Darkstalkers 3, known in Japan as Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire (ヴァンパイア セイヴァー ザ ロード オブ ヴァンパイアズ, Vanpaia Seivā Za Rōdo Obu Vanpaiazu), is the second sequel in the Darkstalkers series of fighting games by Capcom, originally released in arcades in 1997. The third installment centers around a demonic nobleman from Makai named Jedah Dohma, who creates a pocket dimension named Majigen where he tries to bring in souls to help nourish his new world.
The game retains the character roster of Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, omitting Donovan, Huitzil and Pyron from the lineup. Taking their place are four new characters: Jedah, Lilith, Q-Bee and B. B. Hood. It also features Dark Jon Talbain, an evil counterpart of Jon Talbain who serves as his final opponent and is also a hidden playable character, as well as Shadow, a secret character/mode where the player assumes the identity of the defeated character for the next fight (e.g. if Morrigan is defeated, then in the next fight, the player will play as Morrigan).
Vampire Savior eschews the traditional round-based system in favor of what is dubbed the “Damage Gauge System”: battles take place during a single round, with each fighter having two life bars and corresponding life markers similar to those in Rare’s Killer Instinct. When one fighter loses a life marker after the life bar is emptied, the fighters reset their positions as if starting a new round, but the victorious fighter retains their remaining life bar. When the player is attacked, some of the health lost is displayed in white, which can be recovered if the player doesn’t take any more damage. The game also introduces the “Dark Force System” which uses a bar or super meter to allow players to perform special abilities unique to each character for a limited period. The PlayStation version separates Dark Force into 2 modes from which the player chooses before each match: “Dark Force Change” is the same as the traditional Dark Force mode, whereas “Dark Force Power” is an enhanced mode that takes 2 bars of the super meter and the player can inflict damage that is not recoverable (but will also take non-recoverable damage). In Dark Force Power, the player can still activate their special enhancement, but they have to press a unique button combination rather than it being tied to whether or not the player is in Dark Force mode.
Jedah Dohma, one of the high nobles of Makai, is resurrected after a premature death long ago. Seeing the current chaotic state of the demon world, he decides that the only way to save Makai is to recreate it. To this end, he conjures a pocket dimension known as Majigen, to which he summons worthy souls to help feed his new world. As luck would have it, those souls belong to the returning Darkstalkers from the first two games, in addition to three newcomers.
Darkstalkers 3 was first released in Japanese arcades in 1997 as Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire. The game was originally planned to be released as Darkstalkers: Jedah’s Damnation outside of Japan, but this title was never used; instead, it was localized for arcades in North America as Vampire Savior: World of Darkness.
A Sega Saturn version was released in Japan only in 1998, which required Capcom’s 4MB RAM cartridge. Capcom initially announced that the home version would be exclusive to the Saturn. This version contains all 15 characters from the original Vampire Savior as well as the three Night Warriors characters (Donovan, Huitzil, and Pyron) who were left out of the original arcade release and brought back in Vampire Savior 2/Vampire Hunter 2. Thanks to the 4MB RAM cartridge, this version more faithfully reproduces the 2D-animation fluidity of the arcade than either of the earlier console releases in the series. However, while Shadow is available in the Saturn version, Marionette is not.