Capcom's Red Earth Was A Fighting Game Ahead of Its Time
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Capcom’s Red Earth Was A Fighting Game Ahead of Its Time

Capcom's Red Earth Was A Fighting Game Ahead of Its Time
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Capcom’s Red Earth Was A Fighting Game Ahead of Its Time

It’s important to remember that not all trips down memory lane are worthwhile. The games industry is always remaking, mastering, and reissuing classic video games in collections, bundles, and compilations. Sometimes the nostalgia is a good thing. In other cases, you may have to look at the facts.

The 2D fighter is one genre that seems to be more successful at avoiding dating than others. The 2D fighter is more timeless than the first-person shooter, platformers or other classic gaming styles because of its solid mechanics and sprite work. The Capcom Fighting Collection is a great example of this. It contains ten fighting games, including nine versus puzzle games, that feel fresh and new.

The collection is all about reviving Darkstalkers’ interest, but there is one game that stands out as a highlight of an already impressive collection: Red Earth. Red Earth, a somewhat obscure fighting game deserves special mention because it is the first time the game has been port to consoles. Red Earth launched in arcades in 1996. However, it had never been ported to consoles or PCs until this collection.

Red Earth is a departure from other multiplayer-focused fighting games. Although there were versus modes, it felt more like a fighting video game RPG. The game lets players choose from four characters, and they embark on a journey around the globe to defeat evil monsters and save the kingdom from a tyrannical wizard.

Red Earth, while not revolutionary by itself, is a great addition to any team. First, every character has their own story with different endings and choices throughout their campaign. Although the fights and bosses are identical, each character’s story, as well as the cutscenes, conversations, and context, is different. This is a remarkable feat for a fighting game that was released in 1996.

The RPG mechanics allow players to gain experience and level as they deal damage, fight and win mini-games. These level-ups can give you additional resistance to certain elements, or even new moves. This all ties in to a password system that allows players to keep track of their progress and make notes after each fight.

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Red Earth is my favorite fighting game from the Capcom Fighting Collection, despite the fact that I have waxed poetic about how much I love fighting games with great single player modes. Red Earth is a huge departure from the usual Capcom fighting games that include a lot of single-player content.

Namco was also working on the PS1 port to their 3D fighter Soul Blade in Japan, 1996. This would become the Soulcalibur series. Soul Blade offered traditional fighting and an Edge Master mode that felt more like an RPG. You would move around a map and fight with certain handicaps to gain new weapons. It was actually a deeper Red Earth.

It is interesting to see the evolution of Capcom since Red Earth’s release. Their fighting games would be more focused on the mechanics, while still offering the usual range of modes (arcade and training, survival, if you were fortunate). Namco’s games would have large RPG-esque modes with Soulcalibur 2’s Weapon Master and SC3’s Chronicles of the Soul. Even Tekken 5 had its 3D beat ’em-up in Devil Within. Although it wasn’t great, it was there.

We have come up short of a mode that truly embodies the ideas put forward by Red Earth. Soulcalibur VI’s Libra of Soul is the closest. It manages to be a real RPG with leveling mechanics. Dialog options. Weapon upgrades. All of this while remaining true to the core fighting mechanics.

It feels like Capcom is returning to Red Earth with Street Fighter 6. Developers have already announced a World Tour mode that will allow players to create their own avatar and explore different environments, as well as engage in fights against various characters. It’s a great idea, and it sounds very similar to Capcom’s Libra of Soul mode.

Red Earth was included in the Capcom Fighting Collection as a proof of why smart remasters are so important. It’s always great to give a less-known game the chance of flourishing again, especially when it is a game like Red Earth that feels so ahead of its time. Capcom should take more inspiration from Red Earth in their fighting games, given the direction Street Fighter 6 seems to be on.

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Capcom’s Red Earth Was A Fighting Game Ahead of Its Time
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