Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Darkstalkers 3

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darkstalkers_3_boxAlso Known As: Vampire Savior: Lord of the Vampires in Japan
Console
: Arcade
Released: 1997
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Ports: Playstation 1, Sega Saturn (as Vampire Savior: Lord of the Vampires in Japan only), PS2 (part of Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection, released only in Japan), Dreamcast (technically, see below, as Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service in Japan only), PSP (as Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower), PS3 (part of Vampire: Darkstalkers Resurrection, released to disc only in Japan)
Digital Release? Yes – As a PSOne game on PSN ($5.99) that works for PS3/PSP/Vita, as Darkstalkers: The Chaos Tower for PSP ($10.00), Part of Darkstalkers Resurrection in the US on XBLA or PSN ($15.00)

This is the game where Capcom went nuts.  As the list above suggests, there were several ports of this game and in different forms.  So many, in fact, that a brunt of this article is about the ports and differences themselves than the actual game.  Darkstalkers 3 released to a very crowded arcade in 1997, most fighters at that time were also developed by Capcom might I add, and thus Darkstalkers 3 was almost unnoticed in an arcade in America.  Furthermore, the dwindling US arcade market probably saw it releasing to fewer locations.  Originally titled Darkstalkers: Jedah’s Damnation for the US, this title was dropped – I can think of a few reasons why – and the very generic Darkstalkers 3 replaced the title domestically.  As it stood in 1997 you could walk into an arcade and choose between Street Fighter III, Street Fighter EX Plus, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and that’s just the Capcom fighers.

darkstalkers_3_1

This title did away with rounds, substituting for a more versatile life bar that could regenerate in certain instances and multiple life bars were used to decide a round winner.  Each time a character depleted a life bar they would separate for a moment and then continue fighting without the other player’s life being regenerated.  The special meter now had a “dark force system” that allowed certain special moves to only be performed during certain meter ranges.  These complexities were interesting but again they were all mixed into plenty of Capcom’s fighters and even for an enthusiast like me it’s hard to focus on any one game for the time.  A new story involving Jedah, a noble being from the demon world that gets resurrected, has decided to rebuild the demon world and use a group of souls to do it.  Wouldn’t you guess, it just so happens to be the Darkstalkers clan.  Characters Donovan, Huitzil, and Pyron are dropped – guess bosses weren’t a good idea – and four new characters Jedah, Lilith, Q-Bee, and Baby Bonnie Hood (who named her?) are added.  Now if you’ve seen characters like Donovan in Darkstalkers 3, bear with me, I’ll explain in a minute.  There’s also a hidden character in the arcade game, Shadow, who takes on the moves and attacks of the character he last defeated.  To play as Shadow, in the character select screen you want to highlight the character you wish to start off as and press Start 3 times (it’ll be random if you skip this), then highlight random fighter, press start 5 times, and finally press any punch or kick button.

darkstalkers_3_2

Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers’ Revenge

This was a Japan only 1997 arcade release (update) that came out shortly after Vampire Savior and was an interesting experiment in updating the engine of the previous title.  Still, I consider it to be an alteration of Darkstalkers 3 and not Night Warriors.  This game brings back the soundtrack of the previous game, removes all of the new characters and retains the 14 character cast list of the previous title as well.  Aside from the roster and soundtrack, the entire game is brought into the Darkstalkers 3 engine, animation, and style, move lists are based on the new moves and attacks, the game and rounds function as the newest title, and air chain combos are removed.  It basically feels like an experiment that Capcom wanted to do to test if the game’s popularity would change based on retaining the character list of the previous game and I’m guessing omits the new characters due to memory limitations.  Before Darkstalkers 3, no characters had ever been removed from the game, only added.

Vampire Savior 2

This was another 1997 Japan only experiment released alongside Vampire Hunter 2 that switched around the roster at the cost of removing characters to keep it at 15 fighters.  This further suggests that memory limitations are responsible for the shortened list, especially with the integration of all fighters in most home ports.  In this version the roster gets rid of Sasquatch, Rikuo, and John Talbain to bring back Donovan, Huitzil, and Pyron.  As I never much cared for the boss characters and Sasquatch and John Talbain (werewolf guy) are two of my go-to fighters, I find this to be a very poor updated.  As with its simultaneous tweaked brother, this game is identical to Darkstalkers 3 save for the roster tweak.

Home Ports

Fully unlocked Darkstalkers 3 character selection screen (home version)

Fully unlocked Darkstalkers 3 character selection screen (home version)

I don’t know if it was due to the end of the Darkstalkers series – with arcades dying out and a bunch of fighters being cranked every few months by Capcom to both arcades and consoles all while the genre was dying – but Capcom handled releasing home versions of Darkstalkers 3 much like the arcades.  The most abundant version is the Playstation port, which features the entire roster of Darkstalkers characters, totaling 18, as well as playable versions of four secret characters including the aforementioned Shadow, Dark Talbain (color and sprite change, moveset the same), Oboro Bishamon (secret character from Night Warriors now playable), and Marionette (secret mode in Hunter 2 and Savior 2 turned into character, she retains attributes of your current opponent).  This was clearly a throw everything at the wall move that makes for the most complex and full version of the game to date.  Much like Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 there are some who think integrating all characters throws off the balance of the game, although with this series and its many releases I tend to disagree.  The port was decent, most of the animation was smooth, load times were still a bit of a problem, and the graphics were okay.  I’m biased due to the fact I have played and own the Saturn port that was released to Japan only.

Saturn’s version, known as Vampire Savior due to its Japan only status, utilized the cartridge port to add 4MB of RAM and make for near arcade perfect animation and graphics.  It was packaged with the game when it released in Japan, although to play it on an American system required the Pro Action Replay that also acts as a 4MB RAM cart.  This version also compiles a hybrid of all versions of Darkstalkers 3 with all 15 original characters and the three omitted for a total of 18 characters.  Shadow can also be used but Marionette didn’t make it over.  Additionally, as far as I’m aware, Dark Talbain and Oboro Bishamon are not playable, but can still be fought like in the arcade.

In 2000, via Capcom direct, a hybrid of all the Darkstalkers games entitled Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service (sounds better in Japanese) released in Japan only for Dreamcast.  This game took all of the characters, all of the fighting styles, and all of the assets from the three (technically five) games and made one giant game.  Additionally online play was added.  If the Playstation Darkstalkers 3 is like UMK3 then this is the Mortal Kombat Trilogy version.  This title was re-released to all territories on the PSP as Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower in 2004although online play was cut for ad-hoc play.

Finally the Playstation 2 yet again collected all five games, although separated and not fused together like Chronicle, in the Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection in Japan.  With Vampire Savior you literally select which of the three arcade versions you wish to play, but there’s no way to play a hybrid version like on the Playstation or Saturn ports.  Also the XBLA/PSN version of Darkstalkers Resurrection features only the original arcade version of Darkstalkers 3 and does not include the updated versions or any hybrids of such.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

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