Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, titled as Vampire: The Night Warriors (ヴァンパイア The Night Warriors, Vanpaia Za Naito Wōriāzu) in Japan, is the first title in the Darkstalkers fighting game series, developed and released by Capcom in 1994, originally for the CPS II arcade hardware. It was ported to the PlayStation by Psygnosis in 1996.
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors features ten playable characters (Demitri Maximoff, Jon Talbain, Victor von Gerdenheim, Lord Raptor, Morrigan Aensland, Anakaris, Felicia, Bishamon, Rikuo and Sasquatch) and two non-playable boss characters (Huitzil and Pyron) as the final opponents of single-player mode.
The game uses the gameplay system Capcom developed for the Street Fighter II series, but with several new gameplay features such as Air Blocking, Crouch Walking and Chain Combos. The game featured a Special meter similar to the Super Combo gauge from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which the player could fill up to perform either a unique "combo"-type move much like the previous Super Turbo (called "ES" in the Darkstalkers series), or a powered-up version of one of their specials (called "EX", and a concept which would appear in later Darkstalkers games as well as Street Fighter III). Unlike the Super Combo gauge in Super Turbo, the Special in Darkstalkers gradually drains unless the player performs their super move, preventing players from preserving their super moves for later use.
The powerful alien demon Pyron invades Earth to add to his collection of planets that he has devoured. Enter the world's most fearsome monsters who, ironically, are the last defense of mankind.
The game originally began development when Capcom decided to make another fighting game using their Street Fighter II engine. It started out as a Universal Monsters game, but Universal refused to license the monsters out, prompting producer Alex Jimenez to create their own characters; Jimenez said he did it in about an hour.
Capcom entrusted the PlayStation conversion of the game to Psygnosis due to Capcom's inexperience with the PlayStation hardware. The PlayStation version was initially planned for an April 1995 release but experienced a protracted development cycle, ultimately not being released until well after the sequel had arrived on the Sega Saturn. A cancelled Sega 32X version was planned at one point.
Darkstalkers (Vampire) was originally released in the Japanese arcades on June 30, 1994. The game was ported for the PlayStation in 1996, converted by Psygnosis. This version featured a new opening theme, "Trouble Man" by Eikichi Yazawa, which was used as the theme music for the American Darkstalkers animated series.
The game was included in Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection, a compilation of all five Darkstalkers arcade games that were released in Japan only for the PlayStation 2 in 2005. In 2011, the PS One version was released for the PlayStation Network, compatible with both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable.
Several licensed tie-ins were released for the game in Japan, including:Books
All About Vampire (Studio Bent Stuff's All About Series Vol.6), a guide book by Dempa Shinbunsha.
Vampire no Subete, a guide book published by Keibunsha as part of their "Encyclopedia" series.
Vampire (Gamest No.129), an extra issue of Shinseisha's book/magazine Gamest Mook.
The Very Best of Vampire (ISBN 4-89366-575-8), a guide/art book written by Famitsu staff and published by ASCII.
Mystery of Vampire, backstory/setting essay book co-authored by Gamest and Capcom.
Vampire: Midnight Flyer, a novel written by Rei Isaki and published by Famitsu.
Vampire: Messenger of the End, a two-volume manga by Hiroaki Wakamiya, published by Kodansha in the Shōnen Magazine Comic series.
Vampire Comic Anthology (ISBN 4-88199-138-8) and Vampire Comic Anthology Vol.2 (ISBN 4-88199-164-7), a two-part manga collection of short stories by several authors in the Gamest Comics series, published by Shinseisha.
Vampire: The Night Warriors (Amusement Anthology Series 14), a manga collection of short stories published by Hobby Japan Comics.
Vampire 4-Koma Ketteiban (ISBN 4-88199-157-4), a Gamest yonkoma manga featuring works by fans and established artists, published by Shinseisha.
Vampire, a yonkoma manga published by Hinotama Game Comics as part of their 4-Koma Gag Battle series.
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, a nine-issue manhua series.
EX Vampire ~Night Warriors~ (MWCG-0017), a drama CD by published by MediaWorks.
Vampire Arcade Game Tracks (SRCL-2969), official soundtrack CD published by Sony Records.
A manga adaptation authored by Run Ishida was published in Japan by ASCII in 1996. It was later adapted by Viz Comics under the title of Night Warriors: The Comic Series, which was published as a six-issue comic book which were later collected in a single trade paperback volume.
The game was generally very well received. VideoGames gave it a score of 9/10 in 1994. The magazine also named the arcade version of Darkstalkers at the second best game of 1994 in the categories "Game of the Year" and "Best Fighting Game". GamePro gave it a positive review, saying that though it is similar to Street Fighter II, Darkstalkers is highly appealing due to its broad variety of characters, its anime-style art, and the ability to block in midair.
Reviewing the PlayStation version in GamePro, Scary Larry remarked that the gameplay lacks depth and is too easily mastered, however the game is nonetheless fun, and the graphics are highly attractive. He concluded, "A good concept, strengthened by great graphics and good gameplay, is what makes Darkstalkers one of the better fighting games on the PlayStation. Not as deep as Street Fighter Alpha, but just as fun, Darkstalkers is a welcome addition to the PlayStation library." Yasuhiro Hunter of Maximum, in contrast, argued that Darkstalkers is one of the deepest and most difficult to master fighting games. However, he felt that given the exceptionally long development cycle, the PlayStation conversion was a major disappointment, with half the animation frames of the arcade version missing and bouts of pronounced slowdown. IGN gave the PlayStation version a 6.5/10, commenting that "unfortunately, Dark Stalkers [sic] pales in comparison to the bigger 3D monsters that have been released for the Play[S]tation, namely Tekken and Toshinden. But as far as 2D fighters go, Dark Stalkers is still one of the best."
In 2007, CraveOnline users ranked Darkstalkers as the ninth top 2D fighter of all time, with the staff calling it "a Capcom title that was essential in the further development of Capcom's 2-D fighter dominance" and "a surprise hit that paved the way for many great games after it." In 2013, Eurogamer's Matt Edwards stated Darkstalkers "has remained something of a cult favourite thanks to its unique style and technical innovations."