The most impressive improvements in Darkstalkers Resurrection have been applied indirectly to the overall gameplay experience. When you fire up your first match, whether it be in the game's single player arcade mode, or the surprisingly lag-free online multiplayer, you'll find a number of "Awards" plastered along each side of the game's viewing area. These awards both provide players with something more interesting to look at than the standard, black letterbox columns necessitated by modern HDTVs and give players tangible, immediate feedback on how well they're performing in combat. One such goal requires the player to throw an opponent five times. Not only does this ostensibly teach players the importance of throwing, it also awards experience points, which can then be redeemed in the Vault, a repository filled to the brim with a huge number of bonus material including ending cinematics, concept artwork and even the original High Score tables found in each game's initial arcade incarnation. On top of all of this, Resurrection even includes an option to link the game directly to an extant YouTube account, allowing particularly talented (or vain) players the opportunity to upload match footage directly to the web. Was this purely necessary? Not at all, but I'm glad to see Capcom going to such lengths to cover all of its possible bases.
Despite these extras, fighting games live and die on the strength of their gameplay, and in that regard, Darkstalkers Resurrection is a shining example of how to properly fashion a 2D fighter. Movement is crisp and responsive, characters animate as fluidly as one could possibly hope, and while I won't argue that either of the games in this package are the most balanced titles Capcom has ever created, they're designed well enough that if you lose a match, it will never be the result of the game screwing you out of a victory you truly earned. Success relies entirely on your reflexes and grasp of game mechanics, making either of the titles in Resurrection perfectly suited for mid- to high-level tournament play.
The highest compliment I can possibly pay Darkstalkers Resurrection is that to date, it stands as the pinnacle of Capcom's efforts to revive its many beloved classic franchises. When the company finally gets around to remaking the Street Fighter Alpha series for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, I can only hope that it builds on its latest success in much the same way as Resurrection built on the many positive aspects of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition. Further, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that other developers take cues from Capcom and realize that Darkstalkers Resurrection offers a master's course on how to revisit classics from the 1990s and make them both aesthetically and functionally palatable for today's modern audience.
Bottom Line: Darkstalkers Resurrection isn't just a re-release of two classic fighting games, it also stands as the best example to date of how to revive games from the 1990s on modern gaming hardware.
Recommendation: If you have any interest in virtual fisticuffs, buy Darkstalkers Resurrection. Even if you don't, I recommend buying the game to support Capcom's efforts to revive classic games in a proper, respectful fashion.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Game: Darkstalkers Resurrection
Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Platform(s): XBLA, PSN