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The Dark Stalker Rises (Again)

In 2013, the idea of Capcom having a wide variety of fighting games under their belt is nothing to find surprising. In 1993, however, they were known for one—and only one—fighting franchise: Street Fighter. The Japanese developer had made the genre an overnight sensation with Street Fighter II, and everyone from SNK to Atari tried their best to come up with next big thing in 1-on-1 martial-arts combat. No doubt hoping to convince gamers that they weren’t a one-hit wonder, Capcom went on to launch an entirely new series a year later: Darkstalkers. While Street Fighter II always held some level of larger-than-life psychic powers, such as fireballs of focused chi or body-generated electrical shields, Capcom really went all out in this new project. Characters were based on popular B-movie monster stereotypes, with their attacks consisting of fantastical, over-the-top abilities or body movements. The result? A game that was bright, loud, distinct—and very, very weird. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Darkstalkers, along with its sequels Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3. On a personal level, the games have never completely clicked with me. A huge part of it, I think, is the character roster. Capcom’s cast of horror homages are creative and unique, and the colorful, detailed sprite work that brings them to life still looks fantastic today. However, outside of a few choices, the roster holds little appeal to me and my sometimes-picky preferences. Sticking points on character designs aside, what matters most is the gameplay itself—and here, I give full credit to both how groundbreaking the Darkstalkers series was, as well as how Capcom’s efforts still stand up to this day. That lasting quality is why they’ve always had faithful fans, and why those fans have continually asked Capcom to resurrect the series. Enter Darkstalkers Resurrection (pun perhaps intended). While it might not be the new chapter that many have hoped and begged for, Capcom—via ports done by Iron Galaxy Studios—has brought back the arcade versions of Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 for a new generation of platforms (and fans). Resurrection builds upon the work previously done in Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, and it’s once again an example that Capcom cares about bringing back their classic fighting games in a proper way. The collection’s interface is stylish and easy to navigate, and I appreciate little touches such as the series trivia that continually pops up or the unique color schemes depending on which game you’ve selected. Presentation of the games themselves can be customized with visual filters, scanlines, and other options, and you’ll also have access to Capcom’s now-customary array of border options. While I can’t say that I’d ever use the choice that presents the game as an arcade cabinet seen from an off angle, I love that the choice exists. Of course, what’s most important is how Resurrection handles the multiplayer experience—because, really, that’s why you own games like Darkstalkers. The collection is built upon the now-infamous GGPO (“Good Game Peace Out”) networking library, so it’s unsurprising that the netcode was typically solid and smooth during my online outings. Even better, the options screen allows for tweaking the level of GGPO delay (to set your preferred input-delay balance), along with what level of ping you find acceptable in opponents. In addition to all of the expected multiplayer options, players can also set up their own tournaments, and replays—an area that Capcom’s been especially good about supporting in their fighting-game releases—can not only be saved and viewed but also uploaded directly to YouTube. However, I missed one feature here that’s present in other Capcom efforts: the ability to receive challengers while playing through single-player. Thankfully, we’ll be getting that ability via an upcoming patch. What probably won’t be patched is one of the other hitches I found in multiplayer: It can be very confusing to figure out which character selection reticule you are when starting up an online match. There’s no clear indication of which side you’ll be playing on until a round starts, and if you begin moving your selector when your opponent does—a common occurrence—it can take a moment to clarify which you are. Really, it’s a small complaint, but I’d love to see a clearer indication of whether you’re on the 1P or 2P side before making your character choice. Obviously, your appreciation for Darkstalkers Resurrection will come down to one question: Do you like Darkstalkers? The series isn’t one of Capcom’s most casual-friendly experiences, but for those who can connect with the games, this is a great effort in bringing the series back into the spotlight. Sure, there’s some discussion that could be had about the scope of this project—and whether it should have also tried to incorporate some of the arcade and home variations for the included games. That argument aside, taken for what it is, Resurrection does a fantastic job of presenting these Capcom cult classics. Fighting games—outside of the few that go super-mainstream—live or die on the competition you can find to play against, and Darkstalkers has often been one of those titles where you’d end up always stuck playing alone because none of your friends had any clue the series even existed. So, with Darkstalkers Resurrection, another deserving fighting-game universe has been given a new lease on life via the power of our current batch of consoles and their online capabilities.

Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios • Publisher: Capcom • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 03.12.2013
Though the games themselves may be a little too obscure or esoteric for some fighting-game fanatics, Capcom’s underappreciated Darkstalkers series has been brought back in fantastic fashion in Darkstalkers Resurrection. Longtime devotees can now relive the games once again, and—hopefully—new fans of the series can be born.
The Good The series’ fighting engine and 2D visuals are still as strong as ever.
The Bad The Darkstalkers character roster and gameplay aesthetics won’t be for everyone.
The Ugly To this day, I still don’t understand Capcom USA’s love for changing character names from their Japanese incarnations.
Darkstalkers Resurrection is available on PSN and XBLA. Primary version reviewed was for PSN.

About Mollie L Patterson

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Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Find her on Twitter @mollipen.