You’ve got to hand it to Capcom. They may be riding high on the success of Devil May Cry 5, the Resident Evil 2 Remake and the outstanding success of Monster Hunter World, reinstating their name as a top publisher once again. But let us not forgot their horrible microtransaction practices in some games, the botched launched of Street Fighter V, or the travesty of hiding the full game ending of Asura’s Wrath behind a paywall. My point is: Capcom take risks, and their ups and downs are more erratic than Sean’s heartbeat after his fifth Monster of the day.
Their latest attempt at something different, the Capcom Home Arcade, is an ambitious take on the mini console scene currently doing the rounds. Except that calling it a mini console is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t really something you can slot under the telly when you’re finished playing with it.
It’s like they saw the compact versatility of the NES, SNES, and recently released MegaDrive mini consoles and thought, “Nah, let’s do something different”. And boy howdy, have they done that.
Yet whilst the other mini consoles are a collection of home/retail versions of the games emulated on them, the Home Arcade is exactly that: sixteen faithfully ported versions of the arcade classics we all threw money at years ago.
Go Big and Go Home
I remember seeing the early pictures for this device, and thinking that it was going to be big and unwieldy. Whilst it may be the former (in comparison to other home emulators), it’s not an entirely cumbersome beast. Sure, you’re not going to have a fun time resting it on your knees like say, a Hori fightstick, but it is surprisingly lighter than you’d expect. My other concern was that if there were two people playing, you’d be jostling for elbow room. Again, this isn’t strictly true, but if your rival gets a bit animated when playing Street Fighter, then you may be on the receiving end of a few jabs.
As far as build quality goes, it’s a very nice bit of kit. The face buttons aren’t as heavily pronounced and chunky as old arcade units, instead just being rounded off to keep it sleek yet not have your digits sliding off of them. The thumbsticks are the absolute business though. Very responsive to the touch, and make a nice little click in each direction. They don’t stick, either, springing back to neutral and not constantly throwing directions in that you didn’t input. Considering my love for Street Fighter, I always play with pad. I am genuinely shocking with a fight/joystick. Yet playing some Street Fighter 2 on this, I actually managed to hold my own. Although arcade Zangief is still a cheap, dirty AI and it took a lot of willpower not to upend the console. I don’t think Koch would have been happy with me doing that.
Under the Hood
Now, I don’t profess to be any kind of technical expert when it comes to arcade boards and emulation. To me, an emulator was a copy of SNES9x that I could run on a PC and play all the SNES games I could never own. I know arcade boards are a thing that collectors go nuts for, usually with a hefty price tag attached. Alien vs Predator boards, for example, fetch crazy prices. Which is why it’s such a big deal that it’s on this Home Arcade, but more of that in a bit.
The CPS and CPS2 emulations are almost pitch perfect replications of their arcade counterparts, which run very smoothly (I did overhear some people mention slowdown on some games, but I never personally experienced any). Running through a HDMI port, you can mess about with the display to your own preference: do you want classic 4:3 CRT ratio, or fullscreen fit to accommodate your shiny HDTV? The glory is on fullscreen, unlike most emulators, the Home Arcade does a wonderful job of filling a full picture with just a minor bit of stretching, as opposed to making your characters look insanely portly. You can also add a smooth filter, much like the PS3 did when running PS1 games, but for the purists (and ultimately the best reason for owning an arcade console), the original pixelated counterparts are the best way to play.
The unit itself comes with a whopping 2.5 meter HDMI lead, so that you don’t need to be melting your faces right up against the TV. It’s powered by USB-C, which is included, as well as a USB port on the back. This could, in the future, make it possible for more controllers to be used, but at present there’s no news of that.
I say in the future, as the Home Arcade does feature WiFi integration, for updating leaderboards and downloading patches and such. It may come as no surprise that there’s no online play here, but if you have bought one expecting that, you may have misunderstood the point of “home arcade console” in the first place.
[Vintage] Junk in the Trunk
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the price yet. This is because I know if it was the first thing I’d brought up, it would be a negative. But let’s not beat around the bush: the Capcom Home Arcade drops at a whopping £200 price tag. Now, this is a lot to ask someone to invest in what is essentially, a hard cased emulator unit, of which the games are available to download by other not-entirely-legal means (which we don’t endorse, obviously).
So, what games do you get in this chunky yet funky unit? Well, if your eyesight fails you, or you can’t decipher the above, here’s a summary for you:
- Alien vs Predator
- Armored Warriors
- Captain Commando
- Final Fight
- Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting
- Mega Man: The Power Battle
- 1944: The Loop Master
- Eco Fighters
- Giga Wing
- Capcom Sports Club
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts
Now, a lot of these are going to be instantly familiar. The Hyper Fighting version of Street Fighter is a nice touch, allowing you to play the four bosses to increase the roster. Final Fight is still a faithful companion to Streets of Rage as it always was, whilst Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts still remains as infuriatingly hard (read: classic) as it used to be.
There are some on there that may miss the mark with some people. Mega Man: The Power Battle, for example, is a new one on me. A stripped down Mega Man game, it’s essentially a boss rush mode. Capcom Sports Club is a collection of tennis, basketball and football games, mashed together as one game, none of which respond very well to their respective sports. It seems weird having both Cyberbots and Armored Warriors here though, as the former is a spin-off of the latter. The omission of one could have made room for another Capcom classic, maybe Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, perhaps? A Marvel/X-men vs Street Fighter would have been a lovely inclusion, but I guess would water down the integrity of the Capcom-ness of it all.
But perhaps the biggest draw here, as mentioned early, is the faithful arcade port of Alien vs Predator. Whilst the purest seek out the highly desirable yet fundamentally flawed arcade boards, the casual arcade fans among us can kick back at home with this unit. No limited, single batteries in sight, nor the hefty up-to-£500 price tag, just unlimited continues and all the time in the world.
Whilst my time at the Koch-hosted event the other week might have been limited, I still managed to finish this beast of a game by myself. Why, you might ask, when there were fifteen other games to play? Simple:it’s a beautiful game, with a surprisingly in-depth combat system and some cracking visuals and animations. Whilst it may look like any other side-scrolling beat ’em up, each of the four playable characters (two Predators, two human) comes with their own particular moveset to get to grips with. It adds more to the Final Fight/Streets of Rage dynamic by not just having special moves, but directional/combo based moves and grapples, as well as midair combat. It’s definitely a sign of progression, taking the mantle from the other mentioned titles of the time, leading the way for things to come in terms of genre progression. Whether it justifies the heavy price of the unit is down to personal opinion and nostalgia.
The Sum of Its Parts
Ultimately, whether this collection of games housed in a chunky Capcom logo is for you or not really depends on how much you love old games. Yes, you could cherry pick each of these games and play them on a smartphone, if you feel like squinting at everything going on.
It’s a hell of a gamble to drop two hundred English pounds on something if you only like a quarter of the games available. Conversely, if you are a Capcom purist, then you can do no better in such a wonderful tribute to the days of classic arcade gaming, faithfully recreated for home players. You may think it a worthwhile investment for times to come when the options to stream/download vintage games becomes very limited, or restricted. Or you may be looking for the perfect piece to complete your games room, eager to crack out some classics when your mates come over.
In that regard, Capcom have hit the mark. The initially steep price reveal may put some casual fans off, but as a piece catered for the arcade aficionado, they’ve nailed it.
Street Fighter’s still nails though…
Disclaimer: Greg visited a hands-on event put on by Koch Media in order to test out the Capcom Home Arcade for content purposes.
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