Sunday, 14 September 2014
In response to a waning financial forecast, Capcom is re-releasing four of its best fighters on Taito's online arcade system NESiCAxLive. Japanese players will be able to log wins against networked opponents on Hyper Street Fighter II, Vampire Savior (known in the West as Darkstalkers 3), Street Fighter Zero 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
Hamster Corporation is taking a different archaeological tact. The company is licensing ancient arcade games like Rygar and Renegade, then putting them out in a no-frills shell on PS4 for ¥823 (about £5). Trophies range from brain dead bronzes - access the Options menu - to a couple of reasonably challenging golds tied into posting high scores.
For a title like Renegade getting to the top of the table is gonna take an hour or two of learning how your attack windows work and what you can do to exploit them. It feels like a worthwhile time investment, you get to engage with the game on a deeper, systemic level and, if you care, your gamer card just ticked up a few numbers.
Hamster has about eight titles available at the moment with more, including Double Dragon, on the way. Aside from the games mentioned, Ninja-Kid is fun. It's a cutesy screen-clearer with a peculiar jump system based on forward momentum. Considering the steady stream of releases, I presume the Arcade Archives series is turning a profit. Hamster's games are even starting to make the jump to the US store, although the prices have stayed a little excessive.
Capcom has tried churning out their older coin-ops like this before, last gen it was Capcom Arcade Cabinet, but the packaging has never been particularly attractive. The bulk of the games are early 80s efforts that have been released and re-released over and over. It's clear Capcom covet their late 80s / early 90s era games and expect them to stand on their own, in an individual package that never materialises. Thus Capcom's re-release schedule remains dull. Where's Strider or Captain Commando?
Capcom also need to learn the value of an easy achievement list. Every single title they release has a trophy set that reads like a part-time job application. An arcade game re-release should attempt to capture the same kind of bright, colourful, instant gratification as the coin-ops they're emulating.
Whether consciously or not, trophy lists set an objective. If the climb looks too long versus the points or rewards you can expect to accrue, the people who care about these things will immediately lose interest. I can't have been the only person who looked at the Darkstalkers Resurrection list and decided to skip it. I wanted to dabble with a game I used to play on the Saturn, not embark on a 2D fighter doctorate.
Given the huge success of the PS4 it's baffling that Capcom hasn't got anything ready to go. I've been expecting an announcement about Ultra Street Fighter IV or a port of the brushed up PC release of DmC: Devil May Cry or even Dragon's Dogma, but they've never materialised. Capcom made inroads last-gen with an early, opportunist release of Street Fighter II' Turbo on Xbox 360 (indeed that's what prompted the revival of the Street Fighter brand). Why aren't they attempting to repeat this trick? Individual arcade releases, attractively priced and following Hamster's hardcore hooking trophy model could be the zero-effort money-spinner Capcom is looking for.