Capcom Home Arcade review

We’re very much living in the age of the mini system, with practically every relevant company eagerly miniaturising its consoles and computers in the hope that lightning will strike again with the same intensity of the NES Mini.

These mini systems almost always come with full-sized controllers, which makes perfect sense: after all, it’s all well and good shrinking a Mega Drive down to a fifth of the size but the technology doesn’t exist yet to shrink our hands to the same degree.

What happens, though, when the original control method wasn’t that small to begin with? What if the system was, say, a dirty big arcade cabinet? Cue the Capcom Home Arcade, the ‘mini’ system that’s bigger than pretty much every full-sized one.

Containing an interesting selection of 16 Capcom arcade titles spanning from 1988 to 2001, the Capcom Home Arcade is huge in plenty of ways, from its dimensions to its price tag, to… okay, it’s huge in two ways.

Does it justify dropping £200 on the bastard though? Let’s find out.


The hardware

Pick it up – you’ll need two hands – and the Capcom Home Arcade screams quality.

Actually, it screams “CAPCOM”, and this huge logo design may put some people off. Personally, as someone who’s always been a big fan of Capcom’s arcade games, I think it’s brilliant and am more than happy to display it in my games room.

The only potential impact the design may have on gameplay is the shape of the ‘OM’ at the end. While player one has a fairly comfortable time of it given that they’re resting their hands along a flat edge, the ‘OM’ means there are some ridges across the bottom edge on player two’s side. From my experience, it isn’t a massive issue, but if you’re planning a marathon session it may start to annoy your right palm or wrist depending on how you rest it.

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This aside, the whole thing is top quality. The glossy finish is premium stuff and the unit has a real weight to it, with a rubber-like base designed to make sure it doesn’t slip off the table or lap you place it on.

As for the controls, we’re looking at authentic Sanwa parts here: each player has a JLF-TP-8YT stick with an eight-way GT-Y directional gate, and six OBSF buttons (along with two extra ones for inserting your coin and starting the game).

The stick is nice and responsive, as you’d expect from Sanwa, and the buttons are delightfully comfortable to push. Some may find them a tad on the sensitive side: it can be easy to press them when you’re just resting your fingers lightly on them, so be wary of that.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the build quality, and it’s pretty clear that most of the hefty price is down to this: after all, it’s essentially two high quality arcade sticks joined together, and those aren’t cheap at the best of times.


The games

Every retro gamer probably has their own idea of what would constitute a perfect list of Capcom arcade hits, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to suggest that nobody would have come up with the 16 games included in the Capcom Home Arcade.

At first glance there are plenty of “really?” decisions in there, but when you properly delve into what’s on offer you realise every game actually deserves its place and each has a very different feel.

It seems, then, that the 16 games on offer here are designed to appeal to the proper hardcore – which is unsurprising, given its price – in that it includes some of the classics like Final Fight and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but also features some lesser-known titles that fans may never have played before and may be pleasantly surprised by.

Here’s a full guide to all 16 games, because I’m nice like that. You have two options here: if you’re the reading type, you can scroll down to read my thoughts on each game.

Alternatively, you can watch the video below, which shows all 16 games in action (captured myself on the Capcom Home Arcade) along with my ‘commentary’: this is just me reading the text you’ll find below, so if you decide to watch the video you can just scroll down after it and skip to the section called The Software.

Here’s the video:


1944: The Loop Master

Release year: 2000

1944 is the fifth game in Capcom’s 1940s series of shoot ‘em ups, following on from the confusingly-ordered 1942, 1943, 1941 and 19XX.

Like its predecessors, it’s a vertically scrolling shooter set during World War II and lets you fly in either an American or Japanese plane, or both in co-op… which is a bit weird when you think about it.

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It’s got quite a few interesting features, from wingmen who can fly alongside you to the fact you play with a single life, albeit with a health bar that can be topped up.

Because it was released in 2000, 1944 is one of the more modern games on the Home Arcade. You can sort of tell by looking at it.

Alien vs Predator

Release year: 1994

Easily the most surprising inclusion in the list, Alien vs Predator has never been re-released in any other retro compilations since it hit the arcades in 1994, and it was assumed it never would for licensing reasons.

And yet, here we have one of the best arcade beat ‘em ups ever released, which is still an absolute blast to play to this day.

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There are two Predators and two human-like cyborgs to choose from, and the goal is simple: kick and shoot the hell out of an endless horde of Aliens.

For those who insist on buying their games legally and never using emulators, this one goes some way to justifying the Home Arcade’s high price point.

Armored Warriors

Release year: 1994

Another Capcom beat’ em up but one that’s a little less well-known, Armored Warriors has you picking one of four giant mechs and using that to deal out frankly obscene levels of damage.

The main gimmick here is the ability to upgrade your mech on the fly: destroying enemies will regularly drop different parts like weapons, arms and legs, and you can pick them up to replace your existing parts should you wish.

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It’s a fun game, though its slightly more clunky feel may take a little while to get used to, especially if you decide to play through the games in order and have just spent time with the much faster Alien vs Predator.

If you’re keen to try out Armored Warriors but aren’t quite sold on the Capcom Home Arcade, it’s also one of seven games in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle on Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Capcom Sports Club

Release year: 1997

This is another surprise addition, but not in the “I can’t believe they were able to include that” sense like Alien vs Predator is.

Capcom Sports Club is more of a surprise because it’s a game that’s not often discussed but is genuinely entertaining: one of the true hidden gems of this compilation, really.

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It’s actually a compilation in its own right. It consists of three sports games: a tennis game called Smash Stars, a football game called Kick Stars and a basketball game called Dunk Stars.

Each game is just as fully featured as other arcade interpretations of their respective sports, with tournament modes and a bunch of different characters or teams to choose from.

All three games are fun to play, and their competitive two-player modes mean Capcom Sports Club could end up being the title with the longest legs if you plan on playing with a friend.

Captain Commando

Release year: 1991

Captain Commando was a mascot who appeared the manuals of Capcom’s NES games to give the player advice. Eventually he got this, his own arcade game, and it’s a fun one.

It’s a beat ‘em up with four playable characters: Captain Commando himself, a mummy called Mack the Knife, a ninja called Ginzu and a super genius baby in a mech. As you do.

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It’s set in Metro City, the same place Final Fight is set, but it takes place 35 years later (hence the mech baby). Despite the futuristic setting though, it does have a similar feel to Final Fight.

That’s very much a good thing, to be clear: this is a great beat ‘em up which is especially entertaining when played in two-player co-op.

As with Armored Warriors, Captain Commando is also included in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle if you’d rather play it without dropping 200 notes on it.

Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness

Release year: 1995

Cyberbots is a spin-off of Armored Warriors, but rather than another mech-based beat’ em up it’s a mech-based one-on-one fighting game instead.

Like its predecessor, one of its main gimmicks is the different legs, arms and weapons each mech has equipped. Take enough damage and your mech can lose an arm, which isn’t ideal.

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It also shares something else with Armored Warriors, in that it can take a wee while to get used to at first because the fact you’re playing as huge robots understandably means the characters aren’t quite as graceful and agile as they are in the likes of Street Fighter II.

Once it all clicks, though, it’s an entertaining fighting game that benefits from its unique feel.

Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors

Release year: 1994

If Cyberbots feels distinctly unlike Street Fighter, Darkstalkers is the opposite.

It may be a little lazy to simply declare it Street Fighter with monsters but hey, I’ve been known to dabble in laziness from time to time, so Street Fighter with monsters it is.

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Instead of your typical Ryu, Ken, Guile and Chun-Li, then, you can instead choose to play as the likes of a mummy, a vampire, a werewolf, a merman, a rock star zombie or a Scottish succubus. I think I went out with a couple of those.

It could be argued that its sequel, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge, should be here instead, or maybe even its Vampire Savior update (which was known as Darkstalkers 3 in arcades in the west). Each of those played similarly but added extra characters, making them better games.

Still, this doesn’t take away from the fact that Darkstalkers is a fantastic fighting game in its own right.

Eco Fighters

Release year: 1993

Eco Fighters is maybe one of the more obscure games on the list, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of inclusion.

It’s another side-scrolling shoot ‘em up, but it has an environmental theme, which I suppose is even more relevant now than it was 25 years ago.

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It’s got an interesting gimmick in that your main gun is a metal arm that extends out from your ship. This arm can be rotated, allowing you to fire in all directions.

Of all the games in the Home Arcade, chances are this is one of the titles you’re least familiar with. It should be a pleasant surprise, then, allowing you to unleash the Greta Thunberg deep inside you, albeit in a slightly more violent way.

Final Fight

Release year: 1989

There was a time in the early ‘90s where an arcade didn’t really count as an arcade if it didn’t have a Final Fight machine.

Much like Street Fighter II, it may not have been the first game of its kind – there were side-scrolling beat’em ups before Final Fight existed – but it was certainly the first truly brilliant one.

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True to its era, it’s extremely cheap at times and does everything it can to kill you off and get you to put more money in.

Given that the Capcom Home Arcade gives you infinite credits, though, this is no longer an issue, allowing you to focus more on the satisfying combat.

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Release year: 1988

Notorious for being one of the most difficult games of all time, the impact of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts has maybe been lessened a little over the years as indie developers continue to release even harder platformers.

That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park, of course: you’re still going to find yourself crumbling into piles of bones all over the shop.

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Stick with it, though, and you’ll find a thoroughly entertaining action game with some of the best music ever made.

Its predecessor Ghosts ‘n Goblins may have been the one that kicked the series off, but Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is better in every way and its inclusion here is the right decision.

Giga Wing

Release year: 1999

In case it wasn’t already obvious, the Capcom Home Arcade definitely has you covered if you’re a fan of shoot ‘em ups.

Giga Wing is another solid example of the genre, and its gimmick is the Reflect Barrier, a shield you can bring up for a limited time by charging the shot button.

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The Reflect Barrier fires all your opponent’s bullets back at it, causing them damage: this is especially useful during boss battles, where the screen fills with projectiles.

Filling up the screen with stuff is this game’s forte, actually: if it isn’t enemy bullets it’s the swathes of collectibles they drop which increase your score.

Speaking of which, check out the score at the top of the screenshot: it’s ridiculous. Giga Wing has one of the highest score counters of any game, and scores of well over a trillion points are perfectly possible.

Mega Man: The Power Battle

Release year: 1995

Here’s a really interesting one. In the entire 32-year history of Mega Man, there have only ever been two arcade games in the series: this one and its sequel.

It’s interesting because it plays like a shortened version of a traditional Mega Man game: whereas those games have a platforming stage that then leads into a boss fight, this just jumps straight to the boss fights.

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As in the main games, defeating a boss will earn you their weapon: you can then switch between them at will to take out the other bosses.

There are three ‘stories’ to choose from here, each offering different bosses from Mega Man 1-2, Mega Man 3-6 and Mega Man 7. This essentially means you’ll need to do three playthroughs before you’ve completely beaten the game.

It’s a cool little mix of Mega Man and a one-on-one fighting game, and well worth a look.

Progear

Release year: 2001

Progear is the most modern game on the Capcom Home Arcade, and this is obvious.

It’s probably best described as what SNK’s Metal Slug games would look like had they been side-scrolling shoot ‘em ups instead of run-and-gun games.

progear

It’s a visually stunning shooter that absolutely deserves the cult following it has, but there’s actually a very good reason why it’s so impressive: it wasn’t developed by Capcom.

Instead, Progear is the work of Cave, the legendary Tokyo studio responsible for some of the finest bullet hell shooters ever made, like DoDonPachi and Espgaluda.

This one’s just pure carnage from start to finish and it looks incredible to boot.

Street Fighter II’: Hyper Fighting

Release year: 1992

Let’s face it, there’s no way you could have a compilation of Capcom arcade games without there being a Street Fighter title in there.

The one that’s been opted for in this case is Hyper Fighting, the third of the Street Fighter II arcade games and the one ported to the SNES as Street Fighter II Turbo.

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This means it offers numerous things the original Street Fighter II didn’t, like the ability to play as the four boss fighters and the option to have two players fight as the same character. Whch means, yes, you can both be massively unoriginal and choose Ken.

It also includes a speed toggle which lets you play in turbo speed: I’m personally not a massive fan of this.

It has to be said though, that while this is undoubtedly a magnificent, iconic game, if I’d had it my way I’d have taken it out and put Super Street Fighter II Turbo in there instead, giving you 16 characters, the combo counter and the super meter. Still, it’s a classic regardless.

Strider

Release year: 1989

Strider is one of the coolest looking action platformers of its era, with each stage offering wildly different locations to visit.

Playing as Strider Hiryu, you start off in a futuristic Russia and have to make your way through the likes of Siberia and the Amazon armed with your obscenely large plasma sword thingy.

strider

What made Strider so unique at the time was the character’s agility. He can run up all manner of slopes, can cling to the underside of ledges and has the sort of dramatic long jump that would make Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger jealous.

It’s a wildly unstable game: there are glitches and flickering all over the place and you always get the feeling that it’s one big explosion away from completely packing in.

But somehow it always manages to scrape through, and in a way it feels almost better for it, as both you and it survive to fight another day.

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

Release year: 1996

Finally, rounding things off is this quirky Street Fighter themed puzzle game, which has a cult following of its own.

It’s similar in a sense to the Puyo Puyo games in that it’s all about trying to build up chain reactions, but I personally prefer Puzzle Fighter’s mechanics.

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Whereas Puyo Puyo is about getting coloured blobs to connect, here you’re using the coloured gems to make squares, which can then be destroyed. Sort of like a cross between Lumines and Dr Mario.

It’s actually as much a Darkstalkers game as it is a Street Fighter one, with four characters from each series to choose from.

It’s an acquired taste, but its fun chibi versions of each character make it a light-hearted puzzler that should keep you entertained.


The software

So, the 16 games on here are an interesting mix of well-loved classics and brilliant hidden gems, but this would all be pointless if it was stuttery and the sound was crap.

Thankfully, I’m really happy with what I’ve played so far. I’ve put about 10-15 hours into it and haven’t noticed any major graphical or sound issues: everything seems rock solid.

This is partly because it’s based on Final Burn Alpha, an emulation project that has more or less mastered Capcom arcade emulation over the years.

Of course, I’m only basing that on my human eyes and ears. I’ve seen other reports of people claiming there are occasional sound dips, but I just haven’t noticed anything of the sort.

That’s not to say it isn’t without its issues, mind you. None of the games give access to the dip switches: these were the settings arcade owners could flip on and off to alter the game.

Long story short, this means there’s no options screen for any of the games, meaning if the default difficulty or number of lives seems a bit harsh to you, then I believe ‘git gud’ is what the children say these days.

capcom-home-arcade-menu

A new update apparently went live last night (as I write this), but I’m wary of downloading it just now because I’ve seen one or two people claiming it’s bricked their system, and as previously noted this isn’t a cheap piece of kit.

A solid enough offering, then, but there’s still room for improvement on the OS side.

There’s one final elephant in the room, however, and it’s an USB-shaped elephant. The Capcom Home Arcade has a USB port that, as far as I can tell, does absolutely nothing (system updates can only be performed through Wi-Fi).

As soon as the Home Arcade was announced I clocked that USB port and the conspiracy theories started in my head. After all, interest in the NES Mini and SNES Mini increased significantly when they were both hacked and people started putting loads of other games on them.

Given that the Capcom Home Arcade already runs a version of a popular open source emulator, could it be that this otherwise pointless USB port is the manufacturer’s unspoken, nudge-nudge wink-wink way of making it easier to potentially hack the thing at some point and put the other 120 or so Capcom arcade games on there too?

Suddenly a £200 price point wouldn’t seem so steep.


The verdict

So, with all that in mind, should you be dropping two hundred bones on the Capcom Home Arcade?

The boring answer is that it really depends on whether you feel you can personally justify the price.

Any other concerns you may have about the quality of the emulation, the sturdiness of the product or what have you should be either non-existent or negligible enough to not affect your decision.

This is a brilliant product in almost every way, and while it could do with some extra options, what’s already there works as well as I could have hoped.

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I know it’s dodgy to dwell on it, but if enough interest builds to eventually hack this thing, we could be looking at a must-have for retro gamers.

No hacks appear to be imminent for now, though – presumably due to a combination of its price and the fact it isn’t available in America, where many hacks tend to originate – meaning for now you should be buying this under the assumption that the 16 games included are all you’ll ever get on it.

This aside, the Capcom Home Arcade is a fantastic piece of kit. The games are all brilliant, the hardware is of unquestionably premium quality and the software does what’s expected of it (without necessarily going above and beyond).

It really just boils down to whether you’re able to recover from the Dragon Punch your wallet will take.


The Capcom Home Arcade is out now, exclusively in Europe. You can get it on Amazon UK for £199.99.

In order that I could write this review, I received a review sample from Koch Media. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.

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