Capcom delivers handheld conversions of Strider, Mighty Final Fight, and Bionic Commando from the NES. All of this for $20…so what's the catch? (Hint: there isn't one.)
Capcom Classics Mini Mix features three of the publisher's most advanced NES games, chock full of hair-pulling action and unmistakable Capcom music. All three of these single-player games hold up well by modern standards and each will take at least a few hours to exhaust…if you're good enough, that is.
This action game features both swordplay and magic, but it's not just about defeating enemies. Strider is also full of tough jumps, made even trickier by the strange jumping physics which are heavily affected by the ground slope underneath your feet. Over the course of the lengthy (by NES standards) adventure, you'll visit and revisit several stages to explore for special items and keys. Periodic level-ups provide additional health, magic, and special moves. Despite the wonky controls, Strider was a complex and epic game for its time, and it's still fun today. It is also the only game in this collection to feature a password save system (which was in the original NES version).
Mighty Final Fight
A scaled-down, super-deformed version of Capcom's popular 16-bit brawler Final Fight, this late NES game has more in common with Double Dragon than its own namesake. (You gain experience to learn new moves, and the weapons are extremely rare.) Still, the beat-em-up action is fun and challenging, and the game doesn't take itself too seriously. Mighty Final Fight may have the best replay value in this collection, since you can play through the game as Cody, Guy, or Mike, and all three have significant differences in speed and power.
Easily the hardest game in Mini Mix, and perhaps one of the hardest games of its era, Bionic Commando is a bona fide classic. What other platformer features a main character who can't jump? The bionic arm isn't just cool, it's integral to the level designs throughout the game. As in Strider, there are many upgrades and new items, as well as non-linear progression, making Bionic Commando unusually sophisticated considering when it was released. The main problem here is that the game is very long but has no way to save or suspend the game, which is a bit of a problem for handheld gaming situations. Still, this is the one I kept going back to over and over, enchanted by the satisfying controls and very challenging gameplay. Playing Bionic Commando also reminds me of the fantastic Game Boy Color sequel, which is definitely worth tracking down for fans of the original. (Just remember that you won't be able to play it on DS!)
All three of these games are accurately emulated for Game Boy Advance, and while that preserves the original graphics, music, and controls, it also means there are no upgrades, even minor ones like save features. A two-player mode for Mighty Final Fight is another obvious update that just isn't there. Still, all three of these NES classics are great fun even today, and having them in one handheld package at a budget price is irresistible. Highly recommended.