Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dracula-thon (Part 6)

Now, Dracula related spinoff stuff.
And you can't do that properly without.....Castlevania!!

Ahh, yes, back in my particular geek comfort zone!!

Castlevania (1986)

The game-

Just hit its 26th birthday.

See also, Simon Belmont in "Heroes of Vidya Games".

So, for those too lazy to click the above link, the general rundown of the series is like this, Dracula is the final boss in all of these, and Simon, or a relative that looks like him, has to slaughter their way through zombies, skeletons, werewolves, spiders, bats, etc, etc, to get to him, and finish him off, and lift the curse from the land.

Along the way, there are mini-bosses, and among them, are The Frankenstein Monster (the Universal Studios model), and, The Mummy.
Also, the Grim Reaper makes an appearance every game.

The look and feel of the games...are inspired by a mix of the Universal, and the Hammer productions, but, a more studious person could probably find bits of the other incarnations.

Oh, yeah, and the Castlevania series is actually called "Demon Castle Dracula", in Japan.
So, yeah, these are the Dracula games.

This particular game (Castlevania 1),...really fucking hard.
Even on emulation, where you can tap "save state", at every tricky spot.

Fun though.
It pisses you off just enough to want to keep trying.

The history-

No...special memories spring to mind...

Had a thin NES library to start, needed games, this had a castle, Dracula, a guy who looked like Conan, and the day-glo green of the text appealed, so, in the cart it went.

Never regretted the purchase.

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (1987)

The game-

So, this one kind of follows a vertical platform RPG format in the style of "The Adventure Of Link", except, I actually like this one way better.

Here, you have to quest for Dracula's body parts, in order to burn them, and destroy him once and for all.

(Of course, this method of killing him later became superseded by, he comes back to life every 100 years, no matter what you did to him)

(BUT that became the loophole to bringing him back before the 100 years, by gathering his remains, and raising his spirit...kind of like his resurrections in the Hammer films)

There's also a system where game-time passes, and rotates from daylight, to nighttime, and the monsters get a little tougher at nighttime.

This...could get a little annoying after awhile.
I like the idea of it though.

I like a lot of stuff about this one..but, it's probably my least favorite in the series....

I like my Castlevania, fast, angry, scary, and beat 'em up.
If I wanna plug in for a long-haul kinda game, I'll do a Final Fantasy...

Which, isn't to say, I don't like it, but, I've never really gone back to it after I beat it.

The history-

I remember, the walkthrough to this was in the very second issue of Nintendo Power.
Still got all my issues of those stowed away.

I remember, this was my step-grandmother's favorite game...or, was it Shadowgate?
One of those...

Her birthday present to me every year was renewing my Nintendo Power subscription too.
All right, I'm getting maudlin...

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (1989)

The game-

Went back to the formula of the first one, but had some extra tweaks.
Like, changeable characters with different powers/skills, and forking paths you could take.

From here...

Castlevania 3

I loved the Castlevania series of games.
This one was fucking hard though.
But, it's the origin of Alucard, who'd be the star of "Symphony Of The Night", so it bears mentioning.

Yep, this is the hardest one in the whole series, IMHO.

Never even come close to beating this one.

Story wise, everyone figured Dracula's death in II seemed pretty permanent, so, they worked backward, with a prequel, and went roughly 300 years before Castlevania, and here, you play Simon's ancestor, Trevor Belmont.

Nice way out of a painted corner, I suppose.

The history-

Never actually owned this one at the time.
I borrowed it, or rented it, or something...

Super Castlevania IV (1991)

The game-

One of my all time favorite games, period.

From here...

Super Castlevania 4 

I think this might quite possibly be almost the best platformer game of all time.
You could do anything.
You had this whip, that you could crack in all 8 directions, or spin around, or do all sorts of loopty-loop tricks with, or use as a grapnel in some spots. Simon's whip in this one was an even better weapon than Megaman's metal blade. The character movement was smooth, you didn't die doing jumps, play control was absolutely perfect. Just a wonderful gaming experience. Shit, I want to fire it up right now. 

*Races to the Dingoo*

Hmm, nuff said...

Oh, except, "Simon's Quest", was still  a continuity barrier, and this one happens alongside the original "Castlevania".
Some consider it a remake, I consider it lost levels.

The history-

I think this, like Castlevania 1, was one of the first games I got for its respective system.
Maybe even the first, right after Super Mario World.

Castlevania: Dracula X (1993)

The game-

This is a watered down, pared down, SNES adaption of "Demon Castle Dracula X: Rhondo Of Blood".

So...I'm gonna go with the release date of the original, to make a chronology a little cleaner.

The full version was finally released, along with "Symphony Of The Night", as an unlockable, in "Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles", for PSP in 2008.

So, back to the fancy spinning whip, it pretty much goes all the way back to Castlevania 1 in play style.

In "Rhondo Of Blood", you had a second character, the boss graphics were fancier, and, I think there was voice acting.

Oh, yeah, and Dracula is of course, back, so, the "Simon's Quest", death barrier silently got broken.
I think this one is roughly a century after Castlevania 1-2, so, the whole "he comes back every 100 years regardless", thing had come into play now..
Here, you're Simon Belmont descendant, Richter Belmont.

The history-

Hmm...never bought this, the no fancy whip thing turned me right off.
I wanted a direct sequel to "Super Castlevania IV", dammit.
I never, ever, got one.

Emulated it on my old computer, and played it through, and it's actually not too bad.
Pretty fun.
I'm sure "Rhondo", is better, but, still....

Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994)

The game-

This is another one that pretty much goes back to the style of Castlevania 1, but, you have choose-able characters at the beginning, and choose-able paths...I think.

If there are, it didn't seem to make much of a difference...

Unlike "Castlevania 3", the character you pick at the beginning, you're stuck with.

First character choice, is John Morris, grown up son of Quincy Morris, from the Stoker novel, and who's seemingly inherited the Belmont whip, so, the Belmonts cross-bred with the Morrises, apparently.

So, that officially merges the canon of the novel into this series.

The other choice, is Eric Lecarde, who wields a spear.

John's whip is the basic straight-ahead one from 1, 2, 3, and X, BUT, occasionally, it can grab on as a grapnel in certain levels.

Eric's spear, however, can shoot in 4 directions, and be used for pole-vaulting leaps.

Eric is the better one to use.

Nice, smooth, straightforward beat 'em up of a game.
Mash the buttons furiously enough, and just be tenacious, you will win.

The graphics are some of the crispest, and most beautiful for 16 bit in this series I've ever seen.

The history-

Never had a Genesis, so missed out entirely the first time.
Emulated it along with "Dracula X", to catch up on everything I missed.
This...was way over a decade ago now, that old computer is toast.
But, I got the memories into my head, anyway.

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (1997)

The game-

From here....

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night

Best platformer game ever.
Remember, I said "Super Castlevania IV", was ALMOST the best platformer ever.
This one truly had everything.
You had 3-D exploration like Metroid, you had item screens like "Final Fantasy 4-6", and you had the smooth rapid fire fighting play control of Castlevania.
And, you had real music, and voice acting, like a CD-ROM game, which this was.
They really pushed platform to its zenith just before everything went over to 3-D polygon style games.
And, as mentioned with "Castlevania 3", Alucard returns as the main character, rather than Simon Belmont, or his descendants.
Although, if you beat the game, you can replay it as Richter Belmont, which increases the challenge, because he can't achieve the power levels of Alucard.
And man, Alucard fully powered up can fucking do anything.
He can turn to a bat, or a cloud of poisonous gas, or he can summon sidekicks.
Nevermind his arsenal of spells and gizmos.
My favorite summoned sidekick is the little purple devil with a trident who flies around stabbing airborne enemies, and occasionally shouting "DIEEE!!!".
Hee hee, little stuff like that tickles me.
Yep, very impressive game.
And the castle in this one is HUGE, and you have to play it twice, once regularly, then again in a mirror universe upside-down.
So, you get a lot of play out of it.
The only downside, as virtually everyone who's played it has the crummy voice actors.
The drama scenes are pretty damned corny because of it.
Otherwise, almost the perfect game.
Many overlooked it, because it was on Playstation 1, and it was either neglected outright by those who opted instead for N64, or, the system was about to be replaced by Playstation 2, so there was little enthusiasm even from Sony.
So, it was kinda underground.
I didn't get it until long after I'd gotten my Playstation 2 in the 00's.
PS2 being able to play PS1 games, y'see.
Other Castlevania games have come out for portable systems, and emulated the style of this one, but...this will remain my favorite.
Although, it only edges out "Super Castlevania 4", by a nose hair.

Nuff said...

The history-

See above.

Castlevania: Lament Of Innocence (2003)

The game-

From here...

Castlevania: Lament Of Innocence

An interesting game, better than the N64 ones,, it lost the flavor of the classic ones.
And the levels were bland, and repetitive.
After the visual gorgeousness of "Devil May Cry", and hell, even "Super Castlevania 4", they should've really stepped up to the plate.
They didn't.
For shame.
Eh...after letting this sit for over a couple years, I sold it back for store credit, and then a movie, at the now defunct "Saturday Matinee".
I got like, a couple bucks for it, what a screwing.
Wish I'd've kept the game now.
Ah, well.

Plotwise, up until this point, it was the prequel to the whole entire series.
Think they tacked some more prequels on since...
Anyway, your character is Leon Belmont.

The history-

Yeah, once it went to 3-D, and made clear it wasn't turning back, it was time for me to bail....

It's like these 80's horror remakes, they've thrown me overboard, they want the young kids now.

So, that's the consoles, here's the portables...

Castlevania: The Adventure (1989)

The game-

Pretty much straight-ahead Castlevania 1 style action.

Except, at maximum whip level, the whip could shoot fireballs.
Getting hit knocked the whip down in strength, unlike in 1, 2, 3, 4, and X, where only death bumped your power back.

Oh, and no fuggin' sub-weapons.

And like 1, 3, 4, and X, it could be pretty treacherous.

Here, you're Christopher Belmont, set a century before Castlevania 1, putting it between 3, and 1.

Graphics were pretty cheesey on this first batch of Gameboy games, but, they get the job done okay here, and the game is still fun.

The history-

Once again, think this was one of my first games for this platform right after the Mario title.
There's always a puzzle, a Mario, and a Castlevania.

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (1991)

The game-

Pretty much like the first one, except, graphics are up to NES standards, and the sub-weapons are back.

Plotwise, it's 15 years after "Adventure", and Christopher has to save his grown son from Dracula's clutches.

The history-

Never got this one, sadly.
Emulated it, to play around with it, but, never played it through to completion.
Throw it on my giant pile of regrets...

Castlevania Legends (1997)

The game-

For Gameboy/Gameboy-Color.

Up until "Lament Of Innocence", this was the prequel for the whole series.

Here, you're Belmont matriarch, Sonia Belmont.

The first female lead, can barely tell by her character sprite.

Plays pretty much exactly like "Belmont's Revenge", as far as I can tell.

The history-

See "Belmont's Revenge".

Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon (2001)

The game-

One of the first for Gameboy Advence

Graphics are gorgeous, gameplay a bit clunky, okay, a lot clunky, dialog scenes right on that "shut the fuck UP already!!", borderline.

Gawd, buncha frustrated novelists writing these fucking things now....

Kind of a hybrid of X, and 2.
RPG elements, FF style subscreen, not...quite the ripoff of the "Metroid-vania ", formula established by "Symphony Of The Night", but it was getting there...

...can't for the life of me remember who the characters are, nor, can I seem to make myself care.
Once you cross the "Bloodlines", barrier, the Belmont thing is thrown out the window, and it goes off the rails into whatever the fuck they feel like.

The history-

Emulated it to play around with, lost interest fast, deleted.

Castlvania: Harmony Of Dissonance (2002)

The game-

Full-tilt "Symphony Of The Night", clone.

And, the guy in this one not only has the whip, but, once you crack it, you can wave it around, like in "Super Castlevania".

Can't shoot it 8 ways, but in wiggle mode, you can get it to go around.

Hey, hybrid of "Super", and "Symphony", I dig it.

The history-

Tested it on emulation.
Again, dig it, but...'s questing, and I just don't have the patience anymore.

The platform days are over for poor Castlevania.

And...this was it, this is where I really bailed, this is the last Castlevania I ever played.

So...those are my memories.
If you want a rundown of every single game, every bit of continuity, try...

The Castlevania Dungeon.

So, that's digital Dracula.

Next up, Dracula in comics!

No comments:

Blog Archive