I have always referred to Capcom as a company with a little bit of a drinking problem; a drunk if you will. For every good decision Capcom makes, there is an equally, if not worse decision prior to or after whatever good they achieve. Many companies make mistakes, but few manage to do it in such a manner that has such wild swings of success and failure in an almost predictable pattern. It takes a special kind of company, one that, for example, has the gall to actively ignore and metaphorically spit on fans of one of the biggest and most well-known franchises in gaming, to achieve the blundering success Capcom has found itself in.
But much like a blind squirrel finding a nut, or perhaps more aptly, a drunk finding a slice a pizza, Capcom has somehow managed to wander its way into not only a successful game or two but what looks to be a series of future successes—or dare I say—is acting with a sense of sobriety we haven’t seen in years.
The start of Capcom’s step in the right directions (not to be confused with the first step of a 12 step program) began last year, with the release of Monster Hunter World on January, 26. Capcom not only created a successful Monster Hunter game that saw unprecedented adoption in the West but created a game that was hailed as both a financial and critical triumph for the company. Finally, Capcom took the time and listened to their longtime fans, as well as considered the wants of those who were always put off by many of the design decisions that previous entries of the series had made. The graphics were overhauled, the crafting and tracking systems were simplified and made more interactive. No longer was there a complex series of systems that were needed to be learned the hard way, now the game did a much better job at explaining its mechanics and making it something the player could experience rather than read. Through these various superficial changes, Capcom took the biggest issue the West had with the series—understanding and learning the mechanics—and made it streamlined with a brand new coat of paint.
It was a success!
At this point, if this was to be the same as the past, we would see Capcom falter, releasing a game that failed to do a series justice, had some major issue, or was significantly lower quality than other releases. Take for example the release of Resident Evil Zero HD followed by the release of Street Fighter V, a game plagued with complaints of being incomplete due to a lack of a proper single-player mode and roster size. Immediately following the release of Street Fighter V, we would see another solid entry into the Phoenix Wright series with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, to only have the infamously terrible game, Umbrella Corps, released directly afterward. But when it came to Monster Hunter World, this didn’t happen. Instead, we had Street Fighter 30ther Anniversary, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2, and finally, Mega Man 11.
Mega Man 11 may not be the best showing for a Mega Man title as far as the series goes, but it still exists as a solid addition and is one that few that have attempted to evolve the series’ game mechanics and level design in some manner. For a series and fanbase that Capcom has largely ignored, the release of Mega Man 11—despite its flaws—was the first time in a long time that the company had finally acknowledged its transgressions and sought to give this long slumbering franchise a legitimate chance to succeed. While sales numbers are still up for debate, at the very least, the review scores are in and with an average score of 81/100 and 76% of critics recommending Mega Man 11, it’s fair to say this game was a critical success for the franchise. Capcom, thankfully, didn’t end things there like in the past with Mega Man 9 & 10, instead, they put forth a challenge. If Mega Man 11 does well then expect Mega Man X9 to become a reality. It was the first acknowledgment from Capcom in a long time (perhaps ever) that they were listening to their longtime Mega Man fans and showed they were willing to support the franchise if the fans showed their support. With Mega Man 9 & 10 it always felt as they were exceptions; games that Capcom created for the sake of giving Mega Man fans a little something to satiate their hunger, but never properly support the franchise. This time is different.
This Capcom seems bound to meander its way to not just a slice of pizza this time, but a whole pie with what is on their horizon; and it all starts with Resident Evil 2. Here we once again see Capcom revitalizing a franchise in a way that fans have been clamoring to get their hands on for decades. From what we have seen so far, this looks to be a classic Resident Evil experience that has been revamped for modern audiences and tastes. Keeping those famous moments and mechanics that made the original such a momentous title back in the day, like the first time you see a licker or trying to find the unicorn medal to solve the statue puzzle in the center of the station. While also giving the combat and exploration within the police station some much-needed improvements that any modern third-person shooter fan will be able to appreciate. It truly looks to be an excellent blend of old meets new that will please longtime fans and those who are starting for the first time.
Devil May Cry 5, the next title on the horizon for Capcom, looks to make the same type of improvements that Resident Evil 2 seems to be making as well. Recognizing what longtime fans are looking for such as the combat mechanics and making sure Dante has a playable role, while also advancing the franchise with new mechanics such as Devil Bursts and setting an even larger scale than previously. And of course, who can forget what is looking to be one of the best soundtracks for a game in 2019!
Then—we of course—have Monster Hunter. The game that started this series of good decisions by Capcom, Monster Hunter World, will be gaining a much-needed expansion to expand the game even further! Normally in the West, we would receive only the post-expansion version (i.e. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate) but with Monster Hunter World, the West is the one driving the sales and interest. For once, and with the most successful Monster Hunter title in history, Capcom has finally recognized that their western fans are the ones who have been out there waiting all this time for the right title, just waiting to strike. And strike they did. So much so, that we are now getting a whole expansion titled, Iceborne. With new weapons, new monsters, new zones, and even more story, it’s literally what every Monster Hunter fan could and would ask for!
That leaves us with where Capcom is now, who has somehow managed to sort itself and potentially get on the right path. With a few top-notch titles recently under their belt and a lineup that looks to be one of the best, this could be Capcom finally awakening from its drunken state. No longer will it wander about from street to street and bar to bar, looking for the next drop of sweet, sweet hooch that will inevitably bring about an incredibly amazing title followed by an infamously bad one. Or maybe, just maybe, this is all part of the inebriated ride that Capcom has taken us on for all these years and there is an extreme swing back in the other direction once the party is over in our future.
We won’t know until all has come to pass, but here is hoping this is a sign of a new, sober Capcom that continues to put out quality titles without making us cringe in between.