This is a list that people have asked me to do for nearly a decade, but I’ve always said no because I like to have my folklore/undead audience distinctly separate from my video gaming audience. However, I’ve made exceptions in the past with things like my old Nyogtha column’s “30 Spookiest Games Countdown”, so I decided to just say, “Sod it all” and do this.
For those of you who know me primarily as a Video Game Journalist, you’ll probably be surprised to know that I’m one of the more prolific folklore researchers/writers out there. It all started as a joke due to my name. I mean. Alex Lucard = A.Lucard = Alucard = Dracula and you pretty much have a laundry list of Crucifix, Garlic, and Castlevania jokes ahead of your life. In high school I decided to do a research paper on vampiric like diseases such as Porphyria (Which is NOT actually a vampire like disease, but that’s a whole other topic into itself…) as a joke and people found it extremely well written and my teacher suggested I submit it for publication, which I did. I ended up getting a few pieces published in High School and then went on to create my first web site known as The Vampire Classifieds with WBS.NET. The page ended up taking off and in 1998, (this is how old I am, people!), both Lycos and Excite (Remember those?) listed it as one of the 100 best websites on the net. The page ended up being a place for authors about the undead, both fiction and non-fiction, to hang out and discuss the differences between (then) modern vampires and folkloric/historical vampires. It was a lot of fun, I met some neat contacts and have been able to make a pretty nice living as a researcher and non-fiction writer ever since.
Eventually WBS was purchased by Disney to become part of the Go Network and my site was a large reason why. I really didn’t like the idea of Disney having an ownership stake in my work or creative control, so I shut the thing down. What can I say? I was like 21-22 and still young and dumb. Since then I have done a ton of freelance folklore articles and essays on various subjects and eventually ended up parlaying this knowledge into several jobs involving video game series like Pokemon and Konami of Japan’s Castlevania series, some work with tabletop RPG companies like White Wolf and Eden Studios, and so on. My Nygotha column would eventually go on to win several awards and the vampire bits always seemed to attract the most attention. Little did I know that one of those readers would end up being Stephenie Meyer who would write the incredibly popular Twilight series. About six months ago, the Twilight marketing machine asked me if I could start doing some Nyogtha or Vampire Classified type pieces for them and I happily agreed, not only for the money but for the chance to show these younger readers how the vampire has changed over the past few centuries. Blah blah blah, more expository explanation and stuff you won’t care about, but suffice to say, I’ve been getting paid to talk about and research the undead, and vampires in particular, for a decade and a half now and still receive over a dozen requests a month from various sources to research and write on various folklore topics for them. Not a month goes by where you can’t find me in at least three different magazines.
Which is exactly why I have held off doing a top ten piece on this subject. Unlike my actual stuff that is a careful in-depth study of a culture, their myths, their taboos, and their specific beliefs about the dead that would inevitably give way to their own version of the undead, a video game vampire list is all opinion anyway and the last thing I want is someone taking an opinion piece and holding it up as if it were fact. So just remember kids, this is all in fun and this list is no more or no less correct than anything you, the reader, would come up with. At best, you’ll learn about some characters and games you might not have heard of before now. At worst you’ll bitch on an internet forum that your favourite didn’t make the list and as such this article is “rubbish.”
Before we begin the list however, I do need to point out five characters that will not make the list because they aren’t actually vampires, but a lot of gamers make the mistake of labeling them as such.
Not A Vampire #1. Vincent Valentine
This Final Fantasy VII character is sometimes listed as a vampire, but the truth he that he’s not undead at all. He’s a living breathing being that just has powers that mimic famous Universal Studios horror monsters. At no point in the FF series, being it VII, Dirge of Cerebus, Ehrgeiz, or any of the games Vincent appears in, is he ever listed, classified, or called undead. He’s just a genetically enhanced human that may or may not have Protomateria stored in his body, depending on which game he appears in. It’s an understandable mistake, but still one nonetheless. So sorry Vincent, this list is only for vampires.
Not A Vampire #2. Raziel
The protagonist of the Soul Reaver series is a visually stunning character to be sure, but he’s not really a vampire. He’s more akin to a Wraith or some other semi-corporeal undead. In fact, from the introduction of Raziel until the end of the Legacy of Kain franchise, Raziel is never really shown as a vampire. He starts off having evolved from a vampire, which automatically makes him NOT A VAMPIRE in the same way a bird is not a dinosaur or a Charizard is not a Charmander, and then he is killed by Kane, resurrected as a Wraith-like creature and then even later, he becomes the Soul Reaver. Sorry if that revelation spoils things for people, but the last game in the series has been out for like five years. As such, Raziel will not appear here, but he does get this nifty blurb! Don’t worry though, a friend/enemy/progenitor makes it onto the list, so LoK fans can clap their hands with glee when that happens.
Not A Vampire #3. Alucard
Although personal ego and my long time association with the Castlevania series (both professionally and personally) wants me to include Alucard, who is one of my favorite characters in all of gaming, I can’t. You see, Alucard is not actually a vampire and he is never truly portrayed as such. Alucard is actually a dhampir or a “half-vampire.” Alucard is the offspring of Dracula and a human mortal woman which makes him a completely different creature both in terms of taxonomy and biology. Well, fantasy taxonomy. Because Alucard is not actually a vampire, he can not make the list. I can, however, implore you to go out and play Sypmhony of the Night, because it is awesome.
Not a Vampire #4. Vampire Hunter D
See #3. Plus his video game wasn’t very good. Stick to the Anime and novels. However, he is by far the best overall vampiric character to come out of Japan.
Not A Vampire #5. Rayne
See #3 again. Too bad. I actually thought the first Bloodrayne was a fun little game but the second was a steaming pile of feces. We won’t even mention the two Uwe Boll films though, as it serves to make fans of the games angry. Man, I could probably do a top ten Dhampirs list as a follow up at this rate, eh?
There we go. We have our five non-vampires that are routinely and erroneously listed as such and we can now move on to the actual countdown. Huzzah!
Honourable Mention: Vampire Game Appeared in: Final Fantasy I
Year First Appeared In: 1990
Systems Found On: Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Wii, Sony MSX, Sony Playstation, Sony Playstation Portable, Bandai Wonderswan Colour
Although Squaresoft wasn’t too creative with the name of this Final Fantasy I Mid-Boss, he’s still a vampire just the same. He has no personality, but he makes the Honourable Mention due to the plot twist surrounding him, which was pretty clever for an 8-bit era game.
You enter a town called Melmond only to learn that the Earth is sick and dying. The race of choice here, dwarves, tell you that it is the work of a vampire deep in The Cavern of Earth. Your Light Warriors decide to check it out, what with being champions of virtue and all that. After killing the vampire though, you discover that nothing has changed and the land around Melmond is still getting sick. It turns out that the ol’ vampire was just a red herring to keep you away from the true cause of the blight – The Fiend of Earth: The Lich (who just happens to also be another, more powerful type of undead creature, so the Dwarves weren’t that far off after all.).
This was a very innovative plot point back in 1990, and I remember a lot of my fellow mid schoolers grumbling about having to go back into The Cavern of Earth and fighting the Lich. This particular vampire doesn’t deserve to make the top ten, but it is one of the more memorable vampire moments of the 8-Bit era.
#10. Arcueid Brunestud Games Appeared in: Tsukihime, Melty Blood, Melty Blood Re-ACT, Melty Blood: Act Cadenza, Melty Blood: Actress Again
Year First Appeared In: 2000
Systems Found On: PC, Arcade Cabinet, Sony Playstation 2
Originally I was going to do Ciel from the series, but I realized that Arcueid is the main character in the franchise, so it’s best if I go with her.
Although a game featuring Arcueid has yet to make it out of Japan, Arcueid is actually well known in English speaking countries due to the translation of the Tsukihime anime and manga. Import gamers know that the Melty Blood franchise is one of the best fighting game series out right now and the latest entry, Actress Again was actually better than all of the major fighting game franchise releases of 2009 like Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6 and The King of Fighters XII. However before there was the fighting game series, there was Tsukihime.
The entire Tsukihime series began as a visual novel for the PC. Although there are five selectable heroines, Arcueid is considered the main female character of the entire series. Throughout Tsukihime you will make choices that affect the eventual end of the story. The main point of the story is that there is a young boy named Shiki who has a strange ability translated as “Mystic Eyes of Death Perception” and this eventually leads him into a conflict between two vampire tribes, the True Ancestors and the Dead Apostles. Basically the True Ancestors are born vampires (Yes, I know. Being born undead is a huge oxymoron, but this is Japan), while the Dead Apostles are humans that were turned into vampires. All the videos games, be they visual novel or fighting game, revolves around this war of the undead. For those of you who are interested in the basic plot of the series, you can pick up the anime, the manga, or you can use an unofficial fan translation of Tsukihime. I definitely suggest the latter as this genre of video game almost never makes it stateside. Not only will you find it out of the ordinary, but the game is well known as having one of the deepest and most expansive stories in gaming.
Arcueid stands out mainly because she manages to avoid nearly every generic or cliched Western vampire trapping that has developed over the past eighty years. She’s not voluptuous. She’s not power hungry. She’s generally dressed very conservatively or plain. She’s 800 years old but is socially awkward and naive about modern human civilization. Arcueid is just such an unusual character because she is the antithesis of fan service while being both the most powerful character in the Tsukihime universe and the main female character. In this age of video games on either side of the Pacific requiring female characters to be either well endowed, scantily clad, or both, Arcueid is such a breath of fresh air that she stands out from the pack whether or not you are talking vampires or positive and intelligent female characters. The only reason she’s not higher on the list is because the video games featuring Arcueid are only available in Japan, meaning she is inaccessible to the majority of English speaking gamers.
9. Amon Games Appeared in: Dark Wizard
Year First Appeared In: 1994
Systems Appeared On: Sega CD
Not only is Dark Wizard one of my favorite Sega CD games of all time, but it is by far the best turn-based strategy game I’ve ever played. It’s just too bad the game is only for the Sega CD, which means barely anyone has ever played it, or ever will. The soundtrack alone is one of the best I have ever heard in a video game, and not only is the game incredibly long with a ton of battles to play through, but the plot is actually pretty deep and no matter which of the four playable main characters you choose, there are a lot of obtainable characters specific for that army, along with hidden battles, items, sub-quests and story points to encounter. If you have a Sega CD at all, you need to rush out and get this game because everyone I know that has ever played it has universally hailed it as the crown jewel of fantasy turn based strategy games.
The game takes place in the land of Chesire. Here Sabrina, the goddess of daylight, and Arliman, the dark god of night, worked together to make this world a paradise. That is until Zahark, the high priest or Arliman, began to corrupt Arliman and make him jealous of Sabrina thus inciting a civil war between the gods. Sabrina won and Arliman was defeated and entrapped in a large Jewel.
Cue 300 years later where the immortal wizard and guardian of the Jewel of Darkness, Velonese, has gone mad from three centuries of exile and now plans to release Arliman once more upon the world. This is where you the gamer come in. You have a choice of four playable characters. Two are from the side of law and order and the other two are from the side of chaos. Amon, the lord of the undead is one of these chaotic characters.
Amon feels that the humans are too weak and, well, pussies. He believes that as the current king, Armer VIII, is old and enfeebled, the humans will never be able to vanquish the armies of Velonese. So he sneaks into the castle, kills Armer VIII by draining his blood and then, using his magical powers, creates an illusion of his form so that he can lead both the human and the undead armies into one large conglomerate powerful enough to stop the return of Arliman.
Out of all four playable characters, Amon is the most powerful in terms of magic and speed, but is also the worst in terms of luck, “belief” and economic strength. This is mainly because a Vampire needs none of these three abilities. It does mean that your human army is generally much smaller than compared to any of the three other generals you can choose, but oh my do you have a lot of monster options that don’t care about being paid.
Amon is definitely the most interesting and complex of the four playable generals. He does good in the name of evil and evil in the name of good. Obviously, murdering a kind and good king is a bad act, but he supposedly does it for the greater good because Armer VIII is too kind to be an effective wartime leader. Amon also has no plans to destroy or control humanity. Rather he simply wants to defeat Velonese’s evil scheme and uses the most ruthless and efficient plan to do so. The fact a vampire is helping the forces of light against the forces of darkness, all while sunlight is still a fatal weakness to him is especially telling and the unification of undead troops like skeletons and liches alongside knights and priests helps to make for a more interesting story which is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
It gets even more interesting when Amon, under the guise of Armer VIII, recruits the mage Susan and then quickly turns her into a vampire as well for reasons of both lust and practicality. Amon also then recruits the greatest undead slayer in the world of Chesire, Andrew, to join his army. At no point does Andrew have a problem with the undead working with the human army because he seems to have the same sense of “better we work together than die as two smaller armies” attitude that Amon has.
Amon’s ending is especially gripping and one you really don’t see coming. It’s especially poignant because there are so many things happening here and is definitely the ending that creates the most discussion amongst fans of this game. Is Amon a good character? Is he evil? Is he more evil than Velonese? Are the humans Amon just saved actually the bad guys? So on and so forth. Of course, Amon’s ending is also the worst of the four characters for even though the forces of good win, several major characters die, which does not happen in any of the other general’s endings.
Amon is certainly one of the best developed vampires in all of video gaming and whose Machiavellian attitude other vampiric characters could have stood to develop. He is one of the most fleshed out vampires in all of gaming and it’s just too bad that very few people have had the good fortune to experience Dark Wizard
8. Kain Games Appeared In: Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Year First Appeared In: 1996
Systems Appeared On: PC, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Game Cube, Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation, Sony Playstation 2
Kain is an interesting character, not just for his development over five games but for the behind the scenes controversy. There’s no real hiding the fact that each game in the series was noticeably worst that the one before it and that the entire story was massively convoluted and full of contradictions and massive continuity errors. As well, there were the legal issues that involved Crystal Dynamics suing and taking the LoK series from its creators, Silicon Knights and the horrible “we let the game go to market unfinished because we knew gamers would be stupid enough to buy this, whine, and the buy the next game in the series anyway” ending that Soul Reaver was gripped with.
Throughout all the crap and criticism, one can’t deny that Kane emerges as one of the most memorable vampires in gaming. He starts off as a murdered nobleman that is turned into a vampire by a necromancer. Kain then kills his murderers and eventually goes on to kill eight of the nine surviving “Circle of Nine.” The Circle of Nine were the guardians of the world of Nosgoth, but they eventually become corrupt and insane, damning the world into darkness. Once Kain has killed them all, he is revealed to be the Scion of Balance and, having destroyed all the Guardians, could then sacrifice himself to restore the world to health and redemption or to forsake his destiny and rule a dying, damned world. Canonically, the latter is chosen and Kain becomes a tyrannical despot.
From there, Kain’s personality and appearance shifts dramatically in each of the four sequels, to the point where you have to wonder if he has undead bi-polar disorder. At one point he seems to be a petty jealous monster, ripping Raziel’s wings from his back and condemning him to wraith-hood. At another point he seems to be a wise but arrogant ruler, trying to set things right in regards to healing Nosgoth, but without having to die. Both these sides of Kain are not contradictory, but are merely facets of a centuries old creature torn by what he knows is right and his own fear of death and mortality. The five games might be a bit redundant and have not aged very well, but when taken as a whole, we see a well developed and tragic character who fails not only himself when he is most need, but the entire world. From there he plunges into the depths of depravity and perhaps even madness only to slowly redeem himself and fulfill his destiny. That’s pretty damn deep for a video game character, and it’s rare that a character constantly flip flops from protagonist to end boss and back in the way Kain does.
It was hard to pick which of the Valentine siblings to go with for this count down, but I ended up choosing the one that appears in all three games rather than Keith, who is just in SH1 and 3 or Hilga who is only in SH3.
Joachim is a very unusual character. Not only he is the big burly warrior bruiser of Shadow Hearts: Covenant but he is also faaaaaabulous. Yes, Joachim is one of the most obviously gay characters in gaming, although you wouldn’t really get this until the second Shadow Hearts game since he only has a small cameo in the first Shadow Hearts.
Joachim isn’t openly homosexual, but the game takes place in the time between both World Wars, when homosexuality was looked upon far less favourably than it is today, so it is understandable. As the game progresses so, it becomes more and more obvious that the strongest of the Valentine clan is also the lightest in the loafers.
For example, Joachim is a pro wrestler by trade. Yes, a vampire pro wrestler – two things that just ooze homo-eroticism rolled up into one package. His wrestling name is Le Grand Papillon, which is French for “The Big Butterfly.” Okay then. Also note that his butterfly wings on his mask are rainbows and that rainbows play a large part with the character, not only as a metaphor for his homosexuality but in terms of combat as well. His ultimate armour is called the Rose Bondage. He can use a special item called GetItUp. GetItUp, and this comes directly from the game, “is the Long-awaited medicine that makes you young again. Expansion exceeds 400%, so avoid overdosing. It causes increased excitement and physical transformation” which is a reference to Viagra.
None of this compared to Joachim’s ultimate side quest known as THE MAN FESTIVAL. Yes, if you had any question of Joachim’s homosexuality it will disperse here as a penis made out of multiple wrestling rings erects from the ground and in order to gain his ultimate power, Joachim must climb the tower, beating off opponents in each ring only to fight his even gayer master and teacher The Great Question at the end. After winning THE MAN FESTIVAL Joachim is then given the power of the Great Question through a ritual where the new champion must receive the old champion’s “full manhood.” In other words Joachim has butt sex in front of Yuri and a little girl with his old master acting as the pitcher. It’s not shown save for characters assuming the positions, but oh my, is it ever heavily alluded to complete with grunting noises and screams.
If all this isn’t enough, you can finally get Joachim to come out and admit he is gay when he is being tortured by Veronica.
Again, much like Arcueid, Joachim isn’t defined by his vampirism; it is merely part of him such as his Gold Bat form that comes into play every now and then. The fact that he is a gay pro wresting vampire that also happens to be the most physically powerful member of your team in Shadow Hearts: Covenant and is also the most developed homosexual character in gaming, (although he’s not the most flaming. Tingle from The Legend of Zelda or the Cho Anki brothers make Joachim look almost straight by comparison), gives Joachim an easy spot as one of the ten best vampires in gaming. Sure Sacnoth went a little bit over the top at times to the point where it might offend some gamers, but in terms of characterization and development, there are very few vampires in gaming that can claim such depth.
6. Christof Romuald Games Appeared In: Vampire The Masquerade: Redemption
Year First Appeared: 2000
System Appeared On: PC, MAC
..and we have our first of THREE PC exclusive vampires appearing on the countdown. I’m not really sure why both of the Vampire: The Reckoning games were PC exclusives when they obviously would have played better on a console, but the same could be said about the console exclusive Hunter: The Reckoning series whose Diablo gameplay would have been better on the PC. The lesson here is that White Wolf games are a bit stupid in this regard.
I have to admit that I have never been a big PC gamer. Aside from the occasional Ultima, The Bard’s Tale, or Wizardry title, I’ve been primarily a console gamer. However that all changed in the year 2000 when for both work and fun, two vampire oriented games hit the PC that I needed to play. Both were amazing. One was a point and click adventure game called Dracula: Resurrection, while the other was called Vampire: The Masquerade: Redemption.
VTMR wasn’t the best action RPG out there. It had some combat issues and it could be a bit glitchy, but the game was a great replication of White Wolf’s Storyteller system even to the point where this was the first real online RPG of sorts. You could host a game for several of your friends that you had designed yourself. The characters, the antagonists, the world, and even the dialogue was completely programmable in Story Mode. Most of the people I knew with this game spent their time writing campaigns for friends and then playing in each others. I made a Setite!
Anyway, back to Christof. You get to experience Christof’s life starting from a mortal Teutonic Knight in medieval Prague and Vienna and then again in modern day London and New York City. After becoming a vampire in Clan Brujah, you’ll be introduced to all the V:TM trademarks, first from Vampire: The Dark Ages and then in the second half of the game you’ll get to see the more modern vampire sects like the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Throughout the game you’ll encounter some familiar Kindred (The V:TM word for vampires) faces. Well, familiar if you were big fan of the tabletop game. Throughout the entire adventure Christof will make enemies, allies and inevitably the decisions you make as Christof will either save the world…or damn it.
In several ways, Christof’s journey through the World of Darkness (another V:TM term) is similar to Kain’s from the LoK series in that a nondescript warrior rises up and has a chance to become a great hero or infamous villain. However unlike Kain, who is two-dimensional a lot of the time, Christof is a truly fleshed out character and his adventure gives you many more decisions in terms of where your quest takes you. There’s also a lot more customization in VTMR, meaning you can design Christof to have whatever powers and abilities you prefer, as long as you learn them in the game first. You also have the humanity meter which determines not only your character’s eventual fate, but also dialogue and story branch options as well. Even better, depending on your humanity level, you can learn certain powers. For example if you are playing a more evil Christian, you can learn the ability Hands of Destruction.
Part of what makes Christian one of the better vampires in gaming is how fleshed out the VTM world in is Redempton. You get to experience political intrigue and clan in-fighting first hand. You’ll make allies amongst the Gangrel, Cappadocians, Nosferatu, and Torreador and fight everything from a Tremere Methuselah to one of the oldest Tzimisce to walk the earth. You’ll get to witness his forbidden love with a chaste young Nun, the death of close friends and get an amazing primer on the World of Darkness so that you can then make games of your own for you and your friends.
Christof is definitely a fun character to play as simply due to the fact you have such control of his personality. You’re actually role playing instead of just killing things and getting XP. Although the game only reaches its full potential in those who have played the tabletop version of Vampire: The Masquerade, it’s still a fun game and you’ll get a lovely dose of historical accuracy about the medieval parts of the game. You know, except for the vampires and zombies and werewolves and stuff.
5. Strahd Von Zarovich Games Appeared In: Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession, Ravenloft: Iron and Blood
Year First Appeared In: 1983 (Tabletop RPG), 1994 (Video Game Form)
Systems Appeared On: PC, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation
I feel really dirty mentioning ANY character that appeared in Iron and Blood this high in the countdown, but Strahd is one of the best known vampires in 20th century literature or gaming, and that coupled with how excellent Strahd’s Possession for the PC was lets him keep his spot. Still, if you’re one of those gamers that loooooves bad games, check out Iron and Blood to see a fighting game RPG done horrible wrong. Well, at least it was better than Battle Monsters or Time Killers.
In regards to Strahd’s Possession, we have to tell a little bit of a story. You see, long long ago RPGs were primarily developed by Americans. Long before we had your Biowares and Bethesda we had companies like Interplay that gave us the original Fallout games, Sir-Tech who gave us Wizardry, and several others. Perhaps the biggest of this era was a company known as Strategic Simulations, Inc or SSI. SSI was best known for their amazing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons video games like Pool of Radiance, Eye of the Beholder, and the Krynn trilogy. They gave us what is arguably the very first MMORPG in Dark Sun Online. SSI is fondly remembered as one of the most innovative video game publishers and developers of all time. Unfortunately, when they lost the AD&D license to Interplay (and look what happened to them…), it would be their death knell and they were eventually sold to several other companies, inevitably ending up with Ubisoft who retired the brand shortly after 2001’s Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, the first video game to use the 3rd edition rules for Dungeons and Dragons. So much irony there. They end up becoming part of the company that gets the D&D license from Interplay only to be killed by them. I think the only time I was ever sadder about a US developer shutter up was Black Isle Games as it meant we lost the real Fallout 3, Baldur’s Gate III: The Black Hound, and many other games.
Anyway, in the twilight years of the company, SSI hired Dreamforge to make the first Ravenloft video game. Dreamforge was known for making another awesome vampire PC game, Veil of Darkness, and would go on to make the even better Sanitarium after Srahd’s Possession.
Strahd’s Possession was breathtaking for its time. It was one of the first games to be in 320×400 resolution, and the story was flat out amazing with some of the best written dialogue out of any D&D video game. It also managed to capture a ton of the nuances of the Ravenloft genre perfectly, from the almost living Mists that bring mortals into the Dark Domain to little things like the character generation process being based on a tarot card reading on down. It’s definitely a must-experience RPG, but sadly it had a low print run to begin with and it’s pretty much lost to the sands of time.
Strahd however is a pretty powerful and memorable character. Originally conceived by Tracy Hickman and later written by P.N. Elrod, Strahd shows all of his complexities and charisma in this game. Even his digitized voice (this is 1994) still manages to be eerie and sublime all at once. Starting with your first meeting with the enigmatic count, you will know something strange is up, but you won’t care. The game does such an amazing job of portraying Strahd as a multi-faceted antagonist who is more than willing to work with and even help your party as long as you don’t get in his way. Of course, the game ends with just such an encounter but it’s not your usual vampire end battle.
Although DreamForge does an excellent job with Strahd Von Zarovich and makes him a compelling character even know he is whispered about more than he is seen, he’s at his best in novel form. I’d suggest getting either of the I, Strahd books by P.N. Elrod or Vampire of the Mists by Christie Golden to get an even better look at this character. Strahd, and even this particular video game incarnation, have proven so popular that both Neverwinter Nights games have had multiple Strahd modules made. There even a few sequels to this game out there, so if you are a fan of NWN and you’ve played one but lost a bit of the plot, it’ll be well worth your time to track this down and see why it was considered one of the best looking games of 1994, even thought it was obscure and hard to find.
4. Michael Midleton Knight AKA “MidKnight” Games Appeared: Eternal Champions, Eternal Champions: Challenge From the Dark Side
Year First Appeared: 1993
Systems Appeared on: Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Nintendo Wii
I have to admit Eternal Champions: Challenge From the Dark Side is one of my favorite video games ever and I’m also a big fan of the original. I mainly played as Trident and Slash, but MidKnight was by far my favourite character in the game. Not only did he have the most interesting back story of all the characters, but he is definitely the coolest looking vampire in gaming with his jaundice-skinned slowly decomposing body held together by sheer willpower. He is by far the best character in the Sega CD sequel though, as he is one of three characters with a massive combo and the only one with a double re-dizzy. The other two characters with a combo streak as long as his are slower moving characters and bigger targets so it’s easier to get out of them. That MidKnight’s powers include flight, mind control and the ability to turn into life draining mist just makes him all the better, as well as an authentic Victorian era vampire.
MidKnight’s back story is the same in both game, although the ends in each game are dramatically different. Although London born and bred, MidKnight was eventually recruited for his unparalleled knowledge in bio-chemistry and his mastery of Jeet Kune Do. MidKnight was assigned to create a weapon of mass destruction to use against the Vietcong. However, in a nice bit of Karma, MidKnight was the first person exposed to the virus and it was quickly discovered that the virus didn’t work anything close to what they had wanted. Instead it turned MidKnight into a vampire. From 1967 until 2100 AD, MidKnight managed to survive but was in constant pain since he refused to harm or kill another human being. He spent his existence trying to do good and also find a cure, until a United States government agent drove a magnesium stake into his heart and he died.
Of course, he didn’t truly die. At the second before his death, MidKnight was saved by a mysterious being known as the Eternal Champion. The Eternal Champion chose Midnight and eight other beings from throughout time for a martial arts contest. The winner would be allowed to return to life and change history for the better.
If you beat the Sega Genesis game with Midnight, he would defeat his attacker without killing him and retreated to Italy. A few months later MidKnight would find the cure. On people not yet vampires, it would make them immune to the disease. However, for a creature such as himself, it merely prevented his body from decaying and vanquished his need for blood, but leaving him still as an undead creature. For his efforts and immortality, MidKnight eventually became the leader and founder of the World Science Organization and would eventually unite the world’s greatest minds into finding cures for nearly all diseases. I guess you could say MidKnight is the only one on this list with a truly happy ending.
In the Sega CD version, MidKnight ends up killing the government agent. This made MidKnight an enemy of the US and he flees to Scotland. There a teenage homeless kid contracts the virus and spreads it to others, where they form an organization dedicated to vampire rights. However this organization quickly degrades from peaceful into a terrorist organization determined to rule the world. MidKnight was the only vampire who was “good” and sided with protecting humans and he found the organization for hundreds of years until….we never find out what because Sega canceled the third game so that Sega would only have a single fighting game series – the then brand new Virtua Fighter franchise. Ick. Thank you very much Sega. There’s a reason you died horribly and now your undead corpse is being raped by Sammy on a daily basis.
So there you go. MidKnight = Awesome.
3. Jeanette Voerman Games Appeared In: Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines
Year First Appeared: 2004
System Appeared On: PC
As blunt and almost rude as it is to say this, if you don’t know who Jeanette Voerman is or why she is ranked this highly on the list, then suffice to say, you know little to nothing about vampire-based video games. To say that Jeanette is one of the most ogled, modded, and lusted after female video game characters of all time is a massive understatement. Five years after the game’s release, creepy people on the net are still fapping to her, cosplayers dress up as her, people create new outfits for her (including totally naked mods), some make her for other games like The Sims, and in general, people are still obsessed with her. It’s amazing how popular this character is considering when V:TM Bloodlines first game out, it was considered a critical and financial failure (It only sold 77,000 copies), filled with so many bugs if was often considered unplayable. The game ended up causing the bankruptcy of Troika Studios, the creators of the original Fallout. I guess that’s just how it is with some games. These days V:TM Bloodlines has a very large fan following for a game that is officially dead, and fans keep making new patches for the game.
There are several reasons for why the game has grown in popularity since Troika’s death. One is martyrdom. Another is that fan patches have made the game MUCH better than it was when Troika made it so that the game is pretty solid now. The third and final reason is that the characterization, multiple story branches, and detailed plot are quite enthralling. It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the game’s story, even if you have never been exposed to the World of Darkness before. Out of all the characters though, Jeanette is the most memorable and complex and that’s why she has an easy #3 on the chart.
When you first see Jeanette, it’s hard not to think of her as purely fan service. After all, she’s a hot blonde that dresses up like a naughty school girl complete with pig tails, enormous boobs, and is highly sexual in nature. What’s not to like, right? However this first impression belies a pretty deep but totally insane character. She is a Malkavian after all.
The more you get to know the flirty and attractive Jeanette, the more you learn she uses her sexuality to make people her puppets. She is the co-baroness (COBRAAAA!) of Santa Monica, she runs a club, and she won’t hesitate to rub out her enemies. She has a love-hate relationship with her sister Therese, and their eventual boiling over is one of the most pivotal and shocking moments in the entire game. If you play the game without spoilers or a guide, you really don’t see it coming. Either way, it’s still an awesome ending to the Santa Monica section and every time I play this game I’m shocked by how well her story is told even if I do have memories about how utterly bug-ridden this game was when it first came out. Jeanette ended up being pound-for-pound the single best written vampire character in any one game. The only people higher than her are because they’ve branched out pretty severely into multiple forms of pop culture other than just video games. If White Wolf had done something with Jeanette besides leave her in this game, she’d probably be higher. Of course, Vampire: The Masquerade is now as dead as this game, without fans and loyalists supporting it. C’est la vie.
It’s funny in a way. Vampires not only killed Troika, but helped them to live on long past their death. I suppose in a metaphoric sort of way, Troika is a vampire itself.
Even if you’re not interested in tracking this game down, if you’re at all interested in video game history or subculture, it’s worth looking up both the history of this game and the large fanbase Jeanette has amassed over the years. However I’ll end this by giving some of you a poorly kept secret. Jeanette actually has a real world model that she is based off of, or at least physically. Her name is Erin (or Eireann) Layne and she can be found here and there around the net or in bit parts in a few Gothic-punk movies. Now you know.
2. Demitri Maximoff Games Appeared In: Darkstalkers, Night Warriors, Darkstalkers 3, Vampire Chronicle For Matching Service, SNK Vs, Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters 2 Expansion Edition, SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ DS, Capcom Fighting Evolution, Darkstalkers: The Chaos Tower, SVC Chaos, Namco X Capcom, Cross Edge
Year First Appeared: 1994
Systems Appeared On: Arcade Cabinets, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Sony Playstation 2, Sony Playstation 3, Sony PSP Neo*Geo, Neo*Geo Pocket Colour, Microsoft Xbox, Sega Dreamcast
Sadly here in America, Darkstalkers has never received the respect it deserves. It’s all been Morrigan fan service and occasionally some of the other female characters in the game get used by cheesecake purposes. In Japan however, the Vampire series is well respected for being the “testing ground” of Capcom fighters. Originally new gameplay elements or style of play would debut in this series and would eventually go into Street Fighter after a positive response from fighting game fans. Everything from Super Special Attacks to online play originated with this series and as Demitri Maximoff (no relation to the Scarlet Witch or Quicksliver) would is the man the series is named after (at least in Japan), he has definitely earned his spot as he is the second most prolific vampire in gaming. Not only has he appeared in a dozen games, but he has starred in two animated series (one awesome, one god awful) and a veritably score of manga and comics. He’s even had action figures made of him. How many other vampire video game characters that started in electronic entertainment can say that? Truly Demitri has made a huge name for himself in gaming, even if 99% of gamers couldn’t tell you the slightest bit about his personality or raison d’etre. After all, he’s a fighting game character, right?
Well, in a nutshell, he’s basically Vampire Ryu or Kinder Akuma. You know, whichever works for you. He wants to be the strongest supernatural fighter of all time. He’s also the organizer of the first Darkstalker tournament, so I guess he’s also Undead Rugal. Basically the dude just wants to fight and do evil, except when he’s stopping guys that are more evil than him like Pyron or Jedah. Hey, what do you expect? Demitri is prolific and popular, not well defined. That’s what the comics, manga, cartoons, and anime are for.
All joking aside, Demitri is pretty well defined through all of these things along with his voice acting in his video games (if you know Japanese), his end game scenes, and especially his recent appearance in the Nippon Ichi published RPG, Cross Edge. There’s also no vampire in video games that has appeared in more video games except for our #1 spot and that man is the #1 vampire no matter WHAT we’re talking about just due to legacy, and inspiration.
1.Dracula aka Vlad Tepes AKA Vlad the Impaler AKA Prince Vlad of Wallachia AKA that guy who Bela Lugosi reminds you of. Games Appeared In: He’s in way too many. In fact the list of games he is NOT in is probably shorter than the list of games he IS in…
Year First Appeared: 1431 (as a wee babe), 1897 (As a vampire), 1981 (In Video Game Form. It was 1981’s “The Count” BTW)
I have to admit that
1) This should have been bloody obvious, even if you consider it a cheat as even if you added up every other vampire in gaming, they’d be in less titles than the big D
2) Contrary to the belief of “real-life” vampire hunters or crazy religious cultists in the United Kingdom, I am not Dracula. Yes, this is a serious statement because sadly some people spell a man’s name backwards and they decide you’re Vlad Tepes. I supposed I can take solace that my name plus my stalker made TV Tropes along with a zillion other things at the height of his insanity though, eh? Plus the name alone gets the chicks at the Goth clubs, I’ll tell you that.
So Dracula. I guess I don’t really need to explain who he is, either in terms of a real world Vlad Tepes Vs. Bram Stoker’s fictional creation sense, or in terms of how he’s the most influential and famous vampire of all time and is often listed as the most famous fictional character of all time. In fact you’ll get some people that will refer to vampires as “Draculas” kind of like parents will say “Pokemans,” thus embarrassing their children and ensuring the fruit of their loins will be ridiculed and shamed at recess for years to come. He’s even more recognizable than Jesus, Ronald McDonald and a can of coke combined. Instead I’ll just give a quick sum-up of some of my favorite video games (In no particular order) he has headlined.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Sega CD – Full motion Video goodness.
Castlevania – nearly every system – It’s called a classic for a reason.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Sony Playstation Portable, Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 – This is pretty much a given.
Ghost House – Sega Master System – Yeah, I know. It’s called Ghost House but all you fight are Draculas.
Ghost Manor – Atari 2600 – short but cute little game I was addicted to when I was 7-8.
I could probably list another ten or even twenty more games with Dracula in it that are either good games, fun games, or both. Regardless Dracula has been in more vampire based games than any other character, and more importantly, he’s been in more high quality vampire games than any other vampire. All hail Dracula!
So there we go. The Top Ten Best Vampires in Video Games. This turned out to be a lot of fun, and here’s hoping you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to leave me lists of your own with your own vampire picks. I look forward to reading them.
Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and was also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.