Vampire Savior 2: The Lord of Vampire (Japan 970913) Review by: Shogun GamerVampire Hunter 2 & Vampire Savior 2
Vampire Hunter 2 & Vampire Savior 2
After Darkstalkers 3/Vampire Savior's release, there were two updated versions of the game released for the arcades. In this case, I'm going to review both Vampire Hunter 2: Darkstalkers Revenge, and Vampire Savior 2: The lord of Vampire. The Darkstalkers series in general is a fighting game by capcom featuring monsters like vampires and werewolves. From what I've noticed, it seems Darkstalkers lead to ideas, such as the magic series combo system, used in other games such as Marvel Vs Capcom. Let us delve into the world of the Darkstalkers!
Depth - 6
Darkstalkers (which I'll call in short for both Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior) is quite a unique fighting game if I do say so myself. A Capcom style fighting game featuring all sorts of popular horror monsters as well as interesting ones you might have not heard of. With a change to the usual street fighter, you'll find yourself enjoying a new form of gameplay all together. You might realize as you play the game if you've played Street Fighter 3 and Marvel Vs Capcom, that this game is a stepping stone that created such interesting gameplay in Capcom games to come after.
Vampire Hunter 2
In Vampire Hunter 2, you have 14 characters to choose from, 3 hidden characters, Marionette, Shadow, and Oboro Bishamon (secret Boss), 2 game speed and control settings upon selecting your character, and 8 stages including a rival and boss stage to fight through. There is not really any sort of an ending for the game besides text we can't read. From my recent play of Nightwarriors, the soundtrack is featured in Vampire Hunter 2, but the stages are mostly that of Darkstalkers 3. The gameplay in general is fast paced and intense, however, it might take a little bit of adjusting for those who've only played street fighter. With all the characters being unique from each other, there are so many strategies and techniques to learn that the game will keep you coming back for more, not to mention, the default difficulty is balanced. One interesting feature of the game is that there is no real point round system, and rather what is known as the double life bar. Whenever you die the first time, your health bar replenishes itself quickly and within a about two seconds, your already fighting again. The opponent can even move around on the stage as the please while you recover. You might find yourself at times backing away or closing in on your opponent depending on how dangerous they are. Another interesting feature of the game is the special gauge which can literally reach 99 stocks for you to use your es and ex attacks. However, the most you'd reach normally if you don't use any es or ex attacks would probably be around 5 or so. Though you can use your strongest attacks plenty of times, you'll have to know the right way to land them on your opponent as most special attacks require good timing, range, or even for you to cancel into it from a normal move. One feature that is different from Darkstalkers 3, it's predecessor, is how the dark force ability will enhance one of your character's EX moves to be stronger. In Darkstalkers 3, depending on your character, you would activate a characters support EX move at the same time, such as Felicia's cat helper. Now the cat helper technique can be activated whenever you want as an EX move, and dark force will add a strong, final hit at the end of Felicia's Rolling Flash move.
Vampire Savior 2
Unlike Vampire Hunter 2, you instead have 15 characters, John Talbain/ Gallon, Rikuo/ Aulbath, and Sasquatch, being replaced for Baby Bonnie Hood/ Bulleta, Q-Bee, Lilith, and Jedah being added to the roster. This represents Darkstalkers 3 a little more since Jedah was the main boss, unlike Pyron being the main boss from Nightwarriors. The three characters who replaced the ones in Vampire Hunter 2 were also introduced in Darkstalkers 3, so the decision for the change in selectable characters makes sense, along with the music and stage coloring too. There is no difference to the basic arcade mode except Jedah being the boss fight. However, all gameplay is the same to each other unless you compare both to the previous games, such as Darkstalkers 3/ Vampire Savior. According to a little information and my own tests, it is no longer possible to air chain, so veteran Darkstalkers would have to adjust if they are used to using air chains in combos. If there any difference in the game from Vampire Hunter 2, the ending shows Jedah dissipating and the fetus of god being destroyed, or at least it seemed that way. However, when I beat the game as Jedah, you get a slightly different ending where it looks like Jedah is manifesting its power perhaps.
Addictiveness - 7
For those who are fans of fast paced fighting games, I kid you not, this is pretty fast. I find myself unable to predict any of my opponentsâ€™ moves at times. Eventually after playing a few times, you'll find yourself always coming back to a character you favor most and selecting him or her first before you try anyone else. For me, what make both Vampire Hunter/Savior 2 addicting is the unique characters. Every character fights entirely different from one another. If you happen to hate the idea of Ryu, Ken, and Akuma from street fighter fighting similar to one another, fear not, you won't find any of that in Darkstalkers; unless you want to get picky and say Morrigan and Demitri both have a fireball and shoryuken. However, even their fighting styles are still far different from one another along with he uses of their special moves, not to mention their movement controls also. It's these differences that make the game so exciting to make you play the game over and over just to master different characters. Playing against friends can also be very fun since as we know, computers can be pretty cheap when it comes to AI knowing the very second we do anything. There are also some little Easter eggs you may find through a few characters' ex moves, such as Demitri's midnight pleasure or Anakaris's pharaoh magic. There isn't much else to say considering these versions of game were only released for the arcades. It's just as addicting as street fighter.
Difficulty - 8
Let's start off with the controls in this game. The button layout follows that of Street Fighter: Button 1, 2, & 3 are light punch (LP, medium punch (MP), and heavy punch (HP) respectively; Button 4, 5, & 6 are light kick (LK), medium kick (MK), and heavy kick (HK) respectively. If you've never played street fighter and you want to set up your keyboard in such a way that it would be easy to play, use w, s, a, d for up, down, left, and right movement; and u, i, o, and h, j, k, for your punches on top and kicks on the bottom. This is the typical arcade set up and spaced in a way comfortable for both hands. Now aside from the technical set up, let's discuss how the game works. In Darkstalkers, you can use chain combos known as the "Magic Series."This allows you to combo light attacks, into medium attacks, and then finish with heavy attacks. You can literally press every button and it will link up as a combo as long as you follow the order. The typical order that hits all the time would be LP, MP, HP. However you can mix it up by throwing in crouch attacks, or as an example: LP, crouch LK, MP, LK, crouch HP, HK (not all the attacks would hit sadly). This may take a bit of getting used to, but if you have played Marvel vs Capcom, it'll be pretty easy. On the other hand, Darkstalkers also uses the basics from street fighter such as cancel combos in which you'd strike your opponent with a certain attack and follow up with a special move right after. There is also the introduction of ES & EX moves, and Dark Force. ES moves are stronger versions of your character's special moves which can come out faster, hit multiple times, and do more damage. ES moves are initiated by doing the command for your special move, but you would press two punch or kick buttons of your choice instead. EX moves are the character's super moves similar to Super Street Fighter II Turbo and have a unique command to perform unlike ES moves. Dark Forec is a mode that allows you to do full damage with any attack and not leave a recovery bar for the opponent (whenever you damage an opponent normally, they have a small bar of health they can recover). However, as of Vampire Hunter/Savior 2, this mode will also further enhance a single EX move, such as John Talbain's Moment Slice which turns into a very cool combo attack. For newcomers, they might have a little trouble learning all these advanced techniques, but with practice, auto mode to auto guard attacks, and a movelist from wiki strategy, it'll be easier. But, sadly, the controls don't stop there. Depending on the character you play as, you may find their dashes or their ability to glide or float change their play style all together Aside from defending the usual way in most fighting games by holding back, I found other defenses that I'm still not knowledgeable of how they are performed, but I have used them accidentally. There is tech. hit which seems to allow you to block an attack while pushing your opponent back and guaranteeing for you to attack right after; and throw tech hit which allows you to escape from a throw. I'm sure there are plenty other techniques to discover and learn, but there is one thing that could be said. Darkstalkers has a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to becoming an advanced player.
The main difficulty of the game feels just right, but at the same time, because of the intense speedy action especially on turbo mode, Darkstalkers is quite challenging too. As I mentioned, it can be very tasking to predict your opponentsâ€™ moves at times, and even their strategies. I've found myself running into blows or trying to get in a combo but instead get a combo right back before my own. Though, this is when you are around round 4 or 5 that the difficulty builds up. Basically, if you play this game for your first time, a good 3-4 rounds to get the hang of things before the AI decides to use its character like a pro. The final battle against Jedah or Pyron can be pretty annoying due to how they move around and annoy you with some cheap pokes here and there. But if it weren't for difficult AI like this, the game wouldn't be fun and exciting. The idea of each opponent becoming tougher every stage is what exhilarates the player to become better at the game and keep trying. Not to mention, you would be playing on an emulator so you have unlimited continues. Overall, the speed and AI difficulty is not irritating but it does a good job of making the game unique and fun to play. If the game isn't hard enough for you, go into the service menu, find and adjust the difficulty to 8, good luck.
Graphics - 8
To start off, I already found the HUD display to be different. Vampire Hunter 2 has green borders around the life bars with a purple enigma where the time limit is, where as Vampire Savior 2 has Blue borders and a grey blue enigma around the time limit. The Special Gauge is a brighter red in Vampire Hunter 2 than it is in Vampire Savior 2. This is about all that's different from one another, but on the other hand, if you were to compare the game to Darkstalkers 3, I found that the stages have been recolored. For example, Concrete Cave has more of a cool blue tone in the original, as Vampire Hunter/Savior 2 was recolored to a red warm tone. The stage design in general is very nice. Pretty much every stage gives off an uneasy atmosphere, or is just plain scary. For example, the stage Forever Torment is a torture dungeon with gruesome equipment to execute a victim. Then there is the final stage which for me is the scariest fighting game stage I've seen to this day, Fetus of God, which features a demon baby being fed through a demonic looking placenta sleeping on a scary surface. It's hard to describe, but that demon baby looks scary when it wakes up after you win the battle in the stage. In other words, excellent stage design for literally catching the gamersâ€™ attention. The character graphics aren't as bad either, considering how some of the monsters have to act, their movement graphics suit them very well. I must also mention some of the special animations that occur when a certain character uses one of his special moves on any character in the game. For example, Demitri's "Midnight Bliss" attack will transform any male character into a female, and any female will be dressed up a certain way or weakened from their original state. One of Jedah's attacks causes him to fill a character up with blood like a balloon until they pop, but there is a catch. Depending on the character, a certain part of their body will blow up. This goes to show there is more than just the usual character art in general thus making it quite unique to most fighting games.
Sound - 7
Vampire Hunter 2 Vs Vampire Savior 2 Soundtrack
In Vampire Hunter 2, the opponents theme will play regardless of what stage they are on. In Vampire Savior 2, the music played depends on the stage rather than the character. I honestly like the music in Vampire Hunter 2 more than Vampire Savior 2. I guess it's just the songs in general that made an impact on me. They seemed more exciting and fun basically, like the different styles between John Talbainâ€™s/Gallon's theme. In the Nightwarriors sound track, his theme is quick and jazzy, however, in Vampire Savior 2 (though he's not in the game, his stage still is), the theme is slow and still a little jazzy but, it just doesn't take my attention as well as Vampire Hunter 2 did. However, I guess I can say the the soundtrack used for Vampire Savior 2 matched the stages quite well and really gave off the the language of the stage basically. Green Scream which is a jungle stage of course deserves jungle-like music, where as Rikuo/Aulbath would deserve a theme that would match his bouncy movement. Still, for me, the character themes just sound better to my ears in general, and it makes sense that it would because the Nightwarriors stages were different from Darkstalkers 3 stages featured in both games.
SFX and ETC.
What caught my attention first with the SFX was the combo SFX. After doing a certain amount of hits, a word follows after which is then spoken in a haunted way. For example, if you get â€œYES!â€ in a combo, a few voices would whisper yes and followed by a girl's scream if I am correct. Audio after combos was later featured in games to come. More interesting SFX sounds come from battle in general. There seem to be plenty of sounds, especially with Donovan who has different elemental attacks. In other words, there's more variety than the usual past fighting games before. The voice acting is also pretty interesting from characters like Felicia, Morrigan, Demitri, Jedah, and B.B. Hood/Bulleta. There's nothing bad at all about any of the sound effects in the game, and there are a few gruesome sounds you'll find that match certain attacks in the game.
To Finish off
Overall, I feel the Darkstalkers series is amongst one of the most unique 2D fighting games of it's time considering all the stepping stones it gave to fighting games such as Marvel Vs Capcom, Capcom Fighting All-Stars, Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Street Fighter III, and More. Utilizing unique play styles for characters and different fighting game mechanics really made this game what it is. Of course, depending on what characters you like, you'll have to go between Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 unfortunately. With it's monster and horror themes, it makes it a great 2d fighter to play on Halloween especially. Now what are you waiting for, insert coins and START GAMING!