Review by Guile176

"A Very Lazy Effort On Capcom's Part"

Back in the early-mid 90s, 2D fighters ruled the gaming scene thanks to the popularity of Street Fighter 2. Many popular franchises such as Darkstalkers, King of Fighters and Fatal Fury emerged in this golden age of 2D fighters. As time went on, the popularity of the genre dropped around 2001 and the gaming scene saw less and less 2D fighting games being released. It seemed about the only developers that cared for developing 2D fighters anymore were Capcom, SNK and newcomer to the 2D fighting genre Sammy. Sadly Capcom also began to fall off around this time after the release of a few big name titles like Capcom Vs SNK 2 and Street Fighter 3 3rd strike. While they did release a few rehashes on consoles such as SF Anniversary and Darkstalkers Chaos Tower, they seemed to have strayed away from the once popular 2D fighting arena. Last year, they announced Capcom Fighting Jam (Evolution in the US) and once again fighting fans were excited at what they thought would be the next big thing in 2D fighting. So now that CFE is here, does it live up to Capcom's amazing past efforts? Read on and find out.

The concept of CFE is a simple one. Take several characters and their play systems from 5 different Capcom fighters and blend them all together. The games represented here are Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter 3, Darkstalkers, and the obscure Red Earth/Warzard. Like I mentioned, each character has their play system from their specific title. Street Fighter Alpha characters have their custom combos, while Darkstalkers have their chain combos and EX moves and so on. While this sounds like a great concepts, wouldn't you have rather had a system similar to Capcom Vs SNK 2 where you could choose from 6 different play systems per character? Also, Capcom lies on the back of the package about this, by claiming the characters play exactly like you remember. Strange, I don't remember Ryu ever having a "super dragon punch" in any of the SF2 titles. Also, where is Chun Li's SF3 super where she did the kick flip? Capcom seems to remove it. It also seems some of the old combos for some of the characters are nowhere to be found either.

For characters, you get a total of 23 with at least 4 per title. Representing SF2 is Ryu, Zangief, Guile and Bison. For SF3 its Chun Li, Urien, Alex, and Yun. Darkstalkers has Jedah, Felicia, Demitri and Anakaris. The Red Earth crew has Leo, Hauzer, Kenji, and Hydron. For the SFA team has Guy, Sakura, Rose, and Karin. There is also an extra character called Ingrid who was from the canceled 3D title Capcom Fighting All Stars. Finally, there's 2 hidden characters to be unlocked as well. The first is the final boss Pyron who comes from Darkstalkers, and the 2nd is Shin Akuma from the SF series. In all, 23 characters may sound like alot, but you can't help but get the feeling their should have been more. I feel at least 7-8 characters per game would have served the game much better, esp since all but one is a recycled sprite. Perhaps even a special boss representing each title, rather then just a single one from Darkstalkers.

Like I mentioned, gameplay for each character is pretty much the same as it was for their original titles, minus a few moves and combos for some of them. The draw here is that you can pick 2 characters. No, this isn't tag team play like in Capcom's Vs series, but rather you have the option of changing characters when the round is up. While this is a nice little option, it feels a little tacked on and I feel the game would have been better off with a tag team feature.

For play modes, you only get 3. This whopping 3 modes includes an arcade mode a VS mode, and a training mode. No survival, no color edit, no single play....nothing. Come on Capcom, i've seen the cool mode and options you've done in the past with titles like SFA 3 and SF Third Strike, surely you could have put abit more then this to give the game some more replay value.

Graphically CFE looks very very outdated. All the character sprites (minus Ingrid) are reused from past Capcom games. What this means, is that you get the same Felicia sprite with the same animation that you got with the original Darkstalkers when it came out around 10 years ago. Thankfully they didn't use the original SF3 sprites on the cast from that game, but instead used the character sprites from newer games like SFA 3 and so on. Now, I could have accepted these outdated sprites if they had done something like double the cast of characters, but they didn't so the end result is unforgivable.

To add insult to injury, the characters all seem to look worse then they did in their original games. They just seem to have a much more pixelated look to them. Demitri took the hardest hit of the bunch and looks downright terrible, especially when compared to the amazing looking Demitri from SNK in SVC Chaos. And in order for the SF3 character to blend in the the older characters from SFA and Darkstalkers, Capcom actually cut frames of animation from them. Wouldn't it have been better to keep all their animation and simply put a little effort into things and draw new sprites for the really outdated ones? Even the single new character sprite (Ingrid) doesn't animate all that great and looks no better then the already outdated SFA or Darkstalkers ones.

Capcom tried to do a few minor sprite edits to help keep the look of a few characters fresh, but sadly failed in the process. Zangiefs face is redrawn and now has smoke coming from his nose in his standing animation, while Demitri has a horrible looking black splotch on his face during one of his win poses.

The backgrounds are a mixed bag. Unlike more recent games like Marvel Vs Capcom 2 or Capcom Vs SNK 2 that have impressive 3D backgrounds, the backgrounds here are all 2D and have a watercolor like look to them. Now, I have no issue with 2D backdrops, but I do have an issue with the washed out look and lack of animation some of them have. Take for instance the temple background with Sagat and Adon in the back. The background on its own looks beautiful. However, take a look at Adon and Sagat and you'll quickly see how choppy they animate. I seriously doubt Adon's punch animation has more then 3-4 frames. This may have been acceptable 10 years ago, but now it just looks plain ugly, esp since it stands out so much.

Soundwise I though it sounded great. I've read alot of reviews talking about how terrible the music was, but personally I liked it alot. Its mainly a mixture of some rock, hip hop and Mega Man like tunes, but I thought it was put together really well. As for the sound effects and voices, everything here seems to sound ok. Nothing really stand out, but nothing bad.

One area Capcom rarely disappoints with is the controls and CFE is no exception. Everything here is responsive and works as well as can be. I would suggest picking up one of those ultra cool SF control pads from Nuby if you don't own one already. They work like a charm for this or any other 2D fighter.

In the end, I would only recommend CFE if your a die-hard 2D fighting game fan. And that's only if you don't already own Capcom Vs SNK 2, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Guilty Gear X2, or about any other 2D fighting game on the PS2. Its not that CFE is a bad game as it is in fact quite good, but it just feels very outdated and you can't help but feel it could have been so much more then it was. I just hope that Capcom decides to someday make a sequel to it and really put some effort into it like they did with games like Capcom Vs SNK 2 or SFA 3.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/14/05

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