Darkstalkers Resurrection – Review

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Platform | Release Date
PSN | March 12, 2013
XBLA | March 13, 2013
Developed by Iron Galaxy
Published by Capcom

The Pitch:

Darkstalkers Resurrection updates to two games for the price of one – Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. These feature classic gameplay and unique characters as well as a host of new features, including a variety of HD visual modes, online play with 8-player lobbies, YouTube replay sharing, improved challenge modes, dynamic awards, and unlockable extras. Embrace the dark!

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The Darkstalkers franchise used to be Capcom’s fighting game proving grounds for new ideas. Before Street Fighter Alpha and many others went anime, Darkstalkers did it with an iconic cast of characters and richly detailed backgrounds. It was also the origin of many gameplay mechanics that are now commonplace, such as air blocking, enhanced special moves, and chain combos.

Besides being used to subsidize Capcom’s other fighters, the series grew into one of the genre’s finest. Case in point, the two titles contained in Darkstalkers Resurrection still look great and are as enjoyable to play as many of its modern contemporaries. Much of its staying power can be credited towards a solid gameplay foundation and cool ideas that differentiate it to this day. Everything from their implementation of chain combos to Dark Force abilities in the third installment are deep and balanced, which gives players of all skill levels a lot of tools to get creative.

Darkstalkers_2In particular, I dig the clumsily-named Damage Gauge System in Darkstalkers 3. Instead of the standard round-based format, fights take place across one round and each fighter gets two health bars that don’t reset. When a character empties a health bar, there’s only a slight pause in the action before the battle continues. On paper, it sounds weird, but I love how it keeps the action going at a breakneck pace. This structure is highly uncommon, though NetherRealm Studios deemed it worthy enough for use in Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Its mostly horror-themed combatants also go a long way towards making this a unique experience. In what other game can you play as a rock and roll zombie, a nunchuck-swinging werewolf, or an Uzi-toting Little Red Riding Hood? Their distinct personalities carry into their fighting styles, which opens up a lot of cool gameplay opportunities. My personal favorite move is Lord Raptor’s basketball super, where he squashes his opponent into a ball and slam dunks them through a net, though there are no shortage of imaginative standouts.

Darkstalkers_4Of the two games contained in Resurrection, Darkstalkers 3 is most deserving of your time. While Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge is solid, its successor features more refined gameplay and a better roster. Unless you’re a diehard fan of the characters that didn’t make the jump to 3, there isn’t much reason to go back. Long-time fans will note that there were home ports that brought the entire cast together into one experience, though I presume this wasn’t done here for the sake of arcade accuracy.

Going into this, I was afraid that the bare bones feature set that Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins had would make its return here. To my surprise, Iron Galaxy went the extra mile to make these features better than what you’ll find in many modern fighters. Online play contains the standard suite of of modes and features, such as ranked matches, 8-man player match lobbies, and leaderboards. With GGPO netcode as its backbone and a set of region filters on hand, my matches ran with no noticeable lag. Ranked matches have also been optimized in a way where the game will immediately pair you with a new opponent after your previous battle ends, cutting your time in menus considerably. It’s a really smart approach to ranked play that I hope others build on.

After each online match, you’re given the opportunity to save your replay locally. From there, you can upload it to your personal YouTube account or the in-game match server. While replay channels aren’t new to the genre, Resurrection takes things a step further with a search tool capable of sorting matches by character, player rating, region, and match score. There’s even a search field titled Tag, which I thought meant you could search by gamertag, though this isn’t the case. Instead, Tag refers to the search words that players include with their videos. In theory, this is a great way to make content easier to find. Unfortunately, most players aren’t including tags yet, making this particular function useless for now. Here’s to hoping that the community will embrace it eventually.

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Where this package really shines is in the way it educates players through its tutorial and challenge modes. They take the time to teach you very rich information about each character, from their overall strengths and weaknesses, right down to granular bits of knowledge such as mix-ups, anti-air maneuvers and unblockable setups where applicable. Fighting game players are used to having to gather pro tips of this caliber from strategy guides or community-made tutorial videos, but having it built into the game as part of an interactive teaching tool is a logical step forward. I wish there was even more training content to grasp, but what’s present is enough to set you on the right track.

Capcom’s progressive approach to the Darkstalkers franchise back in the 90s continues to pay dividends with Resurrection. Beyond its inherent nostalgia value, players will still have a blast pummeling monsters into submission and its suite of modern features should breathe new life into this long-dormant series. Of the golden era fighting games available on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, this is one of the best. Now that they’ve proven that Morrigan and company can hang in the present, the obvious question for Capcom now is, “When do we finally get a new one?”

About Jett Landicho

Jett Landicho is an editor for Splitkick and host of The Recurring Bosscast. Check out more of his video game musings at inthirdperson.com
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