There are two ways to play: Arcade mode is an improved version of the coin-op, with seven huge and increasingly frenetic stages, each culminating in a pitched battle with a boss who's both unpleasant and un-dead. In each stage you have to save a villager; every one you save will ensure you're rewarded with better weapons and tools that will help you in your fight.
The Special mode, unique to the PS2 version, adds slightly more of an RPG element, as well as being much more of a challenge. As you progress, various village characters appear to ask favours that take the form of additional missions. You'll find yourself following tips, sent off on hunts for particular items, or asked to defeat certain enemies. Complete the missions successfully and you're rewarded with improvements to your weapons or given other tools and accessories to help your progress; you may be paid in silver, with which you can visit Gaston the shopkeeper and buy yet more hard-hitting Mediaeval ordnance. You'll even gain magical powers.
The game is packed with vast numbers of evil enemies, all of whom attack in different ways - from simple Hemavoras (ex-villagers who've been infected by the vampires and who attack on sight), through iron-clawed Migremors (who dig rapidly underground to reappear in front of you), to sword-wielding and lightning-quick Velociphers, and the winged Griffaers who attack from the skies. As if this were not enough, the nightmarish bosses will hit you with every foul weapon imaginable, from powerful lasers to swarms of servant bats controlled by the King of Darkness himself.
To help prepare you for the trials ahead, there's a complete training system with 17 different courses, covering everything from basic sighting and rapid firing exercises, up to situations to improve your concentration when moving among the hordes. You can even practice against the various bosses, to give yourself slightly more hope when you eventually come up against the real thing.
With full two-player mode and an improved one-player game, Vampire Night is fast-moving and with a tremendous atmosphere of brooding menace. It's instantly playable, but will take time to master: the fact that you have to think amidst the carnage means you can't just blow away everything on-screen, so only the very best shots - and very coolest heads - will make it through.
As you'd expect from any game produced by the two best arcade game developers in the business, Namco and Sega between them have ensured that this is more than a straight conversion, taking all the elements from the arcade hit and improving the graphics, sound, gameplay and longevity to produce another classic that's better than the coin-op in every way.
It even comes complete with its own plot shock, revealed as you progress: the two fearless vampire slayers are themselves vampires. Get out of that one if you can.