Editor’s Note: This article is both out of sequence and going up late because a guest contributor had this slot initially. Said contributor did not let us know they were not going to deliver the article, and in fact, has not communicated with us at all since saying she would contribute. So, in lieu of that article is this one about the final entry in Capcom’s Darkstalkers series, Vampire Savior.
The Darkstalkers series never really caught on in the US. We got most of the games, but they lacked the popularity and following they had in Japan. The series, known as the Vampire series in Japan, is Capcom’s horror fighting franchise. The first game, known in Japan simply as Vampire and here as Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, came out in 1994, the same year as Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Fighting games were huge at the time, and Darkstalkers provided a little different twist.
The series takes mythical monsters from both western culture (the Frankenstein Monster, succubus) and eastern (yeti, jiang shi) and throws them together in a monster battle royal for control of the demon realm (possibly the same world seen in Demon’s Crest). The Ryu and Ken of the series are Demitri and Morrigan, a vampire and succubus respectively. They both have a very similar suite of moves, with Morrigan gaining the most popularity, probably by virtue of being a sexy succubus and appearing in Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom series (and being infamous in said series for never having her sprite updated).
Vampire Savior, is the ultimate entry in the series, though it’s got many incarnations. The easiest to come by is probably on the PSP, as Darkstalkers Chronicles, though that requires playing a fighting game on the PSP, which is not a whole lot of fun. The Saturn and Dreamcast versions are probably the best, though both are only available via import, and the DC port was only released via Japanese mailorder.
Still, even if you were to play the Playstation version (released in the US as Darkstalkers 3 and missing many frames of animation as Capcom fighting games on the PSX often did), it’s still a lot of fun and an improvement over the arcade version in many respects. The arcade version removed several characters seen in the previous installment (Vampire Hunter in Japan, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge in the US), which are restored in all of the home ports.
But I’m getting bogged down in minutiae. What’s important is that this game allows you to play as a punk rock zombie (Lord Raptor) and beat the shit out of were-cat (Felicia). This is a thing that happens. For any horror fan, this should really be a game to check out. Each character is lovingly rendered in gorgeous sprite art, somewhat similar to the Street Fighter Alpha style. Each background is hand-drawn and spooky, though sometimes in a cute and cartoony way like Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts (for example, Lord Raptor’s undead punk club). The music fits the tone perfectly.
As for the fighting system, it’s fast paced, with plenty of super moves (and EX-style super versions of normal moves) and tons of strategy. If you’re a frame-counter or a casual player, you’ll find equal enjoyment in the chaos found here. It’s not as full on insane as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but it’s a lot more crazy than Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
If you’re a horror fan and a fighting game fan, I highly recommend checking it out. Sadly, the PS2 Darkstalkers Collection never made it here, but it’s still pretty easy to find. The Saturn import I have cost me about four dollars. I promise you won’t regret it.
Images for this article were borrowed from Hardcore Gaming 101’s excellent series writeup.
- Released: 1997
- System: Arcade (Later ported to PSX, Saturn, PSP and PS2)
- Publisher: Capcom