I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that this year’s Summer Game Fest presentation wasn’t a very memorable one. Geoff Keighley’s show wasn’t dreadful by any means, but there were precious few highlights among an abundance of substanceless CG trailers and perhaps one too many games set in outer space.
Around the halfway point, however, was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reveal of Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, which is launching on all major platforms on July 22. The vibrant trailer felt like a brief yet welcome change of pace from the largely ho-hum announcements that came prior.
As a lover of old Capcom arcade games, many of which I’d played via numerous PS2 compilations like Capcom Classics Collection and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, the announcement of Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium took me right back to my childhood, where I perhaps spent too much time indulging my curiosity for old-school arcade games.
But why bother getting excited about a bunch of bygone arcade games when there are plenty of new games to look forward to? Well, the answer to that, I think, has a bit more depth than simple childhood nostalgia.
Capcom has released so many compilations over the last few years that it might make your head spin. There was the Capcom Home Arcade Console, a rather gaudy arcade stick that came packed with 16 arcade titles. We’ve also had the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle, the upcoming Capcom Fighting Collection, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and no shortage of Megaman and Megaman X compilations. It’s a lot.
And in fairness, it’s not like the new Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is composed of games that are entirely new to the publisher’s compilation efforts. The Street Fighter Alpha and Darkstalkers games are present here, both of which have featured in compilations before.
However, a large majority of the 32 games in the collection have yet to be re-released on modern hardware like PS5, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch. And the inclusion of the phenomenal Saturday Night Slam Masters marks, to my knowledge, the first time Capcom’s iconic wrestler has seen a release outside of arcades and fourth-generation consoles.
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium’s business model is also pretty interesting. You can, of course, buy the full collection that includes all 32 games. Alternatively, you can buy games on an individual basis. So if you want Saturday Night Slam Masters, and only Saturday Night Slam Masters, it’s just $3.99 (around £3.29 / AU$5.69) for a single game. That’s a great option if you’re also planning on buying Capcom Fighting Collection, as it means you won’t have to buy a bunch of the same games twice.
Collections such as this are always a superb opportunity to treat the player to a variety of extras and bonus content. In the very best cases, compilations are wrapped up in a thematic and pleasing aesthetic, sometimes presenting games in fully modeled arcade cabinets.
Not only that, but classic game collections can feature extensive galleries, often containing never-before-seen concept art, development notes and insightful trivia. Additionally, many also boast common emulator features like save states, rewind buttons and visual filter options to give you more control over how you play. It’s perhaps the closest gaming equivalent to a lavish movie boxset, rife with extra goodies for diehard fans to appreciate.
A common thought is certainly: why should I buy all these collections of old games when I could just emulate them? Arcade emulators like Fightcade and MAME can provide close to arcade-perfect experiences on PC. Both are exceptional programs, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
Emulators almost always require a PC or a laptop to run, for starters. Not necessarily the best gaming PCs on the market, but downloading and setting up emulators is a process that – while second nature to some – may not be such a straightforward process for the less tech savvy or those wholly unfamiliar with emulators in the first place.
Classic game collections are desirable because they don’t require such a middleman. There are a significant number of players who would rather not have to deal with the emulation process at all, and the convenience offered by collections like Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is great if you just want to chill on the couch, or lie in bed, and play some retro titles in a no-nonsense capacity.
It’s the same reason that Xbox backwards compatibility, or PS Plus’s support for older titles, resonates with players. Having viable, up-to-date methods of playing older games is wonderful from a preservation standpoint (assuming performance of these games is up to scratch, of course, which unfortunately isn’t a guarantee), and skips the step of having to rely on extra software or forking up the cash for older hardware.
While I can’t confidently say that Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium will be worth every penny – it does include some overfamiliar names and not every game featured is an outright must-play – I do believe it to be another win for accessible game preservation.
Capcom, more than most of its peers, has done well to embrace its past over the last few years. Its big franchises continue to truck along nicely thanks to games like Monster Hunter Rise, Resident Evil Village and the upcoming Street Fighter 6. And while we may not get a new Darkstalkers or Megaman title anytime soon, it’s always nice to see the publisher shine a CRT-beamed light on its iconic history.