Face it: you’re old. That’s what I tell myself as I stare into the abyss that is my ever-increasing forehead. As the hair recedes, all that is left is pale, shiny flesh that serves only to reflect past glories and hide regret within the ever-deepening recesses. This week sees two ‘retro’ collection releases from Capcom appearing on our shelves. The games I grew up with are now fit for re-packaging and retro bumper packs. It’s all getting too real. Still, it’s hard to feel sorry for myself when I’m smashing the collective face of the Mad Gear Gang with Mike Haggar’s iron pipe of justice (trademark pending).
First up is the Capcom Digital Collection: an 8 game package of Capcom’s finest digital releases and retro re-issues, exclusive to the XBOX 360. For a man who’s dedicated an unhealthy amount of time and energy to a Mike Haggar obsession, naturally, my personal pick of this litter is Final Fight: Double Impact. With its colorful cast of thugs, crooks and bent cops, Final Fight still epitomizes the scrolling beat-em-up genre. The environments are still appealingly grimy, the punches still satisfyingly meaty. It’s perfect in every way.
Staying in the face-punching mentality, this collection also hosts two Street Fighter titles: boasting the HD Remix versions of Super Street Fighter 2 and Super Puzzle Fighter 2. I am still reassuringly terrible at both games, but I still appreciate the fact that Street Fighter 2, in whatever form, is an indisputable, stone-cold classic. Remix it, HD gloss, super it, turbo it, whatever takes your fancy. No matter how many times this game gets re-hashed and re-played, my love for it never dies. Whilst you can never recreate the memories of greasy little hands fumbling with coin slots and landing their first Dragon Punch, you can’t dispute the endless appeal of the core game.
Old-school arcade aficionados can get their fix with Commando 3 — the late sequel to both Commando and Mercs — and 1942: Joint Strike, a HD remake of 1942 that also incorporates elements of its sequels. Commando 3, whilst lacking any new ideas to make it truly worth your time, still offers enough explosions and bloodshed to be fun. 1942 benefits greatly from its graphical overhaul but falls short in providing the kind of extra content needed to sustain the modern gamer. However, in this format, as in eight games for $25, they both serve nostalgia well and feel like necessary inclusions.
Bionic Commando Rearmed updated the NES classic for audiences in 2008 and did well enough to spawn its own sequel, which represents the franchise here. Sacrilegious for some, welcomed by others: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 boasted a jump button in an effort to further update the series. After failed attempts to reinvigorate the franchise as a 3D action title, this sequel represents something of a middle ground. Pretty environments make pleasing backdrops for puzzles and platforming conundrums that successfully blend jumping with the bionic arm mechanic. It’s one of the prettiest games in the whole collection and also boasts a fantastic soundtrack courtesy of Simon Viklund — a man always worthy of a mention.
Alongside the plethora of classic re-makes and remixes, you also get original downloadable titles Flock and Rocketmen: Axis of Evil: neither of which are of particular note. All you need to know is that Rocketmen is like The Jetsons with guns and Flock is the most sadistic form of torture I have ever encountered. Herding mentally-deficient livestock with an unwieldy UFO is not my idea of fun. Call me crazy.
HD collections, for what it’s worth, have always seemed like a good thing to me. Re-issues in general, actually, I’m all for them. Preserving classic titles for future generations may be an optimistic or naive way of looking at these products, but I want to be able to show my grandkids Jet Set Radio without having to worry about finding an RF cable in the year 2050. Devil May Cry is most definitely a series worthy of such preservation, although they really could have done with including some common courtesies such as a feature that allows you to return to the game select menu, rather than having to jump to your machine’s dashboard and re-load the whole thing.
The games themselves are still the same blend of hyper-kinetic bloodshed and lost-in-translation action movie pomp that made them so enjoyable the first time. Though tastes may have moved on and we now have the incredible Bayonetta in our lives, there’s still no denying that Dante had the moves first and with controls this tight, age will never be a concern. Although the fidelity of the cutscenes leaves a lot to be desired (perhaps a side-effect of them being pre-rendered) there’s no denying that, overall, the three original Devil May Cry games are looking all the better with the coat of HD paint. This collection also manages to pack in a fan-servicing art gallery feature and the added bonus of grabbing three, still very playable titles, for the price of one.
Whether you’re looking to rekindle the fire of slicing up Hell’s minions with a slightly effeminate white-haired demon hunter, or simply pave the way for Ninja Theory’s intriguing and already controversial DMC (the series’ fifth) there’s little room for debate on whether or not you should own this. That is, unless, you really, really hate fast paced action games or you have to spend your money on important things like food and hair gel.
Retro collections, HD remasters, love them or hate them: they’re here to stay. Embrace this future now, or be left trawling thrift stores and charity shops in desperation, because we all know that the grandkids of the future are totally going to be down with Mike Haggar.