backlog review darkstalkers 3

Backlog Review: Vampire Hunter: Lord of The Vampire/Darkstalkers 3

One of the bests in the genre. Writer’s note: It’s time to review a fighting game for once. I love fighting games and the Darkstalkers is one of my absolute favorites. I love the characters and the mechanics this series has brought to the table. I loved the series but never actually played the third game until now. Expect to see more fighting games in the future. 

When the first Darkstalkers released it brought some interesting new mechanics and characters to the scene. When the second game came out it brought nothing new to the table, with the exception of a few new characters. It made the sequel feel more like a revision rather than a new game. So when the third game came out Capcom decide to actually try to make Darkstalkers 3 feel like a true sequel. So with new characters, stages and most importantly mechanics Darkstalkers 3 does feel like a sequel. But is it a good sequel? Let’s take a look.

 

To correct the errors of this world, I shall go back…

Darkstalkers 3 takes place a year after the events of Darkstalkers Revenge. Jedah, a noble from Makai comes back from the grave. Upon seeing the state of the demon world, Jedah decides that a reset of the realm is in order. He creates a place called the Majigen that drains the power of strong-willed souls in order to create a new demon world. Every character has his or her own arcade ending that can be seen when players go through Arcade Mode. In Arcade Mode players need to beat seven random opponents and defeat Jedah, the final boss of the game. The arcade endings range from weird and cute to dark and, epic and feature some cool artwork. The problem is that while most fighting games’ stories focus on a tournament of some sorts Darkstalkers doesn’t really do that. Most characters have some other motivation besides fighting in a tournament. So it would have been nice to get some character prologue descriptions as to why the characters are fighting, like Killer Instinct or even Mortal Kombat. It doesn’t matter in the long run, but it does make you wonder what certain characters are fighting for. The win quotes and epilogue text are rather awkward. It’s obvious that the text was translated by Japanese people because some quotes are barely passable as sentences, and other quotes are just cringeworthy. Jedah, in particular, is a cool character, until you read his victory quotes which are just trying too hard. The story is nothing special but then again if you are playing fighting games for a good story you might want try a different genre.

backlog review darkstalkers 3 3The victory Quotes are poorly translated with Jedah just being cringeworthy.

 

Fighting is like dancing, you just need a sense of rhythm.

Darkstalkers plays pretty much just like its predecessor. The game uses a chaining system which means that combos are much easier to do. The player can chain light punches and kicks into each other and then chain that into medium or heavy punches. It makes for not only fun and flashy combos but also makes beginning players feel like they are actually pulling off some hard to do combos. Of course chaining a regular combo into a special or super move is way harder and requires a lot of practice. This is what would become the basic yet expanded mechanics for games like Marvel Vs. Capcom and many others. A few changes from the original games is that players can stock an unlimited amount of super bars. While matches tend to be too fast for anyone to fill up on a lot of bars it does mean that players can build up more than the regular standard of five bars. It allows players to use higher leveled supers in a row even if it will probably never come to that.

Another new mechanic that drastically changes the game is what is dubbed in-game as the Damage Gauge System. It’s very similar to Killer Instinct’s round system. This means  that instead of the life bars of both opponents resetting after one is depleted the match just continues. The loser starts on his or her second life bar, and the opponent keeps the damage they took from that previous round. It makes games go way faster than previous installments. Another new mechanic is called the Dark Force. Dark Force requires one stock of meter and is activated when both kick and punch of any strength are pressed simultaneously. When doing so the stage transforms into another realm where the player who activated it gets buffs for a limited time. This can range from things like different normals to faster projectiles or super-armor. It’s a mechanic that’s very similar popping Instinct in the new Killer Instinct. It changes the entire pace of the fight, with the one who activated it going all out and the one on defense to be extra careful. Dark Force doesn’t stay activated for too long so you have to make use of it at the best opportunity. Don’t waste any time, as there is a huge cooldown at the end that leaves the player open to punishment. The roster sees a big change too. There are four new characters that all fit perfectly in this monster mash roster. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as three veterans have been removed. Huitzil, Pyron and Donovan are no longer on the roster. While in most cases that would be a disappointment it doesn’t really feel like that as much. There is enough variation between both Darkstalkers 3 and Darkstalkers 2 that ensures that both can stand on their own ground. Both can be enjoyed side by side instead of just going with the latest and best version. Darkstalkers 3 is an amazing fighting game that’s fast and still holds up perfectly fine.

backlog review darkstalkers 3Combat is fast, flashy and most importantly, fun.

 

Beauty needs to be protected by the absolute power.

Darkstalkers 3 might be the best-looking sprite based fighting game ever made. Its backgrounds are colorful and have some amazing designs. The stages have neat little touches in them and the sheer amount of creative aesthetic designs has never really been matched with only a few exceptions. Fetus Of God, Iron Horse, Iron Terror and Tower of Arrogance are visually a spectacle to behold and the character sprites are no slouches either. Every frame has so much detail and care put into it’s incredible. The animation and quality of the sprites are so well done that the Morrigan Sprite was re-used in every game she was in for just over thirteen years. Or every medium and heavy normal Dimitri does turns him for a split second into his demon version. It’s details as those that make Darkstalkers an example of how amazing Sprite-art can be. Players will often find themselves pausing during specific animations and attacks just to see the insane amount of care that was put into the sprites. The music is also great. The themes fit the stages and characters and all have a certain horror feeling to them. The character endings, while having the same care behind them, feel a bit underwhelming considering it’s the teams chance to make some amazing art. Darkstalkers is a visual treat with so many details and care put into it. The only game that comes close to what Darkstalkers did then is Skullgirls which manages to capture that Darkstalkers animation “philosophy” perfectly. Every stage is a painting and every frame a visual delight.

backlog review darkstalkers 3 2Crazy stages and astounding sprites make Darkstalkers 3 one of the most gorgeous games ever.

An underappreciated masterpiece.

 

Closing note:

Darkstalkers 3 shines as one of the best fighting games around. The changes made to the gameplay make matches faster. They hit that sweet spot that makes Darkstalkers 2 still a viable option while making three still feel like Darkstalkers. The stages are in a league of their own and so are the animations on the sprites. Beautiful, flowing and almost hypnotizing is the best way to describe the insane amount of effort put in the sprites. As far as the narrative goes, it’s standard fare for its time and genre. A bit more context as to why some characters are fighting would have been nice, though. The new additions to the roster fit perfectly and add more personality to the already colorful cast of characters. Darkstalkers 3 is an amazing quality package and one of the finest fighting games ever made.

9.5/10

Resurrection:

Iron Galaxy did an amazing job on the arcade version of the game. The menu UI fits perfectly with the style of the game and the extra features are great too. The game runs perfectly and sports a few new visual options. A smooth filter, an option to replace the old character portraits with IG’s work and the ability to change the perspective of the screen are just some additions. Players can pick a side view of an arcade or the entire arcade itself if they want to. The smooth filter looks awful and even though the new artwork looks good it clashes with the character select screen. The extra view options are fun but players will probably use them once for goofs and never look at them again.

The main attraction of Resurrection is the ability to play online with friend and strangers. The game uses GGPO so the online is some of the best out there. Matches run as smooth as butter and have all the online bells and whistles like lobbies for example. So that makes it all the harder to see that the online community is dead. Trying to find a match results in either an error or infinitely searching. Of course, it doesn’t stop you from enjoying the game with friends but just don’t expect to play with strangers from across the globe.

Another online feature is replays. Players can record their own matches or look up other matches online. Filters allow for players to look at certain characters and matchups. Players can learn a lot from seeing other players play or can just enjoy some good matches. You can even hook up your account to your Youtube channel and upload your matches which is a great addition.

Aside from the online features, there is a leveling system that will increase when the player does things like winning with chip damage X amount of times or throwing a certain amount of projectiles. Completing those objectives not only awards EXP but also a currency that allows the player to buy artwork, movies or arcade cabinet skins.

Lastly Resurrection adds a tutorial mode. In Tutorial Mode players are tasked with doing Challenges that are supposed to help educate them about the characters. Every character has five tutorials that range from easy bread and butter stuff and basic mechanics too extremely hard to execute combos. It’s weird to call this a Tutorial mode when some “tutorials” are impossible for beginners and even some veterans.

Resurrection is an amazing port of Darkstalkers 3 and the addition of the second Darkstalkers makes the deal even sweeter. The new extras are great even though the online is dead but if you have friends who like the game you will be able to enjoy yourself with them. The one gripe aside from the dead online is that this is the arcade version so the three removed characters from the second game added to the home-console versions are sadly missing. Other than that Resurrection’s Darkstalkers 3 is the definitive version.

 

This game was reviewed on Xbox 360 as part of the Resurrection collection. If you are interested in this game you can get it from the following places:

XBox 360:

http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Darkstalkers-Resurrection/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8025841122f?amp

PSN:

Resurrection:

https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/darkstalkers-resurrection/cid=UP0102-NPUB30666_00-VAMPIREFULLGAME0

PSOne Classic:

https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/darkstalkers-3-(psone-classic)/cid=UP9000-NPUJ00745_00-0000000000000001

PSP/PS Vita:

The Chaos Tower:

https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/darkstalkers-chronicle-the-chaos-tower/cid=UP0102-ULUS10005_00-DRKSTCHRXPSPXXNA

 

I'm a fun loving guy who like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and long walks on the beach. I work hard, I play hard. Must like cats. Ugos need not apply. If you want to ask me anything you can contact me at yordi.verhoene@gmail.com