I remember going to California as a kid to visit my mom’s side of the family. My cousins and I would ride bikes to their local arcade with pockets and purses filled with quarters from our parents, which seemingly felt like hours to convince them to give up to us. This is where I was introduced to one of my favorite genres of video games, the fighting game. I would play Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Marvel vs. Capcom, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Tekken, and so on.
As a kid, I chose the character based solely on which characters I thought looked cool or appealed to me, as I had no idea how else to choose one during my introduction to a fighting game. I feel like doing it this way has helped me immensely as many of the choices are still my mains to this day. You’d think kid-me would see a jaguar-masked luchador named “King” and not pick him? Hell yeah, of course, I’m picking him, and I will continue to pick him.
There was one particular character among them that I instantly fell in love with over their design once I saw them. That character was Morrigan Aensland, the succubus from Capcom’s Darkstalkers. I was introduced to her through Marvel vs. Capcom, but you get the point. This was my first fictional crush, and I felt like I had to play Darkstalkers after hearing what kind of fighting game this was.
Darkstalkers, also known in Japan as Vampire, is a gothic-horror-inspired 2D fighting game with several fighters based on various types of iconic monsters among different types of media. Such as the werewolf-inspired Jon Talbain, the zombie guitarist Lord Raptor, or perhaps the machine gun-wielding Red Riding Hood-inspired Baby Bonnie Hood(also known as B.B. Hood) is more of your style.
This series was cartoonish and wacky yet stylish and eye-pleasing, causing a bit of a cult following over the years. Darkstalkers has some of the best-looking sprites I’ve ever seen in a 2D fighter with beautiful animation that I could just stare at for days on end. The art direction of the games is some of the best in a fighting game. I mean, who wouldn’t love a horror-based fighting game where you can have a Frankenstein look-alike against a ghostly suit of Samurai armor?
The problem? We haven’t had anything Darkstalkers-related since 2013, and that was Darkstalkers Resurrection, an HD remake of the second and third games.
Seven years without Darkstalkers besides appearances of the characters in other Capcom-related media, such as playable fighters in the Marvel vs. Capcom series or costumes based on the fighters in Street Fighter V. With Yoshinori Ono leaving Capcom, I feel as if we are just becoming farther and farther away from anything Darkstalkers since he was all for the triumphant return of Darkstalkers. Wanting a new game in the series might be too much to ask for, so even another HD remake would at least do something for me.
Darkstalkers Resurrection was used as a way to gauge the audience and see how many people would like to see the Darkstalkers franchise make a comeback. But even though it received a positive reception, the senior vice president of Capcom USA, Christian Svensson, claims it was a “commercial failure.” I feel now would be a great time for some sort of resurgence, I mean, we got a new Samurai Shodown game last year, which we hadn’t had a mainline game since 2008, and the latest game did surprisingly well. I’ve noticed over the years that there are more fans of Darkstalkers to talk to whenever I meet new people who like fighting games. It’s always “Hey! What are some of your favorite fighting games,” followed by me listing a few, including Darkstalkers, that warrant the other person to say, “Aw man, I wish we would get something new too.”
I also have my doubts. I myself wasn’t really a big fan of Street Fighter V and kind of refuse to go back to it even after being told, “It’s good now, trust me,” by multiple people. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is also a massive mess in my eyes, with its terrible art direction and a weak character roster compared to earlier titles in the series. What does this have to do with Darkstalkers? Well, as of right now, when it comes to fighters, I feel as if I don’t really trust Capcom with them, at least for right now. I wouldn’t be able to forgive them if they sacrificed the goofiness of the originals for something more “realistic” when the games are supposed to be cartoony while still being beautiful.
I would love it if the games were in a sort of cel-shaded style and retained the same roster, and if we’re super lucky, new additions to the roster. Perhaps Capcom could seek help from other studios, such as SNK or Arc System. Give Darkstalkers the full treatment of giving us a continuation to the story through an arcade mode, an unlockable art gallery, character costumes, some sort of new fighting system inspired by newer Capcom titles, and, of course, online/local multiplayer. Who knows what is in store for the future of Darkstalkers?
Capcom filed a trademark for Darkstalkers in December 2019 and again last month. Still, it seems likely that it’s for the mobile card game Teppen, another Capcom-crossover-game-that-incorporates-their-franchises-including-Darkstalkers. Optimism tells me to continue to believe I’ll be able to see the revival of one of my favorite fighting games, but pessimism tells me that I’ll have to get my Morrigan fix from another crossover game.