Friday, March 22, 2013

Darkstalkers Resurrection (PS3) Review

If one were to describe the fighting genre it would be a giant ocean filled with fireballs, weapons, and people yelling random gibberish. There are some that manage to succeed such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, but then there are others that fail really really hard. And then there those that people have barely heard off. Enter Darkstalkers; a game that pioneered the 16-bit stylized fighter and influenced a whole different sub-genre of fighting games. But who has actually played it? Yet alone heard of it? With Darkstalkers Resurrection, Capcom aims to fix that dilemma by reintroducing this classic brawler to a new generation.

Dynamic entry

Back in the day, games like Street fighter and Mortal Kombat tended to play it safe by having characters with include similar same combos or costumes. It’s pretty clear that someone at Capcom got sick of that idea and really wanted to give players something fresh and unique. This is where Darkstalkers really shines. Rather than martial arts, characters are based of fairy tales and horror books. This gave birth to a roster unseen in a fighting game before which included the likes of werewolfs, Little Red Riding Hood with an uzi, monsters, and of course vampires.

Character combos are fast, unique, and abstract. Players who are familiar with this concept may think of Marvel vs Capcom or Street Fighter Alpha and that’s essentially its core mechanic. EX moves, specials—they’re all here. But let it be known that those who are not good at timing will have a hard time enjoying Darkstalkers. This game is fast, frantic, and can be punishable at times. In short: this game demands your attention. Knowing when to strike is a must and one mistake may be fatal. Of course there are difficulty levels and tutorials to even it out but even those can be troublesome to master. 

The great thing about this package is that it includes both Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. The difference, however, is hard to distinguish--to the point that Capcom had to illustrate it in a video. Both titles tended to carry the same style and combos with a few exceptions such as different rosters and gameplay tweaks. Night Warriors leans more towards Street Fighter but with a different roster. Darkstalkers 3 on the other hand is faster and more hectic (similar to Marvel vs Capcom) which can be a good or a bad thing. In my case it felt exhausting as battles now carried over into multiple rounds with only one KO. So if you were to play a best of 5 then I hope you have a bucket of ice water ready next to you.

Online battles use the GGPO system which tries to make battles feel as lag free as possible. Sadly I was not able to connect to any match. This was possibly could be due to my geographical location.

Beauty and the pixels

The ‘Resurrection’ in the title seems about right. This game is an old corpse rising from its grave, and while Capcom has tried hard to mask this beast with various filters, in the end, it looks dated. Certain character sprites and backgrounds appear colorful yet blurry or smudged, and the sound (aside from the main menu theme songs) doesn't feel like an upgrade at all. Of course that’s not to say it doesn't look vintage. Gamers who longed for a classic old colorful sprite brawler will certainly enjoy the nostalgia. New joiners on the other hand may find this as a historical trip and see how far the fighting genre has evolved. There is also an Arcade cabinet view to give it more nostalgia but it only ends being a novelty. It’s also worth mentioning that Darkstalkers is a pretty violent game which includes blood and severed limbs. It’s a strange yet intriguing to see that much violence using Street Fight style visuals.

Even after 10 years, Darkstalkers’s animations still stand the test of time
If you were wondering about the plot, well, yes. Darkstalkers does actually have a story surrounding beasts of the night and the revival of Jedah (who I’m assuming is the main villain). But like most fighting games, it exists mainly as filler and doesn't really add much other than lines of story text at the end of a battle. One little touch I did appreciate was the short trivia’s that cycles in the main menu screen. It provides a good summary about Darkstalkers's universe and its characters before jumping in a match. 

This one’s for the fans

Darkstalkers Resurrection is a great addition to Capcom’s arsenal of fighting games. It exists in a special place where gamers can go to break off the tedium and experience something wicked, wild, and fresh. It’s certainly not for everyone and I feel that mostly fans will enjoy this love letter. At the same time I can’t help but feel that this was a test; a way of Capcom to see if there is light within the darkness. If it does manage to succeed then I definitely wouldn't mind returning to the mad and twisted universe of Darkstalkers.  



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