As for modes of play, you've got a standard arcade mode, as well as the "chaos tower" mode, which lets you choose three different characters to use to fight your way up through the tower by taking on one opponent at a time on his or her "floor." Some of these battles have special conditions (for example, you might be unable to punch in one fight), which give this mode some additional variety. Still, between how Darkstalkers Chronicle has some pretty noticeable loading times between fights and how you typically only fight opponents for one round in the chaos tower, this mode isn't completely satisfying. Despite the underlying quality of the gameplay, you don't want to be looking at a loading screen practically half the time you're spending with a game. The game's loading times are probably its most noticeable weakness. One other minor one is that there's no in-game move list for the different characters. Many of the special moves require nonstandard inputs, so it pays to have a move list (such as the one in the manual) handy while playing.
The game's also got a training mode (for practicing your moves) and, of course, a multiplayer "network" mode. Darkstalkers Chronicle's Wi-Fi multiplayer support works just fine, letting you take on any other Darkstalkers fans in the vicinity over the airwaves. This is really where your skills will be put to the ultimate test, since, by default, the artificial intelligence really doesn't put up much of a fight. Still, by cranking up the game's difficulty, it's possible to find a ruthless opponent even in the AI. Yet the Wi-Fi modes are definitely going to be the highlight for hardcore fans. You've got several different, similar options available here, including a standard two-player versus mode, a four-player round-robin "league" mode, and what's called the "limit" mode, which can restrict matches similarly to some of those you'll find on your way up the chaos tower.
Deep gameplay, Wi-Fi multiplayer support, and plenty of options make Darkstalkers Chronicle perfect for fighting game fans.
Darkstalkers Chronicle features a bunch of fairly esoteric options, namely the ability to define the rules of the gameplay based on any of the Darkstalkers titles. Not only did some of the characters' moves change over the course of the series, but some of the mechanics of gameplay did, too. For example, the original Darkstalkers was based on Street Fighter-style best-of-three-round matches. However, later Darkstalkers games consisted of one continuous match, where characters that got knocked down once quickly got back on their feet with a second and final life bar. The game also, thankfully, lets you choose to play in the original 4:3 aspect ratio, which puts it in a vertical letterbox (by default, the graphics are stretched wider than normal due to the PSP's big screen). You can also unlock all kinds of great-looking character art, music and sound effects, and endings for all the different characters. There's quite a bit of content here.
It's already widely known that the Sony PSP is capable of pulling off some impressive-looking 3D graphics. What's less obvious is how well it can pull off a 2D game like Darkstalkers Chronicle, whose artwork somehow comes off looking more vibrant than ever in this portable form. Add in wireless multiplayer support and a lot of other convenient gameplay options--not to mention a good smattering of unlockable content--and you've got yourself a fighting game fan's dream come true in Darkstalkers Chronicle.