, known in Asia
as , is a series of 2D fighting games
produced by Capcom
during the late 1990s for the CPS II
hardware. 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 sixteen-bit color animation sprites
later employed in Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams
and the Marvel vs. Capcom
series. There have been five arcade games in the series with a few console ports produced as well.
The first in the series, fully titled Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors
or Vampire: The Night Warriors
in Japan and released in , features ten playable characters (Demitri Maximoff
, Jon Talbain
, Victor von Gerdenheim
, Lord Raptor
, Morrigan Aensland
, Oboro Bishamon
) and two non-playable boss
) as the final opponents in the 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" in 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 second game in the series, fully titled Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge
or in Japan and released in , introduces several gameplay changes to the game. The game introduces two new playable characters, Donovan Baine
, "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
, 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. Player can choose between a "Normal" gameplay style or one that offers Auto-Blocking.
, released in , retains the character roster of Night Warriors
, omitting Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron from the lineup. Taking their place were four new characters: Jedah
and B. B. Hood
. 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" (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.
Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2
and were two simultaneously-released upgraded versions of Vampire Savior
that were distributed in Japanese arcades only a few months after the release of the original Vampire Savior
. 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
, omitting the added characters from Vampire Savior
, while Vampire Savior 2
features the new characters with Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron, but does so by omitting J. Talbain, Rikuo and Sasquatch.
- The original Darkstalkers was ported to the PlayStation in . 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.
- A port of Night Warriors for the Sega Saturn was also released in . The Saturn port 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.
- A Saturn port of Vampire Savior was released in Japan only in , which required the use of 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 brought back in Vampire Savior 2/Vampire Hunter 2.
- The PlayStation game Darkstalkers 3 (Vampire Savior: EX Edition in Japan), also released in 1998, is a compilation of Vampire Savior and its two Japan-only arcade upgrades, allowing players to use all 18 characters in all three games.
- In Capcom released Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service for the Sega Dreamcast as a mail-order game via Dreamcast Direct. This is a port Vampire Savior 2/Vampire Hunter 2 that allows player to select between four fighting styles based on each Darkstalkers game (the original, Night Warriors, Vampire Savior and Savior 2/Hunter 2). This version also feature an online versus mode.
- In , a port of Vampire Chronicle was released for the PlayStation Portable. This version was released in North America in under the title of Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower. The PSP version includes all the features from the Dreamcast original, as well as an exclusive single-player "Chaos Tower" mode.
- Vampire - Darkstalkers Collection a compilation of all five Darkstalkers arcade games was released in Japan only for the PlayStation 2 in . This compilation features the original arcade versions of the games, as well as hidden arranged versions of some of the Vampire Savior games.
- Marionette (Puppet - copies its opponent.)--Voiced by NA
- Shadow (Shadow creature. In game, takes the character of the defeated enemy.)--Voiced by NA
- Dee (Vampire Hunter)-- 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.
- Anita - A young little girl who exhibits supernatural powers. She is always seen carrying a headless doll while being present during any Donovan's battles. She appears as a matured woman in Donovan's ending in Night Warriors and in Dees 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
and Gunbird 2
. 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
. Morrigan is to appear in the North American version of We Love Golf
She will also appear along with Felicia, Lilith and Demitri in Cross Edge
- 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.
- A four-episode OVA anime series was released, titled Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series in Japan). Viz produced an English adaptation that was released in North America.
- Viz translated and released a set of 6 comics based on the Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge OVA, and later combined them into a single trade paperback.
- UDON Comics created an incomplete 6-issue Darkstalkers series (single volume with 6 short chapters, upon which they stopped production abruptly).
- A five volume manga series surrounding Vampire Savior was created by mangaka Mayumi Azuma and published by Gangan Comics. It stars Lilith and original character, John Stutely.