Normally when you think of Capcom fighting games, the first game that'll pop into your mind will likely be the Hadouken happy, and somewhat crazy, Street Fighter. However, while it's their most successful fighting series, it's also arguably their least weird. If you find that hard to believe, Darkstalkers is an essential piece of evidence, and Darkstalkers Resurrection is Capcom's HD collection of two of the games in the series, making this the perfect chance for you to find out just how insane, but also great, these games can be.
Released around the mid to late 90s, Darkstalkers was essentially Capcom's take on a fighting game series based on gothic horror. The various characters are inspired by mythological horror creatures, from the the beeutiful (no pun intended!) insect Q-Bee to the aquatic merman Rikou to even undead rockstar Lord Raptor. Featuring a highly stylized, cartoon graphics inspired by anime, Darkstalkers is also a fair bit more violent than Street Fighter. However, it is more tongue-in cheek than say Mortal Kombat and it shows through the zany super moves; B.B Hood, the game's resident crazed Red Riding Hood girl comically blows up characters with an apple bomb, while Lilith, a succubus, has a move where you have to actually play a rhythm-action minigame to damage your opponent.
As previously mentioned, Darkstalkers Resurrection features two games from the series; Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (number 2) and Darkstalkers 3. Night Warriors is the more basic of the two, with less characters and a typical fighting game system, where you beat your opponent up until you've reduced their health to zero. 3, however is more interesting; rounds you win don't restore the your health to full; therefore your opponent will be at an advantage unless you can be tactful about your skills. Both games were also amongst the first fighting games to introduce a full-fledged combo system with a pair of basic light, medium and heavy attacks, something that is now commonplace today. However, it's hard to decide which is the superior game in the pack, as both play so differently (some characters control in a completely different manner between the two games) everyone will likely have an individual preference. One major downside of Darkstalkers 3 is that it lacks some characters present in Night Warriors, despite previous versions of the game having them. Most likely this is to draw you into the 2nd game to play as said characters, but it still would have been nice to see them brought into the 3rd game too.
Capcom have also given this chilling compilation the same treatment as some of their other HD digital titles like Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Online and Marvel Vs Capcom Origins - the graphics have a filtering option that you can modify to your liking, either making them look smoother, or like they would on the original arcade machine, and you can even play the game from the perspective of an arcade cabinet player! Online play has been included with 8 player lobbies, and there's even the fantastic ability to upload replays of your matches to YouTube, which is something more games should really be taking advantage of. The online itself is incredibly smooth, potentially the best Capcom have offered in any of their HD fighting remakes. This especially makes the option to watch videos of other fighters brawling and rate their matches a worthwhile one as you'll rarely encounter lag, and thus be able to learn fully from these.
Also included in Darkstalkers 3 is an actual tutorial mode, which helps you get to grips with the basics of fighting, even explaining in depth terms like cross-ups (a rather complex jumping move that's incredibly tricky to block). Better yet, every character even has their own unique tutorial, helping you learn each one's ins and outs. One annoying feature, however, is how tedious and unnecessarily long it takes to bring up the list of moves when you want to look up how to do certain attacks. You have to pause, scroll down, and then check for them, going across several pages. A simple button press to provide quick access to this list would have solved this issue, which, while minor shouldn't be present and is enough to be an additional frustration when you're struggling to do certain tutorials.
Extra features include a Vault system, where you unlock concept art for the characters, the cutscenes for fighters in both Arcade Modes and a little bit more. Items in the vault are unlocked by using a points system, which rewards you for achieving goals - however, every task you're set is pretty simple, and it won't be very long before the Vault is fully completed. As such, it's difficult to justify the price of Darkstalkers Resurrection, on both PSN for £11.99 and XBLA for 1200 Microsoft Points, especially when games with more content and better visuals are available for much less. However, if you're the type who can really sink your teeth into a fighting game, Darkstalkers will most definitely work out for you...but those who buy this purely for offline play will find their fun short-lived.
Despite the price tag and other present niggles, Resurrection is not only a fantastic HD fighting game port, but also a superb oppourtunity to finally sample one of Capcom's more underrated, but highly enjoyable and unique games that is still heavily referenced and acknowledged in their other titles today. If you've always been intrigued by the cameos Capcom has given the series and want to see what makes it such a joy to play, head to your nearest bed and start hunting around for some change...but be wary; there's no telling what lies under there in contrast with this frightening fighting game.
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360