Oh, how I miss old school fighting games from the 90s.
Darkstalkers has been resurrected (pun intended) through Darkstalkers Resurrection. Capcom, like many other companies that have been packing HD versions of their arcade games and older titles from the past, has improved traditional re-released upgraded games just slightly with the inclusion of extras. Before we get into that, let's talk about the games.
Capcom has put together two games from their Darkstalkers franchise in Darkstalkers Resurrection. Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 made the cut, so fans of the original game might be disappointed to know the first wasn't included (though, you shouldn't be). DR comes sprinkled with some goodies to make the package seem very sweet and tempting.
Staring with Night Warriors, you get a more refined package from the original game. The gameplay is faster, the backgrounds and presentation are a little more elaborate and the game just seems to be more of an improvement over the original. Less clunky is always a good thing, and Night Warriors just feels less like a Street Fighter II clone and more of a title that stands on its own two feet. While my memory is certainly old and rusty, I believe this is one of the first titles that featured new gameplay elements in the fighting genre, such as reversals, chain combos and mid-air grappling. Up to this point, Street Fighter II (and all the knock-offs -- looking at you SNK!) were pretty straight forward in their methods, and old fashioned to a point.
When the series popped out Darkstalkers 3 a couple of years later, things had improved even greater. By this time, Capcom had brought out Street Fighter III, which sported 60fps animation in the arcade (huge deal at the time) and implemented some of the new gameplay techniques that were introduced in Night Warriors. So, what you get with Darkstalkers 3 is better animation, simplified fighting moves with huge combo systems intact. Anything to get the fighting started, going and reset for another game as quickly as possible is a great strategy for a company making a fighting title.
Everything you loved about Night Warriors and Darkstalkers 3 is very much intact in this collection.
So, what makes this worth the $14.99 that Capcom is asking on PSN? Well, I'm sort of split on the price and what you get with it.
Included in this package is an upgraded HD version of the games. They look absolutely breathtaking in HD and you do have the option to change things up a bit, if you want. Instead of pixelated characters that look straight out of the mid 90s, you get smoothed out, crisp characters that look more like well done water paintings than anime characters. Of course, if you want to go back to the old school look, you have the option to in the 'Help & Options' screen, which allows you to turn off high resolution. You can also make the game widescreen, keep it 4:3-ish like an arcade game and/or add interlaced lines. I will tell you straight up that the interlaced lines are painful to watch, although they do add some nostalgia and pay homage to the days of the arcade machine.
Visual upgrades aside, you also get some nice extras that make this game even more worth your while. You have challenges and XP to meet and gain during gameplay. If you meet certain challenges, you gain more XP, which leads into unlockable content like artwork from characters, arcade cabinets and other cute little perks. What's fun about the challenges in this game is that on the default HUD it actually rotates what challenges you have met and what you need to do to get the next great extra. If you love looking at a lot of things onscreen at once then you'll love this.
Now, in addition to the unlockables and XP, you also get a very smooth online capable mode. Here you can do local matches, online matches and have all sorts of fun stuff that you usually get with an online mode. There is little to no lag in the game, which is a good thing (a few unnamed fighters from Capcom's past have had horrible lag problems -- and no, it wasn't me). You also have the ability to capture video of your fights and post them online. I'm a traditionalist, so I'm not sure what the huge craze is over posting fights online, but I guess it's a plus. Call of Duty does it, so why not Darkstalkers Resurrection? When you kick your friend's ass all over the place then you can let the world see it over and over and over and over again.
With all of this goodness packed in, I'm still not sure $14.99 is a great asking price. Call me cheap, but I would like to see this at $9.99. I think for a couple of games that are approaching 20 years old, it's a lot to ask from consumers. I know that hardcore fans of the series will drop $14.99 without thinking about it, but there are a lot of new games out there that have far more longevity to them for the $14.99 mark. If the game doesn't do well then Capcom needs to try a lower price point and see what happens. This game's success should not be the deciding factor for future Darkstalkers games; that would be incredibly unfair. Anyway, that's my only knock with the package, as I certainly love and appreciate what Capcom has done for its Darkstalkers fans with Darkstalkers Resurrection.