Dracula Hunter (lost arcade game; 1979)
Dracula Hunter (aka ドラキュラハンター Dorakyurahanta) was an arcade game released in Japan in 1979 by the company "Tenkon Kogyo". While it was popular in its home country, it saw little to no success when several minor attempts to localize it overseas occurred. The game was popular enough to be referenced in the manga Game Center Arashi where a young boy is on a mission to become the "greatest gamer of all time". That reference alone is one of the few remaining hints of the game's existence.
Multiple photos of the ROM board and exterior machine parts have surfaced online through a Japanese auction site, as well as several screenshots of the game in action. The oldest known footage was from a YouTube video was uploaded in 2012, the description states that the game was recorded from real hardware. Another video showing gameplay footage was uploaded in 2018, and the uploader stated it was recorded via an emulator. It is unclear whether it's a homebrew ROM or a custom version of the popular arcade emulator MAME.
On May 1st, 2018, the complete arcade cabinet was listed on Yahoo Japan auction site, mentioned in the Mame' dumping Google group. It is unknown who bought the cabinet, or if it was ever sold.
The game appears to be a mixture between Space Invaders and Galaxian, where you have to protect a sleeping princess from a horde of vampires and occasional dive-bombing bats. Unlike most shooters at the time though, the player is able to move around freely across the board. The player must kill the vampires and bats by throwing a cross that loops around them, this can make the game rather difficult as you need to get close to the enemy to guarantee a direct hit. The player must also complete the stage by hitting the doorway to Dracula's castle with a cross, this can be difficult due to the one-hit-death mechanic.
A fan-made sequel was unofficially released for the Sega Saturn in 1999 called Dracula Buster, which can be easily found through ROM & iso hosting sites.
- Japanese Wikipedia article of the game. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Footage of the game from Nicovideo. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- Another piece of footage from Nicovideo. Retrieved 17 Sept '19
- Source of header screenshot. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Source of most of the images. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Game Center Arashi manga panels. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Source of the advertisement scan. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Instruction sheet source. Retrieved 15 Sept '19
- Original auction page where the PCB photos came from. Retrieved 17 Sept '19