So close, Capcom, and yet so far. 2012 had the potential to be a real banner year for the developer. Starting from the top with a new numbered Resident Evil that had strong buzz, a Street Fighter crossover that had the potential to be another Marvel vs. Capcom, and the 25th anniversary of Mega Man, they had all their zombie ducks in a row.
But big success just wasn't in the cards, whether it was the failure of Street Fighter X Tekken to catch big traction in the market, the critical disappointment that was Resident Evil 6, or an almost complete absence of Mega Man. What happened?
Capcom started the year strong with Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS, as well as the strange-but-fun Asura's Wrath. Street Fighter X Tekken was not a bad game -- Mike Fahey gave it a "Yes" in his review -- but it failed to grab a large audience like SFIV did, at Capcom's own admission. Most unfortunate was the underwhelming Resident Evil 6, which had the chance to be one of the year's biggest titles and instead seemed to pass by with a whimper. While we got a Mega Man social iOS game and an 11th hour fan made Street Fighter crossover, expect Capcom devotees to demand a big Mega Man release from the company in 2013.
A Revelation A cruel trick Capcom played on all of us, starting off their year of Resident Evil with the highly enjoyable Revelations. Damn them for getting my hopes up about Operation Raccoon City and RE6. First off, it was a fun shooter on a 3DS, and brought me back to the handheld that had been sitting in my desk for a little while at that point. The story was predictably goofy -- right in the series' wheelhouse -- but the gameplay was tense, fun, and best of all creepy. Stephen remarked that traversing the spooky ship's corridors as Jill Valentine was like RE1's mansion all over again. Is there a higher compliment to pay the series at this point?
Asura's Wrath In which a team of people ingest tons of research chemicals and subsequently design a beautiful video game. The mechanics might have been minimal, and it might have had a plethora of those dastardly QTEs, but Capcom's early 2012 surprise was the winningly weird Asura's Wrath. This determinedly episodic anime freakout should not have worked, barely did, and was fun and entertaining despite it all. It was a pleasure to see Capcom, a company that could pipe out updates on three or four different properties and be fine, take a risk on something this odd. Judging by the previews for their upcoming Remember Me, the weirdness will keep flowing like the waters of a hot spring.
Resident Evil 6 And to think: at one point, it was really hard to find ammo in the world of Raccoon City. Resident Evil 6, approximately the 529th entry in the series if you go by Capcom's numbers, was by very few metrics a good game. But it was made all the worse by demonstrating that the developers were fully buying into the action heavy trend done well in RE4 and less so in RE5. Perhaps, I thought, after the surprisingly good Revelations, they won't bungle this one. But no, it was a bloated, four-pronged Licker tongue of a game which nullified any attempts at horror (not to mention gameplay innovation) with bombast, QTEs and a dearth of charm. Hope of the series righting itself is becoming as rare as typewriter ribbons.
Heavy, Heavy Armor When Stephen saw people playing Capcom's new iteration of their famously complex tank simulator Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor at PAX East earlier this year, he walked away feeling optimistic that the Kinect-integrated game would not only be fun, but also make novel and smart use of that little sensor bar. By melding both controller and gesture input, Heavy Armor may have been a look into the successful future of Kinect. Key word: may. When the game was released in June, Evan Narcisse (among others), found it to be basically broken. Beyond the numerous story and presentation issues, the Kinect controls were immensely shaky, confusing and poorly implemented. Can you sense my tears, Kinect?
All games were published, distributed, or developed by Capcom
Resident Evil: Revelations - February 7th
Asura's Wrath - February 21st
Street Fighter X Tekken - March 6th
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - May 18th
Dragon's Dogma - May 22nd
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - June 19th
Resident Evil 6 - October 2nd
Street Fighter X Mega Man - December 17th
For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and complete lists of the games they were a part of.