Available to download via the Xbox LIVE Arcade now, Darkstalkers Resurrection marks the debut of Capcom’s offbeat beat-‘em-up franchise on an Xbox format. Previously held strictly in the domain of arcade cabinets and PlayStation ports, Darkstalkers Resurrection is an attempt to see if there is an audience out there still willing to spend money on the franchise. Thankfully the reaction thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Sadly however, Darkstalkers Resurrection isn’t so much a return to the glory days as it is a portrait of the many reasons why Darkstalkers so desperately needs up update. Innovative in near every respect a decade ago, the first of the two titles included in the Darkstalkers Resurrection digital package, Night Warriors feels tired and clunky, unable to compete with the fluidity of not just modern beat-‘em-ups, but even those that followed just a year or two after. The visual quality of the videogame also suffers, despite the high-definition (HD) makeover, with easily identifiable low frame animations and a lack of the distinctive effects that the genre has come to depend upon as the years have passed.
Darkstalkers 3, the second of the two included titles, is far more convincing in its delivery. Why then Capcom have chosen to hide this away from the front end and demand players switch to it with a press of the Back button – keeping the two experiences entirely separate bar the shared level system and Achievements – is unfathomable. Darkstalkers 3 is slicker, deeper and features a far more technical fighting system than it’s predecessor. In fact, is superior every aspect of the videogame, from the design to the production values, that without prior knowledge you would suspect that Darkstalkers 3 was several titles junior of Night Warriors rather than a single release.
As stated above the Achievements stretch across both included titles with a few based on the list challenges featured in Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins. Others ask you to complete the Arcade modes – which is a prerequisite of financial investment in Darkstalkers Resurrection, to be frank – but beyond that things get a little more complicated. And unnecessarily so, as Darkstalkers Resurrection falls victims to the ‘complete training for each character’ for much of its Gamerscore. This is a tired challenge that surely has very little worth, and will be ignored by far too many of those who purchase the videogame; clearly not the best decision for a product attempting to asses player interest.
Darkstalkers Resurrection is an odd package as while it remains technically capable, it has aged dramatically. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not enjoyable, but when sat next to the aforementioned Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins you would struggle to recommend it. This is very disappointing as it paints a poor picture of just what Darkstalkers manages to achieve in its prime, paving the way for many mechanics that are now considered the norm and successful franchises that may not have seen the light of day without such a precedent. Darkstalkers Resurrection isn’t going to convince newcomers that this is a series worth investing in, so hopes are high that the established fanbase will show their support for a possible future instalment.