Capcom’s new The Disney Afternoon Collection hits all the rights spots. Every single one of them. First of all, it’s a collection of really great Capcom NES games. Second, it’s a themed collection based on a specific era of Disney that deserves more recognition than it gets. Third, the collection is being made by the same folks responsible for Mega Man Legacy Collection. Finally, it’s a damn steal at $20. Capcom has a great thing going on with these collections, and other publishers with historic libraries need to follow suit.
The main brain behind these collections, or at least the most public-facing, is Frank Cifaldi. He worked with Digital Eclipse on Mega Man Legacy Collection, and did the same with the The Disney Afternoon Collection. As of earlier this year, he’s also the head of the Video Game History Foundation, which should say a lot. Cifaldi and his team don’t just care about cool games, they care about cool games is a historical, preservationist context. Crack open Mega Man Legacy Collection and look at the Museum feature to get a taste of what these folks are capable of. That section of the game is full to bursting with concept art, packaging, marketing material and more. All of it is scanned and touched up individually, and it looks incredible. Most of this stuff has been lost to time, but through Capcom and Cifaldi’s personal resources, Mega Man history has been curated in a way it never had before.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is getting the same treatment. Capcom is already advertising the Museum feature, as it was one of the main selling points for picking up the Mega Man stuff, especially since Mega Man is a constant source of re-releases. But this stuff will be especially fresh, and considering a new DuckTales show is on the way, Capcom is really striking while the iron is hot here. Not only is the Museum a great source of history, but the engine used by the Digital Eclipse team is designed to recreate the games as close to the original source material as possible. NES games ran at a specific resolution with specific specs, and they aren’t especially easy to reproduce on modern hardware. Just look at Nintendo’s own Virtual Console; it’s burdened with dark, fuzzy visuals and ever-so-slightly-off resolution scaling.
Granted, one could always get a hold of the original carts, the true mark of a dedicated collector. But it’s super difficult to argue with that price point. Paying $20 for this specific collection of games is insane. Many of the Capcom Disney games are from later in the NES console’s life, meaning smaller production runs since the games sold less in the wake of the Super Nintendo. That means the secondhand market, especially in the year 2017 as retro prices continue to skyrocket, is not kind to people without deep pockets. I recently got a hold of Darkwing Duck, for example, at a small shop for $40. If that seems expensive, DuckTales 2 goes for well over one hundred. The Disney Afternoon Collection won’t alter the price of carts much, but anyone with a more than a passing interest in checking out a significant part of videogame history for a tiny fraction of what it once took will leap at this chance.
More publishers with big 8 and 16-bit histories need to jump on this kind of release. Imagine if Square Enix or Konami started dropping single releases of their historic games, complete with curated art and other quality of life features like save states and rewind! Clearly there’s a market for this, and based on the price tags it’s likely relatively inexpensive to put together. Port the things to every console, something that’s easier than ever, and rake in the dough as well as good will from the growing number of people concerned about game history preservation. The Virtual Console isn’t cutting it anymore, and the retro market is hungry.