Video Game Review: ‘Darkstalkers: Resurrection’ Awakens Dormant Franchise

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CHICAGO – “Darkstalkers: Resurrection” is the latest effort in a series of attempts by Capcom to capitalize on their storied past by releasing compilations of popular games to the XBLA. “Resurrection” collects the bizarrely titled “Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge” and “Darkstalkers 3”, into one convenient package along with an assortment of goodies including bonus videos, art, youtube replays, and a bunch of other stuff to hopefully satiate the desires of the long neglected fan base. Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

The “Darkstalkers” series is notable for a few reasons beyond being that game with the sexy green-haired bat-looking-girl on the front cover that made kids feel a wee-bit uncomfortable when passing it at their local Blockbuster video back in the day. For starters, its aforementioned fan-base is ravenous. Heck, a quick google search for Darkstalkers cosplay will almost certainly knock you out (but trust me, leave safesearch on…or don’t). The anime based on the property is pretty incredible in its own right, if my anime friend is to be believed, and the setting is quite unique. It also introduced things like reversals, air-blocking and others to the fighting game fold.

Darkstalkers Resurrection
Darkstalkers Resurrection
Photo credit: Capcom

The setting for both games is a weird mash up of classic horror tropes and kung-fu, along with a couple of weird additions like a Superman esque character, and a girl who happens to be part adorable cat. Considering the number of games that tend to involve the same premise of a bunch of karate masters fighting in an all important tournament, it’s a nice breath of fresh air to play as a guy who looks like frankenstein, or a Dracula esque dude who shoots bats from his cape. If you’re so inclined, you can spend hours researching the lore of the franchise and find some really unique stuff, including a guy who took kung-fu classes to get his werewolf transformations under control, and instead ended up teaching his werewolf self kung-fu.

Darkstalkers Resurrection
Darkstalkers Resurrection
Photo credit: Capcom

“Darkstalkers: Resurrection” lore and unique personality translates to the graphics, as well. Released in 1997 right as 3D graphics were becoming the norm, Darkstalkers uses that extra computational power to create fluid animations and gorgeous fighting backdrops. A nice bonus is the ability to play with a whole boatload of filters for the game, including the ability to sharpen or blur graphics, turn on and off scan lines, and a variety of border views - including an arcade cabinet view that will evoke giggles of nostalgia - to customize your viewing experience. There’s very little slowdown on the Xbox, and the fluidity of the animation is gorgeous to look at as fighting games from this era always are.

As for the gameplay, I’m going to…assume it’s good. I’m no fighting game expert, and after reading what fans on message boards and various forums have said, they all appear to be very happy with their ability to bust out crazy combos and special moves, which is great. As a casual player, I enjoyed the ability to check a move-list mid-match and have some success against the computer, but alas my skill in fighting games tends to peter out somewhere after down-forward-attack and mashing the punch button. So a lot of the nuance and appeal of this game is unfortunately, lost on me.

However, that doesn’t stop me from recognizing what an incredible package “Darkstalkers: Resurrection” truly is especially for the long neglected fans of the franchise - the amount of bonus content included is staggering. You can unlock costumes, ending videos, character art, concept art, and well over a hundred other items in each game by winning fights, earning points and spending them on the bonuses of your choosing. The online system is robust and in-depth, and while there is a hint of lag, it’s pretty easy to get used to after a couple of rounds.

Much like fans of classic cars, fighting game fans are fickle, have their favorites, and tend to not differ from those. I have a friend who’s number one on the leaderboard of the XBLA re-release of “Mortal Kombat 3”, for example, and it’s literally all he plays. With that in mind, I have no problem completely recommending “Darkstalkers: Resurrection” to anyone who’s a fan of the franchise, a fan of fighting games, a fan of goth girls, or wants to see what it’s all about - Capcom has truly done you a solid. Now if they’d only get around to poor ole Mega-man.

“Darkstalkers Resurrection” was released by Capcom on March 16, 2013. The version reviewed was for the Xbox 360 but the game is also available for the PS3 and PC.

By Paul Meekin
Staff Writer

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