Back in the day, in the wake of Street Fighter II, Capcom delivered a decisive change of pace when they introduced the Darkstalkers series. Instead of sensitive martial artists - Darkstalkers featured ghouls, ghosts, vampires and other delightful denizens of the underworld duking it out for no good reason whatsoever.
The game became an instant hit and the quirky humour was a refreshing change to the many beat-’em-ups around. The fact that Capcom decided to bring Darkstalkers to the PSP before their flagship Street Fighter however, is slightly unusual - but not unappreciated.
Every character is chock full o’ personality, from the half-naked succubus to the goofy sasquatch and their quirkiness survives intact on the comparatively small screen of the PSP, offering a faithful fighting port. One word of warning, though: The PSP control pad isn’t ideal for some of the moves. Diagonals take some getting used to due to the design of the hardware. But after you have gotten over the pad, getting into the game is easy. Darkstalkers uses the same 2D fighting system as the one from Street Fighter, coupled with some more over-the-top moves and combos. Darkstalkers Chronicle includes various different character alternatives, for example, you can play as Lord Raptor, the British zombie rocker, circa original Darkstalkers or play as the readjusted Raptor from Darkstalkers 3. Apart from similar game-modes seen in the 3rd instalment, the PSP version includes a remixed single-player mode called The Chaos Tower. Here you select three characters and are tasked to make your way to the top of the tower. Each floor has varied match challenges and limitations, perhaps requiring you to win with a special move or fight without throwing any punches. Your characters do not replenish health, giving it something of a Survival mode flair. Succeed and you’ll unlock extras like fancy artwork; fail and you’ll just have to do it again. It offers a nice change of pace from the normal Arcade matches, but also players can select Turbo or Auto to adjust the pace of the action. On top of this, the multiplayer VS option allows two PSP owners to bash the leather out of each other which is both satisfying and therapeutic. While Darkstalkers Chronicle might seem a fairly dated 2D fighting game, it is given new life by way of the PSP’s power and portability.