There’s underappreciated versatility to the beat-em-up genre. That’s apparent in this seven game compilation. While each game deals in walking to the right, punching or hacking throes of recycled enemies, the themes and energy are distinctive to each.
There’s the great Final Fight, a story of rising through poverty to confront those who use their money to control the inner city. Warriors of Fate, turning historical to conquer the fickle cowardice of leaders using their position for their own egotism. Capcom’s own mascot – for a time anyway – Captain Commando, re-envisions the era of movie serials, dotted with violence but with a sea of wacky, anything goes ray guns, mad scientists, and babies in robots. Turning to legend, Knights of the Round depicts an uprising against a selfish leader and the famed heroes who took it upon themselves to right their country. And King of the Dragons, bringing to life Dungeons and Dragons with saturated highlights and attractive designs.
Two of Capcom Beat ‘Em Bundle’s games never saw home release previously. There’s the late ’90s entry Battle Circuit, almost over-encumbered by the splashy color of the period’s comic books, concerning a group of bounty hunters not unlike Guardians of the Galaxy in their creative make-up. Alongside Battle Circuit is Armored Warriors, where mechs stand tall against one another, and tiny foot soldiers try their best to fend for themselves.
Every game in this package is highlighted by marvelous pixel work, grand ideas, and uniquely considered fighting. While two shy of a perfect set (Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and Alien vs Predator remain sidelined due to licensing) there’s so much here to digest in terms of creativity at Capcom’s arcade peak, two missing games isn’t a failure.