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A collection of characters from Capcom Fighting Collection Image: Capcom

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Capcom Fighting Collection is a showcase of the company’s most creative era

And it has me more excited than ever for Street Fighter 6

Many of Capcom’s past curation efforts have yielded uneven affairs. Where some packaged together four different versions of the same Street Fighter, others featured a few marquee titles that overshadowed their lesser siblings. The new Capcom Fighting Collection throws those issues to the wayside and easily earns its authoritative title. It includes nothing but golden fighting games from one of the most exciting eras in the company’s history. Playing through all these games over the past week has made me fall in love with each of them all over again, and it makes me miss the wildly experimental era that it perfectly encapsulates.

Capcom Fighting Collection brings 10 games from Capcom’s CPS2 era of the mid- to late ’90s, complete with rollback netcode and tons of new features. Vampire Savior, Darkstalkers, Cyberbots, Red Earth, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, Hyper Street Fighter 2, and even Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix are all here. While playing these titles back to back to back, literally jumping from one online match to the next, I couldn’t help but wonder: What happened to this Capcom?

Beginning in the Street Fighter 4 era, Capcom entered a period of stagnancy — one marked by a lack of innovation, odd design choices like a hyper-focus on the offensive game, and an overall lack of content. It wasn’t until Street Fighter 5’s recent final season, and what we’ve seen so far of Street Fighter 6, that the possible light at the end of the tunnel appeared. Under the leadership of former (mostly) fighting game producer Yoshinori Ono, who led Street Fighter 5’s earlier, and less well-received, seasonal releases, Street Fighter lost its grip on the fighting game genre. In fact, Capcom’s fighting division as a whole was trending downhill.

Upon playing Capcom Fighting Collection, this notion was amplified in the form of 10 Tatsumaki Senpu Kyakus to my face. For the past two decades, we’ve been stuck playing the same “safe” Street Fighter games ad nauseam, with lackadaisical side projects like Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Street Fighter X Tekken leaving a lot to be desired — Capcom basically left them for dead as soon as they arrived.

A match plays out in Red Earth in Capcom Fighting Collection Image: Capcom

Capcom Fighting Collection, on the other hand, is a concrete reminder of the era in the ’90s when the company’s fighting game division was firing on all cylinders. There’s the legendary quintessential version of Street Fighter 2, Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition; weird-as-hell games about ghouls battling it out in hell with Darkstalkers and Vampire Savior; Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, a chibi spinoff that has so much effort in it you’d never know it’s a spinoff; and Cyberbots, what can only be categorized as one of the earliest anime airdashers featuring mecha fighters. Not to mention the brilliant Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, which has such a great battle system that it not only has character tier lists, but has had community-hosted tournaments for years now.

In 1991, Capcom made its name in the fighting game scene with its arcade poster child, Street Fighter 2. In the following years, the company floored the gas pedal and continued dropping gems. Each game seen here represents that streak of excitement, weirdness, creativity, and thrill — even by today’s standards. It’s 2022, and I have half of the games in this package active on the matchmaking menu.

Capcom Fighting Collection could not have been released at a better time. As the Street Fighter 6 news hypes us all up, and I, and many others in the fighting game community, hope against hope that former CEO Kiichiro Urata’s claim that “Capcom is back” rings true. This collection feels like more than just another compilation — it feels like a message.

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo in Capcom Fighting Collection Image: Capcom

As Capcom hit its stagnant era with the release and early seasons of Street Fighter 5, other developers and companies have stepped up to deliver the weird, experimental fighting games that were so sorely missed from the former flagship developer. New developers in the space, like 8ing, with gems including the new DNF Duel, and Arc System Works, with the hit Guilty Gear Strive, are two such examples. Now, Capcom Fighting Collection reminds us all that Capcom was once the head of that pack, and shows how innovative the company once was, introducing mechanics still seen in modern games: eight-way airdash, longer combos, and those oh-so-flashy KO screens, to name a few.

That spark Capcom lit throughout the ’90s is one that changed the fighting game genre forever. And it’s one that’s been dim for quite some time. I’ve never forgotten the creativity it once sprinkled into each release, and I’ve been waiting for that version of the company to return. Time will tell whether Street Fighter 6 indeed brings Capcom back — but Capcom Fighting Collection has me more excited than ever.

Capcom Fighting Collection was released on June 24 on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The game was reviewed on PlayStation using a pre-release download code provided by Capcom. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.