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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:58 pm 


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wiNteR wrote:
Also, I would add briefly that I think a good castlevania guide is probably needed (maybe as a separate topic so it is not completely lost). I have decent knowledge on arcade platformers (and console platformers from 8/16 bit) but I have no idea about castlevania. For example, things like multiple difficulties/loops, overall quality, any specific playstyle suited to given game etc. And also of course, just to sort out the better games in the series (there seem to be too many when you add handhelds).


Top Tier
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood / Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo
Solid and stylish in every way. There are two paths through the game and you can switch freely between them. Unlike most Belmonts, Richter has a bit of aerial control on his jumps. He can also do subweapon super moves called item crashes in exchange for a large number of hearts. There's an unlockable character, Maria Renard, who is very fun and very overpowered. Her mobility and offense are miles ahead of Richter's in exchange for having only 2/3 as much HP as he does.

Castlevania / Akumajou Dracula (FC)
Stellar level and boss design. For me the biggest flaw is how big the gap is between the easier stages and the harder ones. Once you're good enough to 1CC the game, the first three stages pose zero threat. I still like them for what they are. The last three bosses are some of the best on the NES, though they suffer from crippling weaknesses to holy water. The second loop mostly just adds more respawning pest enemies. The biggest change is the beginning of stage 4, which becomes a harsh memorizer.

Castlevania: Bloodlines / Vampire Killer / Castlevania: The New Generation
Fast-paced and action-packed. There are two player characters, Johnny Morris and Eric Lecarde, with a bunch of minor differences between them. Basically Eric is a bit faster and can pole vault while Johnny hits a bit harder and can swing from his whip. Both characters move at the same speed in the air, so Johnny gets a speed boost from bunnyhopping. There are special items that make your weapon far more powerful, but it only lasts until the next time you take a hit. There are only three subweapons but each can be used in two different ways. It's a very solid game and I'd say its only serious flaw is that the bosses are a bit subpar and the final boss rush in particular can really drag on. The US version is more difficult than the JP version.

High Tier
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse / Akumajou Densetsu
A bigger, flashier, and less consistent version of Castlevania 1. It features multiple paths, but unlike Rondo, once you pick a path you're stuck with it for the rest of the game. The upper path is easier and is overall quite solid. The lower path is hit or miss and its falling block room might well be the most unpleasant part of the entire series. Boss fights are a huge step down from the original. You can recruit one of three partner characters and (slowly) switch between them and Trevor Belmont at will. Sypha has poor defense and low melee damage, but overwhelming offensive magic. Grant is the most agile partner, with the ability to climb walls and change direction in midair. Alucard has a ranged fireball attack and can temporarily transform into a bat. There are fairly significant differences between the JP and US versions. The JP version has higher quality audio and its version of Grant has an unlimited supply of throwing knives. The US version increases the difficulty in a number of ways and its version of Grant trades away his slow throwing knives for a quick stabbing attack with poor range but great damage potential. The western version also features a second loop which mostly makes minor changes, but also introduces the supreme terror among pest enemies: the dreaded medusa skulls.

Castlevania Chronicles / Akumajou Dracula (X68K)
A retelling of Castlevania 1. It's long, tough, full of variety, and has a solid selection of bosses. Simon's movement isn't quite as brisk as in the original, but it's not too bad. The playstation port is inferior with slightly altered enemy behavior and hit detection. The game loops but I don't know what changes.

Castlevania: Dracula X / Akumajou Dracula XX / Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss
A retelling of Rondo of Blood. For some reason they reduced Richter's speed to about 2/3 of what it is in Rondo and it feels bad. You can move a bit faster by bunnyhopping, but the ubiquitous respawning pest enemies punish this. You can't play as Maria either. With that said, if you can get past Richter's slowness there is some excellent level design here. The difficulty is overall fairly high, though it's also very generous with lives and hearts. That makes it one of the hardest Castlevanias to credit feed through but one of the easiest to 1CC. Moonwalking > Medusa heads.

Mid Tier
Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge / Dracula Densetsu II
A huge improvement over Castlevania: The Adventure. Christopher's still slow but not nearly as bad as he was last time. The level design is quite a bit better too.

Super Castlevania IV / Akumajou Dracula (SFC)
Another retelling of Castlevania 1. The sprites are much bigger and Simon can whip in 8 directions. This lets him attack nearly any part of the screen at any time and it comes at a great cost to the game's tactical side. It's pretty long and the difficulty takes a while to heat up. It's a perfectly competent game but I don't care for it.

Low Tier
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest / Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin
Similar mechanics to the original, but ruined by poorly implemented RPG elements and abysmal level design. The boss fights are shockingly bad compared to Castlevania 1. It still has some appeal, but Zelda 2, The Battle of Olympus, and Faxanadu are all much better takes on the same basic idea.

Castlevania Legends / Akumajou Dracula: Dark Night Prelude
Sonia is slow, the levels are repetitive, and enemies take too many hits. Who thought it was a good idea to lock you inside that zombie room if you whip one of the secret unlucky candles?

Castlevania: The Adventure / Dracula Densetsu
The worst thing about Castlevania: The Adventure is how unbearably slow Christopher is. It takes five full seconds to cross from one side of the Game Boy's dinky little screen to the other. The second worst thing is that its levels constantly draw attention to his slowness. Castlevania: The Adventure is all about getting caught in the world's slowest traps or failing to jump across a two foot gap because your move speed is just that bad.

Marc wrote:
I've not used Maria yet, it seems wrong to use anyone but a whip dude in a Castlevania game.


Renard + Lecarde 4 lyfe.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 2:13 am 


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There are many, many great Castlevania characters that don't use a whip at all.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:22 am 


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The last three bosses are some of the best on the NES, though they suffer from crippling weaknesses to holy water.


I think CVI is damn near an archetypically perfect action game, but this is the part where it falls down a bit for me. With Death in particular, there's no real way to fight him fair when going for a 1cc unless you take the cross, which is pretty inconsistent. If I could tweak one thing about the original, it'd be to strip out the cheese and make the bosses a little more doable without subweapons (though some might say that subweapon management is the entire essense of the game, and in a way I can't disagree with that).
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 Post subject: Re: you missed me?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:03 am 


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Vanguard wrote:
Castlevania: The Adventure / Dracula Densetsu
The worst thing about Castlevania: The Adventure is how unbearably slow Christopher is. It takes five full seconds to cross from one side of the Game Boy's dinky little screen to the other. The second worst thing is that its levels constantly draw attention to his slowness. Castlevania: The Adventure is all about getting caught in the world's slowest traps or failing to jump across a two foot gap because your move speed is just that bad.


Ranking aside, I'd like to inquire on this point about the WiiWare Rebirth title for completion sake.
Shame it shares the same name.
Surely you can give account on that?
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:13 pm 


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ReBirth is a great game, but a little uneven, and nowhere near the series' greats. It deserves praise for being the last real "classicvania". I'd rank it around the same as Castlevania 4. It's not as well crafted, but I prefer it simply for playing more like a traditional CV game. Some of the stages have a bit of exploration to them, but it's still by and large a linear action game.

Although I disagree with some of the priorities (especially not having CV3 in the top tier), Vanguard's list is very good, and summarizes the games well.


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 Post subject: Re: you missed me?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:06 pm 


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Ronyn wrote:
Ranking aside, I'd like to inquire on this point about the WiiWare Rebirth title for completion sake.
Shame it shares the same name.
Surely you can give account on that?


Haven't played it, I'll defer to Sumez. The only proper Castlevanias I've played aside from the list above (and I never completed Legends or C:TA) are Symphony of the Night and Order of Ecclesia. Symphony and Order are both superb but in completely different ways.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:47 pm 


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it290 wrote:
With Death in particular, there's no real way to fight him fair when going for a 1cc unless you take the cross, which is pretty inconsistent.

I think you can pretty consistently beat him with the cross. You can kinda bait the spawn points of the sickles, they appear around you but you can can go stand farther towards the edge of the screen, wait for them to appear and then quickly move past them. Doesn't work when Death is in your path but it can at least works between half and 2/3 of the time, which with a substantial life bar is enough to trounce him

not the easiest for sure but it can definitely be done pretty consistently. But even then, the fear of dying that remains, is what makes the 1CC attempt exciting. You definitely need to be sharp af and have your senses kicked in overdrive


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:54 am 


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The axe is good too. Even without upgrades the axe and cross give you a fighting chance. With a III they beat him almost as badly as holy water.


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 Post subject: Re: missed me too?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:02 am 


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Vanguard wrote:
Haven't played it, I'll defer to Sumez.


Bummer.

I find ReBirth to be tight. No fluff. True, stages tend to get lenghty, but there's almost always the option to shortcut and skip sub-bosses at your own convenience. Music is a treat and the sfx are re-used from the Mega Drive episode, which is nice. Some extra cartoon sounds aside. Stage 5, the clock tower, gives me the willies. Without familiarity it's a scare, and with it it becomes a pleasure. The 'Classic' option is available: the jump arc is fixed and sub-weapons are restricted to the cross and holy water. I have not completed hard mode, it is that steep. Gotta tackle that.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:34 am 


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"Classic" is mandatory!

Don't get me wrong, I really love ReBirth. I'm so glad they made that game.


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 Post subject: Re: faces of stone
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:40 am 


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Playing it again, I appreciate the nifty things.
How the stage 4 boss, stone golem, is so huge, the only time you see his face is when he falls vanquished to your feet.
I finally got to up my game to face the mid-boss on the very same stage and not to skip it. She's fun and the screens following are neat to scale vertical first and then moving horizontal over a collapsing bridge.

The game has a very nice flavour overall.
Funny thing is, that it wouldn't have bits of it, like the eyeballs or shooting whip, if it weren't for the nasty Game Boy title. Feels like an effort to rectify that.


This just in.
Apperantly the SEGA Mega Drive Mini will feature The Vania. Possibly all versions for the system.
The Mew Plantation is preserved for a new generation by unaware demand, because, hey, we don't know any better.
Puzzling.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:32 pm 


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Am I the only person who is 100% triggered by seeing Rondo ranked higher than X68k?

X68K > 3 > 1 > XX = Bloodlines >>> Rondo = 4 > Rebirth >>>>>>>>> Haunted Castle


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:19 pm 


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Rondo has worst Dracula tbh, but it's cinematically/aesthetically impressive. Despite this RoB was the CV I replayed frequently.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:58 pm 


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Obscura wrote:
Am I the only person who is 100% triggered by seeing Rondo ranked higher than X68k?

X68K > 3 > 1 > XX = Bloodlines >>> Rondo = 4 > Rebirth >>>>>>>>> Haunted Castle


xx iz dumb n ur a poop butt
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:44 pm 


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no u.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:03 am 


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Regarding ReBirth, it's a solid title overall. I had some beef with it when it was new but have mostly warmed up to it overall. Some design choices are pretty questionable, like the nerfing of the fireball whip (it's now a timed power-up) and raising the sub-weapon ammo count requirements (while simultaneously giving you less hearts than you would get in other Castlevania games). Not using enough of the Game Boy tunes always stuck out like a sore thumb to me as well and as a result it lacks less of a distinct identity compared to others in the series.

Still, the gameplay is solid. The boss fights are fairly on-point (Drac is more demanding than most, for instance), the path variety is nice and the varying difficulty levels are implemented well. To that last point, hard mode actually changes level features which is something you don't really see in the series. Platforms that were solid on normal mode are now endless pits, for instance--that sort of thing. The torture chamber level is especially dangerous now.

Sumez wrote:
"Classic" is mandatory!


Nah. Normally I'd prefer a 'Vania to have you committing to your jumps, but this game has so many little tiny steps that you have to get over that the free/mid-air control is clearly how the game was designed to be played. Classic mode just makes it feel extra clunky.

it290 wrote:
I think CVI is damn near an archetypically perfect action game, but this is the part where it falls down a bit for me. With Death in particular, there's no real way to fight him fair when going for a 1cc unless you take the cross, which is pretty inconsistent. If I could tweak one thing about the original, it'd be to strip out the cheese and make the bosses a little more doable without subweapons (though some might say that subweapon management is the entire essense of the game, and in a way I can't disagree with that).


Personally I wouldn't have the first Castlevania any other way than it currently is. Rebalancing fights would just destroy the satisfaction of overcoming them in the variety of ways the game allows you to. Taking on Death whip-only in his current form and doing so consistently is one of the most satisfying things a Castlevania player can do. Repetitive, predictable boss patterns (ala, most Bloodlines bosses) can get boring over time, whereas having to think on your feet and play reactively can keep fights feeling fresh years later (CV1's Frankenstein's Monster, Death, etc).
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:13 am 


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Obscura wrote:
no u.


touché, touché..
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:29 am 


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Where does Vampire Master of Darkness/Master of Darkness rank? ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:33 am 


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BrianC wrote:
Where does Vampire Master of Darkness/Master of Darkness rank? ;)


At the bottom, just above Legends. ;)
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:38 am 


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God you weren't kidding about Rondo's Maria - gave it a crack with her last night and had to turn of as I felt bed about how quickly she was tearing through the stages. Still, fun for the cack-handed I suppose, in fact my lad will probably like it; he managed to solo Dark Souls last year, but is utterly inept at anything 2D (moreso than myself).
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:15 pm 


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Yeah there's not much challenge, but for simple feel-good gaming, Maria is Contra tier. Maybe even better.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:46 am 


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Quote:
Am I the only person who is 100% triggered by seeing Rondo ranked higher than X68k?


Yes
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:16 pm 


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Austin wrote:
BrianC wrote:
Where does Vampire Master of Darkness/Master of Darkness rank? ;)


At the bottom, just above Legends. ;)

Ouch, harsh.
It's true, though.


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 Post subject: As always, the ally of worthless humans
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:43 am 


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Austin wrote:
Sumez wrote:
"Classic" is mandatory!


Nah. Normally I'd prefer a 'Vania to have you committing to your jumps, but this game has so many little tiny steps that you have to get over that the free/mid-air control is clearly how the game was designed to be played. Classic mode just makes it feel extra clunky.


In a similar tone: Nuh-uh. I did an easy 1cc Normal on 'Classic' option. Felt nothing clunky about it. Makes me think the stage 5 mid-boss fight with The Creature: High Monk of Electricity, would be somewhat of a wash, wouldn't it? Alas, I don't find it mandatory, though I preference it. It is what it is: optional. Pick what gets you the most fun out. And that's the second thing with 'Classic' for me. To learn to get around with the X and the water. On non-classic I would cling to the axe, fixated that it will help me in most situations. Relieved from that, I did adapt my game. I didn't feel I could go wrong with either, controlling space mid-air and grounds. And so it was.

I followed with a stab at hard mode and was delighted. Stage 2 offers a new creature to pace with and the beginning of stage 3 changed the structure around. I fell to bloody pieces. I'd think the re-release of this on the popular Switch (WiiWare) would be beneficial, so more peeps could play this and get a lashing 'tween the teeth.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:05 am 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
Austin wrote:
BrianC wrote:
Where does Vampire Master of Darkness/Master of Darkness rank? ;)


At the bottom, just above Legends. ;)

Ouch, harsh.
It's true, though.


Not surprised, though the GG one seems to be worse than SMS due to odd changes in an attempt to compensate for the lower resloution


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:01 am 


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BrianC wrote:
Not surprised, though the GG one seems to be worse than SMS due to odd changes in an attempt to compensate for the lower resloution


Ah, I need to play the Game Gear one to see what the differences are (screen crunch aside).
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:24 am 


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Get ready for some edgy, hot takes!

I decided to pull out the ol' PC Engine Super CD-ROM² drive for a playthrough of Rondo of Blood yesterday. It's possibly still the CV game I've spent the most time on, yet I think it's been well over 10 years since I last played this game, it's crazy!

Image

Considering all the talk I've seen of the game recently, and the almost unanimous praise it's been receiving, I was kind of surprised how easy it actually was. I recall both Death and Stage 7 (the clocktower) as being a bit of a challenge, but aside from some starting issues on the Bat Bridge™ they went down completely effortlessly. It's hard for me to say if it's just the old muscle memory at work though.
Meanwhile, Ghost Shaft was strangely a lot more difficult than I remember, and managed to take me down quite a few times before I got the hang of it. Dracula, too, is not entirely the pushover I recalled. Though, eventually figuring out that you can just jump over the fireballs took the difficulty of the first form from a 6/10 to somewhere around 1...
The second form can be ridiculously dangerous though, if you aren't extremely careful, and getting trapped under him can easily cost three full hits.

Overall, I know my next playthrough will be a 1CC. The game simply deals out way too much meat and 1ups for it to go any other way. And I figure with enough patience I can probably get a no-death run in, too.
If I recall correctly though, the upper path is a tad more challenging, so maybe I'll spend some time with that today before going for a better run.

The fact that it's one of the easier 'vanias doesn't mean it's not a great game though. Rondo is still absolutely top tier. One thing that did stand out to me however, was just how different this game is from basically any other game in the series. I love it as its own game, but it is very hard to compare directly to other Castlevania games!
You got much more lenient controls, less traversing of hostile architecture, and more going to the right tackling enemies, and often larger ones, one at a time. For example, one thing that stood out is the near lack of those rooms where you need to wrap around, playing the bottom part first, and then going back around the upper one. Despite very recently recalling that Rondo does this a lot, there is in fact almost none of it. Oops. It is all over XX however, and I find it curious how much more XX feels like a classic Castlevania game, when compared to Rondo - remarkably closer to the NES titles that I also love.

At the end of the day, returning to this title not only confirmed my memory of how good it is, it also managed to cement just how different XX really is from Rondo (you guys were right about that). However, definitely not in a bad way. In fact, I'll readily admit there are aspects unique to XX that I actually prefer. It's generally much more tight and methodical, like a true Castlevania game. If you continue to believe "it sucks because Richter walks slower", just open your mind and give it a few more runs. Stop comparing the two games.


A few days ago I also pulled out Castlevania Chronicles. I've only played the x68K version shortly on emulation long ago, like probably more than 15 years ago here, and I didn't really have fond memories of it. But the recent praise it's been getting around here (mostly from Squire I think?) made me want to revisit it. I know Chronicles isn't the best version of the game, but it's a lot more accessible, so I just popped it in to get a fresh impression of the game.

And unfortunately it's completely like I remember it. It's very classic Castlevania, so it's got that going for it, even if its level design makes it feel like a bit of a hybrid between the classic NES games and Castlevania IV. In fact, in a lot of ways it felt like sticking a traditional Belmont into IV, which I'm not entirely opposed to.
That said, Simon moves absurdly sluggishly. If XX is a worse game for Richter being a little slower, then what does that make this? Castlevania games have always had a slow pace, but this one just makes me impatient. And the fact that it's shock full of level design that makes you wait around even more doesn't help.
Full disclaimer though, I only attempted one playthrough, and I ended it on the fourth stage, so this isn't a complete and well researched opinion piece, it's just my first impressions after not having touched the game in over a decade. But I don't really feel inclined to continue the attempt, which is sad.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:25 am 



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PS1 port has a lot of issues. The resolution is wrong, sprite hit boxes are wrong, the game speed is wrong. (X68000s run at 55htz). As someone who has the original hardware for both, I can loop X68k all day, very fair game. PS1 has me rage quit about 3 stages in.

Control wise, its perfect for what the game throws at you. The 5-way whip is incredibly versatile, but never broken like IV's 8-way.

Biggest flaw for me is Death, only boss in the game without invincibility frames. Way too easy unless you go whip only.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:50 pm 


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Location: Liverpool
That's really interesting to hear, SuperDeadite, as someone who has only played the original version via emulation. Would you mind telling me about how the difficulty is affected in the port? I was aware of the speed difference due to it running in 60hz, but I didn't know there were iffy hitboxes, etc. Which ones are messed up, or is it just all of them? I'm a huge admirer of the game and hold it as the best iteration of Akumajō Dracula, so these issues won't stop me from enjoying it, but I'm fascinated to learn about the differences between the original and Chronicles (barring the obvious ones in Arrange mode), since I've always just taken it for granted that it was a very solid port.

I recently replaced my PAL copy of Chronicles with a Japanese one, and haven't got around to playing beyond the first four stages yet. There's at least one tricky spike trap in st3's caverns that, in hindsight, has possibly always been an example of what you're talking about. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:44 pm 



Joined: 23 Mar 2011
Posts: 584
PS1 version is a recreation, not a port nor emulation. So yeah stuff is just off from the original.

Hitboxes are off, I can squeeze through attacks on OG but not on PS1.

The speed increase is the worst offender, She Wolf sped up to 60hz makes the fight pure luck as you get far less time to read and react to her movements.

Original runs in high-res 31khz only, I can clearly see how close Simon's nose is to spikes. Reduced to 15khz, visual accuracy takes a big hit.

Even playing the real deal with the fan made 3D patch, I do better then when on PS1.

Also, hate to tell you but the JP PS1 release is bugged to hell. The Arrange Mode Redbook Audio (best reason to own the port) is broken, it will randomly stop playing mid-stage. This was fixed for USA release. Don't know about PAL.


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