... Ahem. So six of the normal in-game screenshots we have today are, in fact, from the writer's Fightcade matches with Ultra Powerful Pal of Gaming Hell HokutoNoShock. The writer plays many fighting games terribly with Mr. Shock and he gave us the OK to use shots from our games. Because they're better when they're taken live, right? He also helped out with the Darkstalkers Resurrection screenshots, and checked this before we went to print, so thanks for that. Other Ultra Powerful Pal of Gaming Hell @_Kimimi checked it for us as well, so thanks for that too. And after all those people, I finally got to read it. Aww.
Speaking of screenshots, CPS-II is a massive pain in my ass for this. MAME and other emulators spit CPS-II screenshots out at a weird resolution- 384 x 224- but this is not how they were intended to be seen because arcade monitors are usually 4:3, right? This is explained in-depth over here. This page originally had the screenshots as-is, but now that we realise people should've shouted at us for that long ago, we've adjusted them in the most hacky way possible (via HTML- we tried editing them and it turned out badly) to be 320 x 240.
And speaking of pains in the my ass, names in this game change depending on the region! Sadly, the Darkstalkers community have collectively failed to come up with a convenient Street Fighter-esque Boxer / Claw / Dictator nomenclature for these changes, so for the sake of brevity (please do not make us type out Phobos / Huitzil every God-damn time) we've gone for what was originally intended by the developers, apparently: we're using the US/World names for characters rather than the Japanese ones (apparently the US/World variants came first so they have legal precedent). Christ knows how we're going to handle the regional variations for the first and second games. This'll probably turn into a game of its own, seeing how long we can go without mentioning them by name. Thank God they never changed the title for Vampire Savior, eh? Except when they nearly called it Darkstalkers: Jedah's Demnation. And when they changed it to Darkstalkers 3. I have a headache now.

My credentials with regards to fighting games have been documented (i.e. they're poor) but there's one thing for certain.

When it comes to Capcom's 2D fighters...

My personal tier list is #3: Marvel vs. Capcom 1, #2: Street Fighter Alpha 2 / 3 (don't make me choose), and #1: Vampire Savior, baby.

Let's step back a second, though. Gonna do things a little differently this time. A bit of personal history, how did this happen?

I was not playing fighting games 'properly' (ha!) when Vampire Savior was new. I'm sure this will come as a shock to you, but my education in the arts of the Darkstalkers took a while! I was only dimly aware of the series at first via Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (no, seriously, this was my introduction to the series, as well as Capcom's #1 Game, Cyberbots) but I never got the chance to look the series up (didn't have a Saturn, so all that was available was the first game's PS1 port). A couple of years later, I got a Neo-Geo Pocket Color and picked up SNK Vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium (at the best place to pick up NGPC games post-system-death, which weirdly enough was 'this one toy shop in the Departures Lounge at Birmingham International Airport') which, I cannot lie, was one of the most important fighting games I ever played. It encouraged me- somehow- to play 2D fighting games better. It finally gave me the kick up the bum I needed to learn properly how these games worked. To strive to fight! And learn their mechanics intimately! In any case, three Darkstalkers characters show up on the Capcom side, and while I already knew about Morrigan and Felicia, it was the third one that got my attention- the gun-toting, money-hungry bounty hunter B. B. Hood. That's the kind of character I can absolutely get behind, and she quickly became my favourite character in there.

So a little while later, I found Darkstalkers 3 for the PS1 at the local game shop (it's one of those games I left the price sticker on too- £9.99! Cheap as chips!) and fell in love with it, although back then I wouldn't have been able to articulate why beyond the base-level stuff (and, let's face it, we won't be going more in-depth than that here, arf arf arf!). I knew it wasn't the real deal, but it was as close as I was going to get for a while. Then a few years later I made sure Darkstalkers Chronicle was the first PSP game I got, and a few years after that (which saw me go through phases where I'd just play the game incessantly for a day or two) I got right back into the game via Darkstalkers Resurrection. At that time I was playing fighting games properly less terribly than I used to, thanks to having regular sessions online with a friend (including intense Fighter's History Dynamite sessions, and actually playing both Fight Fever and Samurai Shodown Sen for extended, unhealthy amounts of time). I think you can still call me ~a casual~ fighting game player- as I type this I'm scrubbing up on Savage Reign, which says a lot about me- but I'd like to think that I'm learning, slowly, what makes games like this tick, what the good ones do that lesser ones don't, how all the mechanics fit together and what purpose they all serve. Not necessarily 'becoming a better player' but 'learning what makes a good fighter'. Or something like that anyway. So now, we're able to talk about why Vampire Savior is my favourite.

Actually talking about Vampire Savior now, then.

Despite being the third in the series, Vampire Savior is only the second to have a proper story (the original Darkstalkers doesn't count, apparently). Jedah Dohma has been revived after a premature death, and finds the Makai realm in chaos, especially after the death of Belial Aensland. He decides to recreate it himself and invite souls he considers worthy to his newly-created realm, Majigen. He wants to unite all souls together, but he's invited a few familiar faces- the cast of the previous games minus Donovan (probably a proper vampire now), Huitzil (scrap metal) and Pyron (dead)- as well as newcomers half-a-Morrigan Lilith, aforementioned bounty hunter B. B. Hood and soul-devouring insect Q-Bee, and they're not too happy with the idea of all becoming one soul. So they decide to knock seven bells out of each other, as well as Jedah. Monster-based scrapping ensues across Majigen to stop Dohma's plans, taking the form of a 90s Capcom Fighting Game with punching, kicking and a multi-tier Super Meter in play.

Speaking of the roster, why don't we take a look at our cast of characters?

Character data and profiles adapted from Darkstalkers: Official Complete Works, the Darkstalkers 3 manual & the Night Warriors flyer, voice actor data taken from Behind the Voice Actors.


Type: Succubus
Origin: Scotland
(VA: Yayoi Jinguji)

The daughter of Belial and a
fun-loving succubus, when taken to
Majigen she senses a familiar
being that she seeks out.


Type: Demon
Origin: Makai
(VA: Isshin Chiba)

After his resurrection, Jedah despairs
at the state of Makai and seeks to
merge all the powerful souls in
his own realm, Majigen.


Type: Succubus Soul
Origin: Sealed Space
(VA: Hiroko Konishi)

Part of Morrigan's power, sealed away
at her birth. After 300 years, it took
on a personality of its own and
gained a temporary body.


Type:Soul Bee
Origin: Makai
(VA: Miyuki Matsushita)

One from a hive of Soul Bees who,
seemingly working alongside Jedah
(their hive is on his property), want
to feast on tasty souls.

(JP: Lei-Lei)
Origin: China
(VA: Michiko Neya)

Twin sisters, Hsien-Ko and Mei-Ling
who unite their soul into the form
of a Jiangshi to hunt Darkstalkers and
save their mother's soul.

(JP: Bulleta)
Type: Human Darkhunter
Origin: Northern Europe
(VA: Miyuki Matsushita)

An innocent-looking girl who is,
in truth, a ruthless, money-hungry
Darkhunter, using weapons from guns
to explosives to catch her bounty.


Type: Vampire
Origin: Romania
(VA: Nobuyuki Hiyama)

Morrigan's rival who seeks her power,
their planned battle was interrupted
when his castle was teleported
into Majigen by Jedah's meddling.


Type: Mummy
Origin: Egypt
(VA: Kan Tokumaru)

The revived pharaoh of an ancient
Egyptian kingdom, those who follow him
will be protected, be they from his
own kingdom or Jedah's.


Type: Frankenstein's Monster
Origin: Germany
(VA: Kan Tokumaru)

Sharing his scientist creator's name,
he mistakenly believes the gathering
of souls in Majigen may help him
revive his dead sister, Emily.

(JP: Zabel Zarock)
Type: Zombie
Origin: Australia
(VA: Yūji Ueda)

A guitarist in life, famous for killing
his own fans, he was resurrected
as a ghoul. He wants Jedah's power
for his own selfish ends.

(JP: Gallon)
Type: Werewolf
Origin: England
(VA: Yūji Ueda)

A werewolf who has tried to
suppress his lycanthropy through
martial arts training, he must fight
the beast within himself.


Type: Catwoman
Origin: America
(VA: Kae Araki)

A singer and dancer raised in
an orphanage, her transportation to
Majigen has somewhat got in the
way of her dreams of stardom.

(JP: Aulbath)
Type: Merman
Origin: Brazil
(VA: Yūji Ueda)

The emperor of an underwater kingdom
of fishmen, Rikuo's son has gone
missing, seemingly sealed off in
the ocean by Jedah's power.


Type: Bigfoot
Origin: Canada
(VA: Kan Tokumaru)

Charged with defending his clan
of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?), it seems his
own tribe have been lured away
by Jedah with bananas...


Type: Samurai
Origin: Japan
(VA: Kan Tokumaru)

After the original wearer of the cursed
Hannya armour and Kien blade cast
them aside, the armour created its own
body to seek blood in Majigen.

The first game introduced quite a few things to the Capcom fighting game canon, including air-blocking, s specific chain attack system, and powered-up versions of special moves that require meter, and the sequel followed this up by adding pursuit attacks (later seen in Red Earth!) and refining the Super Meter to something more flexible, so Vampire Savior has all these and a few more tricks up its sleeve, many of which serve to either keep the pace of the game brisk- it might be the fastest of Capcom's 2D output when played on Turbo as it should be- or make each character stand out as much as possible from the rest of the cast. On the pacing side, the rejigged health system- where each player gets two lifebars, similar to Killer Instinct, and damage taken has a white portion that slowly heals if the player is not attacked- work to keep fights as quick as possible, with almost no hangtime between 'rounds' (literally you get knocked down and FIGHT blares out again) and strong encouragement to get in your opponent's face as much as possible. The white portion of health isn't an insignificant amount either, and letting your opponent get it back can even turn a battle against you. Also keeping the pace up is the combo system, including chains (which lets you move from light to medium to strong attacks in sequence) and links (including dash links, like B. B. Hood's deadly dash-light-punch combo) which are super-fast but also reliant on you keeping in your enemy's face at all times even after landing them (the more hits you land in succession, the longer the white energy that's left, so you have to keep the momentum up). Initially it may seem hard to keep up, but with practice you can, and the recovering health can lead to great back-and-forths for the battle!

As for the characters, the roster is 15 strong- that's pretty much the maximum they could fit in apparently, as some of the unused content and Hunter 2 / Savior 2 cast reshuffles will verify- and Capcom did their level best to make each of them as unique and interesting to play as possible. One of the big elements here is the Dark Force mechanic, where every character can activate a special ability that costs 1 bar of Super meter and alters how they play, such as flight, clones that mirror their moves, hyper-armour to stop them getting stunned on-hit or changing their moveset, for a limited period of time. Not an entirely new mechanic- a similar idea appeared in X-Men: Children of the Atom with its X-Abilities like Wolverine's healing, but it was a lot less fleshed-out there (Cyclops gets a throw, for instance). Here, the character abilities can be divided into roughly five types but each one works in its own way, tailoring themselves nicely to each character's style, and the generous amount of meter you gain during fights means you'll be able to use these when you need a boost. I wouldn't call them a comeback mechanic like the character-buffing X-Factor from Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, but with judicious use of them, you can claw back an advantage.

Additionally, unlike games like The King of Fighters with its universal four-types-of-jump system (four! Four of 'em!), each character has a different set of movement options for dashing and control in the air. A few examples include Lilith having a super-jump to get across the screen easily, Raptor being able to crawl (and charge his diving attack at the same time- take that, Guile), Q-Bee's air-dash homing in on enemies, Anakaris warping to the other side of the screen, Morrigan's jets being usable in the air... Each character has their own control foibles, and I think that's the kind of thing that makes it so appealing to me, you really have to move around differently as each cast member and use that to your advantage. Many of their special and super moves differ from the norm too- Morrigan has an EX move that sends her off-screen, Lilith's fireballs are slow but can be used as traps to plant on-screen, etc.. What's especially impressive is that, somehow, all these individual quirks still result in a game that's sorta balanced- there's certainly an accepted tier list, but I'm just going to link to this high-level match video and tell you that Anakaris is considered bottom-tier. Obviously, it all depends on player skill, but it goes to show even with a clearly disadvantaged character, you can prevail. In essence, these abilities and movement quirks make the cast just fun to play as, to explore their fighting potential, and that's critical.

What draws me to Vampire Savior is that a lot of its mechanics and systems are things I absolutely love to see or play around with in fighting games, and the fact that they're all here in one package and that they work so well is what makes me hold it in such high regard. The varied mobility of the cast, the speed of the thing (see also: Fighting Vipers), the fact that dizzies are not caused by damage but by specific specials and the easy chaining-together of normal moves (well, easier than usual) draw me right to it. It's fast but it's not overwhelmingly so- it never feels like there's too much going on at once (something that I do find with the later Marvel vs. games, where I can barely keep up with what's going on), there's plenty of interesting mechanics going on but there's never so much that you can't grasp everything with a bit of practice, and it just feels like it all gels together so well in the one game. Hitting that sweet spot of complexity and relative ease to pick up just nails it for me, and that's probably why I go through these phases where I just wanna play the game as much as possible, and even if I'm rusty as hell I still get stuck right in (the rough SNK equivalent, for the curious, is Garou: Mark of the Wolves which, similarly, I can slip right back into after not playing it for an age).

Finally, there's the aesthetics, and it will probably come as no surprise that I dig the hell out of this style. The series has always had impressive spritework- why do you think they could get away with reusing Morrigan's 1994 sprite (to varying degrees of success) for so many years? In Savior, it's at its peak, with wonderfully exaggerated and expressive sprites, far looser, wilder and more willing to play around with character form than Street Fighter. This looseness makes it feel more like a cartoon, and it further emphasises this with its sense of humour- Lord Raptor dunks fools by turning them into basketballs, most of B. B. Hood's normals are her making it look like an accident by sneezing or tripping over, Victor's butt animations... There's even some hidden details, like being able to hold Hsien-Ko's talisman-whiffing taunt for longer or getting Felicia to sit on her opponent's head. There's a bit of gore here and there (you can chop opponents in half) but the humour makes it seem more Looney Tunes-esque that horrifying, which works in its favour. For me personally, it's the best looking game on CPS-II hardware, and it even came after the release of the visually-stunning Red Earth.

The one thing holding it back in the presentation department is the background selection- there's no interactive scenery like in previous games (I loved the wine barrels you could smash in Talbain's stage back then!) and there's far fewer backgrounds, not even one for every character. The backgrounds that are here are good (the haunted train being a highlight) but they're not quite on the level of previous games. The soundtrack really grew on me though- at first there were only a few songs I really dug (War Agony and Iron Horse, Iron Terror) but over time, almost all of them wormed their way into my heart (particularly Forever Torment, though I still dislike Green Scream because of how frequently it came up in versus matches in Resurrection).

So, hopefully all that put together- the movement mechanics, the unique character roster, the aesthetics, the breakneck pace of the game- helps to explain why Vampire Savior is my favourite of Capcom's 2D fighting output. Not that I don't like their other games, obviously- Q's my boy in Third Strike, after all- but this is the one, when I need a Capcom fighter, that I always find myself going back to. In the years since, Capcom have only gone to the Darkstalkers well for crossovers and the like, but surprisingly I'm OK with that. While I'm sure we'd all love to see the Darkstalkers return in their own game, there's something about the way Vampire Savior puts all its elements together that I feel would be hard to recapture, and that's not even starting with how to deal with all these characters visually, these cartoony cast members that transform and warp and stretch, in 3D. Basically, Capcom knocked it out of the park for Vampire Savior, and I'm OK with things ending on a high note.

Just make sure you let B. B. Hood make more cameos, eh Capcom?

For being the ultimate horror-themed fighter- sorry, Battle Monsters- Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire is awarded...

In a sentence, Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire is...
Exactly my kind of fighting game.

And now, it's that time, folks!

Before we go anywhere, if you'd like to learn how to properly play the game...

My recommendation is the Mizuumi Wiki page on the game, which has a lot of resources to be getting on with. Have fun!

First up, there were two further versions of Vampire Savior in the arcades, and this is where it all gets a bit weird.

So, both released at the same time, Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 are essentially rejigged versions of the original Savior with changes made to the cast. As the title implies, Vampire Hunter 2 is a direct 'sequel' to Vampire Hunter, which means that the four new characters introduced in Savior are gone, replaced with Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron who were cut from Savior. Vampire Savior 2, on the other hands, keeps the Savior quartet, adds the Hunter trio in, but loses Jon Talbain, Rikuo and Sasquatch as a result. Both games also add Oboro Bishamon and Marionette as secret playable characters- more on them below. Additionally, each game has a unique intro, with Hunter 2 having Donovan over a defeated Morrigan, and Savior 2 seeing B. B. Hood victorious over Lilith, and both have a smattering of coloured versions of Bengus' pencil illustrations of the cast flash up rapidly. We liked the main images so much we made full versions of 'em at the bottom! For the flashing artwork, we put it together on this page. Finally, Hunter 2 uses the Vampire Hunter soundtrack, and both games add Revenger's Roost, Donovan's stage from Hunter, to give him a home. As for why this reshuffling had to happen, in Darkstalkers: Official Complete Works (ISBN-13: 9781927925041) Haruo Murata, credited as Mucchi and story / concept planner on the original Darkstalkers, explains that Donovan (and presumably Huitzil and Pyron) were dropped because of 'hardware restriction'- i.e., there just wasn't enough space to cram them in. Hence, no arcade version of the game exists with everyone, so each revision shuffles the cast about.

However, there's also a lot of changes under the hood that make the games less desirable than the original. These changes are outlined here from Mizuumi Wiki (told you they'd be useful), with the key ones being the removal of the aerial links system, the alteration of dash attacks making dash links impossible, a new universal Dark Force system that acts as a temporary power-up (personalised ones for most characters are still available via button commands) and changes to the throw mechanics that make infinite throw loops perfectly possible. So, it's not really Vampire Savior anymore. As we'll see in a minute, many elements from these releases were incorporated into some of the home ports, but to play 'pure' versions of them requires the Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection on PS2. Personally, I didn't miss the Vampire Hunter trio enough to play either of these versions, but just look over the data in that link and decide for yourself if this is what you want.

Next, secret characters! Well, sort-of. Courtesy of arcade-history for VS and Mizuumi Wiki for VS2 / VH2.

There's only two in the original Vampire Savior arcade release. Dark Talbain, who serves as Talbain's final boss and is basically the same but has a flashing palette, a different intro, and uses the Dragon Cannon sprite from Night Warriors, is selected by holding Start over Talbain and pressing all three Kick buttons. There's also a neat variation on a random character select in the form of Shadow, picked by going on Random Select, pressing Start five times then any button. You start with a random character, then possess the next character you defeat, and so on. Alternatively, press Start three times on the character you'd like to start with, then go to Random Select and press Start 2 times then any button. While there is a secret boss battle in the game- Oboro Bishamon, an alternate version of Bishamon where the original wearer has mastered his cursed armour and no longer has the spirits above his head- he cannot be played as in the original Vampire Savior release.

For the Vampire Hunter 2 / Savior 2 releases (and subsequent home console versions), Oboro Bishamon was made playable by holding Start over Bishamon and pressing all three Punch buttons. This version also adds another random mode variation called Marionette, picked by going on Random Select, pressing Start seven times then any button. In Marionette Mode, every match is a mirror match instead, with a creepy little theme playing before each match as the Marionette possesses its next body. She even has eight colour palettes like everyone else! Sadly, of all the arcade secret characters, Marionette is the only one missing from Darkstalkers Resurrection. Alas!

Oh, and there's also two alternate characters only in Vampire Hunter 2 / Savior 2 who we can't be bothered to even picture- each version has its own Huitzil and Donovan. The Savior 2 Huitzil can crawl like Lord Raptor, while the Hunter 2 version can't, and Hunter 2 and Savior 2 Donovan place their swords differently. To select the opposite version of these characters from the version you're playing- Savior 2 Donovan in Hunter 2, for example- hold Start on them and press any button.

Also in the original Vampire Savior is an unusual playable character... Sort-of. Setting the character ID to 0B (via MAME cheats) lets you play as Lord Raptor, but with his Dark Force power (where his hands turn into chainsaws) switched on permanently with no timer. You can only use him in Vs. mode, though, as trying this in one-player mode will crash the game. I initially assumed this wasn't meant to be a scrapped character, but a 1997 developer interview from Gamest translated by shmuplations mentions a 'Hyper Lord Raptor' that had 'half the graphics' made for it, so perhaps this was intended to be an alternate version of Lord Raptor but was instead used for his Dark Force instead? In any case, this character does lead on to something else unused in the game- setting the character ID to 0B to appear on the high score table places Huitzil's profile plate instead! (Thanks as ever to The Cutting Room Floor for documenting that).

Speaking of scrapped characters... This seems like the best place to bring that subject up. That TCRF link also shows a profile plate for an aged-up Anita from Night Warriors, so what's going on there? Returning to Darkstalkers: Official Complete Works, beyond the trio of characters cut from the previous games planned for inclusion, there are at least three character concepts brought up that weren't included in the final game. The one with the most material is Anita herself, with a whole page of interpretations of an older Anita separated from Donovan presented including one where she controls puppets to fight for her. Next there's Dee, a vampiric version of Donovan that follows on from his Night Warriors ending where he succumbs to his dark side and has to abandon Anita, although there's only versus and victory screen art for him (later used in Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection) as well as art supposedly from Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower. That last bit of art specifically says that Dee was a 'character design that was rejected', so this doesn't contradict the interview earlier that says Donovan himself, not Dee, was cut- maybe Dee came up as a concept, was rejected, then Donovan was cut later. In any case, both of these concepts for Anita and Donovan were brought back for Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection on PS2 to differing extents, and we'll be seeing exactly how later. Finally, there's Baraba, a planned rival werewolf for Jon Talbain, allied with Demitri, that has nothing more than a head sketch. Sorry there aren't any scans of these pages, I don't want to destroy this lovely book! Photos will have to do.

Next up... Why yes, there's quite a few ports of Vampire Savior, and we're going to talk about all of them, immediately.

The first port was the Saturn release, which came out in early 1998 only in Japan, and required the 4MB RAM Cartridge to work like most of the other later CPS-II ports for the system- importers should note that models of the Action Replay Plus 4MB RAM released before this will not work, and they had to make a new one to get it working! This is as expected of a Saturn port, with the animation and sheer speed of the game retained, but most notably with the Vampire Hunter / Night Warriors characters- Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron- added back in without chucking anyone else out like the arcade versions. Additionally, meeting the requirements to fight Oboro Bishamon and beating him allow you to play as him, and beating the game without using a continue unlocks an EX Option menu (after you select Option by pressing L, R and Start at the same time) with some bonus options, including English text! Switching this on changes the blood to white too, but hey-ho. The one problem, of course, is that it's been superseded in many ways by later ports- in particular there's no Training mode, and while I'm not an expert there's apparently some differences which make this unusable for tournaments- so it's of less importance nowadays, but way back when it did the job. Makes me all nostalgic, in a way. Ah...

Speaking of nostalgia, the first version of Vampire Savior I ever played was the one that came out over here, the Playstation port. You're now expecting the standard bad-mouthing of this version- released in late 1998, with the Japanese version titled Vampire Savior EX Edition and the US / EU version getting renamed Darkstalkers 3- but not so. This certainly holds up better than the Vs. series games on the platform, as while there's a lot of frames missing (a lot, with idle animations probably getting hit the most), it at least has all the proper game mechanics unlike the Vs. games, and as compensation, in addition to the three characters added to the Saturn port plus Oboro Bishamon, there's extra modes and options unavailable elsewhere.

The main one is the Original Character mode, where you can create a custom version of one of the cast (giving them a new name / palette) and, by playing through a standard Arcade run, can raise their attack, life-bat count and starting special meter. It's a bit of fluff, but it's nice to make your own palettes, and is also how you unlock the extra options (some, like adding double-jumps for every character, are exclusive to this port) and full art set (which are stored as .BMPs on the disc if you wanna snag 'em). There's also a bunch of extra characters- alternate versions of Rikuo (DS1), Huitzil (NW), Donovan (NW), Victor (NW) and Lilith ('Liligan' with Morrigan's palette / voice), but to unlock these you need to play with the Shortcut Option set to ON, then press Select on the appropriate character before pressing any button. Finally, there's elements of the Vampire Hunter 2 / Savior 2 releases here, including the option to pick the character-specific Dark Force system from VSI or the general one from VH2 / VS2. It is not even close to being the optimal way to play the game, but it's a serviceable port, and mega-fans might want to check out some of the neat options in here.

The Dreamcast is next, although this is less of a straight port and more of a remixed compilation, with one of Capcom's oddly titled net-battle games, Vampire Chronicle For Matching Service. Purported to be the Hyper Street Fighter II of the series, wherein you can pick every version of every character from every game, and fight in the fighting systems from the game of your choice, with the visuals and presentation based on Vampire Savior. Once again, though, we're going to have to send you over to Mizuumi Wiki so that people who know what they're talking about, unlike me, can explain why this particular version isn't tournament-legal- while it's missing the infinite throw loops from the Hunter 2 / Savior 2 releases, it has many other changes/oddities, and many of the Savior-versions of each character are actually just their Savior 2 / Hunter 2 versions, so it's not even accurate in that sense. Read that link for more on that sort of thing, but just know what you're in for if you go for it (or you bought El Dorado Gate Vol. 1 and saw the advert for this port in there, no really that's absolutely true).

Vampire Chronicle For Matching Service was subsequently ported to the Playstation Portable, retitled Vampire Chronicle / Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, as one of the launch titles for every region- in fact, it was such a launch title in the US it came out a week before the system itself. That's efficiency for you. As well as the same quibbles as with the Dreamcast release, this port adds a new Tower mode, a series of challenges where you pick a team of three Darkstalkers with limited regenerating health, and meeting requirements in-battle changes your route. Your goal is the 100th challenge at the top, but if all three of your Darkstalkers should fall, you must restart the entire thing. Playing through this mode unlocks illustrations for the Chronicle mode (which can also be filled with endings from all three games) and this is also where you'll see a new background added to this port, the Chaos Tower. There is a Network mode, but this is scaled-back and relies on the PSP's ad-hoc system rather than actual online fighting (despite the PAL version's box saying it has online play for up to four players!). As far as portable Darkstalkers goes, this is your one option, sadly!

All three arcade versions of Vampire Savior, as well as the original Japanese arcade releases of Vampire: The Night Warriors and Vampire Hunter, were gathered together for Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection for the PS2, a sadly import-only release comparable to Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, in that it includes the original games as well as special Arrange versions. In this case, you unlock Arrange versions of just Vampire Savior (beat VS with Shadow), Vampire Savior 2 (beat VS2 with Marionette) and Vampire Hunter 2 (beat VH2 with Marionette) but they let you use the full game roster in each, with Arrange VS being closest to the Saturn version, Arrange VS2 having the system foibles of that game, and Arrange VH2 being the same as VS2 but with the alternate soundtrack and breaking fights up into individual rounds instead of VS's health system. So, there's no mix-and-match stuff like Hyper Street Fighter II or Vampire Chronicle. All these Arrange versions have a fairly significant addition, a new character... Although I wouldn't get your hopes up too much. The new character is Dee (press Start nine times on the Random icon then press any button), that vampiric version of Donovan scrapped from the arcade Vampire Savior mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, he's mostly a head-swap of Demitri with a mix of Donovan's specials and Demitri's normals and a handful of new moves thrown in. Bah. In his ending though, you briefly see a grown-up Anita- this mock-fight intro shows a versus screen portrait and idle stance that can be seen in Darkstalkers: Official Complete Works, plus it uses the profile plate unused in the arcade game. There's even a textless ending! Playable Anita, if only... You'll have to go to Marvel Super Heroes for that kind of thing.

In spite of that disappointment, this is a fantastic collection- all five of the games in their arcade forms with Arcade, Versus and Training modes, an extensive Art Gallery with art from every instalment (much of which needs to be unlocked by beating certain games with certain characters), a huge suite of options (including things like allowing you to play as the bosses in the first game), the ability to install the game to the PS2 hard drive to reduce the already-short loading times, and a secret set of options that let you alter very specific things about the games (the one problem here is it is never explained what exactly these do- you can pick specific revisions to set the game up as it would be in the arcade, but customising it is not documented very well, using a star-based menu system similar to Street Fighter Alpha Anthology). If you're able to play PS2 imports, then this is absolutely the way to go to play Vampire Savior at home, or any of the other games in the series for that matter, and comes highly recommended. If it helps seal the deal, the game uses really cool arcade-style sheets for listing special moves, which is always an appreciated feature.

Next up, we're moving up a generation with 2013's Darkstalkers Resurrection on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

(Our screenshots in this section come courtesy of HokutoNoShock who went above and beyond to get us shots of this, so thanks!)

Released digitally in the US and Europe and as a physical game on PS3 in Japan as Vampire Resurrection, conversion duties for this one fell to Iron Galaxy Studios. They've done some solid work for Capcom such as Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins and the Dungeons & Dragons double-pack, and they do a similarly solid job here, including both Vampire Hunter (under the Night Warriors title) and Vampire Savior (clumsily retitled Darkstalkers 3, but you never see the title screen so it's called that in menus only). As well as the expected Arcade, Training and Online modes (the game uses GGPO and so works pretty well), Iron Galaxy included a neat Tutorials mode which talks you through some basic strategies with each character (delivered in-character, too!) and does its best to teach you how to play properly. It's the sort of thing Street Fighter IV's trial mode should've been- the complexity escalates quickly, but critically it tries to teach you stuff that you'll actually use, and where you should use it.

There's also the Vault which has a random selection of unlockable art from various sources (which it says is 'concept art' but it's really not) and all the endings from both games, and options include an actual arcade cabinet view and scanlines, a high-res mode (that, weirdly, also replaces all the icons on the character select screen) and the like. If you want to play the game online legally, this is as good as anyone could've expected, so go for it! It is important to note, however, that this is strictly an arcade port, specifically the first version of Vampire Savior, which means Donovan, Huitzil, Pyron and Marionette are not selectable, but Dark Talbain and Shadow are. Oddly, Oboro Bishamon is also selectable despite not being so in the original arcade VS (probably because the data exists for Oboro to be playable, unlike the other four, he just wasn't selectable in the original arcade version).

Sadly the game did not perform to Capcom's expectations, once again locking the Darkstalkers in the vault, despite Yoshinori Ono's claims that Darkstalkers are Not Dead (I still have no idea what the purpose of this trailer was). However, if you want to sample the series for yourself but don't feel you're ready to drop too many bones (see what I did there? Huh?) on the PS2 collection and aren't keen on the idea of a compilation release like the PSP game, Resurrection is the Gaming Hell-approved way to go.

... If you just want Darkstalkers, that is. For Darkstalkers and Friends, you have a modern option in 2022's Capcom Fighting Collection.

Appearing on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Switch and Steam, this is a collection of ten of Capcom's 'other' fighting games, i.e. mostly nothing to do with licensed properties or Street Fighter except for Hyper Street Fighter II because of course, and while the centrepiece is arguably Red Earth seeing as it's never been ported to a home console before... The Darkstalkers fans definitely eat well here. As with Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection on PS2, all five arcade titles are here but this time you get both English and Japanese revisions for those that have them (Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2 do not). Each game in the collection gets online play, a decent training mode, easy special move commands as an option, a museum with lots of production art and full soundtracks to listen to plus a few bug fixes (Vampire Savior gets a bunch fixed, Vampire Savior 2 gets a Shadow bug fixed, Vampire Hunter 2 gets zip). Vampire Savior also has Oboro Bishamon added as a selectable character done the same way as the other games plus you can use the variant stages usually not accessible in training mode, while the variants have 'secret endings removed' which I'm not entirely certain what it means (the endings in those games have always confused me). The netcode ain't bad either. So, yes, while it's missing things like the useful tutorials from Resurrection and more robust settings from Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection, this is absolutely the most convenient and best way to play Vampire Savior nowadays

Now that's a love-letter to a game, isn't it?

May as well file this one next to City Connection on that front.