The logo used for the Darkstalkers series
Iron Galaxy Studios (Resurrection)
|Creator(s)||Alex Jimenez (original idea)|
|Platforms||Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Sega Saturn, Xbox 360|
|First release||Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors
|Latest release||Darkstalkers Resurrection
Darkstalkers, known in Japan as Vampire (ヴァンパイア Banpaia), is a series of 2D fighting games developed and published by Capcom, beginning with Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (Vampire: The Night Warriors) in 1994. The series is set in a pastiche Gothic horror universe and features a highly stylized, cartoonish graphic style. It features characters based on either various kinds of monsters (the titular "darkstalkers") or their hunters, who are all engaging in combat against each other. Darkstalkers introduced many of the concepts used in later Capcom fighting games, including its first use of 16-bit color animation sprites and gameplay mechanics later employed in the Street Fighter Alpha and Marvel vs. Capcom series.
Besides video games, the Darkstalkers media franchise also includes an anime miniseries, an American cartoon TV series, a Canadian comic book series, and many books of various kinds and other media released only in Japan. Some individual characters (usually the series' mascots Morrigan and Felicia) appeared in the later Capcom games, as well as in a few crossover games released by other companies.
|Western title||Japanese title||Release||Arcade||Home versions||Notes|
|Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors||Vampire: The Night Warriors||1994||CPS II||PS (1996); PSN (2011)||The first game in the series.|
|Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge||Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers' Revenge||1995||CPS II||Saturn (1996)||The second game in the series.|
|Darkstalkers 3||Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire||1997||CPS II||Saturn, PS (1998); PSN (2012)||The third game in the series.|
|N/A||Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers' Revenge||1997||CPS II||N/A||An update of the 2nd game Vampire Hunter.|
|N/A||Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire||1997||CPS II||N/A||An update of the 3rd game Vampire Savior.|
|Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower||Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service (DC)
Vampire Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (PSP)
|2000||N/A||DC; PSP (2004)||A compilation game.|
|N/A||Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection||2005||N/A||PS2||A compilation game.|
|Darkstalkers Resurrection||Vampire Resurrection||2013||N/A||PSN, XBLA||A compilation HD remake.|
The Darkstalkers series began development when Capcom decided to make another fighting game using their Street Fighter II engine. According to producer Alex Jimenez, the first installment, The Night Warriors, started out as a Universal Monsters game but Universal refused to license the characters out, prompting Jimenez to create their own characters; Jimenez claims he did it in about an hour. According to art director Akira Yasuda however, a colleague of his named Akitomo was the one who came up with the idea of a monster fighting game, and it was given form by planner Junichi Ohno (who Yasuda had worked together with on Captain Commando). At the time, Yasuda and several team members were working on a unreleated side-scroller game based on a manga, but the content itself did not follow the manga at all and when Yasuda realized the side-scroller would not succeed he canceled the game. As a result, the entire team was reassigned for the Darkstalkers project. Yasuda had them keep his name out of the ending credits in the game. Capcom planner Haruo Murata, who was one of the members responsible for designing the characters and the world, joined the development team at the request of Noritaka Funamizu. By the time he joined, the game's system was pretty much finished. Each designer was assigned a character or characters for which they would create a personality and story. The background designs were also left up to each designer's discretion. Murata was the first person tasked with bringing all of the separately designed elements together to see how they fit in the big picture.
In August 2010, Capcom Producer Yoshinori Ono stated during an interview about Street Fighter X Tekken that a new installment to the series would be his "ultimate dream"; however, only fan demand would cause it to happen. He went on to say that it would take one million requests before Keiji Inafune, then head of research and development at Capcom, would comply. At that point, Capcom had received 5,000 requests. By March 2011, Ono reported that Capcom had received over 100,000 requests. He later expressed during an interview at a Nintendo 3DS launch in London that, "One day, if it goes half a million, Capcom may raise its eyebrow a little bit and I could do what I did in London in 2007 when I announced the comeback of Street Fighter. In the near future, with your help, it may become true. It's on its way, because we're pretty much where we were with Street Fighter a few years back. So keep it up."
In July 2011, at San Diego Comic-Con, Ono revealed during the Street Fighter X Tekken panel that while a new Darkstalkers title had not been approved, he reassured the series' fans that "Darkstalkers is not dead". He then proceeded to take a photo of the attendees at the panel holding up their money to send to decision makers at Capcom to show support for the game. In June 2012, a message "Darkstalkers are not dead" appeared in a trailer for the PlayStation Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken; when asked about it, Ono wrote on his Twitter: "I can't announce about Darkstalkers yet." Ono later teased the presence of Darkstalkers at a panel for Street Fighter's 25th Anniversary Celebration at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2012. Instead of taking a photo to send proof of demand to Capcom's upper management like he had done in the past, he stated, "This year, you don’t have to do that, and it’s not necessarily bad news!", but refrained himself from saying anything else.
Following the announcement of Darkstalkers Resurrection at New York Comic-Con in October 2012, a concept trailer was shown during Capcom's Street Fighter 25th Anniversary panel. Darkstalkers Resurrection producer Derek Neal and Yoshinori Ono told interviewers that the re-release bundle was the first step towards revitalizing the franchise. Neal also claimed that Capcom is using Darkstalkers Resurrection as a test to gauge audience interest in a new Darkstalkers installment. In April 2013, Capcom senior vice president Christian Svensson wrote: "We've not given up. But I'm disappointed in the opening sales response relative to any other fighting title we've put out on the same platforms given the frequency and urgency of requests we've had here over the last several years and the quality of the execution. It is the most fully featured and probably best project of this type we've done. And before people jump to the wrong conclusions, I'm not blaming fans who did buy it and supported the brand. I'm very thankful for those guys (thank you, to all of you). I'm more disappointed by my misread of the information in this particular case." There was no "Darkstalkers are not dead" line at San Diego Comic-Con 2013. Matt Dahlgren, Capcom's new fighting game manager, said that because "Darkstalkers Resurrection did not perform as well as we would have liked. You never know what the future may hold, but Street Fighter is definitely not dead. There is nothing Darkstalkers on the immediate horizon for sure."
The Darkstalkers games take place on the planet Earth that is in the process of merging with a realm known as Makai. The reason for this merger varies depending on the continuity, but a continuing theme is that the union of realms brings the arrival of the Darkstalkers to the human world, the term being a catch-all for the various creatures of legend. The greatest of these supernatural creatures, and the greatest among those who hunt them, meet in battle to determine who will rule the night.
In the sequel, Vampire Hunter (Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge), an alien overlord named Pyron returns to Earth after being away for many years. His quest to conquer the world using an army of robots brings the Darkstalkers out of hiding to oppose his rule over humanity and the supernatural. A second sequel, Vampire Savior (Darkstalkers 3), saw the return of Jedah, previously one of the nobles of Makai, who decides that the only way to save the realm is to take control of it by force. Accordingly, he lures the Darkstalkers into a trap to use their collective souls to remake the realm and control both humanity and supernatural.
Darkstalkers characters are either based on various iconic literary and cinematic monsters, or inspired by international mythology and fairy tales. The 1997 anime miniseries Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge, which was based on the first two titles and was faithful to the characters' in-game personalities. The 1995 American-produced cartoon series, simply titled Darkstalkers, dropped the backstory of the games altogether in favor of a standard good-versus-evil plot, altering certain characters' storylines in the process.
|Character||Appears in||Voiced by
|Darkstalkers||Night Warriors||Vampire Savior||Vampire Savior 2||Vampire Hunter 2|
|Baby Bonnie Hood/Bulleta||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Miyuki Matsushita|
|Dark Talbain/Dark Gallon||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yuji Ueda|
|Demitri Maximoff||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Nobuyuki Hiyama|
|Donovan Baine||No||Yes||Console ports only||Yes||Yes||Nobuyuki Hiyama
|Huitzil/Phobos||CPU only||Yes||Console ports only||Yes||Yes||N/A|
|Jedah Dohma||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Isshin Chiba|
|Jon Talbain/Gallon||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yuji Ueda|
|Lord Raptor/Zabel Zarock||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yuji Ueda|
|Marionette||No||No||Console ports only||Yes||Yes||N/A|
|Morrigan Aensland||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yayoi Jinguji|
|Oboro Bishamon||No||No||CPU only||Yes||Yes||Kan Tokumaru|
|Pyron||CPU only||Yes||Console ports only||Yes||Yes||Nobuyuki Hiyama|
|Victor von Gerdenheim||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Kan Tokumaru|
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (originally titled Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series (ヴァンパイアハンター THE ANIMATED SERIES) in Japan) is a four-episode OVA anime series by Madhouse Studios under license from Capcom, directed by Masashi Ikeda and originally released in 1997-1998. It
Darkstalkers (also known as DarkStalkers: The Animated Series) is an American children's animated TV series produced by Graz Entertainment and aired in syndication from September to December 1995. It was only loosely based on the games and ran for one season of thirteen episodes.
- A manga adaptation authored by Run Ishida and published in Japan by ASCII in 1996. This manga was adapted by Viz Comics under the title of Night Warriors: The Comic Series and published in 1998 as a six-issue comic book which were later collected in a single trade paperback volume.
- A one-shot Red Earth crossover manga Darkstalkers / Red Earth: Maleficarum authored by Mami Itou in 1997. It was released in English by UDON Comics in 2010.
Multiple other books (guide books, art books, illustrated books, and novels) were published as well, mostly in Japan only. However, some of them were published in North America:
- In 2008, UDON released the Darkstalkers Graphic File, a collection of screenshots, storyboards and concept art from the series.
- In 2009, UDON released a 15th anniversary art book Darkstalkers Tribute. It consists of submitted artwork from fans of the series, along with artwork from some of UDON and Capcom's own artists and several famous manga artists such as Yasuhiro Nightow. The book was first available in August 2009 at several anime conventions before being widely released the following September.
- In 2014, UDON released a 20th anniversary art book Darkstalkers Official Complete Works that "collects the artwork of every Darkstalkers game, including key visuals, character illustrations, promotional artwork, rough concepts, and creator commentary," as well as "multiple new interviews with the creators behind the series, plus all-new tribute pin-ups" from Capcom artists.
Soundtrack CDs for Darkstalkers games were released in Japan under different record labels including Sony Records, Suleputer and Victor Entertainment. A collection of original tracks from the games, previously included as a part of Vampire Sound Box in Japan, was released digitally by Sumthing Else Music Works in 2014.
|Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower||74/100|
|Darkstalkers Resurrection||82/10 (X360)
Despite its limited commercial success, Darkstalkers was very well received by critics and acquired a sizable cult following. Destructoid's Kyle Mac Gregor described it as "beloved," and IGN's Richard George described it as both "obscure and beloved." According to MTV, although Darkstalkers "has developed a loyal fanbase over the years, it was never enough for the developer/publisher to give the series much attention." Including Darkstalkers in their list of video game franchises "founded on boobs," GamesRadar US called it "second only to Final Fantasy as an object of Japanophilic cosplaying figurine collector worship. While the character design in immensely cool, some of the fan art is downright disturbing." Keith Stuart of The Guardian ranked the series fourth in his 2012 top list of vampiric video games, citing its "beautiful visuals and superb animation."
GamesRadar's Lucas Sullivan ranked Darkstalkers first on his 2012 list of "obscure" fighting games deserving an HD remake, opining it "offers just as much 2D fighting goodness as the venerable Street Fighter series, but it’s never gotten the same kind of respect ... and that just ain’t right." UGO.com included Darkstalkers on their 2010 list of the games that need sequels. Complex writers put Darkstalkers at number 40 in their 2012 ranking of best video game franchises, adding that they would "love to see a modern incarnation," and listed a hypothetical Darkstalkers 4 among the 15 games they wished would be announced at E3 2011. The magazine's Andrew Hayward ranked Darkstalkers first on his 2011 list of most missed fighting franchises, stating that "every time Capcom announces a new fighting game, the hardcore community gets whipped up about Darkstalkers' continual absence, and demands a modern iteration. The supernatural 2D franchise wasn't a big hit, but fervent fans have kept its name alive and seem unwilling to let it fade away."
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