Vampire Savior

Vampire Savior (VSAV), also known as Darkstalkers 3, is a 2D fighter that is considered the blueprint for modern air dasher and tag team fighters. The series introduced many common mechanics like air dashing, recoverable health, pushblocking, and EX special attacks. The game is played at an intense pace that will make your heart beat faster. Entire games can be lost in 10 seconds, yes GAMES not ROUNDS. Even today, Vampire Savior has a dedicated community because there's still nothing that plays like it.

Helpful Resources

The Vampire Savior wiki.
The Vampire Savior Discord server.
Vampire Savior Community Facebook group.

Notation

Attack Notation

LP Light Punch Jab
MP Medium Punch Strong
HP Heavy Punch Fierce
LK Light Kick Short
MK Medium Kick Forward
HK Heavy Kick Roundhouse

Directional Notation

up-back up up-forward
back neutral forward
down-back down down-forward

Numpad Notation

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3

High attacks are overhead attacks that must be stand blocked. Mid attacks are attacks that can be blocked with both stand block and crouch block.

Vampire Savior uses Legacy frame data notation. If an attack has 7 frames of startup, it hits on the 8th frame.

Damage is very high but a large portion of damage becomes recoverable health. After being out of hitstun or blockstun for a certain amount of time, it slowly becomes permanent health. You will die if recoverable health reaches the end of your health bar. The ratio of recoverable health to permanent damage increases as combos grow longer. In Vampire Savior the best defense is a good offense. The best way to recover that health is by not blocking and the best way of achieving that is being on the offensive.

A Bat Mark is removed when a round is lost. When both Bat Marks are removed the player loses the game. Unlike most games, winning a round does not reset health or position for the players. The winner keeps their existing health bar and maintains screen position. This gives the winner momentum going into the next round.

Whiffing normal attacks builds meter. Characters can hold 99 Special Stocks but that's never going to happen in a real game.

The chain combo system is available on the ground and in the air. Punches can be chained into kicks and weaker attacks can be chained into stronger attacks. LP > LK > MP > MK > HP > HK is possible in theory but there's too much pushback for this chain to work in a real game. Normal attacks in chain combos cannot be canceled. To bypass this restriction players end their chain, link a normal attack off their chain, then special cancel.

Dashing is fast and used for pressuring. It carries momentum for attacks. Cancel dashes with a fast attack like 5LP to recover quicker. You can perform a pseudo wavedash like this.

Fireball clashing is rare as fireballs have different properties. Some fireballs can be reflected and others can't. Some fireballs can clash but only during certain parts. Sometimes the fireball that is shot later wins the clash.

Vampire Savior is the first Capcom game with enhanced special attacks or EX special attacks. They're called ES special attacks in this game and cost 1 Special Stock. Perform them with the special input and two attack buttons. Super attacks are called EX attacks. They cannot be reacted to because there is no super flash that freezes the screen.

Throws are proximity throws performed with 4HP/6HP. Characters usually have a throw with MP, MK, or HK as well. Throws are softened by holding 4/6 and pressing HP, HK, MP, or MK regardless of the throw. Every character can air throw.

Every character has a command throw. The command throw counts as a special attack and there may be an ES version of it. Not every character uses their command throw. Some character's command throws are terrible and not worth using.

Throws work on players that block and don't press buttons. Players are constantly pressing buttons in blockstun to pushblock or Guard Cancel. Or players jump to air block and create distance.

Pushblock is tricky to execute because there is randomness to it. In blockstun the goal is to input multiple attack buttons within a 12 frame window to increase chances of a successful pushblock. 3 to 5 inputs gives a random chance of pushblock and 6 inputs guarantee it. The pushback distance is based on the strength of the last input so you should always end with a heavy button.

Players have their own methods of executing pushblock. Find what works for you. Some players like to swipe their entire hand across all the buttons. Some players like to have each of their fingers on a different button. You should try to have every button input on a different frame to increase the chances of pushblock.

Guard Cancel is this game's Alpha Counter. In blockstun press 623 and punch or kick depending on the character. This is a free Alpha Counter. It's useful for countering multi-hitting attacks. There is an ES Guard Cancel but for many characters it's not worth spending meter on.

Guard Cancel is difficult to execute because of its complex motion and because blockstun is very short. Because the input requires you to press a forward direction twice, it requires you to give up blocking at the beginning and the end. Players preemptively input the motion before they are in blockstun. Popular motions are 64123X for stand block and 6123X for crouch block. When you're on the offense, learn to delay attacks to hit players in the middle of their Guard Cancel motion.

Guard Cancel can be short ranged. Be careful Guard Canceling long range blockstrings as it can whiff.

Dark Force is activated with punch and kick buttons of the same strength. It costs at least 1 Special Stock and some cost 2. The activation itself is invincible but it can't be used as a reversal and the character is vulnerable afterwards. Dark Force temporarily powers up your character by enhancing attacks or unlocking new attacks. It heals all your recoverable health but all damage dealt and taken will be permanent damage.

When the timer runs out, the character taunts to deactivate Dark Force. They are completely vulnerable during the taunt. Dark Force can be manually deactivated any time but there is no way to skip the taunt. Players alleviate this by deactivating after a knockdown.

After a knockdown, hold 4 or 6 and press an attack button to quick recover roll. Roll does not have to be immediate as it can be delayed. This gives the defender four different quick recover options. Because of this, many players prefer resets over knockdowns.

After a throw or sweep hold 4/6 and press HP/HK to Defensive Fall. It slightly reduces damage.

After knocking down your opponent, you can Pursuit to home in on them by pressing 8 and an attack button. If your opponent didn't roll you will hit them. Pursuit attacks inflict recoverable damage. There is an ES version of Pursuit but there are better uses for your meter. Pursuit can be performed late to purposely whiff and stay close after a roll.

There are special rules regarding air attacks. In most fighting games you are allowed one air attack per jump and that air attack can then chain or cancel into other attacks. In Vampire Savior you can whiff as many air attacks as you want in the same jump as long as the same attack isn't repeated twice in a row. This means if an air attack whiffs you are able to attack again with anything.

Empty chaining is connecting with an air attack, chaining that air attack into another attack that whiffs, which then allows you to perform another air action.

Empty chaining has many uses. It gives characters better air pressure. It allows more combo opportunities like letting characters combo off of instant overheads. It lets characters perform two overheads in one jump which makes the jump in/empty jump/low mixup scarier.

Jumping is difficult to deal with because this is a fast paced game where characters are always jumping and anti-airs are not amazing. Almost every character has air special attacks and can change their air trajectory.

There is air blocking and it blocks air attacks. You cannot air block during the pre-jump frames. Air blockstun is very short.

There is air blocking but not air recovery which is rare. Meaties aren't guaranteed after a knockdown because of quick recovery rolls but they are after air resets. Think of air resets like "air okizeme". Anti-air then dash in for a mixup. Characters are forced to stand after air reset which means attacks that whiff on crouching characters like instant overheads will connect.

Blockstun in Vampire Savior is very short and air blockstun can be made shorter by canceling it with an attack. You will see players jump at their opponent to block their air attack then attack because they recover before they do. A good example of this is Victor's attack. It has humongous range. It's difficult to anti-air and it's easier to air block and hit it with an air-to-air attack.

Jumping backwards is a common way to escape pressure and create distance. Beat it by jumping at your opponent, forcing them to block an air chain, then landing first and hitting them with a grounded attack. And if your opponent didn't jump back, you can start your pressure off the jump in.

Characters

Demitri is the game's shoto. He has good normal attacks and great jumping attacks like jump HP and jump MP. Jump MK is a great cross-up. 5MK is a good poke. His sweep doesn't hit low. Divekick bounces him even on hit making it unsafe when it hits too high. His teleporting dash is temporarily invincible. He can cancel his dash into special attacks. His DP only has 1 frame of recovery and needs to be punished before he lands. He has the best Guard Cancel in the game.

Morrigan is a footsies character with fireballs. Her dash is a hop that can become an overhead or a cross-up. Empty dash into low is a common mixup. Her high jump is a fly that can be steered. She has a good DP and ES DP does good damage. Her walkspeed is fast and her throws are good, giving her good rushdown. Raging Demon can punish many things and can be comboed into. Valkyrie Turn is invincible.

Gallon (Talbain) is a fast character with many long ranged attacks that are plus on block. His walk is the fastest and he can low profile under attacks. His dashes are overhead attacks and he can combo off them if they hit on a later active frame. 5HP, 2MK, and 2MP are fantastic normal attacks. 2MK can be canceled on block for positioning or on hit into ES Beast Cannon. Beast Cannon is used for pressure and cross-ups. ES Beast Cannon can whiff punish attacks from full screen.

Felicia is a fast character with great normal attacks and jump ins. Jump HP and jump LK are great air normal attacks. Her dashes are overhead attacks and she can combo off them if they hit on a later active frame. Her divekick helps her get in but it's two hits and can get Guard Canceled. Cat Spike gives her good pressure and frame traps. She can send helpers to assist her. Far 5LK, 2MP, 2HP, Far 5MK, far 5HK, 2HK, and close 5HK are fantastic normal attacks.

Victor is the game's grappler. Holding buttons down electrifies attacks to reduce pushback, nullify projectiles, and inflict chip damage. His DP is a hop that moves him closer to his opponent. He has good resets with electrified 2HP into DP being one of them. Lariat goes through some projectiles. Jump HP is one of the best air attacks in the game. His powerbomb does full damage even if softened.

Anakaris is a tricky character that gets everywhere by floating and air blocking because his walkspeed is very slow. He also has a divekick to get around. Coffin Drop lets him change his air trajectory. His anti-airs are good. He starts pressure with dash 5LP. He can zone with ES Curse. His backdash lets him escape the corner and end up on the other side. Unfortunately, Anakaris is considered the worst character in the game as he lacks basic universal tools like pushblock, non-ES Guard Cancel, and a regular throw.

Bishamon has good dash pressure as he can cancel dash into his normal attacks. His fireballs knockdown on extension and can be followed up with a Pursuit for guaranteed damage or a whiffed Pursuit for a cross-up mixup. 2LP, 2MP, and 2HP are good normal attacks. Iai Giri is a good special attack to cover space and it builds a nice amount of meter. Bishamon also has unblockables.

Zabel (Lord Raptor) is like a Dhalsim that can be played offensively or defensively. He has a command throw like all characters. He can chain his far normal attacks. His great air dash makes his drill kicks unpredictable. Teleport is invincible and gets him out of trouble. He can't crouch normally. He crawls faster than he walks. 6MP, 6LK, 6HK, and 2HP are his favorite pokes.

Sasquatch is the king of pressure, mixups, and damage. His short hop is incredibly fast and travels half screen. He can short hop into an unreactable high/low mixup. His command throw keeps the pressure going and is one of the best in the game. ES Ice Towers is both a great anti-air and full screen whiff punisher.

Aulbath (Rikuo) has great dash pressure and jump ins. 2LP is +8 on block! 2LK is +7 on block. Dash 5MP is good. He has some good jump normal attacks like jump MP. Bubble is good for corner lockdown and okizeme after a knockdown. 2MP, 2MP, 2MK, and 2HP are multi-hitting normal attacks. His special attacks let him zone. He's got a pretty good Dark Force.

Lei-Lei (Hsien-Ko) is a zoner that relies on luck. Her normal attacks are long ranged and her mixups and pressure are good. 6MP, 6HP, 5HP, 5HK, and 2MP are good normal attacks. Jump MP and jump HP are good air normal attacks. She has an airdash. Her slide is good because it chains into 5HK. Swing is good because she can cancel it and go for a low attack. She can shoot her Gong and walk behind it. Her item toss shoots random items on the screen. After an Akuma statue the next item is guaranteed to dizzy. Her super attack is one of the best in the game because it is spammable and creates chaos.

Lillith has good dash pressure and frame traps. She does lack mixups as she has no grounded overhead or a command throw that's worth using. Dash attacks gives her frame advantage on block. Air fireball is good for approaching. High jump has her turn around when she goes over the opponent. Her air normal attacks are good and she relies on cross-ups for mixups. Raging Demon is very important to her and it has only 1 frame of recovery. It's great for combos or whiff punishing.

Q-bee is a very mobile character. She has a homing instant air dash. Her air dash can be used like a triangle jump. Jump MP is a great air normal attack. Jump HP changes her air trajectory. 5MP, 2MK, and 2MP are great normal attacks. Her command throw has 2 frames of startup and is fully invincible. It lets her start her bubble setups. Bubble is used for zoning and approaching. She can float to avoid attacks and she can crouch underneath some attacks. The bubbled character is considered airborne and hitting them results in an air reset.

Jedah is a character with okay mixups and okay zoning. He seems like a zoner but his tools are too slow to be an effective zoner. He can attack and move from many angles. Jump LP, jump MP, and jump HP are good air normal attacks. Jump HK changes his air trajectory. 2MP, 2LK, 5MK, and 5HK are his best normal attacks. 2MK is his best anti-air. His dash puts him in the air giving him high/low mixups. His wheel stays on the screen for a while and creates 50/50 mixups for him. Dark Force is important as it gives him much needed pressure, an overhead, and lets him run away. You can play him like a hit-and-run character but his defense is weak.

Bulleta (B.B. Hood) has an arsenal of projectiles that let her control space. 5LP is very plus on block. It makes her dash pressure scary and gives her an infinite combo. 5HK is a great meaty. She's the only character in the game with a double jump. Jump MP is an instant overhead that chains into jump MK. Jump HK is a low from the air and creates a mixup from her instant overhead. You can force your opponent to block a deep jump HK and when their hurtbox is stuck standing you can go low for a fuzzy guard setup. Jump MP is a good air-to-air. Jump MK is a great cross-up. She has a mixup practically every time she jumps.