Darkstalkers Resurrection: Overlooked Classics

By on March 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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In the 1990s, there were so many fighting games on the market that many were banished to obscurity or at least failed to rise to the top. Some deserved it; few will seriously mourn the loss of weaker games like Time Killers or Shaq Fu outside of possible nostalgic value. Yet there were some whose only ‘crime’ was being overshadowed by Street Fighter, such as the horror-themed Darkstalkers series. Darkstalkers Resurrection puts Night Warriors (a.k.a. “Vampire Hunter”) and Darkstalkers 3 (a.k.a. “Vampire Savior”) together in a $15 (1200 Microsoft Points) download, keeping the original gameplay intact while adding several ‘quality of life’ upgrades. The result is an excellent mix of old and new as a creative cast of characters are given a well-deserved second chance.

While there are meaningful differences between the two titles, they have enough in common that a general summary can describe how either one is played. They both use a one-on-one format with an engine that seems weighted toward aggressive play, yet offer several nearly universal options for defense. Ground and air dashes usually retain their momentum even when you attack from them, so it’s important to develop the reflexes and positioning to exploit or defend against openings that wouldn’t exist in many other games. Defense mostly revolves around good blocking, though guard cancels and push-blocking ensure you get a turn to attack as well. Darkstalkers 3 is generally the faster game of the pair, due to both overall speed plus design choices such as fight positions and health meters not resetting between rounds. The overall flow in either game has some similarities to Guilty Gear and other ‘anime fighters’ (used in a positive sense), though that’s admittedly a very simplistic explanation.

Though the fighting mechanics are excellent, they only matter if there’s a good roster to capitalize on them. Thankfully, this is what Darkstalkers does best! You probably already know series regulars like Morrigan and Felicia, but there are others who are far more clever. Anakaris, for example, is a mummy who can choose to float in the air while still attacking from the ground. Or there’s Lord Raptor, a zombie that is able to move while crouching. He even has a hilarious attack set, combining chainsaws with the ability to turn opponents into basketballs (which he then slam dunks) and knocking foes away by rocking too hard. Most of the other characters are similarly interesting in both art design and play style, so it’s actually fun to just explore them before you even compete with anyone. Darkstalkers goes for quality over quantity, as both games in this pack have a roster of roughly fifteen characters. A few characters appear in only one game or the other, but the roster total is about the same.

While apparently based on the arcade versions, there are some welcome improvements to the interface. The most obvious is a proper training mode, one that is a huge improvement over what was available in Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins. While MvCO’s save state system returns, the actual training options now include telling the dummy what stance to use, what blocking behavior to follow, whether to tech roll or not, and so on. There are a few things left out, but this is now a legitimately useful mode. Other smart inclusions carried over from that previous release, including the ability to set your controls at the select screen. It still uses the faster ‘press through’ system showing what command you’re mapping, allowing you to press the key you want rather than wasting time scrolling through choices. These sort of inclusions may seem minor, but they’re conveniences we’ve rightly come to expect and it’s good to see them here.

These are fairly deep and complex games, but you’re not just thrown to the wolves. A chain combo system allows you to just ‘dial through’ the attack strengths and do decent damage before you learn better combos, and there is a character-based tutorial system. Each tutorial is short and has significant gaps in what they teach, but they nonetheless represent a realistic starting point. It doesn’t just give you a fancy combo and turn you loose; you’re taught things like what a character’s anti-air attacks are, important traits about certain moves, and even some nice tidbits like their unblockable setups. Anyone serious about getting good at either game will have to do additional research online, but having a useful teacher for the first steps is wonderful.

Online play is considered a ‘must have’ these days, and Darkstalkers Resurrection does it very well. Its mix of quick, ranked, tournament, and lobby matches is nothing unusual on its own, but the inclusion of several replay-viewing options (including YouTube uploading) stands out. Even more important is the use of GGPO netcode, which causes most matches to play very smoothly so long as you have an even halfway decent connection to your opponent. If you’re among those who have no local fighting game community and can only compete online, you should do fine so long as the player population stays healthy.

Like several of Capcom’s previous retro two-packs, this one throws in several things that don’t affect how the game is played but rather how it is viewed. You have your choice of visual filters, ranging from looking like it did on a slanted CRT monitor (complete with scanlines) to having it stretched and smoothed out to fit contemporary displays. The ‘over the shoulder’ view has also been improved, with more detail in both the arcade cabinet and the environment around it to make for a very fun way to spectate matches. The unlockables vault is back as well, allowing you to earn access to things like character ending movies and concept art. None of these are vital to have, but they’re nice details and those who enjoy exploring arcade history will appreciate it. 

Darkstalkers Resurrection is unusual for a retro fighting game re-release, as it doesn’t need cautious justifications like “nostalgia is part of the charm” and “it’s fun if you know what you’re getting into.” Even today, its component games still do a great job of providing legitimately exciting and satisfying matches. Will either of the titles in this pack gain tournament prominence? That’s ultimately up to the community, but the potential is certainly there. If you’re interested in a pair of fighters with excellent match pacing and a fantastic roster, give this a try!

Download Size: For those who need to closely monitor their hard drive usage, the Xbox 360 version is roughly 370 megabytes while the PS3 version is around 340 megabytes.

  • Michael Gacillos O’Hair

    Are not enough people buying it or something?

    • Mash Harder

      SRK has been posting reviews for new FG releases ( and re-releases ) pretty regularly. 
      This one’s pretty well written to boot.

      • RedRickDias

         Thank you! I really appreciate that, it’s good to hear from people and know whether I’m helping them or not with these pieces.

        • Emezie Okorafor

          These post-release reviews are great.  Ignore the haters.

          This is a fighting game website.

          And, new fighting game releases deserve attention like this.

          • RedRickDias

            Replying to Emezie: Sure, but I can’t “ignore the haters” immediately; it’s best to give them a chance. Look at what happened in the case of Michael here. He had been leaving snippy one-liners to similar effect on my articles for months, and the only reason I hadn’t approached him about it sooner was I just wasn’t sure how to talk to him. Now I did, and it turns out he’s not just some pointless troll.

            He has some real depth of thought to what was bugging him about these articles, and he might even be right. Maybe I’m being too… ‘clincally detached’ on some points of the review. Maybe it’s reasonable to infer I was just reading off a features list at some points, when I actually did sit down and play the games for several hours a day for the last few days.

            Perhaps the article would have been stronger if I went with more personal remarks like “the character roster makes me angry, but not because it’s bad. Rather, because it’s so full of creative ideas and I’m disappointed we don’t see more of this cast in crossover games,” followed by me going into the bit about why Anakaris and Lord Raptor are clever character designs due to their multi-height float and crouch-walk mechanics. I’ll try something like that in upcoming drafts and see if it works out.

            Maybe the GGPO bit would have been more evocative if I said “the online usually works great, well enough that you can implement strategies as though you were playing offline. I surprised one Talbain player who didn’t quite understand dash-attacks and momentum, conditioning him to jump at certain points… and then show him that in Darkstalkers, it’s sometimes possible to get anti-aired at 3/4th screen range! Combos were executed just fine as well.” It would show the reader that I definitely sat down and got some matches in with public release conditions. The problem is I have to phrase that sort of thing really carefully, or it comes across as acting like I’m some sort of invincible grandmaster who would crush Tokido, Daigo, and Infiltration all in a row while playing with just one of my knees. (For the record, I’m not.)

            Those are genuinely good points he brought up, and they wouldn’t have come out if I ignored him. By giving a ‘hater’ a chance to have a fair discussion with me, I learned there are some valid critiques against my articles. Had I been met with just more venom, then yes I would have gone on to ‘ignore the hater’… but I want to try talking first. It’s possible I just don’t understand why they’re upset, and maybe I can fix it once they tell me!

            Thanks for your support though; nice comments like yours (and seeing several people Like/upvote them) helps me feel a lot better after post-article nerves set in; a lot of hours across several days goes into these things, and seeing that they are helping people is very satisfying.

          • If you’re among those who have no local fighting game community and can only compete online, you should do fine so long as the player population stays healthy. http://www.MoneyHotspot77dollarper-hour2013.qr.net/kdJe

    • RedRickDias

      Hello Michael,

      You’ve left similar comments on some of my other articles, and I’ve never really been sure how to respond. If I’m too formal, it comes across as ‘inhuman’, a generic mouthpiece brushing you aside with a polite but useless non-answer. Too casual or flippant, and it looks like I’m getting angry with you for ‘daring’ to criticize my writing (an absurd reaction that helps nobody, reader or author alike). It’s a tough balance, but I do care about your doubts and hope I can explain myself to you.

      You’ve clearly noticed several of my articles are opinion pieces/reviews (lacking a formal review score, but they are reviews nonetheless), and most of them end with encouraging the reader to try a new release. It’s easy to see why you’re concerned by that, but I promise that I’m sincere. These articles should offer more information to readers who know a new game has come out, yet perhaps they’re in that iffy “well… maybe…” state of mind about it. How does the game flow? What’s the roster like? Is the online play good? I try to answer those sort of things and help them make a more informed decision. It’s true that I occasionally miss something (For example, my pre-release netcode tests on KOF 13. It’s a great game and the netcode worked okay then, but something fell apart once the online play was in the hands of a wider audience. That mistake has since resulted in me making VERY clear when my netcode tests are done in pre-release conditions), but I try my best to be accurate. That way, readers have useful data and can make an informed decision about whether or not to get a certain game.

      Some people don’t need that; they already have a good background in these games and can fill in the blanks themselves. Others don’t mind getting the demo and doing a ‘blind’ play-through of it. Yet others might have severe bandwidth caps, limited hard drive space, or other time constraints that mean it’s better for them to check out a few videos and articles before deciding whether to spend any more time investigating the game. In some cases, maybe they’re saying to themselves: “Well I think it sounds neat but does anyone else? Fighting games need more than one player to be fun, so I’m going to need others to play with.” It might give them the nudge they need to get over that concern.

      When I issue a positive review, it’s because I truly had a good time with the game and I’m hoping my opinion will convince others to try it out too. Hopefully I’m right in guessing that their interests line up well enough with mine. If so, then they also have fun! This will sound melodramatic, but I want to spread happiness that way. I’m also pleased when someone gives my thoughts honest consideration, then respectfully disagrees; it happened with the Dead Or Alive 5 review when a reader felt the core design of the DOA series (even with its flaws corrected) just wasn’t right for them. That’s cool; the article still helped them and I felt good about that. Or if the game is
      irredeemably bad (not just “not tournament viable” but rather “oh my god, what were you clowns thinking when you made this!?”), then I’ll say that and hope everyone saves their money.

      I can understand your concerns (and someone needs to be critical of people acting in a media capacity, it helps keep us honest), but I hope you’ll accept I’m sincere in my work. If I’m not helping readers, then I’m doing it wrong.

      • Michael Gacillos O’Hair

        Nothing wrong with the writing in this article, and there’s nothing wrong with a publicity campaign (as long as it’s not for Injustice j/k). Yes, it’s on the optimistic side of things, but if there are no negatives to report I probably won’t assume there are any.

        As has been stated before in various places, future releases of games are in way dependent on these HD remakes (see Ono Yoshinori’s twitter comments on future Darkstalkers games, I forget what day and time they appeared). That’s kind of a concern. Day One downloads are a good indicator as to the initial health of the game, but I doubt any numbers have been released. Personally, I want the game to do well. Strange as it may sound.

        The article’s a fine rundown of the game’s features. But a feature list can be obtained from various places. If I would suggest anything to be added to the article, an assessment of online play would be one thing.
        – How’s latency? Is online play smooth? How long to wait for an opponent? How many frame rollbacks or whateter, if any?
        – Variety of players. Are you running into the same players over and over again?

        If this is an editorial, then dig in and give your opinions, positive or negative. Don’t hold back. To make the decision to buy and download the game, we need more than a “what’s in the box” report of features. We need to know how the game plays and any pitfalls that require improvement.

        Here’s an example from the article:
        “Even more important is the use of GGPO netcode, which causes most
        matches to play very smoothly so long as you have an even halfway decent
        connection to your opponent.”
        Okay, we know what GGPO does. But how we’re YOUR online matches? What was YOUR experience with the game like? Really editorialize. And don’t take things personal, especially on the internet. Kappa

        Finally, one important thing missing from the article but present in your reply:
        there’s a FREE demo. We can try before we buy. That’s a very big thing to omit.

        • RedRickDias

          No sarcasm here, I’m honestly impressed by your thoughtful response! Sorry for being defensive earlier… you’ve left several similar comments in the past and while you might be right in saying “don’t take things personally”, I did misunderstand what your intent was. They seemed like personal attacks on my work ethics, so I wanted to take a clear stand on that. Apparently that’s not quite the case, and I’m really glad you’re clarifying this. I’d like to go over some of what you just said, as it is interesting.

          You have a good point regarding strength of tone in my commentary, and I’ll give that a try in the future. I’ve been avoiding it because I don’t want to come across as a braggart falsely promoting myself as a master-class player, but maybe I’m being too detached? I’ll try a few drafts with a little more personal tone to them in future articles and see how it goes. At any rate, Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 matches played great for me when I tried them out in public release conditions; I’m very confident in that assessment.

          As far as the download numbers go, I wouldn’t know. I’m not with Capcom and don’t have any special access to that information beyond what you might.

          Demos are pretty much standard issue for PSN/XBLA downloads at this point, so I presumed the reader knew they exist. Some people are reluctant to try them ‘blind’ due to seriously restrictive bandwidth limits or schedule concerns though, so I hope the extra info helps them make a decision on whether to keep looking into any given game. Not everyone needs that, but some folks seem to appreciate it.

          At any rate, I’m sorry I misunderstood the intent in your comments over the last several months. Seeing this depth of thought on your part is a pleasant surprise, and thank you for clearing it up!

  • Bryan Rosas

    As a person who never played Darkstalkers before, I must say that DS is incredibly fun and anyone hesitant about buying it, dont be.

    • Oniros

      Same situation here. If you remotely like ArcSys games you should definitely try Vampire Savior (Darkstalkers 3).

    • Someone’s never been on GGPO before if you never played DS.

      • Guest

        Many of the people buying this rerelease have never played it before, let alone ever used GGPO

        • Which is a shame on their part.

          • Pol Subanajouy

            Oh really? He’s trying to talk about his new found enjoyment of the game and all you can think to do is to pull out the same tired elitist crap telling them what a “shame” the uninitiated are? Not even trying to get people in on GGPO and fighting game community? Please, why don’t we gate off the forums from new players and watch the genre wither and nearly die from lack of new players like it almost did in the late 90s?

  • Cat Astrophy

    No mention of the missing dip switches?

    • Smang

      there are no missing dip switches. if you’re talking about the vsav ps2/saturn game with the 4 “added” characters that’s different.

      • Cat Astrophy

        We should be getting everything that was available to these two games. Skimping = no real effort which = sticking to emulators.

  • TS

    “Missing” is a rather misleading term.

  • KubikiriTurkojin

    the best thing about the dc series are the characters, i think its the only series out there that can rival samurai shodown in the characters you can choose. as in just how fucking cool they look, sound, fight and just are. 

    • Ian Kirk

       If only Samurai Shodown would get an HD and play update like KoF XII… and no, sen does not count

      • RedRickDias

         Speaking as someone personally disappointed by Sen, I agree with you: it sure as hell does NOT count! It was not AWFUL by any means, but it was generic. Very generic, and I could not find much in it that excited me. That’s a shame really, since I love the game’s visual style and felt the cast has been creative enough to hold one’s interest. Sen just felt… phoned in, and that sucked because SamSho has everything it needs to produce GOOD games.

        • the two SS 64 games deserve to be played. they’re wonderful(especially the first one). 

          • Nathaniel Montes

            Five/Zero Special deserve great netcode and quality of shelf life improvements for XBL/PSN, imo.

          • i wasn’t a fan of zero/zero special. i felt that they really didn’t bring enough new to the series. but that’s just my opinion.

  • GC001

    There were a lot of neat, original quirky fighters released for home consoles in the mid-1990s.
    There’s no question more fighting games were released between the PS1 and Sega Saturn than any other console era…  This was at the height of SNK and Capcom’s fighter development for arcades so it was obvious other companies would capitalize on that fad for home consoles to excess…  Most of these games, of course, never saw the light of day in the US or Europe.  It was a great era to import games — especially for the Saturn.

    Here’s a small sample of what got released — some of the more memorable/infamous games…
    Off the top of my head —
    the original Guilty Gear for the PS1;

    Asuka 120% Burning(?) Fighting Festival(?) on the Sega Saturn; it may have also had a PS1 release, too;
    for that matter, there were tons of other girl fighting games for the 32-bit consoles — most of them were awful, yes, but you had an occasional classic like Asuka 120%; ancestors to Skullgirls;

    Rabbit, an EA-Japan release for the Saturn which was probably the closest to a Darkstalkers clone on either the Saturn or PS1;  this was not a half-bad game!  Very uncharacteristic considering most of EA non-sports titles frankly stunk…

    Sega released a Golden Axe fighting game for the Saturn that was an obvious Samurai Shodown clone;

    prior to the 32-bit CD-based consoles, another software developer released Weapon Lord for the SNES and Sega Genesis; never played that game much, myself, and from what I experienced it’s obviously an acquired taste like the Virtua Fighter game series;

    and, of course, a ton of anime-based fighting games modelled on Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and a token Gundam fighting game or two — most of these being pooh, too.  Anime licenses 85% of the time are free money printing exercises… it’s a miracle when any of these games are actually good!

    There were quite a few anime-based fighters even on the previous generation of consoles (SNES, Sega Genesis).  There were at least 3-4 Dragon Ball Z games for the SNES and 1-2 on the Genesis; a Yu Yu Hakusho fighter was released on Sega Genesis which supported up to at least 4 players(!) simultaneously; at least 2 Sailor Moon fighters on the SNES; several Gundam fighting games including a Gundam Wing fighter on the SNES which isn’t half-bad considering the SNES’s limitations; and 3 Ranma 1/2 fighting games on the SNES.

    (Yes, I know the SNES is called the SFC in Japan but let’s not get overly technical.  Obviously, most of the anime fighters never got released outside of Japan/bigger Asia because the shows they were based on were generally not marketed outside of the region…  Even the Dragon Ball Z series didn’t show up in the US until the late 1990s…  It was initially a failure in syndication.  It didn’t become a hit in the US until it debuted on Cartoon Network around 2000.)

    (There was never really a territorial lock on the SNES per se…  The cartridges were shaped a bit differently between the US and Japan.  Original SFC releases had smaller cartridges…  All you had to do to play these games on an American SNES was break off two plastic tabs on the inside of the SNES console OR buy a cart slot adapter that slid into the SNES cartridge slot and place the SFC cart onto that.  I don’t think the SFC had any options short of doing drastic plastic cutting for playing American SNES releases other than using a cart slot adapter…  The cartridge slot on the SFC was smaller than the SNES.)

    (I only ever imported two SFC games myself.  Those suckers were expensive and really not priced much more than the Japanese market price.  Even at best yen-to-dollar conversions, these games usually started around $70-$75 and more than a few sold above the $80 range, too.)

    They never did release a REALLY GOOD Ranma 1/2 fighting game.  The PS1 game was a joke with awful CG modelling and par for the course mediocre animation.  It was basically a slow-paced Tekken knock-off… with animal and gender transformations.  The best Ranma fighter by far was Ranma 1/2: Super Battle for the SNES.  Again, this was another game that never got a US release.  It WAS announced as being in development for North America and there was a rumor that the English dub cast for the Ranma anime series DID record lines for the American localization.  {At a con, I asked Cathy Weseluck, the English speaking voice of Shampoo for the Ocean/Viz dub of Ranma 1/2 if the recording session for this game ever happened.  She honestly couldn’t remember since it would have been close to 20 years ago.  It was possible but not very likely.}   The company that had the license for the Super Battle game went out of business after Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle (SNES), a truly execrable fighting game, didn’t sell well.  (Most famous tag line for Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle — a very excited, over-acted “I win!” spoken by Akane.  The English voices for the US localization of Hard Battle were NOT the actors from the Ocean Studios/Viz dub of the Ranma anime series.)

  • Talk about revisionist history. Darkstalkers was NOT overlooked one fucking bit, these games were big and borderline mainstream on their release. If we’re talking Karnov’s Revenge or World Heroes Perfect then yeah, those games fell between the cracks for all but the hardcore community and some Asian countries. Darkstalkers did relatively well and even had mainstream advertising. In fact after Sam Sho II I’d say Darkstalkers was the best received 2d fg that was a non-SF game in North America.

    • Guest

      I remember Darkstalkers 3 getting full page/back cover advertisements in North American magazines like Gamepro and Tips & Tricks.

      • David Nicholas Ronzon Hanson

        Yeah at the time I split my time between the UK and Mexico so I’m not an expert on the US but my bro has hundreds of US comics and mags from the era and the game was heavily promoted. One of the problems was no good home realse in the states but to present this game as some under the radar sleeper hit is bull shit, if you lived in California or London or Mexico city the game was there and people played it. I have to admit though it was the craziest year with mvc1, alpha3, sf3 2ndI, tekken3, kof98 so it wasn’t the biggest title, it just wasn’t overlooked like say, martial masters or fighting vipers 2.

    • ookamunka

      Darkstalkers 1 had a big almost mainstream release here in the states. Nightwarriors did NOT, as a matter of fact, I have only ever seen ONE US Nightwarriors board, and that was one I bought like 15 years ago by calling up Capcom’s coin-op department and buying it from them directly. Vamipre Savior got a little better release than NW, but still didn’t have the best distritubion in the world. Compared to the US, the game was more popular just about everywhere else. Home versions might have done well, I’m not really sure about sales data for any of that, but talking from an arcade/tournament/competitive player standpoint, no, it was as a whole overlooked compared to most other fighters that came out during that era.

      • Nathaniel Montes

        I was lucky to be able to enjoy Vampire Savior for 3-6 months in Anchorage, AK back in 1997.