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What is Vampire Savior?
- Vampire Savior, also known by its Western console release name of Darkstalkers 3, is a fighting game originally released to arcades by Capcom in 1997. It is the third game in the Vampire/Darkstalkers/Night Warriors series, and usually regarded as the best among them.
- There tends to be some confusion on which game in the series is which, so here is a chart to hopefully clear that up:
Release Date Japanese Name World Name Console Release Name 1994 Vampire: The Night Warriors Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors — 1995 Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers Revenge Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge — 1997 Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire Darkstalkers 3
How would you characterize Vampire Savior?
- Speaking from a purely gameplay perspective, Vampire Savior is a high speed fighting game with an emphasis on momentum and mixups, and despite the speed there is an incredible depth to the spacing and footsies. The pacing is fast and one of a kind, with combos typically being only a few hits into a quick knockdown, as the focus is not the combo but what you do to get that hit. Vampire Savior is easy to pick up and play due to how combos are downplayed, but a lot will be expected of you in order to master the speed and the requirements that go along with it.
- Characters in Vampire Savior are designed to be dynamic and unique, the entire cast having different movement options and movesets. Amazingly, almost every normal attack for every character was designed to be useful, from standing to crouching to jumping normals, and you'll be thinking often when its best to use each one. While the basic combos are easy, all characters were designed to have an extra bit of flair if you want to put in the effort, though the skills needed to master those things can be steep.
- All in all, Vampire Savior is a relatively unique experience in the world of 2D fighters. There have been many comparisons over the years to the Marvel Versus series or to Guilty Gear series, most of which I and many others with a deep knowledge of Savior find to be off base. If I was forced to compare it to any other game I'd say, "Take Street Fighter Alpha 2, remove custom combos and give everybody totally insane movement options and attacks".
Is this game for me?
- What someone finds appealing about Vampire Savior can differ from person to person, but it seems to take the best with those who can admire its extreme pace while retaining strong fundamentals, and those who a high appreciation for the characters and setting.
- For those picking up the game for fun, like what was said previously, it really is easy to pick up and start playing. The lack of difficult or long combos, and just being able to do basic ground chains into knockdown makes things easy to get started. You don't really need to put in a lot of training mode time, outside of a few specific things for each character. Many players, even high level ones, have not put in more than a couple hours into training mode.
- If you're looking to becoming a high level player, then there are a few things I can suggest to those starting out. Most importantly, try and have a thick skin and some motivation. Playing a high level player in Vampire Savior can feel brutal, and it can take a bit of time to adjust to the pacing of the game. Many players aiming to become good become discouraged, but the difficulty to master Savior is said to breed remarkably strong players, and once you get to that level often other games will feel like they are moving in slow motion.
- Below you will find videos of matches played at the highest levels to show you what Vampire Savior is really all about. The players in these videos are complete masters of their characters. The winner's name is shown in bold:
What's with the variations in character's names?
- The Japanese and Western releases ended up giving some of the characters different names. This isn't as bad as the Street Fighter series where they swapped characters' names between each other, because in Vampire Savior they simply have completely different names. The North American Vampire Savior community slightly favors the Japanese names for whatever reason.
Japanese Name Western Name Aulbath Rikuo Bulleta B.B.Hood Gallon J.Talbain Lei-Lei Hsien-Ko Phobos Huitzil Zabel Lord Raptor
Where do I start?
- Mizuumi is a great resource for getting started, and even perfecting your play, but with the amount of content in the Vampire Savior Wiki it can appear imposing at first so we'll talk about where to start over these next couple questions.
- The first thing you'll want to do is probably check out the "Controls" page for a basic understanding of Vampire Savior's controls and mechanics. Think of that page as an instruction manual.
- After that, you'll want to play the game, either online or against the computer. Check the "Best way to play Vampire Savior, console release or otherwise?" question down below in this FAQ to see which releases of the game you should be playing. At this point you should just try out some of the characters you think may interest you, and get your feet a bit wet. If you're not sure who to try, look at the table down below for a brief description for each character, and what you'll get into by picking them. Don't be too intimidated by those that list a higher required executional level, as you could look at it like training with them may make you better as a player, and a few of them only really become high execution once you attempt to master them.
- Once you find a character or two you want to explore more, and you're ready to start taking the game seriously, you there are two pages you should check out. One, the character specific pages, which you can reach by the navigation bar at the bottom of each page, or simply by clicking the characters' names in the table below. There you will find all the technical details you'll want to know about the character, from descriptions of how and when to use each move, to hard data like hitboxes and frame data. The second page you should go to is the "Tutorial" page which further breaks down some of the gameplay mechanics and describes the higher level meta of Vampire Savior.
How do I get a training mode?
- We have created an entire article to answer that question. Refer to the "Training Mode" section. It covers emulation cheats, scripts and hitbox viewers, and lists all the different features in every console release training mode.
Where can I find people to play with, online or offline?
- Visit our "Community Info/Find Players!" section for information on how to netplay and where you can meet people offline for matches or tournaments.
- The Vampire Savior tier list has for the most part been set in stone for years now, with any tier movement being predominantly among the Mid to Low tiers. This list is considered from the highest level of play, as from a mid level you could probably just toss everybody into one giant tier.
- Top - Zabel, Sasquatch, Q-Bee, Gallon
- High - Aulbath, Bulleta, Bishamon, Felicia
- Mid - Lilith, Lei-Lei, Demitri, Jedah
- Low - Morrigan, Victor, Anakaris
Is Vampire Savior unbalanced?
- While there is an obvious separation in tiers, and some characters will have an easier time winning than others, Vampire Savior like any other fighting game is unbalanced, but not exceptionally unbalanced. Proper utilization of the ingame defensive mechanics of push-blocking, guard canceling and chicken guard can take you a long way, and the characters themselves are designed dynamically enough they have a good number of movement, attack or defensive options. The reason Anakaris is considered bottom tier is because he does not have access to a push-block, and his guard cancel is exceptionally bad, but that is from the perspective of top level play where you take full and complete advantage of that. At a mid-level he is actually dynamic enough on his own to be very effective.
Is the game counter-pick heavy?
- Each character does have their bad matchups and their good matchups, but it is usually not skewed enough to promote hard counter-picks. Most characters have a reasonable shot at being able to handle most matchups. You don't really run into situations where its like picking Ryu against Honda in Super Turbo, as in an extremely lopsided matchup.
- Provided below is a Japanese matchup chart. While some of the numbers may look abysmal, it is important to keep in mind that such things are relative to the game itself, and those matchups are difficult but still winnable. Old matchup charts are also shown for reference.
- Newest Chart from November 13th, 2010
Competitive & Tournament Play
Best way to play Vampire Savior, console release or otherwise?
- Arcade, as in the CPS-2 Board, is the absolute best way to play Vampire Savior. All serious tournaments would ideally be played on this, but when it is not available, alternatives are acceptable. You have a few different options for playing on arcade board:
- Put it in an arcade cabinet, preferably an Sega Astro City of some sort, though this can alienate pad or hitbox players.
- Use a supergun. A supergun is basically wiring up a board with a video adapter to hook up to any regular CRT television, and using a standard PC power supply. You can build one yourself using tutorials you can find online, or purchase a pre-built one. The superguns you can buy online can be very professionally done. There are PlayStation to JAMMA converters available online to allow for pads and other devices to be connected to these, and a USB to JAMMA converter has recently been developed.
- The UD-CPS2, which is a consolized CPS-2. This is the ideal way play on Arcade hardware outside of an arcade cabinet. It modifies a CPS-2 A Board (the motherboard) to have an internal power supply, video adapter, and built in USB inputs play with modern controllers. The UD-CPS2 is extremely convenient for a tournament organizer.
- Darkstalkers Resurrection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is the most convenient console release for the majority of players. This is a perfectly acceptable solution to run a tournament on as pretty much arcade perfect. At the moment, any performance difference between the two versions is unknown, so get it on the system that is best for you. Has a negligible amount of input lag when compared to playing on Arcade, but not enough for it to become a real problem for the majority of players, and you shouldn't let it scare you off.
- Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection for the Playstation 2 is a Japan only release that you must import. Its acceptable for serious play as you can make it essentially arcade perfect with the right options selected. This release is known to have a bit of input lag in versus mode, but not training oddly enough. Has a bunch of bonus features included in the collection, overall a fun release.
- Emulation is a valid choice, with Shmupmame probably being your best option at the moment. Shmupmame is actually pretty nice, as it actually goes out of its way to eliminate the extra input lag created by other versions of MAME. This particular emulator is perfect if you're playing against an opponent, but not so much if you are trying to setup a training mode, as it is missing a few ideal tools.
Any releases of Vampire Savior to avoid?
- There are a few unacceptable releases in regards to competitive or serious play which include: Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service for the Sega Dreamcast, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower for the PlayStation Portable, the PlayStation release titled Darkstalkers 3 or Vampire Savior: EX Edition, and the Sega Saturn release titled simply Vampire Savior. These versions are in no way arcade perfect, include many inconsistencies and some flat out awful changes to them. They should be avoided at all costs. To be fair, back in the day the Sega Saturn version was decent, but it is obsolete with the releases of Darkstalkers Resurrection, Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection and modern emulation.
Tournament standard settings?
- While every version of the game essentially uses the same settings in tournament, some may contain extra options you need to change/disable or different wording is used which confuses the matter. All relevant options are listed below by game and you're also shown how to navigate to them through the menus.
- There are a few universal options you should always make sure are set correctly.
- Turbo should be set to Turbo 3 on all versions of the game, as that has been the tournament standard since the release of the game in 1997. There other options for turbo such as 'Free Select 3', which allows you to select Normal or Turbo 3 speed at the character select, but this should not be used in favor of 'Turbo 3' so as to not cause confusion. Dependant on the version of Vampire Savior it can default to the wrong Turbo Speed, making this a very important setting to check and double-check.
- Any Automatic Guard options should be turned 'Off', since use of Auto-Guard is banned. While the players could just not select Auto-Guard, it should be disabled completely to eliminate confusion. This is always defaulted to be selectable, so make sure you change it in the options.
- The number of Lives is always Two, but the language for this option varies based on the version so make sure you select the right one. You can tell if this is correct if at the start of the match there are only two bats under each life bar. The game default is usually correct here.
- On the same note as above, the wording and number of selectable options also greatly vary for 'Damage Level' and 'Timer Speed', but if you are working from the default settings provided by the game it should already be correct.
- Arcade Hardware
- (Click here for instructions on configuring the Japanese language version menu.)
- 7 Configuration > 1. System
- 1. Coin Mode: Free Play
- 7. Regulation(Censorship): Off
- 7 Configuration > 2. Game
- 2. Damage Level: Normal
- 3. Timer Speed: Normal
- 4. Game Speed: Turbo 3
- 5. Lives: 2 Lives
- 7. Automatic(Auto-Guard Selection): Off
- Darkstalkers Resurrection
- This game features a large number of extra visual options, all of which should be disabled. Also, Night Warriors/Vampire Hunter defaults to the completely wrong speed, so you may as well fix that while you're there.
- Help & Options > Settings
- View: Normal
- Filter: None
- Scan Lines: Off
- High Resolution: Off
- Help & Options > Settings > Game Options
- Award Sidebars: Off
- Damage Level: 5 stars
- Timer Level: 5 stars
- Darkstalkers 3 Turbo Setting: Turbo 3
- Night Warriors Turbo Setting: Turbo 1
- Maximum Rounds(Lives): 3
- Guard Selection: Off
- Help & Options > Settings
- Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection
- This one seems pretty basic until you notice you need to change the version setting to make it arcade perfect. You must access a secret menu to change this, but its rather easy to enter. The secret menu itself looks somewhat daunting, but you only need to select 1997/05/19ver to get the desired version.
- Option > Game Option
- Damage Level: 2 stars
- Timer Speed: 2 stars
- Speed Select: Turbo3
- Auto Select: Off
- Damage Gauge(Lives): 2
- Option > (Hold R1) Game Option
- Option > Game Option
Anything banned in tournament play?
- There is a small number of banned elements in tournament play, between selectable features and game breaking glitches. A few items that are commonly questioned as being banned, but are not, will be listed here as well for clarification.
- Auto-Guard: BANNED from tournament play, and extremely frowned upon in casual play. Just don't use it.
- Oboro Bishamon: BANNED from tournament play. He is selectable in various console releases, but the optimal standard for Vampire Savior is still Arcade which he is not playable in. For consistency sake he is banned in tournaments. If someone chooses to allow him in a casual tournament though, its not particularly a big deal since he is not very good. Just make sure well before the tournament starts that all entrants are both aware and comfortable with him being allowed.
- Dark Gallon: NOT BANNED. Selectable in the Arcade release and all relevant console ports. He's the same exact character as Gallon, just with a few different animations.
- Shadow: BANNED from tournament play. He breaks the standard tournament rule of the winner of the previous match in a set not being allowed to switch their character.
- Fetus of God: BANNED from tournament play. The stage is significantly longer than any other stage in the game, and not selectable outside of console play.
- Iron Horse, Iron Terror: NOT BANNED. While it is only selectable on console versions like Fetus of God, the stage is the same length as every other stage in the game, thus making it fair to play on.
- (There needs to be some clean documentation done for glitches in Vampire Savior, at least in English. Work will need to be put in sometime in the future to document and decide rulings for each of them.)
- Any glitch that doesn't break the game, such as unblockables: NOT BANNED.
- Glitches that freeze the game or otherwise make the match unplayable: BANNED. An example of this would be Jedah's anti-air grab making him disappear off screen after the opponent pushblocks Jedah and somehow still run into the swipe. Though, Jedah can get back on screen by doing a pursuit attack while the opponent is knocked down. If a Jedah does this and fails to pursuit afterwards, the match should be given as a win to the other player.
- Glitches give a character an extended period of invincibility: BANNED. There are at least a couple of these. They don't last forever, but are still not allowed.
Aren't there some characters missing from Vampire Savior?
- Not every character from the previous game, Vampire Hunter, made their way over to Vampire Savior. The word is Donovan and Pyron were never intended to be included in Vampire Savior, and Phobos was cut due to the space limitations on the CPS2 arcade hardware.
But I want to play as Donovan/Phobos/Pyron!!
- Sorry, but you can't. While those characters were included in Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2, and various console ports, all of those releases have different problems. From a purely gameplay perspective you get a lot more mileage out of playing Vampire Savior proper. If you simply only want to play one of those three characters, I still encourage you to try out Vampire Savior and experience the other characters, you may find a new love.
How is Vampire Hunter different from Vampire Savior?
Why not play Vampire Savior 2 or Vampire Hunter 2?
- Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2 included many negative changes to the mechanics and characters that simply make for a less fun game. While the games aren't completely awful, and may sometimes be an interesting diversion from Savior for some, most who are used to Vampire Savior can find a lot to complain about. For those interested in the changes, visit our "Vampire Savior 2 Changes" article.
What about Vampire Chronicle or Chaos Tower?
- Chronicle and Chaos Tower is a lazy release. While it touts having the Savior versions of characters playable, there are many inconsistencies between Chronicle and Savior, as the characters are actually just their Vampire Savior 2 and Hunter 2 versions. In addition there are many Chronicle only inconsistencies, some of which are incredibly significant. The game honestly comes off as a bit of a mess and would not be as fun competitively. That said, there may be some amusing things for veterans of Vampire Savior found in the Vampire and Hunter versions of characters. For a list of some of the changes, go check out our "Vampire Chronicle for Matching Service Changes" article.
Any differences between regions in the arcade versions?
- There are no gameplay differences between arcade regions, however there are there may be some different default settings or new/missing options in the Service Menu. The Japanese version alone has a few aesthetic changes as well. You can view a complete list of changes on the "Arcade Region Differences" page.