Released shortly after Super Street Fighter II X (March 1994) during the peak of the Street Fighter II boom, Vampire (July) and X-Men Children of the Atom (Dec 1994) were Capcom’s first 2D fighting games not to be a part of their all-conquering Street Fighter series.
Perhaps inspired by the sheer variety and success of SNK’s multiple brands (Samurai Spirits in particular) Capcom went to work and delivered two completely unique titles, each with their own visual style and play structure.
With X-Men a speedy all-out combo-fest aimed toward the US market, Vampire presents a comparatively slower pace but more tactical approach with a heavy emphasis of offence.
Above all it’s the character designs that made the game stand out: Capcom’s extraordinary art team (Bengus, Akiman) were given free reign, and they let rip on every mythical monster and gothic stereotype, often with hilarious results. Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, Zombies… they’re all here.
Following the success of the original game the improved game mechanics of Vampire Hunter (1995) shifted the series into high gear; and shortly after a hugely successful Sega Saturn port of Hunter the arcade Vampire Savior (1997) sealed the series’ name in history.
With its lightning fast gameplay, complex chain combos and unique ‘Damage Gauge’ round system, Vampire Savior quickly became an arcade favourite. The game is flawlessly made and remarkably balanced, and the music and design work are second to none: each character is bursting with life and energy, beautifully complementing the action.
Though extremely popular in Japan and reasonably successful in Europe, the series never really took off in the US, where in turn the X-Men / Marvel vs Capcom series enjoys a bigger audience than anywhere else.
The recent release of Vampire Resurrection has given the series a well needed shot in the arm, and is bound to bring in a whole new generation of players – so let the games begin!
Vampire Chronicle (10 Aug 2000)
The Vampire Hunter 2 / Vampire Savior 2 arcade games and the Sega Saturn / PlayStation versions of Vampire Savior all offer their own different set of extras.
Released exclusively on the Dreamcast, the all-inclusive ‘Vampire Chronicle’ brings everything together. The idea is the same as Hyper Street Fighter II (2003): select from three different play modes (‘Vampire’, ‘Hunter’ and ‘Savior’) and pick any version of any character.
Vampire Chronicle The Chaos Tower (12 Dec 2004)
Available on launch day with the PSP, ‘The Chaos Tower’ is a direct port of the Dreamcast Vampire Chronicle with the added bonus of a story-driven ‘Tower Mode’.
This mode is very welcome since the PSP’s controls are utterly useless for fighting games. So this one’s recommended only to die-hard fans of the series with some travel time to burn: there’s a ton of background story and unlockable extras in here, including the complete soundtracks and stages for all three games of the series.
Vampire Darkstalkers Collection (13 May 2005)
The PlayStation 2 ‘Darkstalkers Collection’ cuts straight to the chase and features all 5 arcade games:
– Vampire (1994)
– Vampire Hunter (1995)
– Vampire Savior (1997)
– Vampire Hunter 2 (1997)
– Vampire Savior 2 (1997)
The in-game presentation is exactly the same as Street Fighter Zero Fighter’s Generation (19 May 2006) and features similar unlockable material: complete all 5 games for bonus game modes, ‘Art Gallery’ content, ‘Secret Options’, extra characters (Another Donovan and Another Phobos) etc.
Vampire Resurrection (14 Mar 2013)
We’ve all put up with a lot of irresponsible behaviour from Capcom USA over the past year, from straight-up lies and red herrings (about a potential new game) to direct threats and blackmail (if you don’t Tweet we won’t do anything).
Finally it’s a Vampire Hunter (1995) & Vampire Savior (1997) double pack that sees the light of day. Nothing worthy of all the fuss, but hey – it’s better than nothing.
So there you have it: Capcom USA are at it again, relentlessly milking their back catalogue without really understanding what got them there in the first place.
All we have now is a nasty cabal of spotty-faced PR nerds posing as Capcom ‘staff’ whose plan, seemingly, is just to re-hash GGPO content (3rd Strike, Marvel, Vampire) then bullshit their core user base every week.
Basing decisions on internet surveys and ‘fan feedback’ is a lamentable cop-out from responsibility, not to mention a scary prospect: are all decisions now based on the whims of internet geeks only? The mind reels in horror.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Capcom would produce and release a completely new game whether you liked it or not, and let their creative flair take care of the rest. Vampire Savior is a wonderful reminder of that bygone era, and how tragic the situation has become.
Don’t panic, the series is in good hands.