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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 2:09 pm 


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I always use the Wolf :cool: QCF dash out of the sideroom, nail the moneybag (and any Cave Trolls dumb enough to interfere - don't get between a wolf and his prey!), QCF back. Relaxations AF Image


Same. That's been my go to since 1997 lol. Can't remember off hand if the duplicator grants unlimited items if your fairy uses them though?

The worst is farming an enemy drop close to a door. You get all relaxed and in the groove. Then you finally see the drop but you can't stop yourself from backing out the door out of sheer muscle memory. Nooooo! I just had it.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 2:35 pm 


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Rastan78 wrote:
You get all relaxed and in the groove. Then you finally see the drop but you can't stop yourself from backing out the door out of sheer muscle memory. Nooooo!


Yes :lol: Typically exiting before the damn thing even hits the ground :mrgreen: Dem twitch skillz :cool:
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 4:09 pm 


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Anyone can parry every super in Third Strike. Anyone can endlessly chain gold coins in Psikyo shmups. Anyone can dodge loop 4 bullets in Raiden 1.

But seeing the item drop in SotN and not going back through that door? That's the next level.

Seriously, it's funny how it's almost harder to react by suddenly not doing something repetitive. Maybe this is why everyone always blows the head off the old lady carrying a grocery bag in a shooting gallery. I mean shit, the grocery bag could've had a bomb in it. Better safe than sorry.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 7:47 pm 


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Sanguis wrote:
While I generally agree with the video game preferences of the members on this website, I don't understand why some of those same members revere the non-classic Castlevanias.

I've played Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow in the past. I must agree about the aesthetical qualities, but I found the gameplay to be atrocious. Please enlighten me.


Symphony hit at a time when the only series doing Metroid was Metroid itself, and when rpg mechanics were most entirely confined to rpgs. Applying that non-linear world design and character progression to the familiar Castlevania world was really revolutionary; Super Metroid was a title that was both a hit and a game for gamers, (console) RPGs were a still emerging genre that the hardcore were constantly begging to have translated, and Castlevania had the pedigree of pedigrees. It was an intersection of design elements and motifs that dedicated gamers loved, which is how it ended up as easily one of the most influential games ever made.

As for mechanics, Alucard himself moves really smoothly, in a way that is both satisfying and utterly unique. I can understand preferring the perfect tension of classicvania's animation-priority gameplay, but really can't see where "atrocious" would come from as a takeaway from Symphony, especially given how crappy 32-bit gameplay was in general, in that era of fledgling 3D. The amount of animation and little details in the world were something that hadn't been seen before, and it really stood out on PlayStation, where 2D rarely (if ever) saw that kind of work put into it. The variety of weapons really expanded and refreshed the series, which ran the risk of growing stale like many of its 8-bit contemporaries had after 10 years of whips (though that still made a memorable appearance). And the secrets, open design & second castle meant there was a lot of reason to come back to it, making it a natural for the speed running community.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:04 pm 


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i sometimes think it was the addition of rpg mechanics to the metroid formula which i really disliked. but then i remember zelda 2 was my favourite game as a kid....


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 3:06 am 


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Immryr wrote:
i sometimes think it was the addition of rpg mechanics to the metroid formula which i really disliked. but then i remember zelda 2 was my favourite game as a kid....


Castlevania came by it honestly, Simon's Quest had an experience point & levelling system.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 3:53 am 


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SotN is the total package. Aestheticly, it might be unequaled. The combination of high quality sprites, Alucard's riduclously detailed and cool walk cycle, some of the best art direction and atmosphere you'll ever find in a game and an all time great soundtrack is just unbeatable.

Then you have a really novel design that mixes in action rpg elements into the rarely seen metroid design from the time.

And lastly the game is just packed with fun secrets, extras, an cool little touches. It's like they finished the game way ahead of schedule and put all these hidden things in the game. I've played through the game 4 or 5 times over the years and I still find new things here and there.

As a 10 hour experience or so, it's pretty much unrivaled. It also doesn't overstay its welcome. It's not padded at all. It's exactly as long as it should be.

Top 10 game of all time, easily.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 5:56 am 


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I’ll register a sharp disagreement about it not overstaying it’s welcome - the inverse castle doesn’t really have an exploration aspect, and that’s a key component of SotN’s excellence. (Is there anywhere in the second castle that’s gated behind a new skill or equipment?) So it becomes a map filling exercise with the added bonus of being super awkward and turning the beautiful presentation 180 degrees. Add into that the recycled soundtrack, the second castle is a net negative on the game. It’s technically optional but it’s something one can’t really opt out of and still say you played SotN, unlike the mediocre Saturn areas.

It’s also just kind of an absurd premise that I feel is at odds with SotN’s beautifully realised castle. The realisation that the game is actually only half over was great in the late 90s but it’s the only aspect of the game that doesn’t hold up in retrospect. SotN is one of those games I have seen through to the end maybe three times but I’ve played through the first 40% or so a dozen times because after that point it goes south.

For all that I can’t say the game would be better without it: there’s several neat bosses and new enemies in the back half of the game. But it’s so hard to not notice the lack of polish.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 10:26 pm 


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BIL wrote:
Has neither COTM's straight hardcore nor AOS's mirror polish, and it's fugly as all hell too, but god damn is it an endearingly strange and violent first attempt from Igarashi.

Recalling way back when I played the GBA 'vanias on cartridge, HoD rests in my memory as the least favored of the bunch, by a considerable margin; having just picked up the Steam trilogy I decided to give it a second chance. In the end, I like to think I'm more forgiving than I once was when it comes to some of the game's shortcomings - the sometimes-garish presentation, the "creepy" moments that come across more like eyeroll-worthy Treehouse of Horror parodies, even the truly lame-o boss fights (seriously, when a scrub like myself calls the bosses cream puffs, I can only imagine what kinds of ridiculous speed kills more grizzled folks could inflict upon them), but in the end the whole thing is still ruined simply by how much of a complete and utter slog it is to explore.

The combination of a very basic (albeit run of the mill for the time) map, often-cryptic means of figuring out where to go next and how to get there, and a total lack of fast travel are themselves enough to make fumbling your way through the game a chore, but adding the "dual castles" gimmick on top of that is simply too much for me to take; in Symphony and countless others to revisit a dead end from several hours ago I just needed a short walk to the nearest teleporter room, but here I have to fully traipse a winding path through half of one castle to a portal which takes me to a different part of the other castle, where I need to wend my way again to a distant teleporter back to a different part of the first castle where I follow another tightly-coiled passageway to a separate portal back to the second castle where I can finally, switching constantly in and out of the map screen to make sure I don't take a wrong turn, reach my destination...to find that, when my most recent upgrade gets me past the breakable wall, immediately past it is a shaft too high to climb. I half expected Juste to turn towards the screen and give me the middle finger.

I reached a point where every path I tried is blocked by some obstacle or other and I have no idea what I'm missing to get me past any one of them, but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste the time needed to comb every room of the castle until I figure something out. And yeah, I could check an FAQ to figure out what I've overlooked, but in all honesty I just don't want to play any more of a game seemingly explicitly designed to make the central conceit of the Metroidvania far and away its worst feature.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 4:56 am 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
BIL wrote:
Has neither COTM's straight hardcore nor AOS's mirror polish, and it's fugly as all hell too, but god damn is it an endearingly strange and violent first attempt from Igarashi.

Recalling way back when I played the GBA 'vanias on cartridge, HoD rests in my memory as the least favored of the bunch, by a considerable margin; having just picked up the Steam trilogy I decided to give it a second chance. In the end, I like to think I'm more forgiving than I once was when it comes to some of the game's shortcomings - the sometimes-garish presentation, the "creepy" moments that come across more like eyeroll-worthy Treehouse of Horror parodies, even the truly lame-o boss fights (seriously, when a scrub like myself calls the bosses cream puffs, I can only imagine what kinds of ridiculous speed kills more grizzled folks could inflict upon them), but in the end the whole thing is still ruined simply by how much of a complete and utter slog it is to explore.

The combination of a very basic (albeit run of the mill for the time) map, often-cryptic means of figuring out where to go next and how to get there, and a total lack of fast travel are themselves enough to make fumbling your way through the game a chore, but adding the "dual castles" gimmick on top of that is simply too much for me to take; in Symphony and countless others to revisit a dead end from several hours ago I just needed a short walk to the nearest teleporter room, but here I have to fully traipse a winding path through half of one castle to a portal which takes me to a different part of the other castle, where I need to wend my way again to a distant teleporter back to a different part of the first castle where I follow another tightly-coiled passageway to a separate portal back to the second castle where I can finally, switching constantly in and out of the map screen to make sure I don't take a wrong turn, reach my destination...to find that, when my most recent upgrade gets me past the breakable wall, immediately past it is a shaft too high to climb. I half expected Juste to turn towards the screen and give me the middle finger.

I reached a point where every path I tried is blocked by some obstacle or other and I have no idea what I'm missing to get me past any one of them, but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste the time needed to comb every room of the castle until I figure something out. And yeah, I could check an FAQ to figure out what I've overlooked, but in all honesty I just don't want to play any more of a game seemingly explicitly designed to make the central conceit of the Metroidvania far and away its worst feature.



Harmony introduced some of these confusing puzzle door elements but felt like more of an action quest through the first 2 castles.

I didn’t like the physics at first of COTM but after a long play through with my brother. I have to say this has some of the baddest bosses. The double headed undead dragon locked in the dungeon is EPIC and the hardest boss of any Castlevania for me.

As memorable as an “open castle RPG format” is in the later titles, I still have a blast playing the original formula most notably on Castlevania NES and the holy grail of Rondo.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 5:19 am 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
And yeah, I could check an FAQ to figure out what I've overlooked, but in all honesty I just don't want to play any more of a game seemingly explicitly designed to make the central conceit of the Metroidvania far and away its worst feature.


HOD is a very unlovely game. :mrgreen: I despised its cynically bloated map, godawful air handling and weaksauce bosses, at release. In hindsight, having rebought the game a couple times for my JP GBA collection, and now again for M2 quality, I find its winding bi-dimensional breadcrumb trail kinda perversely charming. This is with years and years of familiarity, though. I've no doubt it'd exasperate me just as much as it did in 2002, played blind.

I love some of the Spell Fusions, too; Ice Axe's death from above sledge is brutally satisfying, especially with the Yagawa-style explosions on big enemies. Takeda-san from Hard Corps and Vampire Killer worked on HOD; it really shows on its better enemy/boss designs, llike the Cyclops and its wicked hammer impacts. Shame about all the shitty ones (its Witches are probably the most embarrassing sprite in the entire Dracula canon), but HOD's gifts never come without cost. :lol:

Hoagtech wrote:
I didn’t like the physics at first of COTM but after a long play through with my brother. I have to say this has some of the baddest bosses. The double headed undead dragon locked in the dungeon is EPIC and the hardest boss of any Castlevania for me.


Zombie Dragon is great, yeah - even playing COTM at launch on that tiny dark screen, it was a real "holy fuck!" moment, jumping down into that pit and being promptly dwarfed by the pair of rotting horrors. It's the game's first boss that uses CVIII's Dracula battle theme, for good reason. Can quickly crush you with a range of screen-spanning attacks, if they're not aggressively macro-dodged around. Love how the survivor will cannibalise its fallen bro for HP :twisted: (good opportunity to pile on damage). All of COTM's bosses are solid at minimum, though Hugh has a really unfortunate AI exploit.

Spoiler: show
Let him get close and raise his sword, then hop away; he'll execute the same easily-punishable swing every time.


A general tip for COTM's bosses - first thing you should do, after killing Cerberus and escaping the Catacombs, is head as far left as you can on the map, to the Entryway. Get the Cross from the brazier outside, near the Flame Knight, and keep it as long as you can. Crosses are the most uncommon subweapon for good reason: they demolish bosses with proper placement. You want them to halt and return while overlapping the target, racking up tons of hits. You can annihilate certain massive later targets in no time, this way.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 8:51 pm 


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BIL wrote:
This is with years and years of familiarity, though.

I can understand that, there are certainly games I enjoy in no small part because I happen to have some non-forthcoming foreknowledge of how they work and where stuff is (Battle Garegga's scoring and rank control tricks come most immediately to mind), but with a backlog as ludicrous as mine I just can't be bothered revisiting a title from years ago whose design is an unquestionable and massive step backward even from its predecessors, let alone its descendants; I really need to start cracking down on the massive pile of stuff I've barely touched yet.

...so of course I immediately start replaying Circle of the Moon. :P

In its own way this one can also sometimes be ugly and/or janky; the visibly bored Gremlin/Gargoyle enemies always stood out to me:

Image

Not to mention that half the item descriptions are basically variations on:

Image

Snarkiness aside, in my view this one does possess a number of notable upsides:

- Part of Circle's unique "vibe" comes about because it was developed by a different team than the other Konami "Metroidvanias", which takes a bit of getting used to because it attempts to blend the "classic" 'vanias with the "search action" spinoffs, but also lends it the most unique feel and ambience of the bunch, which gives it an extra layer of appeal and memorability IMO. On the flipside, Harmony was much more focused on invoking SotN, and was thus doomed to come across (albeit partially because of the native hardware) as "that, but worse".

- The stiffer movement feels weird at first, but the game wisely gives you the dash and double jump very early, so you seldom feel overly constrained when it comes to movement and have ample time to learn their quirks. The flipside of this is that a lot of the following upgrades feel kind of flimsy in comparison, but in my view it was a sacrifice worth making. It also helps that this game's whip has a particularly nice, satisfying snap to it, if you ask me, though the delay between a standard attack and the defensive spin when you hold the button down can feel just slightly too long when enemies can launch distance attacks at you before you can even see them.

- I also prefer how spells and heart-consuming weapons are not linked here, so you're encouraged to make use of both without having to constantly open the menu to switch the magic books on and off (though you obviously still need to do so to pick which magic you want). In HoD I almost never used the found weapons because the spells were so much more powerful (and made the fact that you could find items to increase your hearts but not your MP feel extra silly); here it feels more balanced.

- The lack of an in-game encyclopedia is a bummer, but M2 saw fit to remedy that, thankfully, and I actually keep the gadget on so as to have an idea when something is carrying a card and switch on the luck-boosting spell.

Guess we'll see if I can push through to the end of this one...wondering if i ought to just go all out and revisit Aria after this, to see if it still holds up as arguably my favorite "Igavania".
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 9:28 pm 


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COTM was actually headed up by Shigeharu Umezaki aka Umechan, project lead on the landmark FC Contra, Super Contra, Salamander and Gradius II, with support from Nobuya Nakazato, best known for the 16bit Contras and Rocket Knight Adventures. So the game's best points, its handling and collision, were no fluke.

Meanwhile, HOD was IGA's first time in the director's chair. Toru Hagihara was in charge of Rondo and SOTN, the latter with Nakazato credited as well. So I consider HOD the first of its series, with IGA heading up everything from there and beyond (again, I was unsurprised to see Nakazato's name in the uncommonly action-minded Ecclesia's staff roll).

I love AOS for what it is - a miniature SOTN streamline that nails its progenitor's handling model, and genuinely tightens up its mapping. There's a subtle but stern shift towards hard action from the midpoint on, with the last few areas being well-stocked with heavies. The only thing I miss is a COTM-quality Battle Arena; they kinda tried with the Coliseum's little detour, but it's no substitute.

What I really wish, though, is that HOD and AOS had been one killer game, instead of a balls-rough but inimitably bent one, and a vastly more polished yet by-the-book recovery.

Speaking of! Don't attempt COTM's Battle Arena when it's first opened - you'll get Euroshumped by the enemies' buffed stats. ;3 Best played when you've arrived at the point of no return (it's really obvious, you'll know it when you see it). I forget the exact level - 60something? - but you shouldn't need to do any grindan, just whack all the bosses and get all the gear.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:53 pm 


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BIL wrote:
Speaking of! Don't attempt COTM's Battle Arena when it's first opened - you'll get Euroshumped by the enemies' buffed stats. ;3 Best played when you've arrived at the point of no return (it's really obvious, you'll know it when you see it). I forget the exact level - 60something? - but you shouldn't need to do any grindan, just whack all the bosses and get all the gear.


i was level 46 when i reached dracula. i didn't do any grinding for card drops, but other than that and the battle arena i think i have done pretty much everything. feels like it would take a fair bit of grinding to get me to level 60.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:18 pm 


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Yeah, sounds right - I think it's SOTN I'm thinking of, where you're usually around lv60 by the point of no return.

The Arena also has at least one midway exit, so it's very possible to get the first segment down, levelling up in the process, then come back later.

EDIT: Haha, figures it's this very thread that pops up when I search my post history.

BIL wrote:
Oh schnapps, I knew I might've been way off with the RPG gubbins. Just checked my most recent VampireKiller clear file with the Arena cleaned out, it's at lvl49. So I was probably ~46 on that run. This was the run when I decided clearing the Arena ASAP (right after killing Camilla and getting the super jump) simply isn't worth it, at least for VampireKiller. Fighter can probably cut through the buffed-up hordes by that point (ez as hell, Fighter mode; near-invincible ATK+DEF offsets lack of DSS entirely).

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Worth noting that the Arena's enemies are also worth more XP, plus there's at least one early exit - so it's very possible to level up while practicing its earlier phases, then save and come back.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 9:51 pm 


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Getting near the end of Circle now, and honestly it's rather rough going; the main culprit is the fact that the offscreen attacks I mentioned earlier evolve from a nuisance to a genuine threat the further you get into the game, especially if they inflict status ailments, since getting frozen, petrified, poisoned or cursed at a bad moment can basically spell Game Over (and since status-healing items only appear as random drops you can't spend them at will). You basically have to tiptoe through every room if you don't want to get sniped by a potentially-deadly something you couldn't see coming, which really takes you out of it.

Off to the side, I definitely remember the "chapel" portion being difficult last time around, but I'd forgotten just how steep a difficulty spike it is; nearly everything in there is a terror, especially the Bloody Swords with their tiny hurtbox and ability to hide in walls if they miss you...and if you focus too much on them a Marionette will sneak in to curse you and you're completely screwed. To add insult to injury, one of the best ways to deal with them is with the Mars card, which changes your whip into a sword with a wider attack area (also a lifesaver versus the aforementioned Zombie Dragons)...and which you can only get from, well, guess who. :P
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 10:32 pm 



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Level grinding for COTM is quite fast, there is an enemy called Lilith who is worth 20,000 exp. There is only one and she's in a secret room, but respawns every time you enter. Thunderbird summon will take most of her HP, then switch to the Exp 20% up bonus before you finish her off.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:13 pm 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
Off to the side, I definitely remember the "chapel" portion being difficult last time around, but I'd forgotten just how steep a difficulty spike it is; nearly everything in there is a terror, especially the Bloody Swords with their tiny hurtbox and ability to hide in walls if they miss you...and if you focus too much on them a Marionette will sneak in to curse you and you're completely screwed.


Something useful for The Bloody Sword & Marionette Show: once you know how many hits they take you to kill, consider using the slide to finish them off, where appropriate. Slide has less startup, is easier to connect, and will scoot you away from incoming attacks. This is actually a useful tack in general for COTM, but it's particularly handy when dealing with two subtly differing homing/striker enemies.

Chapel is among my favourite areas of the game. :mrgreen: Between the aggressively homing enemies and steep topography, it actually demands some oldschool situational awareness, rare in this subseries. Much comfier on a nice big monitor, too. (holy fuck, I'm remembering doing that section on an overnight plane via reading light, the week of COTM's release - I think my aged eyes would slam shut in protest, nowadays)

Slide does whatever your current ATK is, so it's trivial to figure out what can be safely tackled. COTM's hit detection is so precise, you can even slidekick something and have it survive without taking damage yourself, as long as only Nathan's boot makes contact - though this is obviously not as easy. The shoulder tackle (fwd+R) can be used similarly, though its startup and recovery are totally different. Good for tearing through something in front of you and dodging incoming fire in one movement.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 2:01 am 


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Came within a hair's whisker of quitting, but managed to take down Drac; that battle kind of sums up the game's main issue, IMO, namely that it leans too heavily into the "RPG" side of the equation, as numerous segments, especially towards the end, feel increasingly like near-inevitable damage being exchanged with whoever's numbers are higher ordained the victor (maybe I just missed something obvious, but Drac's meteor attack felt basically like an HP-draining slot machine, and having to literally spend every single healing item I had to bully through that infuriatingly evasive eyeball and its infinite bats wasn't far behind). In similar fashion, that and several other boss battles and such make me shudder to think how they'd have gone if I hadn't previously managed to turn up the right card drops for the occasion; sorry BIL, but I'm afraid the battle arena will remain unconquered. :P

Rather more disappointed in myself than the games, really, as I don't remember them giving me this much trouble back in the day; I recall Aria being the easiest by a fair span, maybe I can manage that one without hearing Iga sniggering off in the distance somewhere. :P
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 2:20 am 


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:wink:

COTM is genuinely the last game of this subseries I'd call sloppy or tradey. Battle Arena in general and Thief mode in particular, with its pitiful DEF, will teach you to dodge stuff or die trying. It is a relatively tough game overall, though. Disclaimer: I really, really like dodging shit in 2D action games. Image

I wish Dracula's second form had used the Battle Arena-guarding Dark Angel's homing ring laser, now that shit is HAWT Image

Dracula mkII annoys everyone with the massive playfield and fugitive eyeball, but give yourself props for figuring out his jet boost attack, unlike that scheissevogel Blinge. :lol:

(Blinge: hump the ceiling you godless shitbird :evil: that's a tactic, not a rebuke! ;3)

It's been a few years, but can't you destroy his meteors? I seem to recall the neutral whip spin doing for 'em. I'm due a replay and could use a break from arcade stuff, will post up some GIFs/clips in the near future so I'm not just blowing hot air. As always, I wish you could just unlock the various classes from the get-go. I suspect Fighter would be a better experience for most (no DSS but much comfier ATK+DEF). At least Magician is the first unlock, probably the most entertaining of the lot just on sheer variety.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:29 am 


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There's multiple spells available that give you varying kinds of invincibility/shield/defense boost/healing. And in a miracle that saves you from some of that awful Iga grinding, the DSS glitch lets you cast spells even if you don't have the cards for them.

Also you can definitely just dodge the meteors by running/sliding. My (admittedly foggy) memory of CotM Dracula is of his first form being much more difficult due to doing a ton of damage, and almost everything the second form does is trivialized by spamming super jump.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:15 am 


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BIL wrote:
give yourself props for figuring out his jet boost attack

It...took a few tries. :P It really has been awhile since my first playthrough, it seems, as I remembered very few details and had to re-learn nearly everything.

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It's been a few years, but can't you destroy his meteors?

Quote:
Also you can definitely just dodge the meteors by running/sliding.

Either/both of you could very well be right, there certainly were a few "wait a sec, you can just whip those?" moments for me throughout the game, though I never managed to destroy a meteor by chance to clue myself in...on the flipside, perhaps I should have just treated the meteors as a "stick to defense" moment, like the invincibility dash, though attacks like that tend to subconsciously annoy me, since I know I could be dealing damage and moving the fight along, but am all but forced to hang back and wait instead. Which also explains my annoyance at that eyeball form. And the Zombie Dragons. And Death. :P

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There's multiple spells available that give you varying kinds of invincibility/shield/defense boost/healing.

I had two very lucky drops late in the game to help me out on this front; one was Jupiter/Thunderbird, which halves damage taken (handy for Hugh and Drac; off to the side, I actually rather liked the former fight, it felt different from most of the others, more like a duel, or even a dance), and the other was Jupiter/Serpent, with the four rotating ice balls; once Camilla's annoying homing purple balls were pretty much taken care of all I had to do was keep the boomerangs coming, and since she's so large/slow she went down in a flash.

I also got Neptune quite late, and he could have possibly helped me out in some of the worst "volleys of status-affecting projectiles from offscreen" sections (the sewer area drove me particularly nuts, especially since so many areas are closed off behind the switch gates and you can't always even hunt down whatever's sniping at you), but be that as it may whenever something came out of nowhere and froze/poisoned/cursed me all that was missing was the DM calling out "roll for damage check!" Not enough to completely ruin the game's good points, but coupled with the random nature of often-crucial item/equipment/card drops definitely enough to knock it down from "good" to "okay" overall.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:18 am 


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my approach to the final dracula fight was fairly cheesey. I wrecked the first phase with the cross, you can just about kill him in one cycle of his laser attack. the second phase i used the dss combo which shoots a cloud of poison around you, jupiter and manticore i think. this made this bats mostly a none issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:35 pm 


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Immryr wrote:
the second phase i used the dss combo which shoots a cloud of poison around you, jupiter and manticore i think. this made this bats mostly a none issue.

Never did get Manticore, though even if I did heaven only knows if I'd have thought of this, heh.

One last silly observation about Circle before moving on to Aria: is it me, or is the bestiary in this one something of a furry convention? The standard-issue werewolf and minotaur are one thing, but here we've got a were-bear...a were-jaguar...a were-horse...not to mention the rifle-toting hyenas (because why the heck not) and "please don't sue us Mr. Disney" fox archers. I half expected Wallace and Gromit's were-rabbit to show up as a hidden boss fight.

Granted, they're no more weird or goofy than anything else Castlevania has come up with - I've forgotten as much of Aria as of the other two games, but I'll be darned if I still don't recall the maids wielding skeletal vacuum cleaners (and right here in Circle, I could only wonder what kind of training the Skeleton Athletes were doing, since they don't have any muscles), but it really seems that the guy tasked with coming up with monsters this time around just visited the local zoo, wrote down what he saw, put a "were-" in front of everything and handed it to his boss.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:38 am 


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Three interesting things I've learned upon revisiting Aria:

- Skeletons will sometimes cackle before tossing a bone at you, and will occasionally toss their head instead of a femur; the game is full of little details like this if you stop and look for a bit.

- Your weapon's hitbox and your character's hurtbox are completely separate, so if a small enough enemy manages to zip right up to you before you can attack, you can swing all you want but he can just sit right on top of you and keep dealing damage until you move. Sort of a reverse application of the "only the spiked ball can hurt you, not the chain" principle.

- Upon killing Death, he drops his scythe; if you're under it as it falls offscreen it can not only damage you but kill you if your health is low enough. ...y'know, so I've heard. :P
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:18 pm 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
- Skeletons will sometimes cackle before tossing a bone at you, and will occasionally toss their head instead of a femur; the game is full of little details like this if you stop and look for a bit.


Bloodlines' skeletons will occasionally autodecapitate before going for the ol' Bonce Launcher, too; I'd wondered if AOS's version was an homage. IGA has his faults, but he's good at fanservice. Image
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 4:47 pm 


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Finished Aria and wrote up a review of the collection, which I planned to post on Steam and link here, until I learned that it was over a thousand words too long. :P So instead I'll just post the whole mess here for anyone interested in critiquing/correcting it:

Spoiler: show
A solid collection of the three "search action" Castlevania titles that first appeared on the Game Boy Advance, plus one "traditional" action title from the Super Nintendo thrown in. All four feature a decent set of options and extra trinkets as well as a handful of developer M2's signature optional "gadgets", and look and play more or less as you might remember them.

For those unfamiliar with these games, however, here is a brief summary of my own experience with each offering, plus a suggestion or two for future updates (or, failing that, aspiring modders) that might help to encourage more players to give them a (re)try.

Circle of the Moon: The earliest in this "mini-series" was developed by a different team than the other two, and thus has a rather disparate look and feel to it; overall I'd call it a bit "rougher" and "stiffer" in nature, but this also gives it the most unique air of the bunch, and moreover hands it the crown as the most significant attempt Konami ever made to combine the "classic" and "metroidvania" design styles into a single game. I'd also label it the most challenging and replayable of the GBA entries, so those who manage to jell with its quirks are quite likely to consider it their favorite.

The game's most unique feature is the "DSS" system, in which various pairs of cards can be equipped to provide benefits ranging from stat boosts to additional weapons in exchange for fuel from your regenerating MP meter; fun as it is to experiment with all the different options on offer, the DSS cards also embody the game's biggest single flaw, namely an overemphasis on the "RPG" side of the "action-RPG" equation. Outside of vital progression upgrades, literally everything you obtain in this game is dependent on random enemy drops: equipment, healing items, and the DSS cards themselves will almost certainly require considerable grinding simply to obtain enough to keep going, let alone complete a full set.

The PC port does mitigate this to some extent, since it includes both an encyclopedia (which the original release lacked) and a "gadget" which pops a message up whenever you encounter an enemy that can drop a DSS card, so you can at least focus your efforts in the right places if you need to build yourself up rather than beating on everything in sight and hoping you stumble upon something helpful. That said, my other major issue with the game is how frequently offscreen enemies can send long-distance attacks your way before you can even see them; early on it's mostly an annoyance, but as baddies gain the ability to both do more damage and inflict nasty status ailments this becomes a legitimate, and frustrating, threat.

Update/Mod Suggestions: An option to adjust, or at least view, enemy drop rates. The ability to access the additional "classes" from the start rather than unlocking them one at a time. A toggle to make dashing permanent once you've obtained the boots; I actually wore out my controller's d-pad with the constant double-tapping I was doing to avoid moving at a snail's pace.

Harmony of Dissonance: You're still using a whip as your main weapon throughout, but this sophomore entry is much more determined to invoke the seminal Symphony of the Night, especially via its more detailed and colorful visuals (albeit sometimes to the point of garishness, likely in response to complaints of how dark CotM looked on a GBA screen), though the music has received a puzzling quality downgrade. The shoulder buttons are now used for dashing in either direction; while somewhat underutilized, it does give combat a bit of extra zip against the more nimble enemies that require it. Many of the bosses, unfortunately, are laughably wimpy.

DSS cards have been replaced with a set of magic books, which when equipped will override your current subweapon in favor of a unique spell, again at an MP cost; again, it's neat to experiment and discover your favorite combinations, but it also renders the subweapons themselves somewhat useless. Thankfully, the books are found in pre-set locations and a shop is available for other needs, so grinding is much less of an issue here.

Overall, though, Harmony is my personal least favorite of this bunch, because its good points are completely and tragically outweighed by how much of a slog it is to explore the castle(s). Clues for how to progress at certain points can be incredibly vague, and fast travel is very limited, so you're regularly stuck retreading long, winding paths, room by room, in hopes that a particular dead end on your (vague, albeit standard for the time) map happens to be the one a new ability or item will open up...though even then, half the time you're likely to find another roadblock just beyond it and be forced right back to trudging around, completely lost. If you intend to play through this one, I recommend keeping a guide handy; if not, you're a good deal more likely to do what I did and leave the game unfinished.

Update/Mod Suggestions: Clearer directions on how to progress, coupled with a more detailed map. Additional fast travel options.

Aria of Sorrow: The closest successor to SotN, and arguably the strongest title in purely technical terms; superior presentation, comfortable controls, well-paced and well-telegraphed structuring. Subweapons are gone entirely now, replaced by "souls" that monsters occasionally drop that provide either passive or active benefits when equipped; a lot of them are just variations on "toss a projectile", but nearly every baddie you encounter has one, and most of what you need to keep up with the proverbial Joneses in terms of items and equipment can be found or bought, so if you just want to finish the game you should still have a good amount of options at hand without any need to grind.

While Aria is a pleasant playthrough for Symphony fans in particular, it also picked up a few of that game's less admirable habits. In its efforts to keep players from getting stuck it likely went a bit too far in leaving lots of really powerful stuff out in the open for players to find, to the point that the game has something of a reverse difficulty curve; early on you'll need to make smart use of your rather ineffective weaponry and Soul abilities to keep enemies at bay, but as you find equipment with better range and speed you can swat them away much more effortlessly, and by the time you encounter the Claimh Solais you're all but unstoppable. There is a Boss Rush to mess with afterwards, but a more comprehensive follow-up test of players' considerable abilities wouldn't have been unwelcome.

Update/Mod Suggestions: Some sort of "Hard" mode to up the challenge and replayability, and/or a rebalance of certain overpowered items/abilities. Fixes to the game's rather surprising amount of mistranslations, or, if you're feeling cheeky, a means of playing them up; I'd love to see "Curly" (supposed to be "Kali") issue forth a Three Stooges "woop-woop-woop-woop-woop!" upon death.

Dracula X: Something of a red-headed step-sibling to the lauded PC Engine CD release that remained an import exclusive until an overdue PSP port in 2007, the Steam page notes its reputation as one of the most challenging Castlevanias, and that's certainly true, though its particular brand of putting players through their paces will certainly not be up everyone's alley.

Standard attacks can only be aimed to either side (even the "limp whip" defensive tool that made a surprise reappearance in HoD is absent here), players have only limited control of their jumps once they've left the ground, and the combination of significant knockback and a very short invincibility window lead to frequent and sigh-inducing pileups of damage. Baddies also like to pop up in dangerous places in ways that are all but impossible to react to unless you already know they're coming; you do have infinite continues to exploit, but you'll need them to make even slow, trudging progress in this one.

I have to admit I didn't get very far in Dracula X; from what I did see I liked the presentation, and from what I know of the game second- and thirdhand it does have more to offer than immediately meets the eye the farther in you get, but this is the sort of hard-knocks quest you need to be determined to settle into and beat your head against the proverbial wall to master, and with a backlog like mine it's a difficult chunk of leisure time to justify.

Update/Mod Suggestions: Subliminal messages to Konami/M2 to port the "original" Dracula X and SotN to PC as well. And the DS titles. Oh, and that "Rebirth" one too.

All in all, while this compilation doesn't boast the sheer volume of the previous Castlevania collection and each game on tap certainly has its quirks, the asking price is still more than reasonable for anyone who either missed out back in the early 2000's or feels like a bit of castle-conquering nostalgia. Here's hoping more such old standbys are on the way.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:28 pm 


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I stopped reading at "search action"
:wink:
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:58 pm 


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Search Action is a style with decades of tradition! Image The generally agreed-upon first was "Cocksucker Blues" (1970s) by the famous Rolling Stones, in which a young lad searches for action in olde London towne!

I have a more charitable view than some, associating the term with the militant "Explore THIS motherfucker" ethos of Sunsoft's Chou Wakusei Metafight (1987) and Konami's Gekikame Ninja Den (1988) - bloodthirsty, slaughter-driven affairs where obliviously ambling along will see you buggered in short order! In Showa-era Nihon, action search YOU! :shock: Snap of latex glove on beefy wrist! Nobody calls dungeon crawlers "search action" mirite.

However, to many noobs, these are merely obtuse scrolling action games that leave them fucked and deserted 3; Blaster Master Zero 2 surprised me with its skilled refining of its forebears' ornery ways, especially after BMZ1 was a big load of nothing! I recommend it, not only if you are SCURRED of mean-ass FC searches, but ESPECIALLY if the sight of Search Action makes your wiener soft and floppy like cheese! It will straighten you right up! :cool:

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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:36 pm 


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BIL wrote:
(Blinge: hump the ceiling you godless shitbird :evil: that's a tactic, not a rebuke! ;3)



w...wuh? I haven't even BEEN in this convo!
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