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PSN Review: Darkstalkers Resurrection

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Despite its underutilization, Darkstalkers is one of my favorite Capcom franchises.  The motley crew of groovy ghoulies at one point had their own cartoon, a much better anime mini-series, and have been featured in a number of manga and western comic books.  Though, they’ve only starred in 2D fighting games, a few of the characters, most notably Morrigan and Felicia, have made their way into other Capcom efforts.  Additionally, though there have been a number of rereleases, it’s been over 15 years since a new Darkstalkers game.  With so much fiction written around the series, it’s a shame that the characters haven’t yet been featured in a more accessible genre.

Darkstalkers Resurrection is yet another release of the second and third Darkstalkers games from the ’90s, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. This collection is a port of the U.S. arcade versions which means the bonus characters in the old console versions are missing.  That leaves 15 characters in Darkstalkers 3 and 14 characters in Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge.  You can switch back and forth between the two games by pressing the select button on the DualShock controller.  Speaking of the DualShock controller, if you have an arcade stick, that is definitely the instrument of choice.

Though the Darkstalkers have been relegated to cameo appearances, the series was at one time one of Capcom’s best properties.  As such, many of the standards in 2D fighting games were first introduced in the Darkstalkers games.  Those who have played Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom will feel right at home with the high, middle, low punch and kick system.  The game does also offer custom mapping which unfortunately adds a level of difficulty to the tutorials. Darkstalkers Revenge introduced air blocking, air dashing, and the ability to perform extended chain combos.  There are also multiple special gauge bars that can be built up to unleash ES and EX moves.  Darkstalkers 3 introduced the dual health bar/one round system for faster-paced gameplay and the Dark Force system which gives a character a unique ability for a short time.

Though this pair of Darkstalkers games have gotten the HD treatment, there is no new game art.  This means that characters, backgrounds and video are still the same as they were almost 20 years ago.  They are simply optimized for HD, which in some ways means the graphics look worse.  Where a lower resolution screen would smooth out the pixels, HD monitors don’t.  In that way, this is a very retro affair and the presentation options highlight that.  While the screen can be stretched for widescreen, the default is a bordered screen with hints and goals in the side bars. If you really want to relive the past, you can play in simulated arcade cabinet and even add scan lines.

Darkstalkers Resurrection can be played with a friend on your couch or in a tournament with up to eight others online.  Players waiting for their turn to fight can view and discuss ongoing matches with the Spectator Mode. The Watch with Friends mode allows players in a private room to download or stream matches.  Players can also save replays of their match and upload it to either the game’s server or directly to YouTube.  The GGPO enabled online game play ensures a fairly lag free experience online, though beginners will likely only find frustration at the hands of arcade veterans.

Darkstalkers Resurrection is a fun package and even with its age, the combination of over the top characters, vibrant art direction, and solid sound keeps this collection relevant.   Even in HD, the graphics do show their age and the DualShock’s d-pad contributes to a feeling of sluggishness and imprecision compared to more modern fighters.  One last observation is the questionable decision to have the ending movie clips and concept art purchasable with the in-game currency of Victory Points instead of by winning matches with a particular character.  These minor complaints aside, Resurrection offers a couple of classics that every fighting game fan should play.

 

Darkstalkers Resurrection is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Suggestive Themes, Violence, Blood, Partial Nudity. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.

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About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at RPGameX.com or rpgamex@gmail.com.