Darkstalkers Resurrection Review
When I was young, there was a pizza parlor next to the Laundromat my mother and I cleaned our clothes at and each time, I would ask for some quarters so I could go next door and play the Darkstalkers cabinet the pizza parlor had. I was drawn into the game because I knew Capcom had made the Street Fighter series and the characters looked so different than what other games were offering. Sure, Primal Rage had dinosaurs and monsters but Darkstalkers had a rock and roll zombie and Bigfoot.
Darkstalkers Resurrection – a collection of the second and third arcade games in the series, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 – gives the series’ multifaceted gameplay a bunch of options, extras and online play and after over 15 years, it still holds up. However, time and the state of fighting games today may be detrimental to this collection of lost gems.
Darkstalkers ran on the CPS2 arcade board, the same as many of Capcom’s arcade games in the second half of the 90s such as the Street Fighter Alpha series and the Capcom/Marvel crossover games up until Marvel vs. Capcom 2. However, that also means that nowadays, the graphics look dated. Animations look less fluid than today’s fighters and everything is pixilated like hell. There are some filters you can apply to make it look better but even these make the game look too blurry. However, both Darkstalkers 3 and Night Warriors still hold up visually after all these years, not in fidelity but in design.
The character animations are so diverse because the move lists for the characters are so varied. Limbs can change into chainsaws, characters transform into bats, gills expand and contrast, the sky’s the limit with what is possible. Darkstalkers 3 especially has some impressive animations, such as transforming your opponent into weak women prey or slam-dunking your enemy through a basketball hoop. Stages are also diverse, ranging from London streets, complete with cobblestone roadways, to a graveyard complete with floating souls and the soundtrack and sound effects further compliment the setting.
Of course the thrill of playing any fighting game is the combat mechanics and Darkstalkers series definitely holds up. The fighting is fast paced, especially in Darkstalkers 3, and incredibly fun. Characters have vast moves lists and each move, even the basic attacks have they purpose for different situations. Indicative of later Capcom fighters like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, both Darkstalkers 3 and Night Warriors are focused on super moves, either ES moves or EX moves. Your meter builds up quickly and you can have a very high number of meters stored away for later.
You could say that the Darkstalkers series was a testing ground for features later introduced into the Street Fighter series and are now staples of fighting games today. Air blocking, auto-combos, guard cancels, all of these are utilized here. Even some like Darkstalkers 3’s two life bar system (similar to Killer Instinct) that were never used again are interesting concepts that help to differentiate Darkstalkers from other fighting games.
However, it doesn’t differentiate it enough. Sad thing is some newer gamers won’t find much different in Darkstalkers from new games like Super Street Fighter IV and wonder why they are playing this collection of 15 year old games instead of those. The game mechanics is fun but considering the fighting game genre today, young and unfamiliar gamers need to be intrigued by the art design because the crazy animations and game mechanics can essentially be experienced by playing something like Marvel vs Capcom 3. And that game also looks technically better.
Luckily, if you are entranced by the personality of the game, you’ll be rewarded not just with awesome fighting mechanics but modes, features and online play. The game includes not just normal arcade mode and a training mode but also a challenges/tutorial mode. This shows you some basic attacks and combos with each character and does a good job teaching you some of the intricacies of the games. There are also some good explanations in the How to Play selection in the options menu.
Speaking of options, there are multiple ways to change the way the game looks. Like Capcom’s other fighting games released on digital stores such as Marvel vs Capcom Origins, you can add scanlines, change the aspect ratio or make it look like an arcade cabinet and more. The game also gives you tasks to complete such as win by using an EX move or burn enemies this many times to level up and earn vault points to spend on unlocking concept art, ending movies and more. I do wish they had something telling you each character’s backstory or the plot behind the game since I have no reference to go on.
Finally, there’s both local and online play and it utilizes the GGPO system for flawless online play. It’s fast, easy to use, and there are plenty of people playing online. You can join tournaments, have online match requests during arcade and training mode play thanks to a recent update, and watch replays uploaded to the servers. You can even upload your own replays that you save to YouTube. However, the quality of the YouTube videos sucks. Still, the fighting online is really fun and part of that is due to the game doing a good job matching you with someone your own skill level.
There isn’t really anything wrong with Darkstalkers Resurrection. The combat is tight, online play is good, the graphics are creative if dated and there are a lot of options for you to mess around with. Really it’s just doesn’t do much to differentiate itself today. You can also argue that better fighters like Street Fighter III Online are available. If you are a fan of the Darkstalkers series or any of the games, you should get this. Otherwise, this is one of the more niche fighting titles that everyone should try but few actually will.