While Capcom’s Darkstalkers franchise has never enjoyed the same level of fanatic enthusiasm as its bigger brother Street Fighter, the monster mash of fighting games has still maintained a devoted following despite not receiving a true new entry since 1997. Ardent fans have been howling for the return of Felicia and company since Street Fighter IV revitalised the fighting genre, and Darkstalkers Resurrection seems to be a giant step in the right direction.
The package contains two games: 1995’s Night Warriors: Darkstalker’s Revenge and 1997’s Darkstalkers 3. Both are faithfully ported from the original arcade releases, and while that means that several features included in their console ports are left by the wayside, it gives purists the chance to play the games as they were originally presented – for better or worse.
If you’ve played a Capcom fighter before, you’ll feel right at home diving into the world of Darkstalkers. A six-button control scheme and quarter-circle special moves are the order of the day, although Darkstalkers does include several features that set it apart from Street Fighter. Mechanics like fireballs colliding and overpowering each other in Night Warriors, and the winning combatant not regaining their full health bar in between rounds in Darkstalkers 3, help to give the game a unique identity.
Not that it needs the help, though. What truly makes the Darkstalkers series special is the colourful cast of monsters and misfits that is unlike any line-up offered by other games in the genre. From the iconic succubus Morrigan to zombie rocker Lord Raptor to human insect Q-Bee, the amount of variety is staggering. While players tend to find one character in a fighting game they like and stick with them, the generous assortment of macabre pugilists will have you itching to try out every single one.
The series’ signature art style allows the graphics to stand out despite this not being an HD remake. Various visual filters can be applied to tweak the game to your liking, including adding scanlines and a “curve” to the image to simulate playing the game on an old CRT monitor. The title still looks great no matter what you do, although we’d advise against stretching the image to widescreen – messing with the aspect ratio is a quick way to destroy the visual quality.
Aside from the two games themselves, Darkstalkers Resurrection offers up plenty of bonus features. Similar to Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, the left side of your screen keeps track of various goals and milestones achieved while playing. These tasks, like throwing opponents a certain number of times or winning X amount of matches, are a nice carrot-on-a-stick, and add a sense of progression and accomplishment to the package.
In an attempt to appeal to those who don’t know the name Daigo or have the dates for EVO circled on their calendar, the game offers plenty of tips to familiarise players with common fighting game terms like OTG and cross-up, while also packing in trials for each character to offer instructions on combos of increasing difficulty. This effort is nice to see from Capcom, as fighting games are generally regarded as having a high barrier of entry and intimidating to new players. For a series as niche as Darkstalkers that probably isn’t going to bring in a ton of fresh blood, it’s a step above and beyond.
And you’ll want to get in as much practice as you can before hopping online and duking it out with Night Warriors around the world. Capcom’s netcode is once again awesome – during our sessions we experienced zero lag, allowing us to get our rear ends handed to us as quickly as if our opponents were on the couch next to us. More robust features like spectating and tournaments are on offer, but the most notable addition is the ability to save replays and upload them to YouTube, giving players better than us an avenue to show off their prowess to as large an audience as possible.
Darkstalkers Resurrection is a solid package, shining a well-deserved spotlight on the dusty franchise, and allowing old fans and newcomers alike to spend quality time with the unforgettable cast. Word on the street is that the compilation is being used to gauge interest in a franchise revival, so don’t miss out – it’s two enjoyable, classic games that could lead to a brand new one. And that’s hard to say no to.