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Darkstalkers (PlayStation) artwork

Darkstalkers (PlayStation) review

"Most 2D fighting games are about as much fun to play as having rivets fired into your skull while watching paint dry. Dull, painful and only for the dedicated masochist. However, there are exceptions to this rule and Darkstalkers is one of those. "

Most 2D fighting games are about as much fun to play as having rivets fired into your skull while watching paint dry. Dull, painful and only for the dedicated masochist. However, there are exceptions to this rule and Darkstalkers is one of those.

This game see's the usual humourless crowd of Capcom fighters replaced with a garish crowd of b-movie horror freaks. They fight for nothing more than to prove who is the hardest of all the ''Night Warriors''. Ten line-up to fight, with two rock-hard bosses who are not playable. There is Dimitri the Vampire, Jon Talbain the Werewolf, Victor the Frankensteins Monster, Lord Raptor the Zombie, Felicia the Cat Woman, Morrigan the Succubus, Anarkaris the Mummy, Bishimon the cursed Samuri, Rikuo the Merman and Sasquatch the Yeti. There is also the bosses Puitzal (robot) and Pyron (Hell Demon).

This game dispenses with the lengthy movelists and trillion hit combos that can only be achieved by growing an extra thumb and replaces it it with pure frantic noise, spectacle and fun. Sure its shallow, but thats part of its appeal. Instead of requiring a lengthy period of study with exams at the end of it. Darkstalkers can be picked up and enjoyed by even the most clueless of fighting gamers for a couple of hours of two-player fun and frolics every now and again.

The gameplay is similar to every other capcom fighter. It has hard, medium and soft punch and kick and rotating the d-pad will pull off combos and special attacks. The appeal lies in the hilarious animations of each move. The fact that each character has amusing variations on the basic kicks and punches adds to the appeal enormously. For example instead of punching Sasquatch will flick with his massive fingers. The Mummy Anarkaris will stretch his hands out into and huge snakes head and Lord Raptor will run a chainsaw over your face!

The character sprites are big and well animated, there is plenty of detail to them and lots of funny stuff going on in the backgrounds as well. It's like an additive fueled sugar rush to the eyeballs and the speed of the fighting adds to the general sense of chaos and manic fun. The music is also perfect for the game, lots OTT crashing organ chords over a high speed backing track.

As an overall package the game is lacking in many respects. Its an early PSX release and it shows. There are no secret characters to unlock and you can't save any high scores on your memory card. Also the single player mode is very frustrating. Even on super-lame easy mode the game will still cheat and cheese you, making it hard to see the end of the game with anything other the most simple to use characters, like Dimitri or Bishimon. Also the PAL conversion is the typical Capcom lazy-arsed release. Horrendous black borders, but still runs at a good speed.

However, although it is flawed as a single-player experience it is still immensely good fun as a two-player game. I often find it hard convince my friends that they want to play a 2D fighting game. But the sheer good humoured silliness of Darkstalkers wins them over for an hour or so at least. Also like many 2d games it has aged better than 3d fighters of a similar era. It may be simple and shallow, but like a favourite cartoon it appeals to the child in us all and is well worth adding to any serious collection of fighting games. Just don't play it on your own whatever you do, this is a game that needs to be shared.

falsehead's avatar
Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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