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 Post subject: Castlevania megathread
PostPosted: Mon Dec 1, '14, 8:56 am 
Castlevania has been talked about here before but never in a general topic. I think I should fix that! Especially since Castlevania is a franchise very close to my heart.

Castlevania is right up there with Sonic and Phantasy Star as being one of my all-time favorites (In terms of raw enjoyment, not necessarily consistency). Unlike Sonic, which has a narrative where people remember the bad games and forget the good, Castlevania is kind of the exact opposite. People remember the good and forget the bad (And trust me, as a hardcore Castlevania nut, Castlevania has about as many stinkers as any other franchise does). Which is odd because I'd argue the two series have about the same general level of quality (Extremely inconsistent but great when Konami/Sega manage to get their heads out of their asses) but hey, that's just me.

I've played most of the series, sans the 3D games. I've played all the Classic and Metroidvania games and enjoyed some and hated others. Its funny that the metroidvania games get the narrative of being too easy in comparison to the Classic games (That's a lie, the only "easy" Metroidvania is Symphony of the Night. Every other Metroidvania has a very respectable difficulty curve to say the least and this is from someone who can complete Castlevania 3 on one life).

I generally prefer the sidescrollers but I still find a sense of enjoyment out of the metroidvania titles. I don't really buy into the narrative that they aren't "real" Castlevania games (I'd argue that Castlevania: The Adventure on the Game Boy is less of a real Castlevania game than Symphony of the Night is! Then again, I think CV:TA is absolutely awful and one of the worst games in the series). I *do* agree with the classic fans that the Classic games are better than the metroidvanias, but not for being a more pure experience.

You see, Castlevania is somewhat of an antithesis to how a lot of people play video games. In Castlevania, aggression will GET YOU KILLED. EVERY TIME. You are meant to play carefully and methodically, not to go charging in with reckless abandon. This even applies in the easier CV games (but not to the same extent). If you struggle with Castlevania, try playing more carefully, taking in more of your surroundings and your resources. You'll notice that the difficulty level drops *significantly*. And there's subweapons. Subweapons are such a crucial component to classic Castlevania its not even funny. And to think most people I see playing CV completely ignore them and THEN wonder why they're getting destroyed by the game. Gee, I wonder why... But yeah, Castlevania games are built with the idea that you're going to use a subweapon in a certain area unless you want to suffer badly. And if you use that subweapon in a methodical and calculating manner you'll get through even the most difficult parts much more easily. What's this all mean? That means the inns and outs of learning Castlevania are some of the most satisfying parts of the experience. And it really is a learning experience in the purest sense. Every single playthrough you will have learned something about the game, its mechanics, its level design, etc. as long as you are paying attention. And I love learning! And that makes mastering the Classic games so inherently satisfying. There's very few types of video games that match survival in Castlevania in terms of just how it feels.

So in short, Castlevania is a series that's about using your brains and your mental reflexes moreso than any physical reflexes. Having good reflexes is really irrelevant in Castlevania, unlike what a lot of people think about action games. Someone with bad reflexes can dominate while someone with great reflexes can struggle if they don't know how the game is intended to be played. It really is a thinking man's action series and that's what I appreciate so much about it.

Unfortunately, I don't have much experience with the 3D games. I intend on changing that (I *do* have access to the 2 N64 CV games, but just haven't gotten around to them). Oh and there's also Castlevania 4 which as far as I'm concerned is one of the greatest games of all time. At the very least, I think its the absolute best game on the SNES.

I could rant on and on about the small little details about each individual game but if I did that this post would have an insane length. But if you want them, don't be afraid to ask (Because seriously, I can write a full essay on a single Castlevania game, much less the entire franchise)!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 1, '14, 2:20 pm 
I love Castlevania. I do have to disagree with the idea that the Metroidvania games are challenging, though. Circle of the Moon is mildly difficult at times, and Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia have very legit modes (Old Axe Armor and Level 1 cap respectively), but the core games themselves are generally quite easy. Simply being able to level up and equip armor and weapons in a platformer takes away a lot of the brutality the older games had.

One of my favorites is Castlevania 64. That music. And that atmosphere.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 1, '14, 8:45 pm 
Bragatyr wrote:I love Castlevania. I do have to disagree with the idea that the Metroidvania games are challenging, though. Circle of the Moon is mildly difficult at times, and Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia have very legit modes (Old Axe Armor and Level 1 cap respectively), but the core games themselves are generally quite easy. Simply being able to level up and equip armor and weapons in a platformer takes away a lot of the brutality the older games had.

One of my favorites is Castlevania 64. That music. And that atmosphere.


Maybe it has to do with my playstyle. I'm adamantly an anti-grind kind of person. I'll go into areas with low levels, much lower than what's probably anticipated. I only kill the enemies in front of me, I never grind enemies for experience.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 1, '14, 10:09 pm 
I like all the Metroidvania games, but Lament of Innocence holds a special place in my heart for how exactly a 3D Castlevania should be executed. It took the mechanic of having a whip-based character, and didn't get boring or limit the character.

Curse of Darkness was okay, but I found the final boss required endless grinding, which I am not a fan of. And in general, there wasnt much that separated it from any other 3rd person 3D game where you control a guy with a sword and a familiar.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 2, '14, 5:10 am 
Subweapons from best to worst are Boomerang > Dagger > Axe > Holy Water > Stopwatch. (Certain things like the Bibles and Sacred Fist from Harmony of Dissonance and the Diamond and Sacred Ashes from Symphony of the Night aren't included in that because they're not in every game.)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 2, '14, 9:11 am 
Snorb wrote:Subweapons from best to worst are Boomerang > Dagger > Axe > Holy Water > Stopwatch. (Certain things like the Bibles and Sacred Fist from Harmony of Dissonance and the Diamond and Sacred Ashes from Symphony of the Night aren't included in that because they're not in every game.)


Subweapon affectiveness depends on the game in question (Though I have to question by what logic the Dagger is better than the Holy Water!).

CV1: Holy Water>Cross>Axe>Stopwatch>Dagger
CV3: Cross>Holy Water>Axe>Stopwatch>Dagger
CV4: Cross>Holy Water>Axe>Stopwatch>Dagger
Rondo of Blood: Axe>Cross>Book>Dagger>Holy Water
Bloodlines: Axe>Cross>Holy Water
Symphony: Dagger>Holy Water>Book>Axe>Cross

Quote:Read my lips:

Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest.

One of the greatest of all the terrible games that have ever been made, bar none. :mrgreen:

The music is great--forget about "Bloody Tears", there's nothing better than the town theme. The not-quite-RPG elements are great, the day-to-night transitions are great, and those terrible, badly translated clues (some of which don't make much more sense in the original Japanese, apparently)--mmm! Now that's a game. A terrible, terrible game. And I love it. :mrgreen:

(I could try and dissolve blocks all day. So terrible. But so much fun. :mrgreen:)


I don't hate CV2, but I certainly don't like the game. But I'd be lying if I said it was the only "bad" CV game. The GB Trilogy (The Adventure, The Adventure 2, Legends aka as the Unholy Castlevania trilogy), Haunted House, Chronicles (Specifically the Sharp X68000 port of Akumojou Densetsu), Harmony of Dissonance are all worse than CV2 to me.

One thing that really bugs me about CV2 is the art. Its DULL. Like seriously, nothing feels inspired about the artwork. Its the same backgrounds over and over again, which makes everything feel monotonous. This is a stark contrast to CV1 where all the backgrounds were unique and had cool art. It really added to the atmosphere to the game. There was a LOT of attention to detail poured over in making Castlevania 1. Castlevania 2? There's nowhere near as much detail. Its painfully obvious that CV2 was rushed and didn't have the dev time needed for its ideas to shine. This is even more obvious in Castlevania 3 which DID have the necessary dev time and the game looks even more unique than Castlevania 1 did!

I'm not going to parrot the AVGN when it comes to CV2, but I can't honestly call CV2 a good game. But at least it's not the worst game in the series (Which I'd say is probably the arcade game - Haunted Castle)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 2, '14, 5:54 pm 
I'd be happy if CV2 got an a metroidvania makeover with upgraded music and graphics, whilst still retaining the 2D sidescroll thing.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 2, '14, 8:52 pm 
Zio_Falz wrote:I'd be happy if CV2 got an a metroidvania makeover with upgraded music and graphics, whilst still retaining the 2D sidescroll thing.


Here's a list of improvements a remake of CV2 could have:

- Improved artwork. Castlevania as a franchise has FANTASTIC art, so CV2 being very mediocre in that regard is a bit unsettling.
- More musical variety. The tracks that are there are good but there needs to be more variety.
- A new script. I don't mean a new translation, a new freaking script. The original japanese script is still rather nonsensical in a lot of places. Get rid of the "villagers blatantly lie to you" crap. You don't need to handhold the player, but I think things like "Oh yeah you need the red crystal at x cliff and you have to duck" should be added because of how cryptic that is otherwise.
- More subweapons. CV2 needed to have the axe and cross, especially with the types of enemies you face.
- Get rid of the lives system. Just restart at the beginning of the area when you die, but don't take away hearts from the player (That only necessitates more grinding, it doesn't make the game any harder)
- Lower the price of some of the things you have to buy so you don't need to grind.

Those changes would make CV2 into a pretty solid proto-Metroidvania.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 7, '14, 4:34 am 
I like a more restrictive control scheme in Castlevania, too. I thought Rondo of Blood struck a good balance, though. It was responsive, but limited. That was my main issue with CV4, it just didn't feel like a Castlevania game.

The real question, though, is...favorite Castlevania soundtrack?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 7, '14, 9:43 am 
Parma Ham wrote:I like the weird clues in CV2, but I agree the lying should be done away with. I think they could make the clues work, and I'd love to see more of that in a remake.

Now how about this: Dracula X or Super CV4?

I say Dracula X. The gameplay's solid enough, the music is 10x better than CV4, and the visuals are more interesting. (And I prefer the more restrictive control scheme. ;))

Thoughts?


You're pulling out my inner Castlevania elitist out of his shell.

CV4 by an incredible margin. Even over Rondo of Blood.

I understand the arguments for the restrictive control scheme, and as someone who can do CV3 on a single life I certainly don't mind the old school control scheme. However that doesn't mean I prefer them. I think CV4's control scheme has the other games beat on pure intuitive design alone.

Not to mention, the ability to use the limp whip is HUGE. It really cannot be underestimated how big of an addition it is. Its super intuitive (always a plus in my book) and its so incredibly useful in every facet of the game. It can save your butt from instant death by knockback if you know when and where to use it, not to mention it allows you to deal with those damned birds.

Oh and there's the music + atmosphere. CV4 has a KILLER atmosphere. Its mature, haunting and gripping all at the same time. It really pulls you in and almost tells a kind of silent narrative. Every level carries its own special atmosphere and has a thematic purpose, while at the same time every level adds to the major atmosphere and theme of the game as a whole. I mean there is no feeling in the world, and I mean NONE like when you get ready to take on Dracula and the Theme of Simon kicks in. I've never felt a more emotional or inspired moment in a video game ever. Oh and the ending credits are killer. It almost makes me want to shed a manly tear listening to it. It really is special. To this day I still don't understand people that say that CV4 has a bad soundtrack. It's one of my all-time favorite video game soundtracks.

There's so many cool little details in CV4's levels and artwork. The dead zombie horse in the background of the first level. The buildup of entering Dracula's Castle in level 5 (No seriously, just a tiny small detail like the wind blowing through the grass is more than enough to pull you into the experience like you're actually there and make it truly EPIC) is second to none. And there's the golden skeletons in level 9, reflecting Dracula's treasury.

I mean yeah, Rondo doesn't lack for atmospheric effects either but it just DOES NOT touch CV4 in that regard. For a very early SNES title, CV4 is downright beautiful. Rondo is a technically impressive game for the TG-CD but it doesn't have the same kind of beauty to it that CV4 does.

Dracula X... I don't think DX is a terrible game, or even bad but compared to better CV games it falls short by quite a lot. The physics flatout feel weird compared to Rondo and the boss fights are borderline cheap without spamming item crashes. Hell, try to fight Death without spamming the Axe item crash so you don't get instant death knockback. Ultimately, it tries to copy Rondo but on the SNES but for the most part it fails to measure up to that game, much less CV4. But Dracula X is at least better than some of the really bad games in the series like the Game Boy CVs.

I really, really enjoy Rondo of Blood a lot but I also have some issues with the game that I struggle with. One of the biggest additions to the game are item crashes. And after having beaten Rondo at least 15-20 times I've come to the conclusion that item crashes are worthless outside of extremely desperate circumstances. See, the damage that item crashes do is really pitiful. They'll clear a screen, but at a very inefficient heart consumption rate. You're better off using your standard subweapon to deal with enemies. Its waaaaaay more efficient. And since you don't really get that many hearts to use in Rondo, efficiency kind of matters.

Oh and Maria completely breaks the game, but you knew that already.

Rondo is still a great game and all, but it felt like a step backwards to me instead of progressing further with the series. So I don't really get the people that prefer Rondo over CV4, but I'm also a very atmospheric driven person so yeah. But CV4 is also my 2nd favorite game of all time, so that probably puts CV4 at just a tiny little advantage.


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