy bullets in games like the vertical shooter Legendary Wings. On the bright side, many games whose monitors were taller than they were wide, such as vertical shoot-a-thons Last Duel and Varth, can be viewed in their original dimensions - you just change a setting in the options menu, rotate the PSP a quarter-turn and you're all set.
The controls don't always transfer gracefully to the PSP (especially for these same vertical games), though we'll give the developers credit for coming up with some creative solutions. For the side-scrolling, jet pack-and-big-gun blast-fest Forgotten Worlds, you can actually turn the PSP upside down, using the face buttons to move and pointing the analog stick to aim your weapon.
Another plus is that most of the games which had multiplayer modes in the arcade also have ad hoc multiplayer here, though true online and game sharing would have been even better.
There is one final problem with this collection that doesn't affect the numerical score, but that we simply have to mention: the price. The original PS2 and Xbox versions of Capcom Classics Collection - which had an undeniably better selection of games - debuted at $19.99, yet this portable version is twice as expensive. We're guessing Sony's PSP publishing rules have more to do with this than Capcom's bank account does, but it sucks either way. We'll admit to sometimes wearing rose-colored glasses when we play old-school games, but we can't afford to complete the ensemble with origami hats made of money.