Insert Disk collects Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers’ Revenge for the Sega Saturn.
Welcome to Part 5 of 11 of this Sega Saturn Capcom Fighting games mini series.
We will be taking a look at all of the major Capcom fighting game releases from Street Fighter, Marvel, Street Fighter Vs and Darkstalker series. These retro gaming classics form a large part of the Sega Saturn’s lasting appeal and of particular interest to collectors of Japanese Sega Saturn collectors.
Part 5 sees the launch of the Darkstalker series with Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers’ Revenge for the Sega Saturn.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. You join us in part 5 of the Sega Saturn Capcom Fighter Mini series. We’re taking a look back at Capcom’s fighting games for the Sega Saturn. Expect Street Fighter. Street Fighter Cross-overs. Marvel and Darkstaklers all battling it out on behalf of Capcom.
In the last episode we saw how Street Fighter Zero 2 set a new benchmark for Capcom fighters on the Sega Saturn. It was as well received title and put Street Fighter very much on the agenda as top dog in the fighting genre. Something had been bubbling away in the background though. A game we came to know as Darkstalkers 2 here in the West but Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers Revenge in Japan. This is a game that took some time to get any traction outside of Japan although I’m pleased to report that it is much wider know today. There is a story to Darkstalkers mainly revolving around the Vampire Lord and a group of monsters that must defend earth from invading dark forces. As you might expect it’s all just a good excuse to have a good old fashioned dust up with monsters.
Out of the box there are 14 playble characters. The cast is really varied from Felicia the cat lady, Sasquatch to various werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster style characters. Perhaps the best known character though is succubus Morrigan. Since her appearance in the Darkstalkers series she’s made it in to various other media including books, anime and of course later Darkstalkers and Capcom Vs games. Whether intended or not shes become the best known face of the series. It’s clear that this is not a Street Fighter clone due to the roster but obviously shares a lot of similarities. The rounds play out in a very well established pattern of combos and special moves. Overall there’s nothing too groundbreaking in the gameplay to make it stand out over Children of the Atom or the Zero series. As such Darkstalkers has always been the Capcom series on the outside and has never really hit the mainstream in say the way that the Marvel games or Street Fighter series have. That’s not a bad thing though and its not as if Darkstalkers has to try hard as it does have its own particular fan base. While the mainstream are off throwing fire balls and trying to out do each other with fancy upgrades Darkstalkers happily sits apart being its own entity. It doesn’t have to live up to a huge franchise such as Marvel or receive the pressure that each Street Fighter release has to be the best and stay the best. No, Darkstalkers is it’s own world, has it’s own fans and has kept a very distinct feel to it. Looking at the graphics its clear that there is quite a bit of pixilation and certainly nowhere near the amount of polish that the Zero series has. What we are left with is a unique feeling fighter.
I first played Vampire Hunter many years ago when I was getting in to the Japanese Saturn library and I wan’t particularly blown away. If you’re looking for the ultimate fighting game on the system then, this just simply isn’t it. However, something strange happened. Despite its quirks and low profile I actually came to really appreciate the series. The game mechanics all work well, the move sets are simple and the character design is really well thought out. I want to say that Darkstalkers is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I know its not the best fighter but I’m going to enjoy it anyway. It was only years later when compilations of the Darkstalkers series were released in Europe and North America did the game really hit not exactly the big time but at least big to those that wanted to experience it. The game does tend to descend slightly in to button bashing territory, particularly if you are playing with a friend. But it is button bashing of the best kind. Vampire Hunter is a really fun game. Capcom were able to make the game stable and balanced enough through their wealth of experience and let designers loose on rather outlandish character designs all because there was no pressure.
Vampire Hunter is exactly the type of game that you can pull out around Halloween for some good old fashioned monster beat ’em up fun. The music in the game is excellent and has some particularly gothic tunes which would go down well if you’re looking for some background atmosphere for Halloween. Vamipre Hunter remains the surprise success in Capcoms Saturn library. It’s quirky, has great personality and there’s definitely fun to be had here. It wouldn’t be until 2 years later in 1998 that we would get the sequel Vampire Savior, also known as Darkstalkers 3 outside of Japan. First though Capcom were going to get very busy with the Saturn hardware by cramming 3 games in to 1997. A street Fighter game, a Marvel game and a Street Fighter/X-Men cross over game. Capcom’s master plan was slowly revealing itself. We were getting ever closer to seeing the 32-bit Capcom universe unification. An era that paved the way to ensure that one day all Capcom Fighters could be interchangeable.
The last time we had seen a Capcom Marvel game on the Sega Saturn was X-Men Children of the Atom in 1995. Things were about to widen from the X-Men though in to Marvels wider catalogue in the legendary Marvel Super Heroes game. Join me in the next episode as we take a look at perhaps one of the most important games for Capcom on the Sega Saturn in Marvel Super Heroes.