Also On: XBLA
Darkstalkers has been a sort of black sheep of the Capcom fighting Game Family. Seems almost every other Capcom fighter was given new installments and our favorite monsters were left in the cold. Some Characters were given small roles in other fighters such as Marvel vs Capcom 3, but a true sequel never came to being. Hoping to stir up some interest in this series again, Capcom brings us Darkstalkers Resurrection to PSN and Xbox Live. While not the new installment many players were hoping for, Darkstalkers Resurrection gives us two classic fighters from the iconic series.
What we have here is a collection of the second and third Darkstalkers games, Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 (Vampire Savior). Night Warriors originally appeared on home consoles for the Sega Saturn while Darkstalkers 3 made it's way home on the original Playstation. For the importers out there, part 3 was also available on the Sega Saturn as Vampire Savior, but this version fetches a rather hefty price in online auctions. These releases were the only way players could play Darkstalkers games at home, until now. Resurrection marks the first time in over 16 years that home versions of these fighters are widely available to gamers. For those who have never had the pleasure, you are in for a treat. For devoted fans, even if you still own the previous releases, you'll want to download this collection!
Night Warriors brings us 14 fighting monsters, battling each other for supremacy. Monsters like Demitri the Vampire, Jon Tailban the werewolf and the ever popular Morrigan the succubus are all here laying the smack down on each other in hopes to battle the demon king Pyron. Each fighter has an array of special moves to help them win, ranging from the standard fireballs to more obscure ones like giant blades stabbing out of the ground. As you fight, you build up power meters you can use to land more powerful versions of your special moves, or unleash a devastating super move to basically destroy your opponent.
Once you defeat 8 opponents you do battle with Pyron, a being completely made of fire. Beating him will allow you to see your characters ending. Darkstalkers 3 brings in 16 wacky fighters, where newcomers Baby Bonnie Hood, Q-bee and Morrigan's manifested youth Lilith joining the fight. This time, it's the demon lord Jedah that has the attention of the other fighters, as they are all out to stop him from taking over the world, while settling scores with each other. The basic gameplay from Night Warriors carries over to this game, with the exception of an increase in speed and tighter combos. While playing, you can complete goals that scroll up on the side of the screen to earn EXP points. These points don't help in the actual games, but are used in each games Vault, where you can unlock movies and artwork from the Darkstalkers series. Both games offer great challenge and a great selection of characters to master. Veteran fighting game players will be able to jump right into the insane battles while newcomers may have to stick to the slower speed settings until everything feels right for them. But, even players who have never played a Darkstalkers game will be kicking butt in no time, as the learning curve is very simple. Controlling each fighter is a breeze, and pulling off each characters combos (while not immediately apparent) will become as simple as blinking with only a few matches against the CPU.
With other Capcom fighters that see digital release, Online play is a huge part of Darkstalkers Resurrection. With GGPO integrated, the online play is smooth and lag free. I played countless online matches in Darkstalkers 3 and never had a disconnection or one lag issue. I was unable to test Night Warriors since I couldn't find an opponent, but I am sure GGPO makes playing it online just as smooth. You can select from Player Matches and Ranking Matches, and you can even participate in or create Tournaments to see who is the strongest online player. Be warned though, while I consider myself an above average DS player, I found many online opponents to be, shall we say, unbeatable masters. If you are discouraged easily, I would play online with caution.
Graphics are recreated to perfection. Every pixel from the arcade versions are here with no cut frames of animation. This is something that owners of the PSOne version of Darkstakers 3 have never experienced, since that version had to cut frames to save memory. You get options to make the game wide screen and also a few filters to clean up the somewhat dated looking pixels. I recommend using the widescreen mode for this one (with the filter of your choice) since the hand drawn backgrounds for each stage really shine. Other graphical enhancements you'll find are more animation going on in the stages and completely redrawn character select screens. It's small touches like this that shows the work that went into this release. Sound effects and music are clear and crisp, and while the music tracks aren't that memorable as something like Street Fighter II, they do fit in with everything they accompany.
While this isn't Darkstalkers 4, it is a step in the right direction for Capcom. This series deserves another installment, and after playing this release I'm sure you will see why. From the fast pace action to the detailed graphics, this is what defines Capcom as the masters of 2D fighting games. Fans of the series will not be disappointed by this as will folks that haven't played a DS game in their lives. At $15 (1200 MSP), it may seem a bit pricey, but as stated before, this is definitely an attempt to bring interest back into the series. If more gamers throw caution to the wind and spend the cash, you show Capcom that this series must not die, and you get two great games in the process. Get it now, and be proud to be a Darkstalkers fan!