Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge

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Night_Warriors_coverAlso Known As: Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers’ Revenge in Japan
: Arcade
Released: 1995
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Ports: Sega Saturn, PS2 (part of Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection, released only in Japan), PS3 (part of Vampire: Darkstalkers Resurrection, released to disc only in Japan)
Price: $20.00 (used) $49.99 (new)
Digital Release? Yes – Part of Darkstalkers Resurrection in the US on XBLA or PSN ($15.00)

Not wasting any time, which is something you’ll notice from all popular Capcom franchises, a sequel to the original Darkstalkers was brought out only a short year later in 1995.  It’s important to note that this was common for arcades back then with much shorter development time and a need to ride the coattails of any popular game franchise in coin-op form.  The moment your game didn’t have anything new to offer and hardcore fans stopped playing it, you were dead in the water.  While the original title mixed up the formula for Capcom fighters, Night Warriors was more of a refinement of the unique ideas its predecessor introduced.  This time around Capcom focused more on adapting the “special” bar, now having up to 3 levels of power, and more complex chain combos.  Additionally the animation was so well coded the characters moved on screen like living cartoons, no more awkward mechanical movements or odd frames of animation.  Some say this was one of the first games that frame counting became a more complex and time-intensive activity and with new 3-gauge EX specials and combos, you could make or break your match.  Players also have the option of playing a traditional style of gameplay or the new “auto-block,” which would prove popular to those new to the series and not cause any grief from veterans.  Unfortunately the way Capcom staggered its release schedule of fighters, Night Warriors was the first of three major fighters introduced by the company in 1995 and somewhat fell to the wayside going into summer (this released in March, technically the end of winter).  It’s unfortunate because some fans of the series, like myself, consider it to be the best of the three titles.

New character Hsien-Ko

New character Hsien-Ko

With the success of the original, Capcom ramped up the complexity of both the story and media blitz for the sequel.  While it’s clearly a larger pop culture phenom in Japan, we here in the US also received comics and an animated series.  It also broke into arcades on a larger scale – I started seeing it replace Street Fighter II cabinets in pizza shops and the local arcades that skipped the first title magically had this sequel.  In continuing with that formula, a new story was crafted as it is with all fighters that was probably an excuse to modify the fighter list.  While all 10 original fighters return for the sequel, four new playable characters integrated.  The new story is almost laughable in its simplicity: having revealed himself and his agenda in the first game, Pyron now takes on all of the Darkstalkers who are the last chance for Earth.  An interesting side angle involving new characters Donovan Baine and Hsien-Ko, devout vampire hunters that are trying to eliminate the Darkstalkers as a favor for humanity, come into the game with new fighting styles.  With Donovan and Hsien-Ko added to the roster, Capcom integrated bosses Huitzil and Pyron as playable characters to round out the 14 fighters.  This tactic had proved popular when the bosses of Street Fighter II were made playable for Championship Edition and Turbo provided that they were slightly tweaked for balance.

Final boss Pyron is now a playable character

Final boss Pyron is now a playable character

Home Versions

Night_Warriors_Saturn_CoverAs stated in the article for the original, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge released to the Sega Saturn in 1996 with smooth animation and a quite arcade faithful port.  This gave a negative spin to the Playstation release of the original in the same month, especially with the Saturn port being the better of the two, and to this day Night Warriors is a quintessential part of any true Saturn fighter collection.  Also with the release of Street Fighter Alpha and Marvel Super Heroes to arcades the same year, two other new Capcom fighters with both franchise and pop culture establishment far surpassing Darkstalkers, the home version was where the popularity for this title thrived.  It also helped that the home version of this title was considered a better port than the other two, which also released in 1996 to both Playstation and Saturn, both of which were hindered by chunky animation and poor load times.  There wasn’t much added to the game aside from an Appendix mode that allowed you to use any background with any theme song in any match.  Some web sites state that the Saturn port of this game was limited to Japan only, however on the contrary this title was released in the United States and isn’t all that hard to find.  It is notable that the Sega Saturn had the only port of this title to home consoles and Night Warriors assisted in establishing the Saturn as the ideal console for the semi-niche fighter genre.

As with the original, Night Warriors was part of the Japan only collection Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection.  This version is nothing more than an arcade port, albeit a near perfect port complete with few load times.  It was also featured in a Playstation 3 re-release, Vampire: Darkstalkers Resurrection in Japan that featured the arcade version again, only this time with HD upresed graphics, plenty of visual filters and options (including many that allow you to view the cab from multiple angles), and extras to unlock.  Just last week this was released digitally in the US on both PS3 and Xbox 360, simply named Darkstalkers: Resurrection, and features an identical version of the game now with English localization and names (some names are different in Japan).

Written by Fred Rojas

March 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

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