Capcom is one of the most renowned video game companies in the world and has been in existence for many, many years. To celebrate, Capcom has partnered with BradyGames and DK to release the official Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia for a suggested retail price of $16.99. This hardcover contains over 200 famous and not-so-famous Capcom characters and essentially summarizes Capcom’s work over the last three decades.
While any video game junky will surely appreciate such a retrospective item, the overall lack of detail both visually and contextually will probably leave most Capcom fans a little disappointed. For an “encyclopedia,” the lack of detail is a major let down.
If anything, this book is consistent as each and every page is laid out exactly the same. At the top is the character’s name and game which is followed by one single image of said character, one other piece of art from a corresponding game, a couple paragraphs of text, and the “data” section. For the most part, this data section usually lists the character’s “first appearance,” “most recent appearance,” “occupation,” “height,” and “weight.”
Let’s be honest, this novel is probably only going to be read by dedicated video game fans. With that said, it seems like Capcom took the lazy way out by limiting the amount of data. First, the “most recent appearance” in the data section ultimately dates this book and removes any sense of timelessness and it seems like half of the roster is found in Project X Zone (3DS). If someone picks up this book in ten or even another thirty years that charm will be lost. In short, this book will retain the most meaning here in 2014. Secondly, there are some characters that have starred in tons of games but the art assets and page layout limit detailed character origins and timelines. For example, instead of simply stating that Mega Man has starred in several games, it would have been much more beneficial and entertaining to list every single game he has been in and even visually displayed the Mega Man character model from every game to see his visual evolution from the early games to the X series to the Battle Network series and beyond. The developers of each title were also not credited and in-game screenshots are absent. Again, in being an “encyclopedia”, this is the type of data and fan service that is more expected. Simply put, the one picture and two paragraphs for each character do not provide these fan favorite characters justice and just sells everything short.
The lack of overall detail is misleading and disappointing but at the same time it is pretty cool to learn a little bit about characters you never knew existed. Everyone knows the staff of the Resident Evil series, the dramatic Devil May Cry cast, and even Sir Arthur but learning about the dude from Gun.Smoke, the playable character in the forgotten TurboGrafx-16 shooter Side Arms, or even Zack from the cult favorite Zack & Wiki on Wii is undoubtedly cool. But this is why this entire encyclopedia is a letdown because readers are going to want to see more and learn more about these one-hit wonders as well as long time favorites. This encyclopedia is like only being allowed one spoonful of a buffet.
If anything, Capcom could have used this book as a sales tool by providing more indication on where and how to play these old games. Sure, there might be a mention of a Virtual Console or compilation release in the Data section but the entire set up just feels like one huge missed opportunity. This book even fails to mention anything about soundtracks or high scores. Further, Capcom has made some truly epic games like the stellar Marvel Vs. Capcom series. Those games, for example, always feature some overwhelmingly cool artwork on their covers, depicting a huge roster of action posing characters. It is a shame that the cover of this encyclopedia is limited in scope by comparison, only featuring a few popular characters surrounded by the signature Capcom yellow.
Again, Capcom has always been viewed as a high quality game company and has delighted us over the last thirty years with experiences not found anywhere else. This is a lot to live up to but this novel does not earn the same type of acknowledgement and admiration that this company and characters deserve.
Not As Good As: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
On Par With: The Guinness Book of World Records: Gamer’s Edition
Also Try: 1001 Video Games to Play Before You Die
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com