Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios / Publisher: Capcom / Played On: Xbox Live Arcade / Price: 1200 MSP ($15) / ESRB: Teen [Suggestive Themes, Violence, Blood, Partial Nudity]
Capcom is a leader in the arcade fighting game scene and arguably the company behind the genre’s best titles. Iconic characters Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, among others have a dedicated place in many a gamers’ hearts, thanks in part to Street Fighter’s flawless blend of 2D combat, thrilling action, and tournament accessibility. Left in the shadows, perhaps fittingly, has been Capcom’s other 2D fighting series Darkstalkers.
The gothic setting, fantasy-influenced roster of combatants and smooth fighting system à la Street Fighter has been dormant for over a decade. Thankfully Capcom has given the series a reboot in the form of Darkstalkers Resurrection, an HD port of the series last two arcade titles: Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Darkstalkers 3.
Developed by the same studio behind Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Darkstalkers Resurrection takes many of its cues from its predecessor. Both games included have been touched up visually, smoothing out pixilated edges and enhancing the original output for HD screens (though an option is available to play with the original graphical settings). Despite these games being over ten years old they look gorgeous: the liberal use of colors in character models as well as backgrounds makes each fight a pleasure to witness. Street Fighter plays it safe with punches, kicks, and the occasional fireball, but Darkstalkers pulls out all the stops and has characters swallowing their opponents, people turning into bats, and fights ending with the loser eviscerated at the waist.
Darkstalkers’ visuals give the game personality: there isn’t anything else out there quite like it, and to this day the games look wonderful. Purists looking for a straight up brawl might be turned off by the offbeat nature of the series but if you’re down with vampires, werewolves, and succubae battling it out you’ll be more than pleased.
The fighting will be familiar to anyone who has played a Street Fighter game. Varying degrees of punches and kicks can be executed in succession to land devastating combos on your foe. Special moves like fireballs, teleporting, and throws spice things up, making for a deep fighting system. In short everything you’d expect from a 2D Capcom fighter is there. Darkstalkers is kind of like Capcom’s playground for new features; EX moves, more powerful versions of a character’s special moves, were first introduced in Night Warriors. Air blocking, air combos, and certain characters’ ability to walk while crouching were also first featured in Darkstalkers’ games before being introduced to Capcom’s other franchises. Rather than being a clone of Street Fighter, Capcom has introduced enough new fighting features to distinguish the two franchises. Fast, fun, and challenging, Darkstalkers Resurrection is one of the best 2D fighting games available for download.
The greatest addition the two games received in this remake is online multiplayer. Supporting GGPO online matchmaking, Darkstalkers Resurrection features player matches and ranked matches. Player matches are just-for-fun online battles with little consequence from a loss. Ranked matches earn or lose you battle points depending on the outcome of the battle: the more you win, the more BP you accrue. It’s a tried-and-true system and it lends itself well to the Darkstalkers online formula. Hopping online and finding an opponent of similar skill was a breeze. In the dozens of online matches I played I experienced no lag issues whatsoever, a grand accomplishment for a fighting game. Playing against other gamers online is addictive and has that, “just one more fight!” essence.
An added training mode in Darkstalkers 3 helps newcomers learn the ropes of the game: topics like cross ups, chain combos, and ES moves are explained and put to practice. This is a helpful feature since Darkstalkers doesn’t feel as approachable a game as other Capcom fighters. If you don’t have much skill you can still manage a decent battle in Street Fighter games, but in Darkstalkers you’ll get destroyed.
Veterans of the series will find Night Warriors’ challenge mode a tough new addition as well. In this mode each character has a series of complicated combos to perform with the end stages appearing near impossible to a newbie. The challenges are identical in concept to those seen in 3rd Strike Online Edition. These two modes are excellent additions to the game as they can take you from total newcomer to the series to a pro in a matter of days. However, these are still some damn hard games to master.
Rounding out the new features are replays and the vault. Every multiplayer match can be saved and rewatched at any time. There’s also an option to upload your replay to YouTube for the whole world to view. At first I thought this a silly feature, but a fantastic filtering system lets you search out exact videos of characters you want to watch. In doing so you just might learn a few tricks and new combos for your favorite characters.
Replays aren’t necessary to enjoy the game, but they are implemented well and act as a learning tool. Lastly, the vault houses a plethora of unlockable artwork, videos and promotional pieces for the two games. By completing challenges, like throwing 100 projectiles, winning 50 matches, beating the game as a character and so on, you earn points which you can spend in the vault. This feature returns from 3rd Strike Online Edition as well as Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, and is a great way to reward the player simply by playing the game. That said, there is a sense of “been there, done that” with this feature set. As mentioned before, Darkstalkers Resurrection follows a very similar formula of Capcom’s previous enhanced ports so if you’re wanting something drastically new you will be disappointed. And because both games are remakes of the arcade versions, the extra characters made playable in the PS1 port of Darkstalkers 3 aren’t present.
I strongly recommend playing the game with a fight stick if you have one. Though it’s not unplayable with a gamepad, the controls work a lot better on a stick: pressing two punches at the same time to execute an EX move was more difficult than it should have been, and the Xbox controller’s d-pad just wasn’t cutting it, especially while fighting online.
Capcom has given us two excellent titles in Darkstalkers Resurrection that fighting game fans will absolutely love. The Darkstalkers series is criminally overlooked when discussing the best 2D fighting games. Resurrection attempts to fix this misconception by delivering the best looking versions of these two arcade classics. Beautiful visuals, solid fighting mechanics, flawless online play, and a unique setting make Darkstalkers Resurrection a must-play for Street Fighter buffs and fans of fighters in general. Now just make Darkstalkers 4 already!
+ Beautiful visuals that still look fantastic over a decade later
+ Solid fighting system modeled after the Street Fighter series
+ Lag free online matchmaking
8.5 / 10