Capcom and Xbox certainly go hand in hand, as they were one of the earliest supporters of the Xbox platform, with ambitious titles like Steel Battalion (does anyone still have that special tank controller in their garage?) and some not so stellar ones, like the best-forgotten Dino Crisis 3. Xbox has been lucky to receive the best of Capcom’s ocean-sized catalogue of hits, and these have been in the form of various collections over the years. Originally launching on Nintendo Switch first, Capcom Arcade Stadium is a compilation of the biggest arcade hits from Capcom, but more than that, it’s also an attempt to revive the spirit of arcade gaming in the virtual hemisphere.
Long ago there was a release called Capcom Arcade Cabinet for Xbox 360, which largely delved into the earlier roots of Capcom’s arcade hits from their ‘80s catalogue. On the other hand, Capcom Arcade Stadium is more balanced as it picks up titles from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and even 2000s, covering a wider range of genres in the process. All these titles are presented in a virtual amusement centre, with all of the titles represented as arcade cabinets to capture the feeling of the real thing as much as possible.
This release is all about arcade nostalgia, as more than just presenting classic arcade games, it wants players to feel like they have stepped into a noisy arcade with machines ready to take their tokens. The presentation is quite top notch here, as each of the games are lovingly delivered with the same angle and resolution one would see on an actual cabinet. Players must also enter virtual tokens (don’t worry, there’s an unlimited supply at this virtual arcade!) to play the various titles.
More than just a glamorous presentation, Capcom Arcade Stadium tries to also bring the very culture of arcade into the online space. Back in the day, it was all about building a rapport at your local arcade and setting the high score for others to beat. Even today, you can occasionally find the all-time high score at pubs which held on to their ageing arcade machines (just as long as no one resets the score!). Arcade Stadium combines this culture with the tried and tested online leaderboard system of modern gaming, to create something that actually feels vibrant and strangely alive.
It’s all about bragging rights here, but the release takes it a step further with additional scoring and reward systems. Of note is the in-game currency called CASPO, which ultimately serves as a collective scoring system beyond what scores you may have on individual titles. It’s purely for bragging rights, and is a nice way to build a reputation of sorts by spending time mastering multiple arcade titles in the collection. There are also regular challenges as well as building rank for yourself. Again, all of these are simply there to serve as bragging rights as players situate themselves within a global online arcade.
Like any retro compilation, there are plenty of quality-of-life features such as save states, rewinding gameplay, adjusting speed, various display options, difficulty settings, and also being able to switch between regional variants of the titles where possible. Although players are free to set the games up to their liking, making things easier does, however, change how things are ranked and how much CASPO currency they are able to earn. Everything is balanced out nicely.
More than just the fancy presentation, it all comes down to the games, and Capcom Arcade Stadium has a pretty impressive line-up of fighting games, side scrolling shooters, and action platformers. It should be noted that while all the titles keep their local multiplayer modes intact, none of them offer online play. And so, titles like the various Street Fighter II games, and also the beat ‘em ups like Final Fight and Battle Circuit, are probably better experienced in other compilations like Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle, which do feature online multiplayer. Speaking of other compilations, that’s likely going to be a minor problem to those who already own those aforementioned collections and others, but ultimately these same titles are situated much differently within the virtual arcade environment presented in Capcom Arcade Stadium.
The games list includes legendary heavy hitters like Strider and Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and plenty of shooters such as the complete selection of Capcom’s 1940s series of shooters; everything from the iconic 1942 to the lesser-known modern variants like 19XX: The War Against Destiny and 1944: The Loop Master. Granted, a lot of these scrolling shooters can feel a little similar, but a lot of these are rare titles that have almost never been ported to home consoles.
The classic Street Fighter II titles are intact here, but of note are once again the lesser known games, and what stands out is Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness, an epic mech fighting game that was once an expensive import on the SEGA Saturn, now fully playable on modern resolutions. It needs to be said though how, regardless of what display filter you choose, many of these arcade games are still amazing. It really is a testament to how detailed 2D graphics were built to stand the test of time.
Now, the main problem for many would be the manner in which the Capcom Arcade Stadium has been released on the digital storefronts, where the biggest gripe is not being able to purchase the titles individually. Rather they need to be picked up as rather pricey packs; three packs with games organised in terms of their era of release (80’s, 90s, and then mid-‘90s to early-2000s). Conceptually and thematically, this is fine, but for players who already own other Capcom compilations and just want to grab the specific titles they are interested in, this is a bit of a nuisance. Purchasing all three packs as a bundle can net a small saving, but is still a pretty expensive proposition in any case. Apparently, this isn’t the end either, as more titles will be released as packs in the future.
There are other bits of optional DLC too, but despite being optional, they in principle go against the very intent of the virtual arcade culture the game is trying to build. Having things like an invincible cheat as DLC, and having other visual filters like wallpapers being paid content, takes away from the spirit of true arcade gaming. Although there are fully illustrated manuals for all the games, there is an absence of museum content and history here, which is par for the course for other retro collections.
Capcom Arcade Stadium at its best brings the spirit of arcade gaming to a global online setting, providing the atmosphere of walking into a bustling amusement centre, with plenty of incentive to dive into the various titles and pursue a high score worth bragging about. The titles featured here are iconic Capcom classics and cover a range of genres and gameplay styles, and they all benefit from modern quality of life features. Unfortunately, the biggest setback is how the games are bundled and sold, with very limited flexibility in how players can purchase and customise their preferred library of games.
Capcom Arcade Stadium offers up a plethora of nostalgia on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One