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Darkstalkers Resurrection Review

Earnest "Nex" Cavalli | 22 Mar 2013 21:00
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Fighting games, when evaluated by their most stalwart fans, rely very little on the latest, greatest technology. Sure, the big-name developers in the genre - Capcom, Sega and Namco Bandai - do their best to infuse each new release with heavy doses of shiny eye candy, but when it comes right down to it, the most important aspect of a fighter lies not in its ability to attract fans with whiz-bang aesthetics, but instead in how well it handles and how smooth the virtual fisticuffs play out in real time. This is why games like Super Street Fighter II, titles which have existed in roughly the same form for more than a decade, are perennial fixtures at the industry's most important tournaments. This is also why Capcom is able to re-release the same games over and over again with only slight changes, knowing fans will continue to buy them ad nauseam.

Darkstalkers Resurrection is the latest revivification effort from the House That Ryu Built, and while it features two games that made their initial debut during the Clinton administration, it may be the company's finest effort in years.

Western territories have never had the same affection for the Darkstalkers franchise as their Japanese counterparts, but the two titles featured in Resurrection (Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3) are undeniably important points in the overall history of the fighting game genre. While Street Fighter has always been Capcom's pièce de résistance, it's never been terribly experimental, relying instead of time-honored fighting game tropes and glacial shifts in how each game is approached by players. By contrast, the Darkstalkers games, though only in the limelight for a few short years, introduced new concepts that are still found in most major fighting titles to this day. Air-blocking, block canceling and reversal attacks were all spawned in the crucible of Darkstalkers, and would go on to be popularized by the much more successful Street Fighter Alpha games. Beyond that, each title's fighting engine is basically what you'd expect from a Capcom title. Hadouken and Shoryuken inputs make up the majority of the roster's special moves, though Darkstalkers relies much more heavily on colorful graphics and strikingly smooth animation than Capcom's more popular series. Point being: If you've ever played a Capcom-produced 2D fighter, you'll have no problem jumping right into Darkstalkers Resurrection and picking up the basics immediately.

As with 2011's Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition however, Capcom has learned that there's good money in gussying up its classic titles with a host of modern accoutrements. Darkstalkers Resurrection maintains almost every gameplay aspect found in its arcade predecessors, but slathers the entire package with a huge number of bonus extras. Not only do you have a vast number of aesthetics options, allowing players to customize their viewing experience to an insane degree - devotees of the traditional CRT monitors found in quality, old-school arcade cabinets will be happy to know that they can switch on surprisingly well-emulated scanlines - but the game also presents a number of options that no one would have missed had they been absent. Want to play Resurrection as if you were standing off to the side of a cabinet in a smoky arcade? That's absolutely possible. Want to stretch the screen, thus totally ruining the games' original aspect ratio? You can do that too (though I have no idea why you'd want to).

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