After finding extraordinary success with the Street Fighter franchise, Capcom let its freak card fly high and proud when it launched the 2D fighting game series Darkstalkers in 1994. Featuring a quizzically ghoulish cast of pulpy B-movie gothic-horror knockoffs, the funky brawlers were a noticeable change in gameplay mechanics and graphical druthers for the prominent company. The characters were a decidedly wilder, less stiff band of punchy misfits, employing an array of unconventional attacks that ventured far beyond the Hadoukens and Shoryukens of their popular predecessors. The games weren’t too well received initially, but over time managed to amass somewhat of a loyal cult following sparked by a tightly knit fanbase in the underground-arcade subculture. Years later, mid-tier alumni like Morrigan, Felicia, B.B. Hood, and Anakaris were popping up in various vs. Capcom installments to the surprise (and delight) of many Darkstalkers disciples. Now that the series has cemented its place in history as a significant Capcom offering, an HD repackaging has expectedly surfaced in the form of Darkstalkers Resurrection, a polished two-part refurbishing of 1995’s Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and 1997’s Darkstalkers 3.
Above all else, Resurrection proves one thing indefinitely: Capcom knows and respects its supporters. Don’t let their recent mishandling of the Mega Man property fool you; this is a company that strives to please its lifelong devotees with buckets of shimmery nostalgia tinged with a modern twist. They’ve tolerantly handed off upgrading duties to the utilitarian Iron Galaxy Studios, and much like the developer’s previous high-def enhancement, Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, the presentation of both included titles offers a very clean, generously customizable interface that feels fresh while still maintaining the beloved old-school aesthetic Darkstalkers is built on. Controlling each character is far from tricky, but never provides any giveaway victories either. Although some of the roster’s flagrantly bizarre combo tendencies can take awhile to become acquainted with, the mastering of these movesets results in an ingrained satisfaction on par with any of Street Fighter’s most memorable assault patterns.
Be it that Darkstalkers is commonly recognized for its stylishly offbeat craftsmanship, Resurrection seeks to, quite literally, pay respect to the original Japanese artists by framing the game as something of portrait in motion. The numerous unlockables and assorted border options (to make up for the forgivable lack of a widescreen ratio), are a unique pleasantry; one setting in particular encases the action in a mock 1990s-era rec-room cabinet, and the addition of variable scanlines and color mods boosts the replay value substantially.
Given how long these kind of classic refurbishments have been happening, Resurrection’s online multiplayer isn’t as impeccable as it should be at this point in the digital epoch. Accepting, dropping out, and subsequently rotating between oncoming challengers is generally smooth, but some inexplicable lag and opponent-locating/character-selection confusion occurs between matches. Knowing whether you’re in the one- or two-player position is an unnecessary hurdle, and the submenus/stat leaderboards aren’t as easily navigated as those in Marvel vs. Capcom Origins. However, setting up personal tournaments, saving replays, and a host of other adjustable input selections do well to mitigate the sporadic vexation caused by the game’s minor annoyances.
Those who’ve shied away from Darkstalkers’s singular brand of cockeyed fisticuffs likely won’t be swayed by the novel charms of Resurrection, as it unblushingly caters to a specific audience and seldom attempts to reach out to the unfamiliar. That being said, Iron Galaxy Studios has assembled yet another above-average ornamentation of a vintage Capcom IP, paving the way for a possible present-day sequel if the appropriate plans are put into place.