Reviewer’s Rating: ★★★
While the “Street Fighter” series has gone on to become a household name, hardcore fighting gamers have been calling for the return of another of Capcom’s great fighting series, the fast-paced, horror-movie-themed “Darkstalkers.” With the release of “Darkstalkers Resurrection” the werewolves, vampires and creatures of the night that make up the “Darkstalkers” world are getting some well-deserved spotlight.
“Darkstalkers” is what happens when the company that makes “Street Fighter” falls asleep after an energy drink binge and a monster movie marathon. While all the fireballs and uppercuts that fighting gamers have come to expect are present, these conventions are toyed with in screwball ways that mirror the oversaturated genius of the game’s characters. Almost every character has something that makes them completely unique, like Victor’s electricity powers or Donovan’s sentient sword. When the most vanilla character in the game has a super move that involves flipping the opponent’s gender and sucking their blood, it’s pretty clear that the game makers let their creativity run wild.
While the two games contained within “Darkstalkers Resurrection” are over 15 years old, the stylish 2D animation has more character in one scaly monster toe than some whole games. Cartoonish twists on movie monster clichés result in handsome fish men, kung-fu werewolves, Aztec robots and adorable sasquatches, and these memorable designs are a big part of why fans wanted to see the series make a comeback. After all, why settle for a zombie when you can have an Australian rock-n-roll zombie?
What’s most impressive is that despite all of the quirky characters and the thumb-busting speed of the gameplay, it’s actually pretty balanced. With the exception of the too-quirky-for-his-own-good mummy Anakaris, every character can hold their own, no matter how many missiles, tidal waves or tiny cat children the opponent throws at them. This balanced gameplay, smooth online play and matches that are over in the blink of an eye make for an addictive multiplayer experience.
New players will undoubtedly be put in their grave by veterans, since the “Darkstalkers” games offer little help to newbies other than a few tutorials that cover only the basics of each character. It’s a shame that, after all the re-releases of classic fighting games that Capcom has been doing lately, they have still yet to provide a truly comprehensive tutorial mode. “Resurrection” features a library of terms like “chicken guarding” and “renda bonus” but showing is better than telling, and most gamers will never uncover all the depth this series has to offer because of it. This is “Resurrection’s” greatest weakness, but it’s by no means a stake in its heart.
As with most classic fighting games, there’s not much of a single player experience to speak of. Sure, each character has a cute little ending consisting of two or three still images and some dialogue, but multiplayer is really the only thing on the ticket. As with previous Capcom re-releases, unlockable concept art and movies are available in the Vault, which makes for a nice distraction between winning (or losing) streaks.
With its high learning curve and unforgiving nature, “Resurrection” takes a long time to attain proficiency, even more so than in slower games like “Street Fighter.” However, the cool and often hilarious homages (or spoofs, if you prefer) of monster movies that make up the cast will draw in even casual gamers. Those who can take the punishment will eventually find a way to bring out their inner monster and never look back.