Vampire Hunter 2 / Vampire Savior 2 - Arcade (1997)

Uh, okay. Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 are two separate tweaks to Vampire Savior. Hunter 2 is Savior with the four new characters taken out, Donovan, Phobos, and Pyron put back in, and all the music replaced with the tunes from Vampire Hunter. Savior 2 is Savior with Donovan, Phobos and Pyron back in and Gallon, Aulbath, and Sasquatch taken out. The Playstation and Saturn ports of Vampire Savior include all eighteen characters, but I have no idea why Capcom just didn't do that with Savior 2 to begin with. There's a few new pieces of artwork in the endings, but that's about the only thing added to these.

Vampire Hunter 2

Other Ports

Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service (2000)

A Japan exclusive Dreamcast port of Vampire Savior 2 with a few nifty extra features. All eighteen characters are included, and you have the option of choosing to play as their Vampire, Hunter, Savior, or Savior 2 versions. What's sort of neat about this is that characters that weren't around for the earlier games, like Lilith or Bulleta, still have "Vampire" and "Hunter" versions with slightly modified move sets. You also have the option of choosing between Vampire, Hunter, and Savior gameplay modes. Selecting to play Vampire mode isn't, however, identical to playing the original game: it's playing Savior with Vampire's Special gauge and three-rounds system. As the title suggests, Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service allows for online play, but I can't imagine the Dreamcast's 56k connection handled it very well.

Dreamcast Cover

Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower - PSP (2004)

Vampire Chronicle was ported to the PSP in 2004 under the title Vampire/Darkstalkers Chronicle: the Chaos Tower. It's the same game with an extra gameplay mode called "Tower," which looks sort of like a combination of King of Fighters XI's Challenge mode and Street Fighter Alpha 3's World Tour mode. I don't believe it sold well, considering it was a seven year old game re-released on a relatively unpopular handheld. Plus playing fighting game with a PSP direction pad borders on torture.

PSP Cover

Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection - Playstation 2 (2005)

Golly! Every Darkstalkers arcade release on a single PS2 disc! Only in Japan though! With some unlockable bonus art! And...yeah, that's really all Darkstalkers Collection is. It would probably be a more exciting package if CPS2 emulation weren't so easy these days. An American release and a netplay option might have been nice -- and we've already discussed Dee. Darkstalkers Chronicle is basically proof that Capcom feels like the Vampire series isn't worth the time or effort anymore. (Didn't stop me from buying it, though.)

PSP Cover

American TV Show

Darkstalkers (1995)

In the mid-90s, not-so-venerable children's programming production company DiC created two cartoons based off Capcom properties - Street Fighter (mostly based on the Jean Claude Van Damme movie) and Darkstalkers.

Like the games, Pyron is attempting to take over the earth by enlisting the help of several Darkstalkers. Some, like Lord Raptor and Anakaris, join the bad guys. whom are led by Dmitri and Morrigan. A few, like Donovan, Lei Lei, and Huitzil, don't take sides. The rest, like Rikuo and Sasquatch, are the good guys. These are led by Felicia and (this is where the series falls flat) a young boy named Harry Grimoire. Apparently Harry is from a long line of magicians, and throughout the series, he learns new spells to fight for humanity. Naturally, Harry is nowhere else in the Darkstalkers canon and was probably added so the target audience could relate more to the story.

Now, the plot of Darkstalkers was pretty ludicrous, so it's almost merciful that it really doesn't take itself too seriously (unlike the anime, which wouldn't come out for another two years or so.) The writing isn't - you know - GOOD or anything, but there are some amusing touches, like giving Victor a Schwarzengger-esque accent, or turning Anakaris into someone so old that he's just gotten stupid.

However, the artwork quality ranges from "vaguely acceptable" to "oh so incredibly bad". It's pretty clear they didn't have much of a budget, because some of the character designs - Morrigan and Dmitri in particular - look frightening in most close-ups. It's especially disconcerting when Dmitri's transparent disembodied head pops to taunt people. Sasquatch just looks...well, absurd. One of the only characters that doesn't look incredibly retarded is Felicia, which is good, considering she's one of the main protagonists. The female characters also wear slightly less revealing outfits here.

Most fans regard the American Darkstalkers cartoon as a huge embarrassment, but considering it was made for kids rather than fans of the series, it's not particularly terrible.

Anime

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (1997)

A four-episode OAV series based on second game of the Darkstalkers series, riding the success of the surprisingly not-horrible Street Fighter Animated Movie. To cut to the chase: NightWarriors is kind of a disappointment, despite all the self-generated hype.

The plot is a modified and fleshed-out version of the admittedly thin Vampire/Vampire Hunter story. After being banished from Makai, Demitri has set up shop on earth and all but taken it over. He's blocked out the sun to make his stay more comfortable, thereby destroying most plant and animal life. Starvation and attacks by the demons which came pouring in after Demitri have left human civilization in tatters. Demitri's role in the story, however, soon becomes a background detail. Taking center stage are Donovan, Anita, Lei-Lei, and Lin-Lin as The Good Guys, while Pyron becomes the main villain, with drove upon drove of Phobos units as his henchmen.

The problem with doing a four-episode show about a like Darkstalkers lies mainly in the cast. Fourteen characters is a fine roster for a fighting game, but having to cram as many of them as you can into a four-episode series is really cumbersome. Despite my mild annoyance at seeing Anakaris, Victor, Rikuo, and Sasquatch reduced to only appearing in the episode intros, it was obvious that the writers were already having a difficult time cramming in as many characters as they were. The story is a trite mess; but then again, I don't think that was really the focus here. The best moments of the show involve Donovan, Anita, and their relationship, but even that isn't expanded upon enough -- gotta make sure there's enough time for thirty pointless minutes about Felicia and Tailban doing whatever the hell it was they did in the third episode. (It's been a while.)

The good news is that it does look pretty good. The art and animation are pretty high grade, and the fight scenes borrow a lot from the game, which shows that the animators' hearts were in the right place. However, there are a lot of cases where an attack or move that looked cool in a game looks utterly silly in a cartoon which strives for realism. This brings us to another problem: the games' cartoony sense of humor is totally absent from the anime. NightWarriors often takes itself far too seriously, and absurdity results. I can't think of a better example than the final shot of the last episode: Donovan, exalting in his victory over Pyron and having finally shed his doubts and self-loathing, speaks his last lines to Anita and then strikes one of his win poses from the game. I can't even begin to describe how silly it looks. Even in the game it comes off as goofy, but here it's downright ridiculous -- and the show is trying to be completely serious.

So the NightWarriors anime is a bust. In retrospect, my money would have probably been better spent elsewhere than the four VHS tapes. But on the plus side, it's better than the American Darkstalkers cartoon.

Comics

In addition to several Japanese only manga anthologies, there was a manga that followed the storyline of the anime. This was published in the late-90s by Viz.

In 2004, American publisher Udon began releasing comic books based on several Capcom properties, including Street Fighter, Megaman and Darkstalkers, all of which can be found in trade paperback form. The Darkstalkers comic follows the plotline pretty closely, covering several plot strands: Morrigan's role in the underworld and her rivalry with Demitri; Felicia's struggle with success and her attempts to teach Talbain that humans aren't all bad; an attack on Victor by Donovan, hired by scared townspeople; the origin of Bishamon; and, of course, the lurking Pyron overhead. Unfortunately, Udon stopped publishing it after six issues, which is a shame. As such, the story goes much of nowhere. But still, the artwork is fantastic - the trade paperback cover artwork by Shinkiro is pretty much the same style as found in Capcom vs SNK, but the Udon artists are also all extremely talented, and it's almost worth the price for the cover artwork gallery alone.

Udon Darkstalkers Comic

Other Appearances

Though there are only three true games in the series, the characters have appeared in numerous other Capcom games. The popular puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo featured several Darkstalkers characters - including Morrigan, Felicia, Lei Lei and Donovan - as well as related backgrounds and arranged music. The super deformed spin-off fighting game Super Gem Fighters Mini-Mix (AKA Pocket Fighter) featured Morrigan, Felicia and Lei Lei as playable characters.

Morrigan makes an appearance in Marvel vs Capcom (including an alternate "Lilith" variation"), and B.B. Hood, Felicia and Anakaris show up in Marvel vs Capcom 2. Anita is a secret character in Marvel Super Heroes. Morrigan also shows up in Capcom vs SNK Pro (as well as the Dreamcast version) and Capcom vs SNK 2, complete with portrait artwork by Shinkiro. However, since her sprite has never been redrawn, it looks hideously out of place compared to the other characters.

Demitri is the sole Darkstalkers representation in SNK vs Capcom Chaos, although Morrigan, Felicia and B.B. Hood are in the portable Neo Geo Pocket Color fighting game Capcom vs SNK: Match of the Millenium. One of the backgrounds in Street Fighter Alpha 2 is a costume ball including several Capcom characters, including Felicia and Morrigan. Morrigan is a secret character in the Dreamcast version of the the Psikyo developed shooter Gunbird 2, and B.B. Hood is also a hidden character in Cannon Spike.

The Japanese only strategy RPG Namco X Capcom includes Demitri, Morrigan, Felicia, Lei Lei, Lilith, Lord Raptor, Huitzil and Q. Bee, as well as a few of their signature songs. Finally, the Darkstalkers play a major role in Capcom Fighting Evolution, which included characters and systems from several other Capcom fighting games, including Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 3, Street Fighter Alpha, and Warzard. This game features Demitri, Felicia, Anakaris, and Jedah, with Pyron as one of the bosses. This might've sounded cool, but the game really kinda sucks overall and reeks of laziness on Capcom's part.

Super Gem Fighters Mini-Mix

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Super Gem Fighters Mini-Mix

So have we really seen the last of the Darkstalkers? My guess would be yes, unless Capcom decides to do a few more crossover games somewhere down the road. I would be a lot less disappointed about this if the series had gotten a better run -- the only fighting game more undeservedly overlooked than Darkstalkers is probably Last Blade. That's just the way it goes, I guess.

Links

Anime World Review of the OVA.

Back to the index

Back to Page 2