Darkstalkers: Chaos Tower


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 7

Though people will look at what sort of processing power and how many polygons a new system can handle, some of us just appreciate the fact that someone has the guts to release a flawlessly ported 2-D fighter for a console know for 3-D capabilities. There's no arguing that Capcom picked a good one. "Darkstalkers Chronicles" is a translation of Dreamcast game, a blend of all the games in the series. On Sega's console, it worked. On the PSP, the control issues keep it from becoming great.

Much like the recent "Street Fighter Anniversary Collection," the game allows you to pick from various iterations of each character, whether it be from the original "Darkstalkers" or up to "Darkstalkers 3." Fighting games fans know that with each successive sequel the characters changed, however minutely, to make for a different experience. Each of the characters/monsters is based off folklore and literature, just drawn in an anime style that gives them life on the screen.

The arcade mode is the usual heart and soul of any fighter like this, but Capcom has squeezed a little more out of this one. New is the "Tower," a long stretching feature that lets player pick a team of three fighters. Once picked, you begin a very long journey through a path that offers up multiple routes and countless unlockables. After each fight, you regain very little energy so you'll need to rest those fighters that have taken a harsh beating. Making it to the top will NOT be an easy task as there are over 200 courses to pass. Certain fights require you perform specific moves (or prevent you from using moves) to advance. That adds an additional layer to the gameplay and a unique challenge. Gamers can also partake in some ad hoc play against friends.

Of course, playing against someone else could be a problem. Actually, playing against anything, whether man or machine could prove an issue. The PSP's d-pad just isn't made for this game. Slightly more recessed and spaced apart than the standard dual shock, there's a split second timing required to pull off special moves that this pad cannot handle. There's no analog support either, which is a real shame as it very well might have worked better in this case. Trying to use the shoulder buttons is a hand-cramping experience and with only the four face buttons for a six-button fighter, you'll need to for those deep combos.

To remedy this, there is the option for easier controls. Simply pressing a button in combination with the d-pad is enough to get off a special move. That's all well and good, but you still can barely jump diagonally with it. This is a real shame too. The actual game is obviously a brilliant piece of 2-D fighting, filled with trademark Capcom spot-on hit detection coupled with stunning art direction (even better on the PSP's screen) make this a fighting game that should rank up there with the best.

The animation seems to be complete, though there was so much of it in the arcades, you'll need to spend quality time to spot anything missing. Backgrounds are filled with small details and nothing seems to be missing. Capcom even took it a step further for purists by giving them the option to play in the actual 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the stretched 16:9. The stretch is handled well, so it's likely not going to be a problem for most people.

On the audio side, every piece of music has been retained on the UMD. This is a classic soundtrack, some of the companies best fighting game music, just shy of "Street Fighter II." It sets the tone and pace of each fight while still providing something you'll want to listen to in the sound test. All voice samples have been retained with startling clarity.

Is it really fair to fault the game for the consoles mistakes? Sure. If the developers had spent the time and realized it wasn't going to work on the PSP, then the game should have (would have actually) been scrapped. At the very least, there should be some support for the analog nub, which has a small enough radius that it might have actually proved useful here. Seeing a 2-D fighter in this day and age is a wonderful thing; seeing it done like this is not.


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Last updated: Sunday, May 01, 2005 07:53 AM