Ever since I started playing video games in the early 90’s, Capcom has been a part of my gaming career. Mega Man 4 was my first foray into the Blue Bomber’s adventures and the rest was history. While the NES saw some of the series’s most notable adventures, the company excelled when Mega Man X launched on the Super Nintendo in 1993. Not only did they bring this iconic character to the world, but they also brought us other well known titles such as Ghosts ‘n Goblins, 1942, and Bionic Commando. It is hard to imagine a time when a Capcom game wasn’t anticipated and celebrated.
Each new generation of gaming introduced us to a new franchise that further expanded Capcom’s portfolio. Quite possibly the most recognizable series from Capcom is Resident Evil. Launching on the PlayStation in 1996, Resident Evil treated players to a game unlike any other at the time. With Full Motion Video cutscenes, terrifying locations, audio cues, inventory management, and vicious creatures, the game was one of the pioneer titles for the survival horror genre.
Early on in the PlayStation 2’s life cycle, Capcom released Devil May Cry and Onimusha: Warlords which both ended up being beloved franchises. One great thing about Capcom is that they often switched up the formula and provided gamers with unique experiences that always had a distinct feel. The PlayStation 2 was also graced with titles such as Viewtiful Joe, Monster Hunter, and Okami which were all either published or developed by the company. The thing with Capcom is that while certain games may only have one sequel or are stalled after one game, they all usually have a devoted fan-base. They even developed the underrated Lost Planet on the Xbox 360. For decades, Capcom developed innovative and enjoyable gaming experiences, but those days seem to be long gone.
While I’m going on about all of the great games that Capcom has given us, there are plenty of upsetting things that the company continues to do. Capcom seems to always rely on existing franchises and re-releases. Last year saw the release of the Resident Evil Remaster while Resident Evil 0 HD came out a few months ago. Both of these games were better looking versions of their Gamecube counterparts. A few weeks ago, they re-released Resident Evil 6 on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Capcom is also planning on bringing Resident Evil 4 and 5 to current generation consoles as well. In the case of RE:4, it has been released on SEVEN different platforms and will soon be coming to two more.
Not to mention that instead of more entries in the main franchise, Capcom is focusing on spin-offs with the Resident Evil name that don’t really do the series justice. 2012’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and the upcoming Umbrella Corps ditch the horror for a more action oriented experience. These games are the exact opposite of all the things the franchise stands for. Looking at other Capcom properties, we’ve witnessed countless Monster Hunter and Street Fighter installments over the years. Even the Xbox One launched with another Capcom sequel in Dead Rising 3. Although the launch title was a wonderful experience, it was another sequel that felt like more of the same.
Capcom is a developer and publisher that is full of smart and innovative ideas. Coming up with a new IP is difficult, but in an industry with countless sequels, unique titles keep things fresh. With each re-release, Capcom is treading familiar waters every single time. This is the company that blended platforming and action with Mega Man, they nailed difficult action in Devil May Cry, they mixed feudal Japan and horror with Onimusha: Warlords, and published unique titles like Okami, and Remember Me from DONTNOD. The company is fully capable of entering the spotlight once again, but all of the re-releases and remasters make them fall short of the glory they deserve.
What does Capcom need to do to stay relevant? The company needs fresh ideas or at least innovative installments in existing franchises that capture what fans love about those properties. After the travesty that was Resident Evil 6, it’s clear that what needs to be done is to completely return to a full on survival horror tone. RE6 featured so many different tones and gametypes that it became a convoluted and often frustrating experience. A 7th installment in the franchise would be welcome if Capcom focuses on what made Resident Evil a household name in the first place. The company could even stick to publishing which has worked well in the past. Okami (which I mentioned above) was developed by Clover Studios and was a critical success. By publishing games from unknown and new developers, Capcom would be giving the opportunity to the next generation of talented game-makers to make a name for themselves.
Capcom was once gaming royalty and now that they have lost the crown, the throne is far away from their reach. As someone who has been a lifelong Capcom fan, it hurts to just see my favorite games being released yet again. It feels weird to say that, but I’ve played these games before and so have many players out there. These experiences are starting to grow stale and unfortunately my faith in the company is starting to waver. The biggest question here is why is Capcom living in the past? It’s time to think about the future and introduce us to the next big thing.