Review: Darkstalkers (Sony PlayStation)

Posted: October 6, 2012 in Fighting Games, Monster Mash, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

I’ll get this out of the way: I suck at fighting games. ESPECIALLY Capcom fighting games. The key to victory in fighting games tends to be knowing combos, and I’m always at a disadvantage if I don’t have a manual (or if the game lacks a training mode). Part of this is laziness on my part, and part is probably that I’m a PC gamer at heart and I’d rather set a hotkey or create a macro for more complex button combinations. I’m also not very dextrous with a thumbstick or D-pad, so fighting games are commonly on the back burner for me.

With that in mind, let’s talk about Capcom’s Darkstalkers. It’s immediately pretty familiar- essentially Street Fighter II meets the Monster Mash genre, Even the subtitle, The Night Warriors, recalls Street Fighter II’s, The World Warrior. There’s even a dude from Brazil with a green skin tone! It’s a Capcom fighting game to the core, and a rather primitive one at that. But the supernatural characters certainly feel fresh compared to the ubiquitous range of kung fu movie stereotypes that populated Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, and there are a wide variety of them to suit your taste. Even if you’re not familiar with the series, you’ll probably recognize Morrigan from her appearances in other Capcom fighters. There’s also a vampire, a Frankenstein monster, a wendigo, and numerous other classic monsters. Jon Talbain is a pretty cool mix of werewolf and Bruce Lee, and Rikuo the fishman’s name is a shout out to Creature From The Black Lagoon portrayer Ricou Browning. My personal favorite is the metalhead ghoul Lord Raptor, however, who must be a relative of Iron Maiden’s Eddie and Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead.

The stages are also varied and nicely detailed, ranging from a laboratory, to the top of some buildings in Vegas (is that Nyan Cat?), and a dug-up graveyard. They’ve got plenty of nice details, although the limits of the PlayStation’s resolution means they aren’t drawn particularly sharply, and the graphics suffer outside of the standard definition CRT screens that were in use during the era the game was released. You can’t really blame them for this though- that was just the limit of tech at the time.

As I mentioned, I’m not really a fighting game aficionado, so I may not be the best one to judge the gameplay- but I found the arcade mode to be pretty difficult even with the difficulty cranked way down. Again, this comes down to exactly what I don’t like about most fighting games, and that’s that the game is basically a quiz on how well you know your combos and specials, and all I managed to figure out is that Morrigan has kind of a hadouken type move that used the same controller motion. The game’s AI is pretty unforgiving- the kind that predicts your moves, blocks everything and seems unblockable itself. This is particularly bad against Anakaris, who seems to combine Dhalsim’s reach with Zangief’s size; and Rikuo, who seems to have a counter for everything you throw at him. When you block, you still take damage. When Rikuo blocks, he’s invincible! And then there’s what I assume is the final boss- some kind of robot who can drain half your health from anywhere on the screen. After about 20 minutes of trying and failing to beat him, I just gave up on him and decided “well, there’s another fighting game I’m never gonna beat.”

I like the idea, and I definitely like the cast of characters. I think the problem is I’m not much of a fighting game guy, and when I do play them I tend to fare better with 3D Namco type fighters. Had there been a Darkstalkers beat-em-up, I probably would have had a little more fun.

PROS: Diverse cast of monsters, instantly familiar playstyle, nice visuals. Lord Raptor. Fanservice ahoy if you’re into that.

CONS: No training mode, cheap AI, great characters but  no real plot. Early PSX load times.

Darkstalkers is currently available in its original form on the PlayStation Network as a PS1 Classic.

  1. Shaan Joshi says:

    I’ve never been a fan of fighting games either, mainly because they usually require some dedication to get good at them, and I like switching up what I am currently playing.

    Regardless, Darkstalkers was a good game, and it had style.

  2. fortheloveofgames says:

    Not a huge fan of fighting games, mainly because they require a lot of play time to get good. Nonetheless, Darkstalkers was fun for its time, and it had style. Great review.

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