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VALLEY WEEKEND | VIDEO GAMES

Darkstalkers Lives Up to All of the Promises

The Capcom title may just be everything you've longed for in a fighting game.

September 19, 1996|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Can Capcom do no wrong?

Long a provider of reliably great arcade games, Capcom is grabbing 32-bit gaming by the throat and delivering consistently fantastic titles to Saturn and PlayStation.

From the absolutely incredible Resident Evil to the flawlessly designed Street Fighter Alpha, Capcom's lineup is nothing less than perfect. I spent a recent weekend duking it out with competing home versions of the arcade fighter Darkstalkers and was once again thoroughly impressed.

Both Saturn and PlayStation host a version, but the names differ slightly. On Saturn, it's Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge and on PlayStation it's Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors. The name aside--and the fact that the Saturn version offers two extra players--both are equally great.

Capcom promises "breathtaking art and graphics." Darkstalkers delivers. Capcom promises "massive combos and ultra-precise control." Darkstalkers delivers. Capcom promises "fierce and brutal combat." Darkstalkers delivers.

In every way, Darkstalkers fulfills the promise of every fighting game that has come before. With over 15,000 frames of hand-drawn animation, the characters and backgrounds look and move more like cartoons than video games. Not even the motion-capture techniques used in games such as those in the Mortal Kombat series can match Darkstalkers' fluid motion and grace.

But all that would go to waste if the programmers failed to deliver the kind of fast-paced fighting action players expect from 32-bit rigs. They didn't. The sheer number of combos and the relative ease of mastering them make Darkstalkers a kick from the get go.

Even the story is cool: a battle among the nightmarish creatures of legend for domination of the night. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts and even a succubus thrown in for good measure. All have a range of special moves that fits their particular personas.

It just doesn't get much better than this.

Down and Dirty: Both versions of Earthworm Jim were among my favorite 16-bit games. Lots of other players felt the same way, so it was only natural that Playmates Interactive would release a 32-bit version of Earthworm Jim 2 for Saturn.

And while it does boast some nicely rendered graphics and enhanced sound, the Saturn version of Earthworm Jim is not so swell that you have to rush right out and buy a copy. If you've already got a 16-bit EJ2 cart, there's not enough new in the Saturn disc to justify the cost.

If, however, you've never sampled the unique pleasures the bipedal worm serves up, it might be worth your time and money to pick up a copy. Keep in mind, though, that this is little more than a beefed-up 16-bit game. Don't expect wonders.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com

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