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Our Favorite Vampire Video Games... that aren't Castlevania

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Posted January 8, 2010 - By Eric Eckstein




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No matter how you slice it, I'm a total zombie fan. Left 4 Dead is my favorite new franchise, and I consume just about every movie or graphic novel that deals with the subject matter. And then I saw a trailer for the new apocalyptic vampire flick, Daybreakers, and it got me thinking. It's been zombie this, zombie that in games, but why haven't vamps been given their moment in the sun...so to speak. Why are we stuck with crappy Vampire Rain sequels instead of some new re-imagined Vampire: The Masquerade title (third time's the charm!)? 

There was a time when games with vampires weren't just viable but popular, so thanks to my fellow fangbangers at G4TV, we put together this look back at some of our favorite vampire games. With one caveat: None of them are Castlevania. Not that we don't appreciate Konami's games; in fact, we're dying to know more about the major reboot, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but because pretty much the entire Castlevania catalog would dominate the list. Sorry Simon. And away we go...

Transylvania (1986)

 Transylvania titleTransylvania screenshot

How many of you actually remember text adventure games? Raise your hands! Outside of the Infocom titles, I was a sucker for Transylvania. It's one of the first graphical text adventure game I ever played, and naturally the monster lover in me was drawn to the subject matter, even if I had to bike over to play it on a friend's Commodore 64. While not purely a vampire game (heck at one point, you run into a UFO), I was more freaked out when first encountering the vampire than the constant presence of the werewolf, even if the latter was infinitely more troublesome. Couple that with a time limit on the game and you've got yourself one tense gaming experience. Recently, the company released the game as an iPhone game entitled Transylvania Adventures. I ain't promising that it holds up, but maybe it's time for me to face my fears.

Night Trap (1992)

Night Trap boxNight Trap

Let's get this out of the way first: Night Trap is atrocious.  Vampires have set up a house to capture co-eds, and you've hacked their security system to stop them and save Dana Plato.  The gameplay is mind-numbingly bad, but c'mon, what else was I supposed to do with my Sega CD system? Play Sewer Shark? And as it was the first game to christen my Sega CD, it's forever an experience that I will treasure. Especially those times that I tried to legitimately play the game and my mother would wander in and think I was watching Skinemax. There's not much to defend when the TV screen was full of pajama-clad girls at a slumber party. For giggles, check out the intro:



Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996)

Blood Omen: Legacy of KainBlood Omen: Legacy of Kain screenshot

Man, I miss this series, even if I preferred the top down perspective of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain to the later third person modes. Yes, the gameplay was much improved with later games, but back in the day, Blood Omen felt like a more mature Zelda so it's hard to shake that. Blood Omen had you leading the vampire Kain, who needs to constantly feed to stay alive. There was your average item and spell management, but what made the game shine was the incredibly well-done voiceovers. In a year of Resident Evil nonsense, that was a huge plus. Added bonus: You could turn into a wolf or a bat. 'nuff said. Don't be surprised if Square Enix mines this Eidos franchise in the future, but for now, go wayback and watch the intro:


Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption (2000)
Vampire the Masquerade Redemption boxVampire the Masquerade Redemption screenshot

 

Considering the source material, this gorgeous imagination of the popular role-playing pen and paper game should have been an amazing game. You lead a party, you have killer spell effects, there's even a storyteller multiplayer mode that would let one player offer quests and rewards to other gamers. Unfortunately, Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption just didn't come together, due primarily to its lackluster combat. For whatever reason though, I was drawn to this game. I somehow broke the game on my first playthrough, forcing me to reinstall and start over. On the second playthrough, it happened again after finally making it into the modern day. Still to this day, I have the MP3 of the title song on my computer and an itch to go back and finally beat it. Is it even worth it? Check out the intro and tell me:



Bloodrayne (2002)

Bloodrayne boxshotBloodrayne

In 2002, Majesco unleashed a brand new heroine into the action adventure space, and for Xbox and PS2 owners, there was much rejoicing. More than just slicing up Nazis or shooting them dead, BloodRayne also could feast on enemies to refill her health and as games were in the throes of Max Payne mania, there was also a slo-mo mode for more refined killing. The half-human, half-vampire Nazi hunter Rayne was a breakthrough character, splashing onto the pages of Playboy back in 2004, once again reinforcing a negative portrayal of female video game heroines. But despite that, Bloodrayne was a fun romp back in the day. See for yourself:



Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Chaos Bleeds (2002/2003)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer boxshotBuffy the Vampire Slayer screenshot

As a fan of the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was destined to dig the video game adaptation. Thankfully, the game held up its end of the bargain, offering some fun Slayer-on-creature combat and a story that cleverly alluded to events in the canon. With the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Scooby Gang also performed voices for the game,  lending more authenticity to the adaptation. And for what it’s worth, the Buffy sound-alike did a fine job, though her one-liners got a bit repetitive. The sequel, Chaos Bleeds, was even better, as it was penned by show writers as a missing episode from a previous season. With the Buffy comics still hot, and talks of a remake, hopefully it won't be long before we're able to take Buffy out for another video game spin. For now, at least we have this:



Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (2004)

Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines boxshotVampire the Masquerade Bloodlines

Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines was deep, letting players choose a character based on their style of play (brawler, manipulator, etc.) and while the quests themselves varied in difficulty, the concepts were typically clever. It was also a fine looking game, the first built in Valve's brand new Source engine. Of all the vampire games though, this one really got the shaft. It was fairly buggy on release and it came out with Half-Life 2, which led to poor sales and a lack of support from its publisher. However, even after being let go from the development studio, former employees worked on the game to fix bugs and unlock new content for free. Now that's dedication. Watch the intro and see why it was worth it:



Darkwatch (2005)

Darkwatch boxshotDarkwatch

The last of the "quality" vampire games, Darkwatch mixed frontier weaponry with special vamp abilities, casting its hero as an outlaw who joins a society of vampire hunters after being turned into one of the creatures himself. The Gothic western tale was one well told, loaded with action, even if it was a little too short. The developers of Darkwatch would go on to create The Bourne Conspiracy, and are now working on the new Transformers: War for Cybertron. Neither game containing vampires. Dang it. Re-live the past with this intro:

So what do you think? What’s your favorite vampire-themed game? And which of these would you like see remade?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or if you have something you'd like to share, get in touch via E-mail.

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