Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle Review

Richard Walker

Once upon a time, there was a kid who craved bags of coins and an arcade in which to throw them away on beat 'em ups of every shape and size. Street Fighter II was a favourite of this kid's, and so was Final Fight, one of the seven games you'll find in the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle. Want to know who the kid was in the story? THAT KID WAS ME. Bet you didn't see that coming.

That makes this collection of relatively obscure scrolling brawlers right up my street (of rage). They're all games that would have been noisily vying for attention down the arcade, dazzling and attempting to coax players in with flashy 16-bit graphics and the promise of pure button-mashing nirvana for as long as your credit would allow. They were simpler, halcyon days.

The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle bottles some of these fond memories and stuffs them into a single package that represents sound value for money. All seven games on offer are arcade-perfect, featuring both English and Japanese versions, with a vast array of bonus material to pore over including original artwork including concept sketches, design documents and other content to pique your curiosity.

Starting with Knights of the Round, it's clear that most of the games included in this collection haven't entirely stood the test of time. While Knights of the Round has some neat ideas, like levelling your chosen character up, enhancing and changing the look of your armour and weapon, it ultimately boils down to constantly mashing buttons. The same can be said of most of the games in the Beat 'Em Up Bundle, although each is an interesting curio in its own way.

Like 1997's Battle Circuit, Capcom's final scrolling beat 'em up game, which makes its way out of arcades for the first time and onto consoles. A bizarro, super-colourful sci-fi affair in which up to four players can band together to apprehend a series of criminals, Battle Circuit enables you to upgrade your bounty hunter's abilities between levels. Arguably the oddest game in this collection, it's actually rather good too, although one of the characters does ride a giant pink ostrich. Told you it was weird.

Joining Battle Circuit in making its home console debut is Armored Warriors, an explosive robot smackdown with interchangeable arms for your chosen mech. Huge drills, rocket launchers, pummelling fists; Armored Warriors is fun, fast, frantic action in which robots beat one another to scrap. It's certainly better than Golden Axe clone The King of Dragons, or proto-Dynasty Warriors Warriors of Fate, both of which are, again, certainly worth playing.

By far the most iconic games in the package are Captain Commando and Final Fight, and the latter has already been re-released on multiple formats. That said, it's nice to have it on current platforms, so you can beat up punks across Metro City and see where Streets of Rage got its inspiration. Captain Commando is equally cool, a fine example of the genre with loads of weapons to pick up and smash the enemy with.

A wonderful journey through a particular slice of arcade history, the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle is pretty much essential for anyone craving a dose of face-punching nostalgia, encapsulating a snapshot of the late '80s and '90s when the humble beat 'em up ruled the arcades. Primarily, most of the games collected here are offbeat curios, and these alone are worth the asking price. Given the irrefutable classics included in the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle, however, there's really no reason not to pick this up.

Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle

If you have fond memories of the arcade originals, you've probably already bought the Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle. If you haven't, then you most definitely should. For the money, Capcom Beat 'Em Bundle offers a nice little slice of arcade history in seven games, two of which you can play on console for the first time. What's not to like?

Form widget
75%
Audio
70%

Aurally, the Capcom brawlers collected here haven't aged particularly well, but they still sound good enough. There are some lovely 16-bit ditties to enjoy too.

Visuals
80%

In a time when pixels were the only ticket around, all seven of the bundle's beat 'em ups are a work of art (of sorts). All seven are also arcade-perfect, which is a win.

Playability
75%

While the majority of titles in the collection devolve into button mashing, it's the best kind of button mashing there is. It's a damn shame they don't make 'em like this anymore.

Delivery
75%

Seven arcade classics, loads of bonus material, all exactly as they were as arcade cabinets back in the day with the added bonus of online play and unlimited continues. A wondrous journey through video game history.

Achievements
60%

Complete all seven pretty brief games offline, play online once and use a continue. That's it. Excellent spread, sure, but a fairly bland list overall.

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