March is a good month for Capcom fighting fans, as it marks the return of our favorite fighting monsters. Darkstalkers Resurrection brings Morrigan, Lord Raptor, Felicia, Donovan, and other favorites back to the masses. We can savor Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3, playing them as intended with online matches, tournaments, a little spit polish, and replay uploads.
So what’s so great about Darkstalkers?
Well, Darkstalkers 3 is the game that lured me into the series. I was a button-masher in my youth, a tendency I fall back on even today. Darkstalkers was okay with that. It was designed in such a way that even reckless flailing could result in flashy special attacks and a win. I still remember the joy of seeing endless kittens attack an opponent because I managed to pull off the right combo with Felicia. Every special attack felt like an event, and these were far more extravagant than any of the moves I'd seen in other fighting games at the time. Even now, I don't think there are many fighters with specials that compare to those of Darkstalkers.
Yet, as easy as Darkstalkers games are to get into, they also offer all kinds of advanced techniques for veterans. If you're savvy enough, you can dance around opponents' attacks with air blocking, guard canceling, and reversals. Watching someone who really knows what they're doing is a blast, especially since those are the people who will know the perfect time to execute a super. The way the Darkstalkers' special gauge works, there's a moment where it's completely full and flashing. Performing an attack then results in a more devastating super move. I love watching people who have the timing down pat.
While I was never that good, I at least knew how to take advantage of Dark Force. Yes, there's a mode that all characters can trigger that changes the background and, depending on the character, provides a double that will also attack an opponent or even allows your character to take flight. I can't wait to see the Darkstalkers Resurrection YouTube videos, because they're going to be things of beauty.
Most of the concepts I mentioned above were firsts for Capcom. As I already mentioned, Darkstalkers was one of the first fighters that went over-the-top with attacks. It was also Alpha Countering before it was cool, with guard canceling. Playing a Darkstalkers game helps you realize how influential Capcom and its early fighters really were.
Still, a big part of Darkstalkers' magic stems from its character roster. There's something special about a game where monsters are the stars. You've got all the classics in here: vampire, Frankenstein monster, zombie, mummy, alien, and more.
Even then, just having plain old monsters isn't enough. Lord Raptor isn't just a zombie, he's to be a rock-god zombie! A catgirl fighter is awesome, but it's even better when she's also a famous idol and a nun when she isn't fighting other monsters. The yeti isn't just strong, but also incredibly adorable and accompanied by exploding penguins. Even the human character, B.B. Hood, takes awesome to another level as a monster hunter who's dressed as Little Red Riding hood and packing serious heat. There's nothing better than watching her soldier buddies join her for a special attack.
More important is that the Darkstalker character designs have held up beautifully over the years. Capcom has always done sprite-based fighters up right, and these games are still visually impressive. Characters have unique expressions, everything is well animated, and I'm still marveling years later at the detail in Hsien-Ko's attacks. These games are just plain pretty. Even though the HD upgrade for Darkstalkers Resurrection is going to be nice, it's not even necessary considering how good Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 look without it.
Really, all fighting game fans, whether they're familiar with Darkstalkers or not, should be picking up Darkstalkers Resurrection. We're getting the chance to experience two classic games—one for the first time outside of Japan—and relive a bit of fighting game history. You can't put a price on that. Ok, you can, but the download release will be a hell of a lot cheaper than hunting down physical copies of Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. So get your nostalgia on.
Date: March 13, 2013