Review: Somebody Save Me – Vampire Savior

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On Top of the World

In March 1991, Japanese video game developer Capcom released Street Fighter II: The World Warrior to arcades and to critical acclaim. While Street Fighter II was not the first fighting game, it introduced many elements that would become common place in other games, such as combos.

SF2 became the best-selling title since the 1980s, and led to a new prosperous age for Capcom, allowing them to create new franchises. While Street Fighter has often enjoyed the limelight, their other franchises have been neglected. One standout title from the many others is Vampire Savior: Lord of the Vampire.

Darkstalkers 3, or Vampire Savior: Lord of the Vampire, is the so far third and final mainline entry in Capcom’s Darkstalkers franchise.

First released in 1997 on Capcom’s CPS2 arcade hardware, Vampire Savior is a cult-classic in the fighting game realm. Many outside fans and observers have praised the game for its macabre visuals, excellent sound design and fluidity of the animation.

Technical players and fighting game veterans have praised the game for its balance (for the most part), technical depth and game speed.

While Vampire Savior never caught the success of any Street Fighter title, its managed to keep a cult following of its own. Fans have been clamoring for a new entry for over 20 years.

The game’s title screen. Home ports used the title ‘Darkstalkers’ 3 in Western regions.

The Rat Pack

The plot of Vampire Savior follows the resurrection of high noble demon Jedah Dohma, concerned with the way the demon world is going.

Convinced that the only way to save the world is to recreate it, he creates a new dimension. He summons those worthy enough to feed themselves for the creation of the new world, namely the souls from the first two titles and some new ones.

As with 98 percent of other fighting game storylines, VSav follows the individual characters’ escapades and their ulterior motives. Don’t go in expecting anything on par with Final Fantasy VII.

The cast of Vampire Savior and Darkstalkers, in summation, consists of a nice variety of monsters and demons.

The first Darkstalkers was initially planned as a Universal Monsters fighting game, but as Capcom could not secure the rights to them, we got some neat knockoffs instead.

Some highlights include Demitri Maximoff, Capcom’s answer to Dracula who plays like Ryu in terms of tools and well-roundedness. You also have your Creature from the Black Lagoon Rikuo (Aulbath in Japan), a merman looking for other survivors of his ancient race with some interesting moves utilizing sonic waves. Another Universal expy is the mummy Anakaris, a Pharaoh looking to keep his kingdom free from harm.

The character select screen. Not including awesome CPS2 instrumentals.

Old Dog, New Tricks

I could talk about the cast of VSav all day, but there’s way too many to highlight. What matters above all else in a fighting game is the gameplay, and Vampire Savior most certainly delivers.

Darkstalkers sets itself apart from Street Fighter in terms of gameplay flow; the tools are the same, but the applications are different. In Vampire Savior, every character has access to chain combos, allowing them to chain normal attacks together to create a combo. Also, Street Fighter-styled combos still exist, but Vampire Savior is more about ‘hit-and-run’ style tactics, making the pace much faster and more appealing.

Vampire Savior also boasts improved mechanics from previous entries. Certain enhanced moves and supers still come out with no warning, but now players can hoard up to 99 bars of meter.

For defensive players, push-blocking (which pushes offending opponents off) was introduced, and the guard cancel mechanics were improved. You can even recover some of your health after combos by not getting attacked.

Vampire Savior also introduced a reworked round mechanic like Killer Instinct or later Mortal Kombat games. After a player loses their vitality, the next round starts in the same position, keeping the pace of the match.

Hsien-Ko (Lei-Lei in Japan) and Jedah on the Vanity Paradise stage.

Flowing On The River

It’s important for a fighting game to look good, and Vampire Savior is one of the prettiest looking fighting games around. Some of the backgrounds are utterly brilliant to look at 20 years later and remain the finest in the genre.

However, what most people will notice is the fluidity of the animation on the characters and their moves. Not a single frame of animation looks out of place or choppy, and all of it flows beautifully in action, making it unfortunate that you can’t observe the work put into the game. Just some of the characters’ idle animation alone is breathtaking and mesmerizing.

While it never matched the success of Street Fighter or any other fighting game, Vampire Savior is in a league of it’s own. Thankfully, the game has been ported to numerous systems including Xbox 360 and PS3, but a contemporary port remains absent.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced fighting game without huge combos, Vampire Savior is up your alley. Just be sure to hit up the Mizuumi Wiki first.

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OVERALL SCORE
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Vampire Savior is a beautiful looking, playing and sounding title that highlights some of the best in the 2D fighter genre. The only real complaint I have is the lack of a modern home port. Vampire Savior is one of the finest fighters ever crafted, and worth the investment.
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