Review by: Doug Trueman
Published: January 18, 1999
Ever eager to milk its extremely profitable Street Fighter series for all its worth, Capcom think-tanks gathered round and thought about how to best accomplish this. The solution? Massive graphic overhaul. New characters. Same fun gameplay. A cynic could look at the original Darkstalkers and announce that Capcom had finally produced the true sequel to Street Fighter 2. But does it succeed on its own? Absolutely. Will Capcom disparagers decry it as a hopeless knock-off? Absolutely. But it’s a hopeless knock-off that’s managed to live long enough to warrant two sequels. Enter Darkstalkers 3.
Rather than put together another collection of martial artists to duke it out, Capcom opted to delve into various mythologies of the world and summon famous monsters. Among others, there’s Demitri, a fire-throwing vampire who would give Buffy a run for her money; Morrigan, a voluptuous blonde succubus who sucks the life out of her victims; Anakaris, an animated mummy-sarcophagus combination that can both entangle his enemies in formaldehyde-soaked cloth or drop giant coffins on their heads; Victor, a Zangief-inspired Frankenstein monster; Lord Raptor, a guitar-playing zombie that can electrocute his victims; Jon Talbain, a flash-kicking, psycho-crushing werewolf with gorgeously animated fur, and Baby Bonnie Hood, an innocent looking knock-off of Little Red Robin Hood who packs machine guns and missile launchers in her picnic basket.
Darkstalkers 3 possesses the same gameplay that made the Street Fighter series such a hit. In fact, one could argue that Darkstalkers is Street Fighter with only graphical differences. Ken and Ryu have been replaced with Morrigan and Demitri: the new warriors both possess fireballs and dragon punch-type uppercuts; and Jon Talbain is a faster, cooler looking combination of M. Bison and Guile. The rest of the cast all have attributes that one will instantly recognize as being spawned from Street Fighter: long limbs, brutal powerslams and the like.
Darkstalkers 3, however, marks a substantial improvement over the first two titles. The graphics and backgrounds are improved, the animations are more precise, and many new moves have been added. Like Darkstalkers 1 and Darkstalkers 2, players fight either a CPU-controlled opponent or a friend. Moves of increasing power can be chain-linked together resulting in damaging, easy-to-perform combos. The rampant fighting will slowly charge both combatants’ power meters at the bottom of the screen; when completely full players can perform one of several different super moves, or “hot-wired” special moves. Chain combos cannot be performed in the air unless players are willing to lose some of their power meter.