Recognize everybody? You should. You've seen them all before.
Darkstalkers is a really underappreciated series. Sure, it's getting some of its due in this re-release of Night Warriors and DS3 at the moment, and that's great, but there's something special about this series that's been lost over the years. And the reason for that is because many of the characters have transferred into other games. The crossover from the Darkstalkers universe into many of Capcom's other, more prominent fighting games—like Puzzle Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, to name a few—has left enough gamers wondering where so many of these characters came from, a la the mass exodus from SNK's titles to the King of Fighters franchise.
There's something special about Darkstalkers and now everybody gets to find out what that is with this two-game pack. Each character roster is filled with classic literature and movie monsters with their own unique backstory and reason for fighting; in Night Warriors everyone is fighting to save the world, while in DS3 they have their own unique reasons for battling things out. Ever wanted to see how a lolita succubus and the wolfman would match up? Or maybe a Chinese paper demon/hopping zombie combination against the Little Red Riding Hood of demon hunters wielding rocket launchers and Uzis from her basket? Because yeah, that happens here.
And we can't forget about Felicia, the cat-demon that made a generation of fight game players consider furry fandom.
If you've ever played a Capcom fighting game before—and really, who hasn't?—then you can jump right in and pull moves off here without too much trouble, but not everything is as simple as it might seem. Every character has a truly unique playing style, mixing what might be considered "standard" fight game fare and "what the hell is wrong with this mummy guy?" There is balance, though, and the more off-kilter styles available for those that want to put the time in can be rewardingly frustrating to accomplish. Imagine how messed up a newer opponent might get when they realize they have no clue how you kicked their ass without a scratch on you.
And with that said, that can be the difficult thing about getting into the Darkstalkers universe: difficulty. Some characters, like Felicia, lend themselves to the average player and, because of that, they've been able to transfer into the more mainstream rosters of SNK vs. Capcom SVC and the like. But the challenge of working those skills into these characters can be daunting at times, though never outright overwhelming. As beautiful and imaginative as the character sprites and environments are, however, it becomes a welcome challenge, especially with how well they actually handle in matches.
There are a solid amount of extras to unlock and utilize here too: online multiplayer with both local and ranked matches (with up to 8-player tournaments), a sizable amount of concept art and classic videos to unlock, and the ability to register your YouTube account in order to upload videos of your matches. On top of that, beyond the slight upgrade touches so they look good in HD, the games appear to be completely untouched. The flow of the games is beautiful and as detailed as I remember, with top-notch animation that even the classic Street Fighter titles can't quite match up to.
So… beautiful presentation, interesting characters, all the features we expect by now, and the ability to extend our e-penis through YouTube-able matches? If you're up for the challenge, I highly recommend this purchase. And if you see some wild maniac wielding a Sasquatch like the biggest Webbernet noob, that might well be me.