Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors

STORYDemitri, the Lord of the Night, decides to hold a tournament to see which of the world's greatest monsters is worthy of the title "Lord of the Night". Pyron, an alien being who believes he should rule the Darkstalkers, comes to Earth to join the fray.


Enter the world of Darkstalkers.


No doubt a large part of the success behind Capcom's hit Street Fighter II series was due to the memorable and original character designs. Realizing that, Capcom decided to try their hand at creating an entirely new fighting game series, with recognizable "horror" stereotypes as the theme. With the help of some badass artwork by Bengus and a completely new style of presentation, Darkstalkers (or Vampire in Japan) made an unexpected splash in arcades around the world in the mid 90's.


Darkstalkers 1 character selection screen. 


features 10 playable characters along with 2 (non-playable) boss characters. The game features the 6-button layout borrowed from SF2, and features a Special Gauge similar to the Super Combo Gauge seen in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. When a character's gauge is full, they can perform a quick and devastating super move. Thanks to the similar motions of performing special moves, players of Street Fighter (and other 2D fighters) can jump right in and start fighting effectively right off the bat. The gameplay of Darkstalkers also presents some innovative elements new to fighting games, including: Air Blocking, Crouch Walking and finally, one of the series most "defining" mechanics, the Chain Combo.

The Chain Combo system originally appeared Darkstalkers (and was later used in various other fighting games for years to come). Chain Combos allow players to string together light, medium, and fierce attacks sequentially. In turn, players can easily create different combo strategies through stringing together priority attacks, and ultimately, special and super moves. This combo engine presented solid, intuitive, and fun gameplay that defined the Darkstalkers series.. and one that proved to stand the test of time.


Groundbreaking 2D animation and charismatic character sprites.


The character animation of Darkstalkers is on par with the impressive Street Fighter Alpha series (easily one of the best looking 2D fighting games to date). However, Darkstalkers animation in particular is far more bizarre and obscure than that of any other fighting game (or video game) series out there in the mid 90's, which really enabled the game stand out visually. Along with the attractive character designs that only got better with time, their equally insane movesets and fighting styles are just as catchy as any Street Fighter character. While the Darkstalkers have their own original fighting styles, most of them do share a fundamental attributes and similar play-styles of those from the Street Fighter universe, which made the game immediately enjoyable and accessible to any educated 2D fighting game player.


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Page Updated: February 9th, 2024
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Artwork by: Bengus, Edayan, Daigo Ikeno
Platform(s): Arcade, PlayStation, PSN
Release Date(s): July 1994                        /    Arcade
Mar. 28th, 1996
Characters Demitri Maximoff, Morrigan Aensland, Jon Talbain, Felicia, Bishamon, Lord Raptor, Anakaris, Rikuo, Sasquatch, Victor, Phobos, Pyron

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Related Games: Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge, Darkstalkers 3, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, Darkstalkers: Resurrection, Vampire Chronicle For Matching Service, Street Fighter 2, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, Primal Rage, Samurai Shodown 2, Tekken, World Heroes 2 Jet, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Warzard, Kaiser Knuckle, Capcom Vs. SNK, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, Capcom Fighting Evolution, SNK Vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium, SNK Vs. Capcom Chaos, Marvel Vs. Capcom, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Capcom Fighting Collection

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  8.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  7.0 / 10
Animation  7.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  10 / 10
Customization  7.0 / 10
Options / Extras  6.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  6.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  6.5 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10

 8.2 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version   


Final Words: Capcom took a huge risk with Darkstalkers... as the Street Fighter 2 series and Street Fighter Alpha were well-known and already very successful with fans. Yeah, Darkstalkers had big shoes to fill. Ultimately, Capcom gave fighting fans a shiny new 2D fighter which introduced highly entertaining character designs... characters that many players would fall in love with for years to come. The memorable characters, interesting fighting styles, and immersive setting made Darkstalkers an instant classic 2D fighting game that was able to stand out on its own.

In my opinion, the core gameplay of the first Darkstalkers game didn't quite live up to the most recent installments of its bigger brother (the Street Fighter series) or some of the other modern 2D fighting games of the era. To me, the gameplay felt "dated" in some ways... but the animation and characters definitely kept my interest going. I knew Darkstalkers had potential, however, and became a bigger fan of the series when Darkstalkers 2 (Night Warriors) and Darkstalkers 3 arrived.

The first Darkstalkers game introduced several innovative gameplay mechanics - such as Chain Combos, which offered interesting gameplay depth that would be further elaborated in future installments of the series. The sequels to Darkstalkers succeeded the original in every way imaginable. In addition, many Darkstalkers characters would later cross over to a variety of other Capcom fighting games.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen
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