- Vampire -




Vampire - January 30, '01 by Dorsola

Capcom scored big in the arcade business when they released the original Street Fighter II. This game took the world by storm, and through a series of sequels and derivative editions, is now regarded as the most famous and most successful fighter series of all time. Capitalizing on this market, Capcom started to release more creative fighter games, employing new tactics, strategies, characters, worlds and storylines. Vampire (more commonly known as Darkstalkers in the USA) was the first spin-off game to incorporate SF2's game system into a completely new cast of characters. Released in 1994, this game attracted a smaller and more eclectic audience, most likely due to the more mature subject matter. More on that in a bit. =)
I've found it difficult to find official information on Vampire/Darkstalkers. The game is pretty simple to understand at the surface, but each character, in true Capcom tradition, has a history and a story. There is a lot of fan fiction devoted to the Vampire series - go to any search engine and type in "Vampire", and you'll find lots of sites with artwork and fan stories, and even a limited anime series based on the game!
The story as I understand it takes place in the world of the supernatural. Ten mystical beings come together to fight for superiority, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. These unique beings each have their own special abilities and lend themselves to a very well-balanced fighting game - something that is difficult to do in this genre. The cast:
  • Demitri (Vampire)
  • Jon Talbain (Werewolf - called Gallon in Japanese version)
  • Lord Raptor (Zombie - called Zabel Zarock in Japanese version)
  • Victor (Frankenstein)
  • Anakaris (Mummy)
  • Bishamon (Accursed Samurai)
  • Rikuo (Merman)
  • Sasquatch (Bigfoot)
  • Morrigan (Succubus)
  • Felicia (Catwoman)
I mentioned at the beginning of this Review that Vampire has more mature subject matter than many of Capcom's other games. The male characters are all pretty standard fare - comic-style animation and anime mix together well for them. However, the females - Morrigan and Felicia - are scantily clad and have some poses that the censors were probably cringing at. (Morrigan of course, being a succubus, is supposed to be sexy, and it works very well here.) Personally, I think this added a very nice touch to the game, making the females both very strong and very desirable at the same time. They are my favorite characters, and Morrigan even inspired me to write my own piece of unrelated fiction (click here if you'd like to read it). =)
Vampire is the first (and may be the only) game to ever get a perfect rating from me in terms of all the technical details that JoseQ incorporates into his Reviews section here. The graphics are top-notch - richly detailed, beautifully animated, and Capcom extended their long-standing tradition by making the backgrounds react to the action in various, subtle ways. Nearly every pose of every character is a true work of art - I would really love to know just how much time it took them to draw all the characters in all their poses. Sound is also very cool - using QSound technology, Vampire is filled with rich stereo sound effects, voices and music - all of which keep things rolling at a fast pace.
In the area of play control, Capcom's classic 6-button joystick setup is unbeatable - it takes some time to learn all the characters' moves, but consistency in control is quite high, meaning that you can control all of the characters in much the same way - helping to promote the balance of Vampire' gameplay. Each character has a set of special moves and is able to use them after building up enough energy - all you have to do is enter the correct sequence of joystick and button moves.
Vampire is also a very challenging game. Even at the easiest setting, it still is hard to beat on one quarter. You have to beat all of the other characters, then two bosses - the final boss being one of the most difficult fighter bosses in video game history - to win the game. Each character has their own ending, and supposedly there were some secrets to be unlocked as well. And of course, get two people on the machine at once and you can play any combination of characters, including two of the same one. (Morrigan vs. Morrigan is /quite/ interesting. ;-) This brings the Replay Value up to a full 10 on the scale. =)
Finally, Vampire gets a full 10 for performance from me as well. Using the fantastic Final Burn emulator, this game is emulated perfectly and at full speed (with cycles to spare!) on my P3/800. It is reported that even lower-end P3 and high-end P2/Celeron machines can play the game at full speed (or close to it) with this emulator. Coupled with the fact that the action never unintentionally slows down, no matter how complex the action, I'd say this game deserves the full Performance rating I'm giving it. =)
The only drawback to Vampire (and its sequel, Vampire Savior) is that it is a HUGE game. Zipped up, it represents an 18 MB download, with Savior taking up 24 MB. Better have a lot of RAM before you try to play this game! =) But it's well worth the download - the only one-on-one fighting game I truly enjoyed in the arcades and still one of the best games Capcom ever made, in my opinion.
Play Control
Replay Value

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