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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:37 am 


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Thanks for the information! Yeah, that stings a bit - in the 10+ years I owned it I never encountered any sound issue with the PAL version. At least I'll know why it's happening if/when I start seeing it. Once again feeling very much in the market for an X68000. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:25 am 


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The one bit I don't like about either Rondo / XX, are corridors filled with 'big' enemies.
The bit before the ST7 boss on Rondo - the corridor full of green sword men - just isn't fun to traverse. It's doesn't even feel bad-ass to go through it with no damage, it's just s tedious slog.
There's a similar bit in XX with a brown corridor full of spear men - except these re-spawn should you leave the screen to look for bonus items. Joy.

I keep finding new ways of messing up in Rondo. I'd expected to get the 1LC, shelve it for now and move onto XX properly this week. Ho ho ho.
Lives lost on the big Sword dude on ST4, which I think I've now finally got the hang of. BUT, Death ended my second run last night (all 7 lives of it), then ST7 boss - which I'd gotten good enough at to do with no damage a night or two ago. Arse.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:51 am 


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Are you talking X or XX here?

If you're having trouble with the Death boss in Rondo, try using the cross defensively, it makes it very hard for him to get hits in on you.

And yeah "corridors of big enemies" is a very good example of something I find very unlike Castlevania (but on the other hand I don't really dislike these sections either).
It's not really prevalent in XX, though. I love how the spear guys are much more dangerous in that game.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:54 am 


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As I was browsing the WWW for stuff on Rondo, I randomly came across a review I wrote of the game for a local game site back in 2004!
It is kinda creepy to realize that this review is now older than the game was when I wrote it.
It's a pretty shitty review, and sounds completely like I remember 20 year old me. But I am kind of surprised about how on-point it is about basically everything. That said, I would probably focus on completely different stuff if I were to write it today. It spends a lot of time talking about the game's superficial elements, and very little on the gameplay. I also really hate that "...but does it hold up?" trope. :P

I still enjoyed it enough to translate the entire thing to English for posterity's sake.
If anyone cares, here is 20-year-old Sumez's take on Rondo of Blood, an import-exclusive at the time:


Spoiler: show
Not only was Akumajo Dracula X: Chi No Rondo never released outside of Japan - if you want to play it, you need to get ahold of a PC Engine, an 8 bit platform that never really took hold in the west. Sure, this is an 8 bit game, but thanks to CD-ROM technology, this still manages to be both huge and beautiful to look at. Chi No Rondo would become the Castlevania game we never got, and that's truly a shame. Because if you ask me, only very few platform games reach this level of excellence.

The game came out in 1993 - so two years after Super Castlevania IV. At first it might look like a step backwards. You can only whip straight ahead, and the jumps are nearly as stiff as in the NES games, while the 4th game gave the players significantly more control. However, that is one of the things I really enjoy in this game. It retains the charm of the older Castlevania games and demands more precision, a single misstep can turn into certain death. Chi No Rondo proves that this isn't an aged mechanic, but example of good, solid controls that only manage to ensure a better gameplay experience.

Chi No Rondo also has a lot of new ideas, but in spite of those additions, everything is as it should be. Once again, we take control of a Belmont who must defeat Dracula with his whip. You are playing as Richter Belmont, who was first introduced in this game. The arsenal is familiar, ranging from the knife to the cross shaped boomerang. The enemies are the same zombies, crows, and flying eyes that we know and love. I would even claim that the Castlevania series has never been represented as well as this. There is nothing to complain about here. The jumping fleamen aren't easy, but also not as frustrating as they could get in the predecessors. Medusa heads only appear when they should. Meanwhile, axe throwers who have had a tendency to be a little easy, require a bit more precision this time around.

The music also couldn't be any more Castlevania-like. It is completely in the spirit of the energic sound of the NES games. The biggest hits have been reused, and the new tracks are completely up to par. Since everything is redbook CD audio, the sound quality is perfect and a joy to listen to. Maybe even a contender as the best Castlevania soundtrack ever?

But Konami didn't settle for "just" assembling a perfect Castlevania game. No, they crammed the game full of ingenious little touches that make it ever so satisfying without ruining the classic elements. Most obvious are the vastly more detailed stages. Both in terms of graphics and design. All the stages are very creatively constructed, so you get an impression of actually being in each individual area, rather than simply working your way through a piece of videogame design.
Many stages have multiple routes through them, and if you fall through a hole, it won't kill you - instead you will often reach a completely different part of the stage you might have otherwise missed. Many hidden routes will take you to extra lives if you look around, but more importantly they help giving a better impression of the stages' structure and place in the world. The game has a ton of that stuff. For example you are able to work your way down to the engine room of the ghost ship on stage five, even if it isn't necessary to progress. But it is fun to explore, and helps the game feeling more "complete" than what you would normally see from this type of game. Some passageways also server a bigger purpose. As soon as the first stage you get the option of taking an alternative route instead of proceeding towards Dracula's castle. This leads into a total of four hidden stages that all require finding a hidden path to reach.

To keep track of everything it is possible to pick your starting stage from the title screen, provided you have already reached it. This helps keeping track of how far you are from having seen 100% of the game. It is also possible to purchase boss strategies for the money you find in the game. These are awarded as a small demo in which a skilled player expertly takes down each of the game's bosses without taking damage.

Included in the games are also a few damsels in distress. Aside from Richter's own girlfriend, Dracula has kidnapped three other girls. These can be found in the game by using a key to unlock a door in various stages. The game remembers who you have saved, so it is easy to keep track of. The most interesting one is probably Maria who acts as a secondary playable character once you free her.
Maria adds a lot to the game. First and foremost she makes it significantly easier. Especially the game's penultimate boss can be very challenging as Richter, but almost ridiculously easy as Maria. She is able to double jump and move while attacking, which gives the player a lot more freedom of movement. She also has a lot more movement tricks up her sleeve, which makes it extremely enjoyable to play around as her. Just don't expect to get the same solid challenge that playing as Richter gives. It is quite obvious that the game doesn't want to take Maria too seriously. For example getting a game over as Richter results in a gloomy screen littered with skulls. In Maria's case you get the "Game Over" message in cute, colorful kindergarten letters.

As already mentioned, the game keeps impressing with its graphical details. But it is quite an old game, so you might wonder wether it really holds up today - and it absolutely does. Graphically it offers some of the most beautiful 2D graphics I have seen in any game. It contains a plethora of creatively designed enemies, of which almost all were reused four years later in the PlayStation follow-up, Symphony of the Night, similarly famous for its impressive 2D graphics. So no doubt that they still hold up, and the same can be said for the rest of the game. This isn't pure arcade action, demanding the dedication of replaying it over and over to get through, as some of the predecessors would. Rather, this is a more easily accessible game that doesn't just excel in gameplay mechanics, but demonstrates a completely unheard of amount of depth and polish, the kind you might see in later games like Ico and of course Symphony of the Night. A fantastic and beautiful game that should appeal to anyone, though acquiring it might be a tad expensive. This is no doubt one of the platform genre's absolute heights.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:56 am 


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Sumez wrote:
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.


I've got mixed feelings on CVX68K. Simon's move speed is pretty bad. It might even be worse than XX, though I find the latter more noticeable due to its similarity to Rondo. It's long but it never feels like it's repeating itself. There's always a new idea waiting just ahead. Just because it has lots of ideas doesn't mean they're all good, though. Stage 2 in particular is just a big waste of time. The medium and heavyweight enemies tend to be my favorites in these games - I love the room just before Death in CV1 and the dual knight battle in Rondo's 5' - but CVX68K has very few of them. Stage 7 is the exception, and it's a head and shoulders above the rest in my book. The boss fights are excellent, a strong contender for the best in a great series. I definitely consider it a good game, though one I don't revisit often.

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


Dang, I looked up a video exploiting that and I had no idea it was that bad. I wish these games had stuck with the NES system where enemies don't have any mercy invincibility but each attack can only hit once. It feels great to alternate between the whip and a subweapon to shred bosses. That brief moment of hitstun is nice too. Probably my least favorite thing about Rondo is how generous it is with enemy mercy invincibility. It really cuts down on how aggressive you can be and it makes the cross nearly worthless.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:04 am 


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Rondo is definitely unique with its subweapons, and you never get to rely on them as much as any of the other games. The holy water is almost entirely useless, and the cross is almost entirely defensive (ie. the death fight). But the axe has a lot of utility, probably moreso than in the NES games. The knives are fun to play around with, but fortunately not as OP as in SOTN.
Meanwhile the stopwatch is actually really cool in this game too. I've never used it in any of the other games, but it's kind of fun to slow enemies down and just wreck them in Rondo.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:02 pm 


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Literally the only time I ever swap out the axe is before Death. Or maybe the Werewolf boss, that can be a bit unpredictable and the Water crash can come in handy.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:19 pm 


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Item crashes have a tendency to leave you in an unfortunate situation once you regain control, if used during boss battles. For Dogether or Dracula's second form it can outright kill you with poor placement.

I think on my recent two playthroughs (one lower route with stage 5, and one upper route with stage 5') I only used item crash to speed up the first part of the Carmilla boss fight a bit.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:35 pm 


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That water crash does soooo much damage though, and the constant ticks prevent bosses from moving too much while it's up. The game is so generous with hearts that I'll often more or less avoid subweapon use altogether in a level and then just completely destroy a boss with the water crash. If you use that twice on Drac 2nd form I think you only have to whip him 4 or 5 times to take him out...
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:20 am 


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Death is still making me cry. I'f I don't manage to no-miss up to him with enough hearts to use to cross crash twice, game over. Second phase is easy, but that first......
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:36 am 


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Sumez wrote:
But the recent praise it's been getting around here (mostly from Squire I think?)


It's also called the best one by Perikles, BIL, and Obscura (if he counts), and I think a few others. So it's not just my opinion being weird, heh.

I didn't like it at first but it grew on me as the best designed, and I don't find the move speed slow. Then again I do play the X68 version, not chronicles, which is different as superdeadite explained.

Will take a look at the other complaints later.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:22 am 


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By the way, and sorry if this is bit off-topic, but what's a good x68k emulator these days? I only have a version of WinX68k that's been on my hard drive for years, and testing it now on my current computer, CV runs at a really inconsistent speed, the framerate (and audio) constantly jumping up and down. I'm interested in comparing Chronicles to the original version in more depth, so it'd be great if there's something more stable available. The ones I've looked up online tend to be undated and look like they might be older than what I've got, heh.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:02 am 


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For Castlevania X68K I use XM6 TypeG. It probably works fine for other games but that's all I've ever tried with it. The PX68K core in Retroarch seems good for most things, but in Castlevania it has a bug where, about 80% of the time, the raft at the end of stage 2 vanishes, leading to an unavoidable death. I hear lots of emulators have issues with that part.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:39 am 


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Thanks a lot! That's one of the ones I was interested in but thought it might be outdated by now. I'll have a tinker with it soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:54 pm 


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Full line up for the comp announced.

1,2,3, GB Adventure, 2 and Kid Dracula, IV and Bloodlines.

Fuck off Konami.
Literally the cheapest, lowest effort shit they can get away with.

Amusingly, according to a review of the Arcade 'Collection', even the free book is a low-res repro of something that's already available in Japan.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:47 pm 


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I think it's a great lineup, but I have a strong appreciation for both GB games I don't expect many to share. It'll be good to finally have Bloodlines in a relatively futureproofed and inexpensive form, too - my New Generation copy was lost by a courier during a move and it's not likely to ever be replaced, now. Interested to see if Kid Drac FC is being localised (for the first time) or if they're audacious enough to use an untranslated ROM with dialogue parts.

Edit: I forgot Bloodlines is also in the Mega Drive mini collection, but still.

Edit: interest in this waning somewhat as I discover that the Arcade Collection has no control or display options whatsoever and crashes back to the desktop when I try to launch a game.


Last edited by Klatrymadon on Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:54 pm 


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Marc wrote:
Full line up for the comp announced.

1,2,3, GB Adventure, 2 and Kid Dracula, IV and Bloodlines.

Fuck off Konami.
Literally the cheapest, lowest effort shit they can get away with.

Amusingly, according to a review of the Arcade 'Collection', even the free book is a low-res repro of something that's already available in Japan.

If they are just going to stick existing roms in a cobbled together emulator then they could've surely stuck Rondo, XX, and X68000 in there as well.
Usually the allure of these collections is the first-time release of a well-known title on a newer platform. God forbid the idea of putting in some effort into a series Definitive Collection, it's not like people wouldn't pay top dollar to play SotN on their Switch.

I bet if they're ever bringing over the Gradius Collection from the PSP to modern platforms it's not even going to have Gradius Gaiden because they can't rely on the PSP's internal PSX emulation anymore.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:10 pm 


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Marc wrote:
Death is still making me cry. I'f I don't manage to no-miss up to him with enough hearts to use to cross crash twice, game over. Second phase is easy, but that first......


Man, I just recorded a run where I completely ravaged death, super fast and no hits taken. I wish I could share it, but of course my capture setup had to drop out during that fight >_>

Really, if you bring in the cross, just keep one going across the middle of the screen at all times and you'll be safe from moth scythes. It's quite a manageable as long as you take it easy and think about what you are doing. There's rarely more than one scythe going in your direction, so whenever you need to, focus on removing them instead of attacking Death. Touching him doesn't hurt you in that phase btw.


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 Post subject: Re: Simon says crawl
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:21 am 


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SuperDeadite wrote:
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).


Where does that leave the PAL Chronicles in speed?
Feeling lackadaisical for tech talk, I would appreciate an answer, if any, in terms close to 'faster', 'same', 'slower'.
Thank you.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:42 pm 


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I am kind of bummed at least XX or Adventure Rebirth aren't in this collection. Major missed opportunity, honestly.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:14 pm 


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With collections like this you hope to give fans an opportunity to explore parts of the the series they might have missed or not had access to. The curation of games is a missed opportunity on that front imo. Maybe they're deliberately leaving room for a second compilation, though I'm not counting on it.

Still, it will be good to have an official version of the games on PC if they are good ports.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:59 pm 


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Nah this is a really obvious case of not dealing with more emulator licenses than necessary for one compilation.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:49 pm 


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It went beyond me that Konami apparently invented a new Belmont character, Sepia Belmont, for their shitty ecchi gacha moba arcade whatever Bomberman spinoff "Bombergirl".

This is the official concept art

Spoiler: show
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:31 am 


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So I'd forgotten that Castlevania IV killing you because you dropped back down into an area you just came from was a thing.
I was in a pretty bad mood already, so I just gave up. Struggling to get back into this one I must admit.

Regularly making the Clock Tower on X, though there's some stuff there that annoys the life out of me also. In particular, spear dudes that essentially block your progress unless you bugger of back to the other side of the screen to lure them away from the stairs you need to go up. As I say, I was in a pretty bad mood though, so I might have been making more of an issue out of it than it really was.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:43 am 


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So, having finally gotten all the levels down individually, I went for my X 1CC last night.
All I have to say, is FUCK the clock tower. It’s an abysmal level – possibly the worst in either Rondo or X. With the axe, it’s a tedious slog, without it’s the aesthesis of fun. What I enjoyed about Rondo is that, with practise, you can really attack the levels. Here everything feels designed to just slow you right down; it’s the Metal Slug 3 of Castlevania. And if you’re one of those that’s ever slated CVIV for being ‘ugly’, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this shit-brown monstrosity; it’s like the artists lost the rest of their crayons down the back of the couch. It’s even more confusing that it’s then topped by possibly the most enjoyable boss of either game, in fact thinking about it, I probably prefer X overall as far as boss fights go. Anyways, I made it to Drac with a handful of lives left but got smashed by his second form because I ran out of sub-weapons. I’ve only found one maiden – I’m guessing I’m not supposed to use the key to exit ST4, but that level is usually pretty close for me without a sub-weapon so prolonging it isn’t an option I’ll be taking until after the clear. Overall I do enjoy it, and its high points are probably the better of the two titles – ST5’ is a perfect balance of fighting and platforming and both paths of ST4 are really enjoyable, but it’s mightily inconsistent.
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:59 am 


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I'm surprised X is giving you trouble. I'm kind of curious what your approach is, and what you could be doing differently. Maybe rely less on subweapons? Outside of the axe giving you a great extra angle, and the bible just being great for damage, the whip itself really covers a ton of ground and will hit almost anything.

The clock tower stage really isn't slow at all, outside of the hallway with all the greatsword knights, which itself is pretty short, and I think only 3 or 4 are really required to fight? If you bring a bible to this section (available right outside the room where you save Richter's GF) it'll tear right through them, usually in a single usage.

Dracula's second form is super devastating, but if you never whip him more than twice after a jump, and always expect him to jump immediately after that, you should be safe. Any other attack is easy to dodge. If you react just a tiny bit too late to a jump, it's impossible to walk under him. What subweapon are you trying to use for him? Outside of occasionally getting a few extra hits in with the cross, I do this one exclusively with the whip.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:00 am 


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Marc wrote:
I’ve only found one maiden – I’m guessing I’m not supposed to use the key to exit ST4, but that level is usually pretty close for me without a sub-weapon so prolonging it isn’t an option I’ll be taking until after the clear.


Annette is very hard to find without a guide. Try looking for a platform you can see but can't stand on, and then try to figure out how you could go about making it so you can stand on it. Or just look it up, that's what I did.

I think the clock tower is painful without the axe, but it's not a big deal with one, Death aside. I really don't like dealing with the crows with anything else. The axe kills most of the spear soldiers for free too. Don't forget that bats and medusa heads spawn on the side of the screen Richter is facing. Moonwalk your way to victory.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:21 pm 


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I think I might be confusing people.... I'm on SNES 'Vampire's Kiss' as it was over here. I thought it was Dracula X elsewhere?
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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:32 pm 


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Yes, that explains a lot.

PCE game is Dracula X, SNES game is Dracula XX. The US confused some people with its naming though, so people tend to avoid using "Dracula X" to describe either.


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 Post subject: Re: Castlevania Miscellanies
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:40 pm 


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Never heard rondo referred to as Drac X ??

The snes release was called "Castlevania Dracula X "
Googling dracula x just comes up with that.
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