Let’s go back to a time where your iPhone doesn’t exist; a simpler time predating social media, the internet, and high end gaming PCs. Let’s go back to the late 80’s to early 90’s. Back then the only way gamers can socialize with each other was at the arcade: the digital dojo where Gen Xers like me sharpened our skills on games that where graphically superior than our home consoles. It was a time where people would line up to play fighting games like Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat; where all your shit talking had to be done face to face instead of headset to headset (There were a lot of quiet preteens back then).
SNK wanted to cash in on the fighting game craze of the time, so they launched their MVS systems; These where arcade cabinets that could hold multiple games much like the Nintendo’s “Play Choice Ten” cabinets released in the early 80’s. The graphics of the MVS where highly stylized and well animated. The controls handled with precision and finesse. There was even a memory slot for those who wanted to save their progress and continue their game on the AES, the home console that no one at the time could really afford. The MVS introduced us to games like “Fatal Fury” and “Art of fighting”; these so called “Street Fighter clones” where innovative in their own way, introducing us to multi-hit combos, reversals, and super combo finishers to name a few. The SNK fighting games began to pick up steam with arcade gamers and Capcom took notice. They revamped their Street Fighter series, adding more characters and adapting some of SNK’s fighting game mechanics, only with faster gameplay and higher quality graphics. Even though they were still the first name in the fighting game genre, Capcom knew that gamers would eventually grow tired of seeing the same Street Fighter characters over and over again. Before Capcom reached out the Marvel Comics for their monumental “Marvel VS Capcom” series, they redesigned some classic movie monsters and gave them their own series of fighting games called “Darkstalkers”
Darkstalkers used the gameplay system Capcom developed for the Street Fighter II series, but with several new gameplay features such as Air Blocking, Crouch Walking and Chain Combos. The game featured a Special meter similar to the “Super Combo” gauge from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which the player could fill up to perform either a unique “super combo”-type move much like the previous Super Turbo (called “ES” in the Darkstalkers series), or a powered-up version of one of their specials (called “EX”, and a concept which would appear in later Darkstalkers games as well as Street Fighter III). Unlike the Super Combo gauge in Super Turbo, the Special in Darkstalkers gradually drains unless the player performs their super move, preventing players from preserving their super moves for later use. Darkstalkers was well received by arcade gamers and critics alike with an average score of 9/10. Capcom released two follow-ups: Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. Night Warriors pretty much had the same fighting mechanics as its predecessor however Darkstalkers 3 introduced additional characters into the Darkstalkers universe including Morrigan’s shadow, Lilith and soul-devouring queen Q-Bee. The game adds a one-round system for even faster-paced gameplay (adapted from the Killer Instinct series) and the Dark Force system which gives each character a unique ability that can be performed for a limited time.
Recently developers Iron Galaxy expertly ported Nightwarriors and Darkstalkers 3 to the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network as a completion game: “Darkstalkers Resurrection”
Here are the features as written in the official fact sheet:
-FAITHFUL RECREATION: Both Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 are faithful to the original arcade release of the games.
-UPGRADED VISUALS: The games can be played with a variety of HD filtering options along with several viewing modes ranging from full screen to over the shoulder arcade mode for those who want to re-live the classic arcade experience.
-ONLINE FUNCTIONALITY: GGPO-enabled online game play helps create a virtually lag-free fighting game experience that now includes upgraded matchmaking, with additional options such as region matching, ping lock and ping display.
-REPLAY SHARING: Players will be able to save replays of their match and upload it to either the game’s match server or directly to YouTube.
-SPECTATOR AND WATCH WITH FRIENDS MODES: Players waiting for their turn to fight will be able to participate by viewing and discussing ongoing matches with Spectator Mode. “Watch With Friends” mode allows players in a private room to download or stream matches, where they can provide comments and discuss in real time.
-UNLOCKABLE CONTENT FOR FANS: Tutorial Mode teaches useful strategies through in-depth lessons for each character. When challenges are successfully accomplished, during Tutorial Mode or during regular game play, points are earned which can be redeemed to unlock vault items such as concept artwork, videos and more.
Everything on the fact sheet is true to the letter. My only real gripe with this game is the HD filtering. Smoothing out the pixels actually degrades the image making the sprites and the backgrounds looking washed-out. The best way to preserve graphical detail is to activate the scanlines in the options menu, however doing so in 16×9 can make the image slightly blurry and distracting, so my recommendation is to turn off the filtering, set 4:3 ratio, and turn on the scanlines. Darkstalkers was developed for play in arcade cabinets with interlaced monitors, so using the setting that I mentioned will help preserve authenticity. Don’t worry about the black bars on the sides, for they have been filled with in-game stats such as how close you are to unlocking an achievement.
As far as controls are concerned, Darkstalkers handles great with an Xbox 360 controller (seriously). I was able to pull off most of special moves using the D-pad and pulling off super combos were made easier thanks to using the triggers as all three punches and kicks.
Overall Darkstalkers is a MUST HAVE for any Gen Xer who has longed for the purity of 2D arcade combat and it has enough competitive gameplay and unlockables to satisfy new comers as well.