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Cryptographer

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Castlevania series


Figured this could be a thread for all things Castlevania.

I've been on a bit of a retro-gaming kick lately with the CV series. I've been going back and playing some of the CV games that I generally pass over for my favorites. Couple days ago I gave CV: Bloodlines on the Genesis a playthrough. And last night, to the backdrop of an incredible lightning storm, I played my way through CV2: Simon's Quest for the first time in years.

I've been trying to figure out what it is about Bloodlines that seems off from the rest of the series. The Belmonts are mentioned, but you can't play as one in the game. Instead you can pick between John Morris (the son of Quincy from the Bram Stoker novel) or Eric LeCarde. John has somehow come into possession of the legendary Belmont whip, so the tradition is sort of carried on in that way. But more than that, there's something not quite clicking for me.

It might be the industrial setting in Germany. That level begins to stray from gothic and towards industrial revolution. They have skeletons walking around in WW1 helmets. It starts to tread a little too close to the modern era perhaps? The whole level is a big warehouse full of gears and metal, retracting doors, chain-link fence and steel drums. But then the rest of the levels stay firmly rooted in the past.

There seem to be a lot of big set pieces in each level, and maybe that's another thing. Castlevania has big set pieces, sure, but maybe in their attempt to show off what the Genesis could do, they went overboard a little? There's stuff like giant statues that you can whip the heads off of, giant swinging pendulums, giant skeleton bridges that collapse, lots of giant objects that are breakable.

The bosses are mostly forgettable, though I do love Bloodlines' version of the Grim Reaper. He doles out tarot cards and forces you to pick your fate. That's a lot of fun. Dracula has one of the most ridiculous final forms ever though. In another effort to show off the power of the Genesis, his final form has stretchy limbs that make use of some kind of snazzy graphic chip. Cool effect, but in this instance not very threatening.

I don't know. Hard to say what it is about this game, but it just feels off.

Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. I love watching the Angry Video Game Nerd's and Ego Raptor's videos about Simon's Quest, but playing it for myself- I feel like they're greatly exaggerating the game's problems. Everyone's first play-through is a pain, because of all the cryptic clues and junk. But after that, going back to it again, the game flows much more easily. It took me about 3 hours to beat, and this is considering I haven't played the game in years. Hardly being able to remember where everything was, and it still wasn't that terrible to get through. The bosses are ridiculously easy though. There's only 3 in the whole game, and none of them offer any challenge. You can walk right past the Grim Reaper if you want, he's that easy!! And that flying mask thing just goes in a circle, never altering its path or anything. It would be a challenge to get killed by it.

And while the AVGN complained at length about the final stretch of the game, walking through the desolate ruins of Dracula's castle, I found that part to be quite cool. It wasn't often that game designers of the 8-bit era attempted to create a foreboding atmosphere by suddenly taking away all the monsters and giving you a quiet area to walk through before the final boss. The only other example I can think of was the final area in Megaman 2. Both instances are very cool.

I can honestly say, that Simon's Quest is one of my new favorites in the CV series. I'm already looking forward to playing through it again and getting one of the better endings.

Last edited by Mako Crab, 8/1/2014, 5:20 pm
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Re: Castlevania series


I personally really liked Bloodlines. It's a LOT better if you play it on hard/expert/whatever the top tier is called, as it feels much more Castelvania-y then, as there's a couple subbosses that outright don't show up in the earlier difficulties (IIRC I think the Frankenstein's Monster in Germany may be one of them), and the game now has the prerequisite number of !@#$ Medusae Heads and is generally just much harder as the damage done/vs dmg taken is more on scale with the (S)Nes games.

I think some of the "offness" comes from the changes to CV tradition though - no Cross Subweapon (a Boomerang instead), no hearts (Gems instead), that the "main" villain is a newcomer (though it's amusing that like Dracula, she's based on a real person), and a handful of traditional enemies are redesigned (the bonehead cannons) or missing (fleamen/igors).

But mostly it was for the stage design.. I found Atlantis, Versailles, the the trippy as balls final level (where the screen breaks up) to all be really well done. It's also a bit of an interesting trivia note that this is the game that Michiru Yamane (of SotN fame) cut her teeth on, and The Sinking Old Sanctuary (the Atlantis Stage theme) is an early home run.

Most of the bosses I thought were pretty well done (I agree, Death in this game is AWESOME, and that's a very cool way to handle the manditory "refight the bosses" concept). I also quite like the Gargoyle and the giant Armors. The Golem and Dracula are a bit cheezy though.

As for Simon's Quest, I've always been of the mind that it is a wonderful game severely hurt by an AWFUL translation. It was a wildly interesting and unique concept when it came out (an action game with RPG elements - you could make a case it's the archetype of many modern games from that). But yea, the horribad translation makes it much much more convoluted than it is supposed to be. It is a bit too easy though, and Drac is really pretty anticlimatic - the empty castle is cool and atmospheric, but you're all pumped up to fight him and he pretty much dies before you even get a good look at him. I can't even remember offhand what his sprite looks like, which should say something. :lol
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Cryptographer

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Re: Castlevania series


quote:

Greatshot wrote:

I personally really liked Bloodlines. It's a LOT better if you play it on hard/expert/whatever the top tier is called, as it feels much more Castelvania-y then, as there's a couple subbosses that outright don't show up in the earlier difficulties (IIRC I think the Frankenstein's Monster in Germany may be one of them), and the game now has the prerequisite number of !@#$ Medusae Heads and is generally just much harder as the damage done/vs dmg taken is more on scale with the (S)Nes games.


You're right about that. Tried it out on the normal setting just now. Made it as far as Elizabeth Bartley (Bathory, who are they kidding?). It was good to see Frankenstein back in the mix. I think the Germany level at the munitions factory doesn't seem off to me anymore. I started thinking about some of those scenes from the Sherlock movie with the big munitions factories and was like - ok. I guess it fits the time period.

quote:

I think some of the "offness" comes from the changes to CV tradition though - no Cross Subweapon (a Boomerang instead), no hearts (Gems instead), that the "main" villain is a newcomer (though it's amusing that like Dracula, she's based on a real person), and a handful of traditional enemies are redesigned (the bonehead cannons) or missing (fleamen/igors).


Could be. I miss the sound it makes, when you pick up hearts. :P I do like that they included Elizabeth Bathory/Bartley in it. I thought that was really cool.

quote:

But mostly it was for the stage design.. I found Atlantis, Versailles, the the trippy as balls final level (where the screen breaks up) to all be really well done. It's also a bit of an interesting trivia note that this is the game that Michiru Yamane (of SotN fame) cut her teeth on, and The Sinking Old Sanctuary (the Atlantis Stage theme) is an early home run.


Yeah, and it's cool hearing some music that I first heard during SotN in Bloodlines. Who knew that some of those classic tunes were showing up this early in the series? Reminds me of the first time I played CV4 and saw a couple monsters that I thought were first introduced in SotN. That's what I get for playing them out of order.

quote:

Most of the bosses I thought were pretty well done (I agree, Death in this game is AWESOME, and that's a very cool way to handle the manditory "refight the bosses" concept). I also quite like the Gargoyle and the giant Armors. The Golem and Dracula are a bit cheezy though.


Funny thing- I was fighting Elizabeth just now and beat her Medusa form. She started exploding and I was waiting for the fight to end like it did on the easy setting. NOPE! She's coming back for round 2! I barely had enough to to grab up the controller again! She still killed me though.

I am finding that John Morris is hella' fun to play as though for one simple reason- he climbs stairs like nobody's business! If there's one thing I could never stand about the other CV games, it's how slowly you climb stairs. But John Morris runs up stairs, runs down stairs, he can jump off of the stairs mid-flight, he can jump off of ledges and land on stairs, straight up from floors to land mid-flight on a staircase. The guy is awesome and I can't believe that no CV game since has included these improvements (have they?). It speeds up movement and keeps the tedious stair climbing to a minimum.

quote:

As for Simon's Quest, I've always been of the mind that it is a wonderful game severely hurt by an AWFUL translation. It was a wildly interesting and unique concept when it came out (an action game with RPG elements - you could make a case it's the archetype of many modern games from that). But yea, the horribad translation makes it much much more convoluted than it is supposed to be. It is a bit too easy though, and Drac is really pretty anticlimatic - the empty castle is cool and atmospheric, but you're all pumped up to fight him and he pretty much dies before you even get a good look at him. I can't even remember offhand what his sprite looks like, which should say something. :lol


Ah, that's because in this game Dracula looks like the Grim Reaper! He even throws scythes at you!

The moment I get a new laptop or comp with a working sound-card, I'm downloading CV2: Redacted. They fixed all the translation errors and cryptic clues. I really love the feel of the game and how it plays and would love a version that wasn't crippled by a bad translation.

Last edited by Mako Crab, 8/2/2014, 3:43 pm
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Re: Castlevania series


Yea, I played the re-translation of Simon's Quest several years back and it really impressed me at how much better a game that is SUPPOSED to be, when it's not made 3x as frustrating due to everyone in the game-world spewing completely batshit crazy gibberish.
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Re: Castlevania series


Even enjoyable, I bet!!

So now I'm working on 3 separate CV games at once. Still working on Simon's Quest, trying to beat it with a better time and get the good ending. Shouldn't be too hard now that I've gone through it all once (and printed out a map!) This is #1 on my list of CV things to do.

Still working on Bloodlines, trying to beat that on the normal setting. A bit tougher, but I got so close on the first try, that I have no doubt beaten it in the near future.

And then just a couple days ago I bought CV: Chronicles off the PSN. Playing through it in original mode first.

Last edited by Mako Crab, 8/4/2014, 2:51 pm
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Re: Castlevania series


Ooh, Chronicles is an underrated gem. It's essentially the X68000 versison of Castlevania 1 (it's sort of a semi-remake/semi-original game). It's tough, especially on the original mode. IIRC the Arranged mode has controls closer to Bloodlines/Super CV4.

Havent played it in ages, but I do remember there are a couple brutal points later on, and for the truly sadistic, every time you beat it it gets harder (not just the 1-time jump like CV3), up to something like 5 or 6 "loops". I think I got about halfway through the third or 4th time and it was getting to the "going to either break the controller, my teeth, or I need to stop playing this." :lol
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Re: Castlevania series


Hehe, I don't think I'm that much of a masochist. Beating it once will do fine. :P

Speaking of- just a moment ago I beat Simon's Quest and got the best ending. That game is sorely underrated. And it's all because of that horrible translation. Seriously, "Hit your head on Deborah Cliff" means "Kneel at Deborah Cliff while the red crystal is equipped." Who's supposed to figure that out??

At least there's CV2: Redaction.

Little side-note:
So for me, Simon Belmont looks like the barbarian dude we see on the cover of CV1 and Super CV4. It was a little jarring to then see this blonde, clean-cut knight in red armor on the cover of Simon's Quest. How did Simon Belmont go from looking like a barbarian to a knight?

(please tell me if there's been an official story on that!)

My own personal theory- after breaking Dracula's fangs the first time, he was hailed a hero and his status rose dramatically. We see some hints of this in CV2 even, when Simon is told, that if he can break the curse, he'll become master of Brahm's mansion. It's not unreasonable to think that he was awarded land and money after his first victory.

So he put away the barbarian armor, took up some new threads, got a haircut, and cleaned himself up. That's my theory until proven otherwise!
8/5/2014, 8:55 am Link to this post Send Email to Mako Crab   Send PM to Mako Crab AIM
 
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Cryptographer

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Re: Castlevania series


Took another crack at Bloodlines tonight. You know you're tired, when you keep making stupid mistakes & dying repeatedly in the early levels. Time to call it a night.
8/6/2014, 5:33 am Link to this post Send Email to Mako Crab   Send PM to Mako Crab AIM
 
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Re: Castlevania series


It's 4 in the morning, and I just beat Bloodlines on the Normal setting. The boss' patterns are super easy now. Got a better ending, but I know it's not the best one. Still, I might be willing to call it good for now. Feeling a little burnt out on Bloodlines now.
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Re: Castlevania series


In amusing timing, Game Grumps recently started a playthrough of Simon's Quest. Arin is well known for having torn the game apart in one of his Sequelitis videos, but Danny had fond memories of it from when he was a kid.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRQGRBgN_EnrI2GvFeXNxusLZS8bbmeLf

I first saw the original Castlevania when visiting someone who had it. I thought it was super cool, and at the time the creepy atmosphere of it was unique. When I saw Castlevania II at the video store, I had to rent it. I had no idea what was going on, and couldn't get anywhere. I may have resorted to consulting the Top Secret Passwords book to jump straight to the end. The problems with that game go beyond poor translation. The original Zelda had a bad translation too, but was still a great game because it was well designed.

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