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 Post subject: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:19 pm 


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Since Mega Man seems to have its own dedicated topic I thought we could have one for another long running classic series, Castlevania. After all it seems to stir up some chat every now and then in other topics. The main reason why I’m making this thread concerns about Super Castlevania IV for Super Nintendo. Many seem herald it as one of the best games in the series, even one of the best action games for SNES.

Maybe the hype is partial to the blame but when I finally got a chance to play it I couldn’t help but to feel underwhelmed by SCIV. The gameplay is the main problem here. I think that people who have always complained about the older Castlevanias for their slow and archaic controls must have loved the more nimble Simon Belmont with better control over his whip and jumping abilities. I probably wouldn’t have minded these chances so much if they had focused the level design more around these new abilities. However, the level layout and enemies still feel like they were designed around the older control scheme of NES Castlevanias: 8-way whipping simply makes things too easy and subweapons become redundant. Case in point, skull dragons and axe knights, some of the most challenging enemies from the original games are hardly a challenge anymore when most of the time you can simply keep whipping them from a safespot before they even have a chance to attack you directly. In the end, not a bad game but it just doesn't have the same replay value as the first one or Rondo of Blood.

Despite of my ranting, overall I really enjoy this series and it would be nice to hear other people's thoughts about it - maybe someone can even explain what makes SCIV such a great game :wink:
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:54 pm 


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I live for Castlevania.

As I mentioned in another thread earlier I've been playing each entry back to back by order of release and snapping an Instagram of each. It's only half complete but 13 strong is still pretty good! This covers almost all of the classic entries, from here on out I get into the Castleroid & modern 3D iterations.

Super Castlevania IV is an amazing game with even more amazing music. I chose 'Waterfalls' as the soundtrack for a walk in the creepy woods behind my house I filmed with the Video Star app for iPhone yesterday. I used to pretend I was Simon Belmont there when I was a kid :lol:

My favorite entry will always be the NES original. It's graphics are gorgeous and the controls so precise. I have every little nuance of the game memorized and can blaze through it without losing a life on a good day. I really really really loved it when they released it for the GBA. I had a beautiful crimson red SP+ I used to carry around with me everywhere and that cartridge almost never left it. Like most of my stuff it ended up stolen but I'm planning on re-buying the same setup through Amazon pretty soon.

Aside from that I'm quite partial to Super Castlevania IV, PCE CD Rondo, Bloodlines (I like to think of these as the 16-bit trilogy), Symphony (obv the greatest game of all time), and oddly Legacy of Darkness. The N64 games really don't get enough credit.

Some bullet points on the more recent entries:
Judgement never happened.
I'm tired of IGA milking the franchise but Order of Ecclesia is pretty awesome so far and I really like the character of Shanoa.
Harmony of Despair is wonderful as a multiplayer experience and the throwback maps are a dream come true.
Not a big fan of the way Konami has rebooted the franchise with Lords of Shadow. It doesn't feel like Castlevania at all... it's got a Lord of the Rings vibe for some godawful reason and Patrick Stewart never shuts up.

I got a chance to play through the Famicom Disk System versions of Castlevania and Simon's Quest recently and it inspired me to track down some of the more obscure entries. The amiga version of the original is so hilariously awful!
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:39 pm 


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circuitface wrote:
I live for Castlevania.


I got a chance to play through the Famicom Disk System versions of Castlevania and Simon's Quest recently and it inspired me to track down some of the more obscure entries. The amiga version of the original is so hilariously awful!


Don't forget there's a castlevania pachislot game and an arcade cab similar to the wii that's kinda like a lightgun game but you whip stuff.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:50 pm 


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I think Castlevania IV is a really really great game, but for me it's not among the top tier of Castlevanias.

Here's what's great about it:

- The music! Wow, what an atmosphere it creates! Dracula's theme still gives me shivers to this day.
- Good balancing compared to the earlier entries
- Epic length
- Good show of the SNES' graphical prowess

Here's what I don't like so much:

- Despite having a more complex control scheme the game still feels remarkably clunky.
- It's a little bit too colorful.
- It's a step back from Dracula's Curse in terms of character choice, branching paths, etc. (This is less an issue for me today, but back when the game was released it was a source of slight disappointment for me in addition to the fact that it's a remake.)

It's interesting when you compare the game to Akumajo Dracula for the X68000/Castlevania Chronicles, which is also a remake, but takes a more orthodox approach. I like both games about the same.


As for the series on a whole, my favorite titles are (in no particular order): Dracula's Curse, Rondo of Blood, Bloodlines, Symphony of the Night, Order of Ecclesia

I'll also add that I think Belmont's Revenge for Game Boy is nearly up there with the best of the series in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:53 pm 


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Leader Bee wrote:
circuitface wrote:
I live for Castlevania.
I got a chance to play through the Famicom Disk System versions of Castlevania and Simon's Quest recently and it inspired me to track down some of the more obscure entries. The amiga version of the original is so hilariously awful!

Don't forget there's a castlevania pachislot game and an arcade cab similar to the wii that's kinda like a lightgun game but you whip stuff.

Three pachislot games and one medal machine! I've got a friend & fellow Castlevania fanatic who's teaching English in Japan right now I have asked to hunt the arcade down just so I could get his impressions. I asked him to film his playthrough if he could as the last I checked all the YouTube videos are of terrible quality.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:16 pm 



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Too tired to devote much effort to discussing their greatness at the moment, but I'll mention that Bloodlines and the X68000 game (later released as Chronicles) are unequivocally my favorite Castlevanias.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:41 pm 


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I generally don't care for the older-style CVs. I have not the foggiest why somebody would want to play them over, say, Rygar, Ninja Gaiden or Ninja Spirit or something in that vein. The music in IV really is amazing, and the haunted stables is a cool location tho.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:55 pm 


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I love Bloodlines, the X68000 remake, Castlevania III for NES, and Circle of the Moon.

I feel SCIV aged terribly.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:15 pm 


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I need to play more of Akumajo Densetsu (JP CVIII). I'm loving it so far.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:28 am 


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8 posts and no love for Rondo of Blood for PCE? for shame! gotta be my all time fave, with plain ol' castlevania a close 2nd.

as for as Super Castlevania IV, I haven't spent much time with it but this (mostly negative) review video by Egoraptor gave me a chuckle.

oh and speaking of Castlevania III, definitely play the Famicom version. The original used the VRC6 chip, which allowed for a completely amazing soundtrack and some nifty graphical tricks. Sadly the NES didn't support the chip so the port had to be slightly butchered :cry:
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:51 am 



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SunJammer wrote:
8 posts and no love for Rondo of Blood for PCE? for shame! gotta be my all time fave, with plain ol' castlevania a close 2nd.

I like it, but the level design is just...basic, and Maria Easy Mode is too much of a low-hanging fruit. Chronicles' Arrange Mode with a lowered difficulty and half damage was still more than tough enough.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:41 am 


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circuitface wrote:
My favorite entry will always be the NES original. It's graphics are gorgeous and the controls so precise.
This is exactly how I feel. They just nailed it right off the bat. I guess I have to log more hours into Castlevania III, but it doesn't feel nearly as intuitive for some reason. Constantly misjudging jumps and have endless difficulty with the stairs, even though they give me no issues in the original. Maybe it's because I keep getting stuck descending the clocktower with Grant and refuse to play it any other way. ;)

I also need to try out this Kid Dracula spinoff...
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:50 am 


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SFC Akumajo Dracula is too brown and green for my tastes. The early SPC700 quality sound quality and arranged tunes aren't my cup of tea either (just compare Vampire Killer here to its Akumajo Densetsu VRC6 rendition). The overall action is solid, but there's nothing exceptional enough to rank it among my Castlevania favorites. I think the X68000 version (my preferred version of the original story) has more interesting visuals, better music quality and composition, and more engaging stage designs.

I don't fault the SFC version's difficulty though since I never found any CV, save arcade version M and X68 loops, particularly difficult (i.e. requiring more than a week to 1cc). My top 2 CV installments, Bloodlines and Rondo of Blood, even have easy mode characters. But they excel in terms of the variety offered. Bloodlines is the most exotic CV game in the series with its locales and enemies. And Rondo of Blood is full of color and interesting path splits with sprites that will probably still be used in the next Metroid-inspired CV handheld title. And by association, I'd rather play XX than the first SFC game, even though that admission is probably still sacrilege in the CV community.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:53 am 


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circuitface wrote:
Three pachislot games and one medal machine! I've got a friend & fellow Castlevania fanatic who's teaching English in Japan right now I have asked to hunt the arcade down just so I could get his impressions. I asked him to film his playthrough if he could as the last I checked all the YouTube videos are of terrible quality.

I`ve seen some of these games around and liked that they used Richter from Rondo on one of them, but all Pachislot games are pretty terrible and not really games per se.

Moniker wrote:
I also need to try out this Kid Dracula spinoff...

Its really not very good. It has style and some neat areas (the roller coaster was kind of a surprise), but it doesnt play all that well. Being able to alternate through a number of secondary attacks is a nice feature, but some of them are pretty useless. The music is also not on par with the rest of the series. More enjoyable than Haunted Castle or the first Gameboy CV, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:33 am 


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NTSC-J wrote:
I`ve seen some of these games around and liked that they used Richter from Rondo on one of them, but all Pachislot games are pretty terrible and not really games per se.

Yeah I'm only concerned with the Wii-style arcade. The vids of the slot machines are enough for me although it would be great if we had translated versions here just in case I ever get stuck in a casino.

SunJammer wrote:
as for as Super Castlevania IV, I haven't spent much time with it but this (mostly negative) review video by Egoraptor gave me a chuckle.

Downing on Super Castlevania IV is the in thing to do ever since this video started making the rounds. The thing is you can tell the guy means it in good humor and it's just part of his shtick to bitch about things. I honestly never even noticed that the sub-weapons are less important. The sights and sounds of the game are some of the most memorable in gaming history and the directional whipping makes for a more fluid and intuitive combat system which has sadly not been replicated properly since (I'm looking at you, Bloodlines). If I can fault the game I'd say it only lacks more uses for the new whip.

Moniker wrote:
I guess I have to log more hours into Castlevania III, but it doesn't feel nearly as intuitive for some reason. Constantly misjudging jumps and have endless difficulty with the stairs, even though they give me no issues in the original.

I'm exactly the same here as well. I've put a good many hours into III but it just never sticks with me like the original. You are definitely right about it not feeling as intuitive. I really hate the aqueducts when you have to fight the flying dragon that's pattern changes depending on what platform you are standing on and sometimes doesn't seem to follow a pattern at all. Constant death and having to restart such a pain in the ass level. I do love how it went back to the graphical stylings of the original though. Sweet sweet orange blocks, everywhere.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:13 am 


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circuitface wrote:
NTSC-J wrote:
I`ve seen some of these games around and liked that they used Richter from Rondo on one of them, but all Pachislot games are pretty terrible and not really games per se.

Yeah I'm only concerned with the Wii-style arcade.


Ah, that one. I gave it a try and thought it was balls. 3D Castlevania just doesnt sit well with me, much less some gimmicky thing. The whip was awkward and hard to aim and not much fun at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:34 am 


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My favorites are Chronicles, Circle of the Moon and... Dracula X! yeah that sounds about right.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:14 pm 


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Was it Wai Wai World 1 or 2 that had the levels from the first Dracula game? If I remember correctly, you played as Simon in Wai Wai World 2. I need to get ahold of that game again.

I love just about every Castlevania game but I have yet to play through Simon's Quest and the 3D entries. My fav is probably Rondo and Dracula's Curse. CVIV is up there for sure though. Now I just wish Vampire Killer on MSX would come to the JPN Virtual console. It'll probably never happen but a lot of other MSX Konami games have been released on the VC so they they should go ahead and spent the money to emulate it and get that bitch uploaded.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:55 pm 



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I loved the N64 Castlevania's. The level design just blew me away and the camera put Mario 64 to shame.

On a more serious note, I love Castlevania and my favourite would be Simon's Quest on the NES. It hasn't aged that well but it was the first one I played so has that nostalgia. After that, Symphony of the night on PS1. It didn't have the extras of the Saturn version but it played better and the loading times were quicker if I remember.

I enjoyed Castlevania IV but I didn't love it. As mentioned earlier, the music was ace and visually it did some great things but I found the controls a bit too cumbersome at points.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:37 pm 


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To my shame, I've never cleared any of the pre-Symphony 'Vanias. Even though I own Akumajo Densetsu and PS1's Castlevania Chronicles. But! I snagged a relatively cheap CIB copy of the original Famicom game's cart version and I'm really liking it. Maybe I'll start from the beginning and try to work my way up.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:45 pm 


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For shame indeed!

IMO the pre symphony games are the best; I'm shocked at the lack of love for 4 and the comments of it being "clunky". I think it's certainly easier than it's NES counterparts but it offers enough of a challenge and the real draw is the how the art direction and music create a specific atmosphere anyway.

My top Oldschool Castlevanias are deffinately this one, Bloodlines and Rhondo (Honorable mention to #3)

While Symphony gets a lot of praise I think it was simply far too easy, a lot of weapons were unneccessary by the time you aquired them and the inverted castle felt like it was just tacked on as an afterthought; I feel Aria of Sorrow way surpassed Symphony in all but graphics and is easily my favourite of the portable games.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:56 pm 


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Densetsu may be the best of the classical 'Vanias. I really like the style of Rondo (art, music). Vampire Killer (MD) appears to be underappreciated by many.
Symphony of the Night is an awesome package, but too easy.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:21 pm 



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I agree that Symphony is easy but I forgive it that due to the sheer size of the game. I just found it to be so much fun and it has some best music in a game ever in my opinion.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:39 pm 


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If you think Symphony is easy now, wait until you try the Saturn version. You can walk in to the exclusive Cursed Prison area from the outset of the game and gain 50+ levels just slapping at ghosts. They got around the lack of transparencies using dithering effects though, which I love for some reason.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:43 pm 


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I have to point out that the series has been mostly decidedly downhill since I joined the CV Dungeon scene years back. Totally not my fault, though; I blame IGA. The GBA era did a number on the series though, too; only way to get half-decent art in a game was to make it a handheld, and only way to get a relatively straightforward action game onto consoles is to add a bunch of worthless backtracking and item collection garbage, so the formula hasn't survived, unfortunately. It's quite strange that there have been Rebirth versions of both Gradius and Contra, but not Castlevania, which is at least as iconic as Contra.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:50 pm 


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What about Castlevania the Adventure: Rebirth on wiiware?
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:53 pm 


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Leader Bee wrote:
What about Castlevania the Adventure: Rebirth on wiiware?

Yeah, I totally forgot about that one, sorry! So I guess Konami can't be accused of covering all the bases there (but then, what game could be a Rebirth title for home plate..? Devestators, Tokimemi Memorial, or just Metal Gear? :mrgreen: )


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:56 pm 


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Ed Oscuro wrote:
I blame IGA.

Ditto. I used to let it slide back when I thought he directed Symphony. I just want a return to the old style now, but fully realized. At least we could get a true 3D iteration in the vein of the 64 duo. Sigh...

Leader Bee wrote:
What about Castlevania the Adventure: Rebirth on wiiware?

I got it recently but am waiting for the proper moment to tear it apart. From the outset it looks okay but just like the other Rebirth titles it doesn't feel like a 'real' entry. Contra Rebirth is damn fun though, especially the robo-llamas so I have my hopes.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:07 pm 



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this topic has reminded me that I have an official Castlevania Hooded Top lying around somewhere that a friend at Konami sent me.

I'll post a pic here if I remember when I get home. Pretty sure I've never seen it before as well.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:01 pm 


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I love Castlevania. Order of Ecclesia was really great, probably my favourite of all the handheld games. I even did a clean hard mode level 1 cap run through of it which took some persistence. I really hope they announce the next 2D title soon. As for the old school variety IV is fun but I wouldn't rate it above the original or III. That said I really should get round to finishing III, the same applies to Rebirth come to think of it.


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