Preview: Darkstalkers Resurrection brings online action to two classic fighters

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There's no denying that the Darkstalkers series of 2D fighters has quite the strong fan base. Even with such a loyal following, it's not as prevalent as something like Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat. That's why it's kind of refreshing to see that Darkstalkers Resurrection will once again deliver sprite-based fighting action starring some of the coolest freaks in the genre. The game, which is due out later this year on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, collects Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. While this may not exactly be a new Darkstalkers title, the two included games have received plenty of praise and are certainly worthy of receiving HD visuals and online play on digital download platforms.

The time I spent playing Resurrection was quite a lot of fun. Because these are two classic entries in the franchise, what players will get is exactly that: classic gameplay. That's not to say that Resurrection feels dated. Both Darkstalkers' Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 have aged quite well, offering a fast-paced combo-heavy fighting experience that relies on flashy moves. I only managed to play using a fight stick, so I didn't get any hands-on time with an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 controller. For the more diehard fighting game fan, a regular controller probably won't even be an option, though, so it's great to see some solid fight stick implementation in Resurrection. For someone like me who enjoys using standard controllers for all games, it doesn't seem like there will be any problems, either.
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Capcom and developer Iron Galaxy Studios will be adding some new console-friendly features to both Darkstalkers games. GGPO netcode-driven online multiplayer, replay sharing, and spectator mode are just a few of the social components being thrown into the two games. If this connectivity offers a lag-free connection, Resurrection could certainly offer players a nice arcade-like experience, allowing competitors to take each other on without worrying about interruptions or server issues. There's something truly exciting about playing a fighting game and then being informed that a new challenger will be facing you. It's even more exciting having a smooth, flawless match.

In addition to the online functionality, unlockable content will help round out the package. Not a whole lot has been revealed about this aspect of the game thus far by either Capcom or Iron Galaxy, though concept art, videos, character art, and other extras will be viewable via the compilation's Vault mode.
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Speaking of art, it should be noted that both games in Resurrection look absolutely lovely. Darkstalkers' Revenge launched in arcades back in 1995 while Darkstalkers 3 was first playable in 1997. Both games featured great pixelated art styles and charming 2D animations. Seeing these titles get a nice visual boost in HD was absolutely impressive. While the core spirit of the games has been retained, that improved resolution really stands out. If you're a Darkstalkers fan and own a sexy big screen TV, you're definitely going to dig how these two revived fighters look.

Darkstalkers has always had the distinction of starring an odd cast of ragtag combatants. While that's a quality we see in fighting games all the time, this series does it on a much larger scale. Every character in Darkstalkers is either a freak or a Gamezoneweirdo (or both), and there's a lot to love about that approach. This may not exactly be a true sequel to this long-running arcade fighting franchise, but it's a great revival of two fun fighting games complete with online functionality. Resurrection may also give newer fans a chance to see what all the fuss was about back in the '90s. Most importantly, however, this collection may hopefully serve to pave the way for a new Darkstalkers game somewhere down the road.

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