Darkstalkers Resurrection

Darkstalkers Resurrection is the latest HD fighting-game collection from Capcom.  Unlike the Street Fighter or the Vs. series of games, the company has chosen to re-release two little-known games in the Darkstalkers franchise: Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3, also known as Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior.  I had pretty low expectations for this particular collection considering the mediocre releases that were Jo Jo’s Bizzare Adventure and Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins.  However, Iron Galaxy, the company responsible for many of the recent Capcom HD collections has done a fantastic job updating the visual world of Darkstalkers and the tutorials provide a solid starting place for game-specific mechanics and character moves and abilities.

Both Darkstalkers games are 2D, six-button fighters, as is standard for Capcom.  While both games have a similar setup and command inputs, each game has unique features.  Night Warriors is the less interesting of the two.  In it, the rounds are divided in a traditional way. When a character is knocked out, a new round begins and health is reset. The first player to achieve two knockouts, wins.  Darkstalkers 3 has a more fluid and unique organization.  When one player is knocked out,  he loses a life but the game, and the timer, keep going.  The health of the other character and the position of the players are not reset.  There is also a recovering health system in Darkstalkers 3.  Most attacks do both white and red damage.  Red damage can’t be recovered, but white damage can.  However, white damage still counts for purposes of winning a round, so it’s important to manage your defense to prevent quick defeats. Darkstalkers 3 is a faster game by default.  While both games can be set to Turbo speed, Darkstalkers 3 is one that has Turbo Speed-ranked matches while Night Warriors defaults to a normal speed.  Each game has super meters with the ability to use them for EX and ES super moves.  In Darkstalkers 3, you can also use meter to activate character specific Dark Force abilities. For example, Morrigan creates a clone of herself that appears on the other side of the opponent and mirrors her moves.

In addition to these larger system changes, there are smaller tweaks between each game in regard to specific character moves and inputs.  This is important because the games, for the most part, share a cast.  Some of the tweaks are instantly recognizable, such as the input for Morrigan’s air fireball being different in each game. Other changes are not quite as obvious.  Morrigan’s standing light kick hits low in Night Warriors but hits middle in Darkstalkers 3 (if you couldn’t tell, I spent most of my time playing as Morrigan).

I really enjoyed playing Darkstalkers 3. The feel of the game is satisfying, and I liked that there were effective combos that had fairly simple inputs.  All the characters have normal chains, which makes it easy to get off some simple combos, even if you are new to fighting games. The tutorials that Iron Galaxy has added do a good job of teaching some simple, and difficult, combos and mix-ups.  It’s not perfect, and it won’t turn a new player into an instant star. It will still take a lot of practice.  Even players who know their way around a fight stick might struggle with Darkstalkers at first because it is quite different from other Capcom games .  I lost a ton of games online before I began to actually win consistently, but I still had fun even when I was losing because the basic gameplay was so satisfying.  I had less fun with Night Warriors.  As I mentioned before, the online ranked play is set to a much slower speed in Night Warriors.  It felt slower and less fluid than Darkstalkers 3, and even though I was winning a larger portion of my games in NW, I spent most of my time playing Darkstalkers 3.  It’s worth noting that most of the players on PSN seem to be playing Darkstalkers 3, and it seems to be the more popular game in the wider fighting game community, but this could change.  The online connectivity in the game is great.  Though matches with a bad connection were sluggish or responded poorly but for the most part, my games were lag free and smooth.

Iron Galaxy has provided the usual range of visual filters including scan lines, smoothing, and screen ratio.  There is also the option to view the game as though you were looking down onto an arcade cabinet, a view Iron Galaxy introduced in Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins.  It’s not the way that I play, but it’s kind of cool that it was included.  Artistically, Darkstalkers is unique.  Most of the characters in Darkstalkers are based upon classic movie monsters like a werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster, a zombie, and a fake creature from the Black Lagoon.  These characters are accompanied by some not-so-classic monsters like a cat woman, a mercenary, gun-toting Little Red Riding Hood, and succubus.  Each of these characters looks unique, but also goofy.  This is complimented by the game’s ridiculous story beats that are told via win quotes and the brief endings in each character’s arcade mode.  This unique art style extends to the stages, which are quite strange. Highlights include a demonic train and a jungle filled with carnivorous plants.

Darkstalkers Resurrection is a great collection of some classic games.  I really liked playing Darkstalkers 3, and the unusual round system and art style made the game seem like more than just another solid fighting game.  Iron Galaxy did a great job updating the game in terms of visuals, tutorials, and online play.  Night Warriors is by far the weaker of the two games, but Darkstalkers 3 is worth the price of admission.  It’s not the best fighting game ever made, but it’s a lot of fun and the price point is right.