The original Darkstalkers arrived in arcades just as the fever surrounding Street Fighter II was dying down. Despite enjoying some success in Japan, it was soon forgotten in the west, usurped by the likes of Street Fighter Alpha and its variants.
Until now. Capcom has asked regular collaborator Iron Galaxy - responsible for the excellent recent 3rd Strike update - to add its usual spit-and-polish to Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 (the two most highly-regarded entries). A ploy to gauge interest ahead of a possible Darkstalkers 4 this may be, but if you have any interest in 2D fighters at all, Resurrection is an essential download.
It's a more interesting game than SFII in many respects: certainly it trades on more exciting themes, with a horror/fantasy roster ranging from a zombie rockstar to a saucy succubus with everything from a sasquatch to a werewolf to a mummified pharaoh in between. As such, many of the moves are thrillingly unique: Lord Raptor, for example, kicks out with a chainsaw blade for a leg, while Anakaris retreats into his sarcophagus to block attacks. (Lord Raptor, incidentally, was named Zabel Zarock in the original Japanese release, which was said to be a reference to Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne.)
More importantly, Night Warriors introduced a number of mechanics that would become hugely influential in the beat-em-up and fighting genres, pioneering chain combos, reversals and knockdown recoveries. Darkstalkers 3 may not be quite as influential, but it expands the roster and ups the pace to 'blistering'. The learning curve is steep, but once mastery comes this is one of the fastest, most responsive fighters you'll ever play.
These games would have been welcome as barebones, no-frills ports, but they've been treated the utmost care and respect. Lag is almost imperceptible online, and there are some useful lobby features like the option to ban certain characters. You can view the action through a range of filters that sharpen or smooth the pixelated sprites, or even add scanlines for that authentic arcade feel.
There's even the option to play from the viewpoint of an onlooker watching over the shoulder of the current player, which should give those of a certain age a sharp jolt of nostalgia. As for Darkstalkers 4 - some might question the need for another 2D fighting series in light of Street Fighter's sheer sprawl, but Resurrection makes a compelling case for a proper sequel.
By Chris Schilling. Download here for 1200 MP
The definitive versions of two tough, rewarding fighters
- Roster is as characterful as ever
- Historically significant, brilliant fun
- Options to suit everyone
- Lag-free multiplayer
- Very steep learning curve