Friday, February 28, 2014

Review #98: Darkstalkers Chronicle - The Chaos Tower

 My first PSP game, yay!
 First things first: since I reviewed Darkstalkers 3 last year, and this game is more or less the same, this will be more of a comparison review so to speak. I will delve into the specifics of this game, of course, but I won't detail gameplay and what have you.
 Darkstalkers Chronicle is not just a Darkstalkers 3 port, oh no, this is more like a mash up of sorts. Y'see, you can actually choose to play under Darkstalkers mechanics, Night Warriors(DS 2 basically) or Darkstalkers 3, this translates to either two rounds, two rounds and keeping your energy gauge intact from round to round or just one battle with two life bars. Even better, you can use whichever iteration of the character you prefer under any mechanic, and if a character wasn't present in previous versions, he or she gets reworked versions of himself/herself. All of this translates to a lot of different ways to play the game, which is very, very neat.
 The game also contains every opening and every ending from each version of the game, alongside a good amount(88 pieces) of unlockable official art, which is extremely high quality and looks very crisp. Sadly, endings are hidden away in the Chronicle mode, for some reason beating Arcade mode will present you with a generic ending, so you must go into Chronicle mode if you wish to see whichever ending you unlocked, it's a minor inconvenience but it's worth mentioning. Speaking of Arcade Mode, the game doesn't have a lot of features, you just get Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, Tower and Training. All but Tower is self explanatory, Tower mode has you picking 3 characters and taking them up the aforementioned tower. Each battle has a different set of rules, depending on which rules you follow you'll take a different path and unlock a different piece of art. Your three characters restore a miniscule amount of health after each fight, so you must choose carefully how to proceed and which character to use. While there is a undeniable lack of modes, Tower mode is very fun and very replayable.
 Now, for the bad, the controls. The PSP's digital pad is not a good fit for all the complex motions required to perform the moves. The game offers a compromise in the form of "Easy" mode, which allows you to set a button to memory so that you can use any special move you set to it just by pressing it, among other niceties, but it comes at the loss of Medium Punch and Medium Kick. Speaking of special moves, there is no way to see a movelist anywhere but on the instruction booklet, very annoying, characters have loads of special moves and many don't follow the basic quarter circle forward/backward motions, a movelist would've been much appreciated, especially since trying out motions with the PSP's digital pad is annoying.
 The game looks beautiful, it always did, but coming from the PS1 version that had missing frames, this looks like a whole different game. The difference in the quality of the animation is undeniable, which makes this port look fantastic. Even better, it's uncensored, meaning that the blood is red and not white. Lastly, you can either play in full screen, which stretches the screen to match, or play with borders, but keeping the correct ratio. Honestly, the stretched image doesn't look bad at all and I chose to keep it that way.
 And that's about it, Darkstalkers 3 on the Playstation 1 was a fantastic game, but Darkstalkers Chronicle is even better. Sure, the controls are annoying, but that's the PSP's fault and not the game's, and I doubt you'll be playing tournaments on a PSP. I might've called the PS1 version the definitive version of Darkstalkers 3, I was wrong. This is the definitive version of Darkstalkers 3, and if you are a fan of the franchise, you owe it to yourself to get this version.
 8.5 out of 10.

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