Review: Darkstalkers Resurrection
Fighting games have made a significant comeback these last few years. Spearheading this trend is Capcom and their wealth of Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom related releases. While it may not enjoy the same widespread popularity as Marvel vs. Capcom (and certainly not Street Fighter), Capcom’s Darkstalkers series is an important franchise and one that has many passionate fans, despite the fact that the last truly new entry into the series was released in 1997.
Darkstalkers Resurrection compiles Darkstalkers 3 and Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and throws in slightly updated visuals and a few new features. Hardcore fighting fans and nostalgia hunters will probably be drawn to this title, but can it trade blows with some of the newer fighting titles?
Visually, Darkstalkers Resurrection definitely shows its age. Of the two titles included, Darkstalkers 3 is the newer and generally better looking component. The sprites and stages have apparently been updated, but I wasn’t immediately able to tell. For all intents and purposes, these games still look almost exactly the same way they did when they first released well over a decade ago. This isn’t necessarily a negative though, since the series has always sported some uniquely detailed sprites and very interesting stages.
Some visual updates are readily apparent, though. These include the smaller portraits on the character select screen and the main menu. The character designs are nightmarish and unique for the genre. The Darkstalkers 3 roster consists of a werewolf, a swamp monster, a ghoul, a succubus and various other monsters. There are a number of visual filters you can use to slightly adjust the look of the sprites and stages. There are also a number of different views you can use while spectating in the game, including one that simulates watching an arcade cabinet from various angles.
In general the visuals maintain the same charm they did all those years ago, but I worry that the games might look quite dated to anyone who isn’t looking for heated high level competition or a trip down memory lane.
I absolutely love the music in Darkstalkers Resurrection. It’s all ambient and kind of dark sounding with lots of spooky organs and strings, while some of the tracks have dance or techno elements. There a few newly remixed tunes in the game, but I personally prefer the older tracks. The post-match tracks for some of the characters are really nice, too. All of the character voices are in Japanese, but they are also pretty cool. Every ghoulish combatant, from the werewolf to the vampire to the mummy, sound just as you’d expect them to.
Darkstalkers Resurrection doesn’t offer as much in the way of a story mode or campaign as most new fighters. You won’t get more than a single special fight with dialogue at the end of each character’s arcade mode, as well as the brief arcade mode endings. This isn’t a game changer to anyone who has already played these games or is picking them up solely for competitive online play, but it’s another area where the game really demonstrates how old it is.
Darkstalkers Resurrection does throw random bits of Darkstalkers lore out while you’re browsing the menus, which is a pretty neat addition. Again, if you’ve already played either of the games included in this bundle, or are focused on sinking your teeth into the intense online competition, this dearth of story-related content won’t come as a surprise or a troubling omission. If you’re new to the Darkstalkers world, though, this might be something you want to at least consider.
Dated visuals and lack of a well conveyed story aside, the main attraction of Darkstalkers Resurrection is the game-play. The two included games play considerably differently from one another, though there are a number of similarities. Night Warriors is the older and slower of the two games. Characters deal a bit less damage than they do in Darkstalkers 3, and the general game-play is slower, allowing for a bit more calculation.
Darkstalkers 3 on the other hand is very, very fast. I was quite young when I first played it, but I honestly don’t remember the characters flying around the screen quite this quickly. Although you may be tempted to start playing Darkstalkers 3 (which is justifiable since it seems to be more popular online), Night Warriors is probably a better starting point. One of the main differences between the two games is the way a round ends. In Night Warriors the round ends in a more traditional fashion and both character return with renewed stamina in the next round.
In Darkstalkers 3 the “K’Oed” character only falls to the ground for a brief moment and then regains their composure. This helps keep the game’s pace fast and furious.
Darkstalkers 3 features several game-play intricacies that have become standard since its original release. These include push-blocking, tech hits, EX attacks which consume meter, and more. The combos in Darkstalkers 3 can eat huge amounts of stamina. The most skilled players I faced destroyed my characters in a matter of seconds. The game-play is largely technical and is on the whole less beginner-friendly than what is featured in many newer fighting games. The inputs are also a tad bit stricter. My Z-motion or “shoryuken” attacks didn’t come out nearly as easily as they do in BlazBlue.
This may trouble newer genre fans who enjoy the simplicity of games like Persona 4: Arena or Street Fighter X Tekken, while it may please older hardcore genre fans. High level play is very exciting to watch and is also very fast.
To help ease players into the deep game, Darkstalkers 3 features a number of character-specific tutorials. These explain some of each characters unique attacks and ways and situations in which they should be used. You’ll still learn most things from either playing the game yourself or from somewhere on the internet, but having a starting point right there on the main menu is invaluable. Night Warriors doesn’t include these tutorials but instead offers a challenge mode to teach players a variety of combos.
The game also features a functional training mode, in which you can hone your skills and practice your combos and setups in a variety of situations.
Rounding out the new single player content is the vault, which holds art and music that you can unlock with points you earn from playing the game. This system is identical to the one featured in Capcom’s other fighting game re-releases. I’m a big fan of Darkstalkers’ character designs and concepts, so this mode offers a good motivation to keep playing the game and unlocking new elements.
For its online suites, Darkstalkers Resurrection uses GGPO netcode – the same that is seen in Skullgirls, and Capcom’s own Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition and Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins re-releases. Although I only played a couple of days after the game’s launch, the online connectivity seems fair. In matches against players on my friends list (whom I know I have good connections to), we experienced little to no lag. In matches against some random players, the connection did seem spotty and I experienced some lag here and there.
As long as you target players from the same region and with decent pings, your matches should be smooth. You can create lobbies with as many as eight players, spectate the matches of other players, and engage in both ranked and player matches. There’s also a quick match feature that pairs you up immediately with another player, though it doesn’t seem like the most popular feature.
Technically speaking, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Darkstalkers Resurrection. It features two arcade classics with added online functionality, slightly enhanced visuals and new features. My only personal problem with the game is that it feels so dated and somewhat lazy on Capcom’s part. The youngest game here came out in 1997 and the very slight visual update doesn’t even try to conceal the game’s age. For the same $15 you can get the much better looking Skullgirls – which also offers more in the way of a story campaign – or the much more popular Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition.
However, even though Capcom could have done more to update these games (redone sprites would have been amazing), these are still two rich and influential fighters with an unforgettable cast of characters and some deep game-play systems.
The Darkstalkers series never seemed to get quite the praise and attention it deserved. Darkstalkers Resurrection brilliantly introduces the series to a new generation of gamers and gives series vets the chance to revisit these classics again, with enhancements and online play (although Darkstalkers 3 has been a popular GGPO mainstay for years now). For $15 you’re getting two different fighters with deep combat, online play and what is perhaps the most unique character roster in fighting games.
Although more probably could have been done to freshen up Night Warriors (which is nearly 20 years old now), there’s no denying how awesome these games are or the impact they’ve had on the genre.