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|[ 11/18/04 ] = A New Home For Capcom Fighters?|
After four years of no original 2-D fighters from Capcom, the silence has finally been broken, and the release of Capcom Fighting Evolution is just around the corner. The stage for fabled dream matches has once again been set, and Capcom threw in characters from a plethora of their best: Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter II, DarkStalkers, and WarZard. Capcom finally decided to utilize current hardware more, and I'm happy they did so. Powered by the System 246/PlayStation 2 hardware, Capcom Fighting Evolution features a familiar cast of Capcom characters and fluid animation, splashy effects, and silky-smooth backgrounds (reminiscent of Capcom VS SNK). Although Capcom decided to leave Ken behind (which pisses me off), and instead put in assholes like Urien and Demitri, there are still plenty of great fighters to choose from in CFE, including Guy, Karin (the anti-Sakura), and the almighty Mukuro from WarZard (yeah!). It's great to see Capcom bringing out a new, original 2-D fighter via current hardware, and above all, it's just nice to see that they are still making 2-D fighters! Like many others, I can't wait to get this game. With Capcom's recent development of 2-D (CFE) and 3-D (SFEX3, Capcom Fighting All-stars, Onimusha: Blade Warriors, and Gundam: AEUG VS Titans) fighters on the PlayStation 2 hardware, one must wonder if the developer has future plans for it.
The last generation of Capcom fighters were developed on the Naomi/DreamCast hardware, which powered not only 2-D Capcom fighters (Street Fighter Alpha 3 Saikyo Dojo, Vampire Chronicle, and Capcom VS SNK Pro to name a few), but 3-D Capcom fighters (Project Justice, Power Stone 2, Spawn, and more), as well. Since then, Capcom fighting game development has been sporadic in terms of hardware support, ranging from Street Fighter EX3 and Onimusha: Blade Warriors on the PlayStation 2, to Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival and Final Fight One on the GameBoy Advance/GameBoy Player, to Capcom VS SNK 2 EO and Gotcha Force on the GameCube. Although development of Capcom fighters (both 2-D and 3-D) for the PlayStation 2 hardware got off to a slow start, we've seen a gradual increase in development with Capcom Fighting All-stars, Onimusha: Blade Warriors, Gundam: AEUG VS Titans, and Capcom Fighting Evolution. The gradual increase in development that we are seeing raises questions about Capcom's future hardware for fighting games. Will they embrace the PlayStation 2/System 246 hardware as they embraced the DreamCast/Naomi hardware? Will the PlayStation 2 hardware be the new home of 2-D and 3-D Capcom fighters? Considering Capcom's lack of GameCube/TriForce and XBox/Chihiro hardware support, the PlayStation 2/System 246 would appear to be a likely candidate to power future Capcom fighting games. Of course, there is the possibility of Capcom developing new titles on the GameCube or XBox-compatible hardware, but it is highly unlikely. On the other hand, SNK (also a former DreamCast developer) has moved over to the AtomisWave hardware to develop their fighting games, and even though nothing has been confirmed as of yet, Capcom fighters on the AtomisWave are still a possibility.
Capcom's development on the DreamCast hardware marks an era of high-quality 2-D and 3-D fighting games; many of which received critical acclaim (Capcom VS SNK, Marvel VS Capcom 2, and Power Stone). To many (SF and VS game fans alike), Capcom developed some of their best games ever on the DreamCast hardware. Just as they used the Naomi/DreamCast to build on what they created with the CPSII, CPSIII, ZN1/ZN2/PlayStation hardwares, Capcom has started to use the System 246/PlayStation 2 hardware to build on what they have created with the DreamCast hardware; a sequel to the highly successful Gundam DX has been made, Street Fighter EX3 and Onimusha: Blade Warriors borrow much of their multi-player charm from the likes of Power Stone 2 and Heavy Metal, and Capcom Fighting Evolution is literally an "evolution" of that which is found in Capcom's 2-D DreamCast fighters. And even though Capcom Fighting All-stars was thrown around before being canned (or is it still in limbo?), it was to build on Project Justice and mark the debut of Capcom fusion fighters in 3-D. Capcom has gradually built a foundation on the PlayStation 2, but will they actually continue to use the hardware to usher in a new era of fighters (as they did with the DreamCast)?
In addition to the DC hardware, if Capcom's support of the ZN1 and ZN2 hardware mean anything at all, then we might very well be seeing a new era of Capcom fighting on the PS2 hardware. While the PS2's intricacies are said to make programming difficult, Capcom's staff has had enough time to learn the hardware (about five years), so difficulty in programming probably wouldn't be a factor. If ease in programming were a factor in the development of Capcom fighters, then CFE would have probably been developed on different hardware. Add to that the fact that Capcom has invested more into PS2 development than any other current hardware, and it's easy to see how the PS2 could become the next hardware for Capcom fighters. Two completely new, 2-D Street Fighter and DarkStalkers games have been announced, but what hardware are they being designed on? Capcom hasn't given any details about the games, let alone what hardware they are being developed on. Will the of release CFE mark a spike in PS2 hardware development with more fighters to come? Are these titles the beginning of the next era of Capcom fighting games? Will Capcom's new titles be developed on custom hardware, as we've seen in the past? Or is Capcom's PS2 development only a stepping stone toward devoted AtomisWave development? With Sammy and Capcom joining forces in the production of the highly-anticipated Sammy VS Capcom, AtomisWave-powered Capcom fighters don't seem unlikely. The System 246 is the successor to the ZN1 and ZN2 hardwares, and the AtomisWave is said to be a successor to the Naomi; in the past Capcom has supported the ZN1, ZN2, and Naomi, so it could go either way. Only time will tell, and I'm excited to see what hardware Capcom will decide to use for their next-generation of fighters.