It is pretty odd, if you’re pretty heavy gamer, I’d say. But that’s why you started this thread, right?
In any case, Capcom as a company started in May of 1979 in Osaka, Japan under a different naming, manufacturing electronic gaming equipment. Until around 1984, they were only an electronics manufacturer, CAPsule COMputers. That year, they decided to release their first ever game, an arcade game called Vulgus. From then on they started making more and more arcade games and grew to be one of the most respected and well-loved arcade game makers out there. Some of there earlier hits included Ghouls & Ghosts, a macabre-themed platform action game starring a knight whose armor formed a visual cue for how much health he had – when he lost it, all he wore was boxers; 1942 and its sequel 1943, which Americans I hear found odd, as the games were supposed something of a nod to the Battle of Midway, well-loved classic shoot em ups games and Bionic Commando, an arcade which later became an infamously well-loved NES game later when it replaced the standard jump and run with a soldier with a bionic arm who could swing around the environment.
In 1986 or 1987, they made an original, non-arcade-translated game for the NES/Famicom called Rockman (Mega Man in the US). In it, housekeeping robots Rock and his sister Roll team up to fight Dr. Wily a mad scientist who engineered the other peaceful civic robots to take over the world. The game was unique in that the player could choose any stage he wanted to go first and once winning the boss of that stage, they procured their weapon. Each weapon was useful in different stages, against enemies or bosses in unique ways, making it interesting to replay the game several different ways. In any case, Rockman was a huge, huge hit and Capcom from then on had forged not just a classic, but a pioneer and thus landed themselves in the same class as Sega, Enix, Konami and Nintendo as a first-tier Japanese developer, rocketing past second tiers such as Tecmo, Falcom, Taito and Tecmo.
Rockman began Capcom’s infamous reputation for milking their games, it not only got five sequels on the NES, but one on the SNES and one on the PSX. Then it spawned infinite, infinite spin-offs. Today, there are more than 60 games proper in the series and spin-offs of spin-offs of spin-offs. Despite all the milking, just about every single game is good and solid, earning Capcom a dual identity reputation: sometimes they are a very innovative developer pushing boundaries with original creations, sometimes they embody the More of the Same, But Still Good corporate cynicism of sequelitis. Not everything they touch is gold, of course, but Capcom very, very rarely makes a game so bad its total and utter shit. Most of their worst stuff is at the very least decent and passable.
After Rockman, Capcom also earned a lot of credit by developing licensed games based on Disney’s properties from Duck Tales to Aladdin to the Little Mermaid to Rescue Rangers. They were one of the first, if not the first developer to actually treat these licenses well and many of their licensed Disney games are extremely fun and well-produced action games with tight controls, gameplay concepts that match the original material and excellent graphics and sound. Sometimes they even branched out, license-wise, as the superb D&D-based beat em ups will tell you if you ever play them.
Next, in 1989, I believe Capcom came out with Final Fight. There had been beat em ups like Double Dragon, Renegade and the Kunio Kun games and any of them had been great, but Final Fight took the concept for a brutal new level. Its one of the most finely tuned and programmed arcade masterpieces out there. Upon its arrival, Capcom became known as a developer who was as good at crafting great action games with well-paced challenges, tight controls and umpteen variations on time-honored concepts. Capcom is probably the longest lived and most prolific console action game developer. Its always been the biggest part of their identity, more than other third party. They take to it like a famous band does to tight songcraft or a writer to excellent word-smithing.
Their style began a school of game development that became known as coming from their home city and having the traits of that place, Osaka. Osaka-style games are irreverent, flashy, adrenaline-filled and composed to make you feel like you’re rocking out, they’re also tricky, have challenging concepts to master and somewhat unpredictable, at least the best ones are. Osaka-school games are in constant rivalry with Tokyo-school games, as the two cities are rivals in every other way as well.
Capcom’s chief rival became Konami, who is a forerunner of Tokyo-school development, and also became known for great action games and licensed games and Capcom and Konami seem to go together for many console gamers.
In any case, in 1991/1992, Capcom came out with Street Fighter II, which was so new and fresh and unprecedented that it started a whole new genre of game in the fighter (note: they’re not beat-em ups and not supposed to be called that). One-on-one fighters became all the rage because of Capcom and Street Fighter II was their biggest success yet.
As they profitted off the prosperity of Street Fighter II, Capcom also began branching out again, this time by translating American PC games to Japan and have long been known as one of the best translators of the greatest Western games to Japan. They publish such titles as Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and Mark of Kri here, as well as being the official supporters of all things Catan. It jives well with something Capcom became known for after the 16-bit days began to wane: pleasing hardcore gamers.
When games went 3D, of course went 3D with them, but they also continued to produce excellent 2D games, like games in the Mega Man X series, wonderful shmups, especially those by Psikyo, some great RPGs and excellent fighters like the Darkstalkers and Street Fighter Alpha series.
When Resident Evil came out for the PlayStation, gamers began to notice a pattern. Capcom would come up with one super-revolutionary innovative game that became extremely popular and influential in game design every generation, then milk it like they had an army of cows until it got tired, even making their own clones and then do it again next generation. This generation, its been Devil May Cry, obviously. Who knows what it will be next generation?
Around the year 2000, Capcom began to scale back its arcade operations at the same time as also-rival SNK went bankrupt, they made a permanent retreat to consoles. They still make the odd arcade game, but their business is no longer built around it. Also, around that time, Capcom subsidiary Flagship began to build scenarios for other companies, mostly notably Nintendo. Capcom began to work on games for Nintendo, becoming the Japanese third party with the closest relationship with the giant. Their Zelda games for Nintendo are true gems and display that Osaka flavor really well.
Capcom has gone through most of their history with a relatively stable list of good developers, but after one of their Street Fighter luminaries left in the mid 90s to create Arika (though Arika often works with or has games published by Capcom), they began to become a little more like a sieve and start rotating more developers from other Capcoms and losing some of their long time employees. Most recently the shocking departure of Funamizu and Okamoto made headlines.
However, Capcom has a new generation of designers stabled in a new offshoot called Clover Studios that is gaining them a lot of praise. The people who created their critically acclaimed Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Steel Batallion and Gyakuten Saiban (aka Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) are located in this studio and are at work with the breath-taking Okami.
It would be impossible to sum up all of Capcom’s famous developers or personalities, but its a little easier to make a dent in some of their better games, of which a few are:
Ghouls & Ghosts series - Mentioned before in this post. Often sees a lone knight (with boxer shorts!) go against a horde of demons in games that are dedicated to being super difficult platforming affairs with neato armor and weapon power-up systems. It has a spin-off based on of the most infamous called the Red Arremer that birthed three more super awesome action adventures that culminated in kickass Demon’s Crest for SNES/SFC. It was recently reborn for the PS2 in Maximo games are great, great, great!
Pang! series - An arcade game where you play a kid who goes around the world popping balloons that bounce around the playfield, if they hit you without a shield, you die, but you have a hookshot that can be used to pop up them into smaller pieces. Very addictive and fun.
Puzz-Loop series - Ever played Zuma or one of its knockoffs? Its great, huh? Its actually such a complete rip-off of these games that there is suing afoot.
194X/Strikers series - Also mentioned above, this classic shmup series birthed some incredibly manic and satisfying shmups based around fighter planes with great power-ups, bosses, level pacing and everything you could ask for.
Onimusha series - What started out as a relative to survival whore went on to be an interesting adventure series based on the exploits of samurai who encounter a gauntlet that can power them up by the sucking the souls of defeated enemies and who use such gauntlet for plot-related purposes propelled by absolutely gorgeous graphics and FMV.
Breath of Fire series - The first four are middling RPGs with all sorts of neat concepts, but only solid implementation, the last one, Dragon Quarter, is one of the most shockingly unconventional RPG game designs out there and a real treat for the hardcore RPG player.
Vampire Savior series - A companion to the Street Fighter series of arcade fighting games, these games are moodily based around monster movies ghoulies fighting it out. Excellent fighting games, every one of them, with some of the most infamous character designs in the entire genre.
Super Puzzle Fighter 2 - A very popular puzzle game in each way the player chunks together massive piles of colored gems with Street Fighter and Vampire Savior characters to put the hurt on the other player when activated by a bright shining tile of the same color.
The Misadventures of Tron Bonne/ Tron ni Kobun - One of those spin-offs of spin-offs I mentioned. This is a Mega Man/Rockman series game without Rockman in it! Instead, you play as the villains of the Rockman Dash series, Bonne family of thieves, particularly Tron Bonne, the sassy daughter of the main man and command cute little robots that are officially the best thing ever called Kobun or Servbots. The object is to win enough money from sheisty villainous schemes to ransom Tron’s father back from a crime syndicate. This game’s quirky humor and solid, well-done, weird gameplay is vintage Capcom.
Forgotten Worlds/Magic Sword/Knights of the Round - Three of Capcom’s more well-known arcade efforts, these all kick ass. Forgotten Worlds is a great shmup where you play as a rocketing cyber marine guy. Magic Sword is like Gauntlet in sidescrolling form with more treasure, difficulty, magic and secrets that you can shake a stick at in its 50-floor towered madness. Knights of the Round is a King Arthur based beat em up that kicks so much ass, the ass disappears because its been kicked so much.
Capcom continues to rock with recent games like Killer7, Rockman.exe 5, Demento and Sengoku Basara and will continue to rock with games like Viewtiful Joe Scratch!, Okami, Monster Hunter 2 and Shin Onimusha.
While they aren’t my favorite developer (that would be Namco) Capcom are up there for their sheer longevity in making wonderful games.