Few companies can match Capcom when it comes to the realm of fighting games. Headlined by Street Fighter but supplemented by several genre-mates over the years, anytime these titles come together is cause for celebration. Plenty of compilations from Capsule Computers are already available on Switch, but for once we’re getting an arcade fighting jam that’s not Shoryuken-ing at the top of its lungs.
Instead we’ve got something more sinister and unique. A monster mash that isn’t afraid to show blood and skin, but also lean heavily into exaggerated animations and character concepts. Darkstalkers never did get the renewal that Street Fighter IV gave Ryu and the rest (despite some attempts around the same time) despite its strengths and own iconic status, but here it is headlining the Capcom Fighting Collection.
It’s not the only game here by any stretch, joined by a few other obscurities and the mandated amount of Street Fighter II. That’s what makes this an exciting package though – it’s dipping into reserves to the point of bringing some titles out of Japan or onto home console for the very first time. Read on to see how each fares, and whether you should call next game or save your quarters.
The bulk of Capcom Fighting Collection is composed of the entire Darkstalkers series. Thanks to frequent crossover appearances, this one might be the most prominent in the company’s pugilistic portfolio outside of Street Fighter. The appeal speaks for itself, with a roster of characters inspired by classic monsters and other creatures paired to impressive animations and robust gameplay systems.
If you’ve never played Darkstalkers but are familiar with other fighting games, it’ll be the family of games most familiar in this set. It also has the distinction of introducing some genre-standard features of its own back in the day, such as EX (here called ES) attacks that use meter to power up special moves. The greatest strength though is its cast and world, which still holds up to this day in terms of design. No other series takes you from the sides of skyscrapers all the way to the Fetus of God, but that’s Darkstalkers for you. You’d be hard pressed to hear a complaint for having Darkstalkers front and center here, though its prominence does lead to a couple problems.
Anyone unversed in the various versions of included Darkstalkers (or Vampire, as it’s called in Japan) titles would wonder why five of the Collection’s ten titles are from one family of games. The series has three core titles, each one adding new ideas and characters, but two Japan-only follow ups to those sequels are included here as well. Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 are great gets for purists and enthusiasts, though it’s a shame that there’s no version included that has all characters available in a single roster – something home console versions delivered on in the past.
The other issue these two additions bring, and it’s definitely a minor one, is that they’re only available in Japanese. A notable feature of this Collection is that you get both the English and Japanese versions of these games, which is a set menu option when you’re selecting your game. Since there were never English versions of Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2, they will automatically toggle to Japanese. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, but what is is that the toggle won’t flip back to English when you cycle to another game. It feels like a menu oversight, but one that’s fairly inconsequential to the games’ overall enjoyment.
One of the places I found a whole lot of that enjoyment was in Red Earth. Coming to home consoles for the very first time in this collection, it represents one of Capcom’s most unique fighters and their first on the legendary CPS-III arcade board. Though you can go head-to-head here, Red Earth is more akin to a boss rush than a fighter, and it includes some minor RPG elements that give it the most legs out of any of these games as a solo experience.
After selecting a character from the likes of a lion-headed barbarian to a witch able to kick you with one of her four cats, you’ll take on oversized and overpowered enemies with massive health bars along the bottom of the screen. Various fighting game sensibilities still apply here, including direction based command inputs and knowing when to block, but as you progress you’ll actually level up your character and unlock new special moves. It’s an interesting concept made better with some of Fighting Collection’s modern additions, particularly the ability to utilize quick saves rather than its past password system.
Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness
Another unique fighter with some appearances in various Capcom crossovers, Cyberbots manages to make a solid impression with its more detailed art style. That comes down to controlling giant robots rather than humanoid characters, each equipped with supplementary weapons and heavy armaments. The futuristic and Gundam-esque aesthetic is the biggest strength it has, and ultimately it impressed less than Red Earth and the Darkstalkers collective.
Cyberbots does have one interesting idea going for it, that being your available mechs being variations on each other that swap out various parts. Speaking of, you can even have parts break off mid-fight, requiring you pick them up again. It’s reminiscent of Vega’s claw mechanically, but also works as a carryover from the beat ‘em up that inspired this fighter, Armored Warrior.
I wanted to enjoy Cyberbots a lot more, especially as one of the more obscure pieces of the collection, but its fights felt less impactful despite the giant robots. Ultimately not as tight or well realized as Darkstalkers (to keep comparisons to games featured here) it still managed to get some play time from me on the strength of its theming.
Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition
While Street Fighter might not be the main focus of this set, it still manages to secure a prominent place thanks to Hyper Street Fighter II. Previously released as part of the Street Fighter 15th anniversary, twenty years later it still manages to be a novel idea that works well as a sort of greatest hits for Capcom’s most famous fighting game.
I won’t dwell on SFII too much, but if you can’t get enough of it and somehow never gave Hyper a go then you owe it to yourself to try. Being able to play as any version of its characters from their debuts all the way to Super Turbo and then in turn fight against any version of any other Street Fighter II character gives this one a ton of depth and minutiae. Just don’t expect a whole lot of balance.
Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix
If you’re after a little lighter fun, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix is here to fit the bill. Featuring super-deformed takes on various Capcom fighters, its animations carry a whole lot of personality and even cameos from other games. More than any other title in the Capcom Fighting Collection, it feels like an “extra” but it’s definitely a fun one.
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Last but absolutely not least is the game I ended up putting the most time into during this review. Super Puzzle Fighter manages to be a great competitive puzzle game while also carrying the cute art style of Gem Fighter. Though it’s not a fighter, it still fits in as a great head-to-head game at the intersection of two genres. I’d rank it right up there with Darkstalkers and Red Earth as high points in this set, and though I fully respect the former it’s thanks to Puzzle Fighter that my personal favorite here is more of a toss up than a runaway.
As has become the standard for Capcom collections like this, the games’ Museum section is an absolute treat. Full of art and music assets (and even brand new illustrations and songs made just for this collection) you can lose yourself pouring over the details. Along with additions like Training modes for every game and online matchmaking with rollback netcode, it’s another competent compilation that will be fully appreciated by fans of the genre more than any other.
Between this, the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle, and the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, nobody’s hurting for punch games these days from Capcom alone. If you’re already stocked up on arcade fighting games then you might not have much of a reason to bite at this one. Still, even casual fans of the genre will be able to appreciate the stylings and place in history that Darkstalkers carries as well as the significance of reviving Red Earth to a certain extent.
I’d recommend this one mostly to arcade aficionados or those curious about the characters they’ve seen in the Vs. series or other Capcom crossovers. The modern conveniences are nice and the museum is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of these games, but these are still arcade ports through and through. Just like the Beat ‘Em Up Bundle, not every entry is equal here. More power to fans of older iterations and obscurities, and here’s hoping once again that Darkstalkers isn’t dead.
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