Darkstalkers franchise
the North American logo of the series
Genres Fighting
Developers Capcom
Publishers Capcom
Platforms Arcade, various
First release Vampire
Latest release Vampire Savior

Darkstalkers, known in Japan and Asia as Vampire (ヴァンパイア Vanpaia?), is a series of 2D fighting games produced by Capcom during the mid-1990s for the CPS II arcade hardware. There have been games in the series, as well as several other works in the other media.

The series is notable for its cast of characters based on well-known fictional monsters (hence its Japanese title, Vampire) and introduced many of the concepts used in later Capcom fighting games, including the use of 16-bit color animation sprites later employed in the Street Fighter Alpha and Marvel vs. Capcom series.


List of games

Arcade games


The first in the series, fully titled Darkstalkers - The Night Warriors or Vampire - The Night Warriors in Japan and released in 1994, features ten playable characters (Demitri Maximoff, Jon Talbain, Victor von Gerdenheim, Lord Raptor, Morrigan Aensland, Anakaris, Felicia, Oboro Bishamon, Rikuo and Sasquatch) and two non-playable boss characters (Huitzil and Pyron) as the final opponents in single-player mode.

The game features the same gameplay system Capcom developed for the Street Fighter II series, but with several new gameplay features such as Air Blocking, Crouch Walking and Chain Combos. The game featured a Special meter similar to the "Super Combo" gauge from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which the player could fill up to perform a super powered special attack. Unlike the Super Combo gauge in Super Turbo, the Special in Darkstalkers gradually drains unless the player performs their super move, preventing players from preserving their super moves for later use.

The game was ported to the PlayStation in 1996. The conversion was handled by Psygnosis. This version featured a new opening theme titled "Trouble Man" by Eikichi Yazawa, which was used as the theme music for the American Darkstalkers animated series.

Vampire Hunter/Night Warriors

Fully titled Night Warriors - Darkstalkers' Revenge or Vampire Hunter - Darkstalkers' Revenge (ヴァンパイア ハンター Banpaia Hantā?) in Japan and released in 1995. It is the second game in the original trilogy, and introduces several gameplay changes to the series. The game introduces two new playable characters, Donovan Baine and Hsien-Ko, "Dark Hunters" who were out to hunt the other Darkstalkers in the game (hence the Japanese title, Vampire Hunter). The two bosses from the first game, Huitzil and Pyron, are now playable characters as well.

The main change in Night Warriors is the ability for the player to stock up on their special gauge, allowing them to store more than one special gauge and preserve them through the entire match. Two types of Super Moves are featured in the game: "ES Specials", which requires a portion of the Special gauge, and "EX Specials", which require an entire stock of the Special gauge to perform. Players can choose between a "Normal" gameplay style or one that offers Auto-Blocking. This game also introduces "Chain Combos" to the series.

A version for the Sega Saturn was released in 1996. It features an "Appendix Mode" that allows players to customize the backgrounds, the opponents' colors and background music between the regular ones and the ones used in the original Darkstalkers. Worth noting is that the Classic background colors aren't very faithful to the Darkstalkers originals. For example, Demitri's stage completely lacks the red background elements, and Sasquatch's stage has a completely different hue for the sky.

Vampire Savior

The third game in the series, Vampire Savior - The Lord of Vampire (ヴァンパイア セイヴァー Banpaia Seivā?),[1] released in 1997. The game retains the character roster of Night Warriors, omitting Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron from the lineup. Taking their place were four new characters: Jedah, Lilith, Q-Bee and B. B. Hood. It also features a secret character/mode, Shadow, where the player assumes the identity of the defeated character for the next fight (e.g. if Morrigan is defeated, the next fight the player will play as Morrigan).

Vampire Savior eschews the traditional round-based system in favour of what is dubbed the "Damage Gauge System", where battles take place during a period of one round, with each fighter having two "life markers" (equivalent to two life bars) by default, which diminish after one character runs out of vitality. The player can also regain a portion of their life during battle if they manage to avoid taking further hits. The game also introduces the "Dark Force System" which allows players to perform special abilities unique to each character for a limited period.

A Saturn version was released in Japan only in 1998, which required Capcom's 4MB RAM Cartridge. This version contains all 15 characters from the original Vampire Savior as well as the three Night Warriors characters who were left out of the original arcade release and brought back in Vampire Savior 2/Vampire Hunter 2. Thanks to the 4MB RAM cartridge, this version more faithfully reproduces the 2D-animation fluidity of the arcade than either of the earlier console releases. However, while Shadow is available in the Saturn version, Marionette is not.

Also in 1998, an update of the game was released on PlayStation as Vampire Savior: EX Edition in Japan, and Darkstalkers 3 in North America. Although it is an EX version to the third canon game in the series, it is actually a compilation of Vampire Savior and its two Japan-only arcade updates. This version allows players to use all 18 characters and the two "hidden characters" (Shadow and Marionette; Shadow takes over the body of each opponent you defeat, so that whichever character you defeat in a match will be your player character against your next opponent, while Marionette mirrors whichever opponent you're currently facing) in all three games. It also features Oboro Bishamon, Dark Talbain and alternative versions of Rikuo, Victor and Lilith as playable characters.[2]

Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2

Vampire Hunter 2 - Darkstalkers' Revenge (ヴァンパイア ハンター2 Banpaia Hantā 2?) and Vampire Savior 2 - The Lord of Vampire (ヴァンパイア セイヴァー2 Banpaia Seivā 2?) were two simultaneously-released updated versions of Vampire Savior that were released exclusively in Japan only a few months after the release of the original Vampire Savior. Along with minor tweaks and changes to the characters' move lists, and the combo system (removal of Vampire Savior air chains) the main difference between the two upgrades and the original Vampire Savior are in its character roster. Vampire Hunter 2 features the same character roster and soundtrack as Night Warriors (which was known as Vampire Hunter in Japan), omitting the characters introduced in Vampire Savior, while Vampire Savior 2 features the Vampire Savior cast along with Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron, omitting Jon Talbain (as well as Dark Talbain), Rikuo and Sasquatch. Both versions feature Oboro Bishamon and Shadow as secret characters, as well as Marionette, with which the fights consist of "mirror matches" (e.g. Morrigan vs Morrigan, Demitri vs Demitri).

Home-exclusive versions

Vampire Chronicle/Darkstalkers Chronicle

In 2000 Capcom released Vampire Savior 2/Vampire Hunter 2 for the Sega Dreamcast as a mail-order game via Dreamcast Direct. This version, titled Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service, allows players to select between four fighting styles based on each Darkstalkers game (the original Darkstalkers, Night Warriors, Vampire Savior and Savior 2/Hunter 2). This version also features an online versus mode. In 2004, the game was ported to the PlayStation Portable. This version was released in North America and Europe in 2005 under the title of Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower. The PSP version includes all the features from the Dreamcast original, but the online mode is replaced with an exclusive single-player "Chaos Tower" mode.

Darkstalkers Collection

Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection is a compilation of all five Darkstalkers arcade games that were released in Japan only for the PlayStation 2 in 2005. This compilation features the original arcade versions of the games, as well as hidden arranged versions of the three Vampire Savior games, which introduce an alternative version of Donovan, Dee, as a secret character with his own storyline.


Character appears in Voiced by
Darkstalkers Night Warriors Vampire Savior Vampire Savior 2 Vampire Hunter 2
Anakaris Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Kan Tokumaru
B.B. Hood No No Yes Yes No Miyuki Matsushita
Bishamon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Kan Tokumaru
Demitri Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Nobuyuki Hiyama
Donovan No Yes Console ports only Yes Yes Nobuyuki Hiyama
Felicia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Kae Araki
Hsien-Ko No Yes Yes Yes Yes Michiko Neya
Huitzil CPU only Yes Console ports only Yes Yes Juurouta Kosugi
Jedah No No Yes Yes No Isshin Chiba
J. Talbain Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yuji Ueda
Lilith No No Yes Yes No Hiroko Konishi
Lord Raptor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yuji Ueda
Marionette No No Console ports only Yes Yes N/A
Morrigan Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yayoi Jinguji
Pyron CPU only Yes Console ports only Yes Yes Nobuyuki Hiyama
Q-Bee No No Yes Yes No Miyuki Matsushita
Rikuo Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yuji Ueda
Sasquatch Yes Yes Yes No Yes Kan Tokumaru
Shadow No No Console ports only Yes Yes N/A
Victor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Kan Tokumaru

Other characters

  • Dark Talbain - A boss/secret character in Vampire Savior and an evil version of J. Talbain.
  • Dee (Evil Donovan) – An exclusive hidden character in the secret arranged modes of Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection, Donovan after his Night Warriors ending. He is a combination of Demitri and Donovan in terms of gameplay and sprite.
  • Oboro Bishamon - A boss/secret character in Vampire Savior 2, a variant of Bishamon.
  • Anita – A young little girl who exhibits supernatural powers. She is always seen carrying a headless doll while being present during any of Donovan's battles. She appears as a matured woman in Donovan's ending in Night Warriors and in Dee's ending in the arranged version of Vampire Savior featured in the Japanese Darkstalkers Collection. She was renamed Amanda in the English version of Night Warriors, although every other game in the series retained her original name.

Cameos in other games

While the Darkstalkers franchise did not see continuation past the third game in the series, several individual characters (usually the females) appeared in later Capcom games. The most well-known of these crossover titles are probably the Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK series. Cameos were also made in Capcom Fighting Evolution, SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, Namco × Capcom, Gunbird 2, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. Super deformed variations of the Darkstalkers appear in Super Gem Fighter: Mini Mix, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium and the tongue-in-cheek puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.[3] Morrigan has appeared in the North American version of We Love Golf!.[4]She also appears as a playable character along with Felicia, Lilith and Demitri in Cross Edge with Jedah appearing as an enemy.

Morrigan, Felicia, and Hsien-ko have appeared Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 and in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Related media

Animated series

A Darkstalkers animated series was produced for United States audiences. It starred a young boy named Harry Grimoire, who was created for the cartoon. Since the series was not drawn in the same anime style used to draw the game sprites, the Darkstalkers characters look noticeably different.[3]

Anime OVA series

A four-episode OVA anime series was released titled Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series. Viz produced an English adaptation that was released in North America under the title Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge.

Manga and comic book series

A manga adaptation was authored by Run Ishida and published in Japan by Ascii in 1996. This manga was later adapted by Viz Comics under the title of Night Warriors: The Comic Series and published as a six-issue comic book (which were later collected in a single trade paperback volume).

A five-volume manga series surrounding Vampire Savior was created by Japanese manga artist Mayumi Azuma and published by Gangan Comics. It stars Lilith and an original character, John Stutely.

UDON Comics published a Darkstalkers comic series, consisting of six issues (upon which they stopped production abruptly). They were later collected in a TPB collection, which omitted the backup stories presented at the end of each issue, and included a special Morrigan background story previously only seen in a summer Capcom special. In 2010, UDON revived the series in a three-issue miniseries entitled Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, with the first installment released in late February 2010.

Other media

In 2008, UDON also released the Darkstalkers Graphic File, a collection of screenshots, storyboards and concept art from the series.

In 2009, UDON and Capcom released a 15th anniversary Darkstalkers tribute book. It consists of submitted artwork from fans of the series, along with artwork from some of Udon and Capcom's own artists and several famous manga artists such as Yasuhiro Nightow. The book was first available in August 2009 at several large anime conventions, and became available in bookstores the following September.


In 2010, UGO.com ranked Darkstalkers at number 19 on the list of the games that need sequels.[5] In 2011, Complex ranked Darkstalkers as first on the list of The 10 Most Missed Fighting Franchises.[6]

See also


  1. ^ The game was originally planned to be released as Jedah's Damnation in the United States, but the title was not used, making Vampire Savior the only game in the series to retain its original title overseas. The name was still used for GameFan Books strategy guide.
  2. ^ "Darkstalkers 3 / Vampire Savior". Fightersgeneration.com. http://www.fightersgeneration.com/games/darkstalkers3.html. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  3. ^ a b Hardcore Gaming 101: Darkstalkers / Vampire
  4. ^ Ken and Morrigan shown hitting the links in We Love Golf - Joystiq
  5. ^ 25 Games That Need Sequels, UGO.com, November 23, 2010
  6. ^ The 10 Most Missed Fighting Franchises| Complex

External links

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