Capcom’s legacy in the video game industry will forever be linked to popular series like Mega Man, Street Fighter and Resident Evil. The publishing giant was a top third party contributor going back to the 8-bit era and their titles have graced almost every video game console. Capcom has tackled multiple genres along the way, demonstrating a mastery in platformers, fighting games and role-playing games. Booming after a successful run on the NES, Capcom turned its eyes to sports games on home consoles for the first time in 1992. How did things turn out? Here are the stories of the five sports games Capcom released over three years in the 1990s.
First, before their home console releases, Capcom did dabble in a number of sports games for home computers in the late ’80s. The above picture is taken from a 1988 Capcom holiday brochure. While Capcom normally did work on the Commodore 64 and Amiga platforms also (Hat Trick and Mini Golf were released on the Commodore), Street Football was only released for IBM-compatible machines. You can get a quick glimpse of a boxed copy of Street Football in Pat’s CGE unboxing video here.
Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge ’92 (NES – 1992)
In an effort to associate their sports entries with their brand, Capcom used their name in many of their sports game titles. Taking advantage of the excitement around the upcoming Barcelona Olympic games in 1992, Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge ’92 featured multiple events including your standard track and field challenges like hurdles and the shot put, swimming (multiple strokes), weight lifting, a marathon and the women’s vault competition (shown above). The mechanics here are similar to other button-smashing games. You alternate A and B to build up speed before using the directional pad to execute other moves. For comparison, Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge ’92 was released three years after Track and Field II by Konami and boasts considerably more events to play through.
Capcom’s MVP Football (SNES – 1993)
The NFL pimped their license to almost anyone in the early ’90s so Capcom’s only foray into professional football has real NFL team names and logos but none of the player names or likenesses. Aesthetically the game is a clone of early Madden games, right down to the play-calling screens and on-field action. The passing controls are more cumbersome than they should be, adding in an extra step of selecting a receiver and then hitting another button to actually throw the pass. The lack of stats, limited playbooks and questionable A.I. are just piling on. Excellent realism with carting injured players off the field though.
Mega Man Soccer (SNES – 1994)
Without a doubt the most interesting character crossover in sports gaming history, Capcom took the Mega Man mythos and built a soccer game around it complete with Dr. Wily’s best robots to do battle with. The Capcom Championship mode has as much narrative as you’ll find in a sports game and you even select your opponents as you would select a stage in the regular Mega Man games. Each robot has their own ratings and a special shot, bringing variety to the game, especially in the exhibition mode where you can customize your team with a mishmash of enemies on each soccer line. Mega Man Soccer is easy to pick up and enjoy, especially with a friend.
Capcom’s Soccer Shootout (SNES – 1994)
Capcom’s soccer simulation is actually J-League Excite Stage ’94 for the Super Famicom with a re-dubbed alliterative name for release in the States. Developed by A-Max, who would make a number of additional J-League Excite games for the Super Famicom that were published by Epoch, Capcom’s Soccer Shootout has crisp animations and a number of game options, including an indoor soccer mode with completely different physics. The controls are very basic but the gameplay is smooth and the game runs at a good speed. Perhaps overshadowed by EA’s monolithic franchise FIFA Soccer, you do not hear a lot about this SNES game but certainly an above-average endeavor.
Saturday Night Slam Masters (SNES, GEN – 1994)
Yes, professional wrestling counts as a sport here. Capcom took the Street Fighter II engine and combined it with over-the-top professional wrestling antics, including elaborate entrances, tables, barbed-wire rings and celebratory ballet with a monkey. A basic control scheme featuring jump, attack and pin buttons made it less cumbersome than executing six different attack buttons on a Sega Genesis 3-button controller but there is still a ton of depth within the gameplay. Saturday Night Slam Masters originated in the arcade and Capcom also made a sequel for it there.