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PSN Review: Capcom Arcade Cabinet: 1984 Pack

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The ’80s are back, and you can now relive them with the raw power of the PlayStation 3. The Capcom Arcade Cabinet is a free downloadable platform that, by some force of magic, is able to house 15 classic 8-bit titles that debuted from 1984-1988. Each of the games are available either individually, in a series of packs, or eventually in an all-in-one bundle available by May 21st. Purchase all 15 titles, in whatever fashion you desire, and two bonus games will be yours.

Perhaps the best part of these games making a comeback is the fact that you’re not simply playing a port of the original. The Capcom Arcade Cabinet makes a slew of alluring features available for games that could have otherwise had some interesting controller throwing moments. The platform includes access to virtual DIP switches that allow for things like adjustments to the number of lives available and difficulty settings, as well as modes that can help virtually anyone play a game all the way through to the end. Top that off with two player online co-op, leaderboards, a music player, the option to select international versions of games, and the ability to capture and share a replay on YouTube, and you’ve got quite the value that isn’t readily seen in classic collections released today.

The 1984 Pack includes 1942, SonSon, and Pirate Ship Higemaru, all of which, as you may have guessed, were released in the year 1984. Purchasing the pack seemingly only unlocks the content for use in your already downloaded Cabinet, with a small 100KB file size, which for some may come as a relief after the 1.4GB download of the overall platform. You should also be careful not to re-purchase any of the titles individually, if you do purchase this or any of the other packs. The PSN will not mark a title as purchased if you own it in a pack, and will let you purchase it again without giving you anything in return.

1942 is easily the most recognized title in the pack, if only for the name alone. You control a plane in a World War II setting on a mission to destroy the Japanese fleet. This top-down scrolling shooter stretches over 32 continuous levels in which you must shoot down enemy planes, avoid their bullets, and survive until you reach the next level, marked by landing on an aircraft carrier. The gameplay holds up pretty well, especially for such a classic title, and is somewhat forgiving as you are allowed to continue from nearly where you left off when you are destroyed. Once all of your lives are gone, you are allowed to virtually insert another coin to continue, but your score is reset and you lose any power-ups you may have collected along the way. The controls might be on the slower side when moving around and evading is crucial, but it doesn’t take anything away from the fun. The game does have online leaderboards, but sadly does not include online co-op functionality.

Pirate Ship Higemaru is an action puzzle game where you control a sailor who uses objects in the environment to take out pirates moving around the level. You throw things like barrels, bags, and oversized coins at enemies, and most of the ones that are hit are flung off of the level. Each level has a regenerating enemy who respawns after being hit by a barrel, but the level is completed once all of the other bad guys have been hit. Bonuses are plentiful in each level, and there are even invincibility bonuses for a set number of barrels destroyed, where you can simply touch an enemy and he will be defeated, instead of your own life being lost as a result of the contact. Controls are still an issue with this game, as moving around any level can feel sticky and unresponsive. The modern option for automatically picking up objects and throwing them with the shoulder buttons doesn’t feel like it serves a practical purpose. This title is also lacking any online co-op option, but like 1942, does have a local second player option to take turns.

Perhaps the best game included in the 1984 Pack, SonSon really takes you back to greatness with a classic 2D side-scrolling platformer done right. You control a monkey boy fighting on a journey to rescue his friends. The challenge comes from the combination of automatically scrolling levels and jumping your character performs when simply pressing up or down. The only button mechanic you have is for shooting, which you must use in conjunction with the left/right and jumping movement to either take out an enemy or avoid them completely. There are probably more power-ups than you know what to do with, but with the amount of obstacles you must overcome in any given section, the game really knows how to nudge you along. The controls are pretty fluid for an almost 30 year old game, and really show how some modern side-scrollers have toned down the difficulty by allowing you to decide when to keep moving along. Not only does SonSon provide a solid challenge, but it allows you to play cooperatively with a second player on-screen. A mechanic that allows for the second player to jump on top of the first player and allow for shooting in both directions again shows something else the developers got right so many years ago. Top that off with the fact that you can play online co-op over PSN with others, and the fun factor simply overshadows the other two titles in the pack.

Overall, the 1984 Pack really provides three fun titles that hint at how well these classics provide the foundation for the great games that exist today. The music and sound effects feed that hunger for old school gaming nostalgia, while the graphics prove that classic games can look crisp and neat on high definition displays. These may not be the best of the 15 titles available for the Capcom Arcade Cabinet, but they are definitely worth checking out.

Capcom Arcade Cabinet is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity, Use of Tobacco. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360 and PS Vita.

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About Charles D

Currently working on an online magazine project that aims only to impress those interested, but isn't that the point? Enjoys gaming, family stuff, gaming, movies, tv, and gaming. Ok, video games are a hobby, not an obsession, right? maybe.