Today’s game is Darkstalkers 3 (or Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire ヴァンパイア セイヴァー In Japan), the second sequel in the franchise by Capcom, originally released in arcades in 1997. The game was originally planned to be released as Darkstalkers: Jedah’s Damnation outside of Japan, but this title was never used, while the chosen title was also used for the U.S. arcade release.
Along with certain changes to the characters’ move lists, and the combo system (removal of air chains) the main difference between the two upgrades and the original Darkstalkers are in its character roster. The game retains the character roster of Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, omitting Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron from the lineup. Taking their place were four new characters: Jedah, Lilith, Q-Bee and B. B. Hood. The game also features Oboro Bishamon and Shadow as secret characters, as well as Marionette, with which the fights consist of “mirror matches” (where the player assumes the identity of the defeated character for the next fight (e.g. if Morrigan is defeated, the next fight the player will play as Morrigan).
A Sega Saturn version was released in Japan only in 1998, which required Capcom’s 4MB RAM cartridge. Because of this cartridge, the Sega Saturn version of the game is more faithfully fluidity in the 2D-animation and is a better port of the arcade than either of the earlier console releases. However, while Shadow is available in the Saturn version, Marionette is not.
Also in 1998, an update of the game was ported for the PlayStation as Vampire Savior: EX Edition in Japan and Darkstalkers 3 in North America and Europe. Although it is an EX version to the third canon game in the series, it is actually a compilation of Vampire Savior and its two Japan-only arcade updates. This version allows players to use all 18 characters and the two “hidden characters” (Shadow and Marionette) in all three games. It also features Oboro Bishamon and Dark Talbain as playable characters.
It was also included in a remastered form as part of the HD remix game Darkstalkers Resurrection for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Unlike the previous release for this game on the PSN which used the PS1 version, the remastered edition is based off the original arcade release, so only the original 15 playable characters are available.
The plot behind this one is based on Jedah, one of the high nobles of Makai, being resurrected after a premature death long ago. Seeing the state of the demon world, he decides that the only way to save the world is to recreate it. To this end, he conjures a dimension known as Majigen, to which he summons worthy souls to feed his new world. As luck would have it, those souls belong to the characters from the first two previous games, in addition to three newcomers.
Forgoing the traditional round-based system thats various other fighting games had at the time (and still do to this day) Darkstalkers 3 introduces a new mechanic in the name of the “Damage Gauge System”, where the fights take place during a period of one round, with each fighter having two “life markers” (equivalent to two life bars) 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.
It’s hard to believe that despite never getting a next-gen remake or real update (not to mentioned being noted by some as being the less successful Capcom fighter and living in the shadow of Street Fighter) , it’s still one of my favorite additions to the fighting game genre for completely trying to be different than its more successful predecessors and being something unique. They took what originally was going to be a game based on the Universal Monsters (the licensing deal with Universal fell through though, resulting in Capcom releasing it anyway by changing the character names and using more anime-influenced archetypes) and made a dynamic game that had enough attention to get cartoons (The anime was pretty cool, but please….PLEASE avoid the American cartoon at all costs) and a pretty decent fan following. I don’t know why this game or the series doesn’t get as much mention as the current crop of fighters today, but I believe it should be among the greats and treated as such.
Although, to some, it has been buried away in the graveyard where it has been for the last couple of years now, you must remember; this is a game about monsters, zombies, demons and vampires….. Not all things stay dead for long.