Monday, November 17, 2014

Backlog Blitz: NES, Week 4, "A Terrible Night..."

Hey! A solid month of posting these things! That must be some kind of personal record. This week we've got Castlevania, Castlevania, and...more Castlevania. Way to go for the variety there, huh? I've got about as much imagination as Dracula--sorry, Alucard. 

I'm a pretty big fan of the overall vibe of Castlevania. The earlier ones, at least. Not so much the later ones that got kind of anime emo and such. Even though I like anime emo sometimes. Just not in my Castlevania. Muh Castlevania needs to be Gothic and spookay. CASTLEVANIA. GOTHIC. SPOOKAY. 

Oh, this music is the best... (Yeah, I start a lot of my comments off with the music. It’s the first thing I notice, and thus the first thing I write down.) AND I BEAT STAGE ONE. This is a huge deal for me, ya’ll. I’ve never beaten a stage in Castlevania before. I can die happy now. (Yeah, yeah, I suck at games. Also, I'm really hitting the parenthetical comments hard today. It must be the snow. I blame the snow.) The atmosphere and music….everything about this game is so Gothic, and I love it. Ruinous castles, monsters, all that jazz. Solely based on atmosphere, the Castlevania and Souls series are some of my favorites—I love the Gothic (taking a class on it right now, actually)--and Castlevania has Gothic tropes in spades. Back to the game, though. The controls here are so sticky. We’ve got Resident Evil levels of tankiness going on. And being knocked backwards when hit, in a platformer, makes the controls feel worse. Because, seriously, falling into a gap once because of a Medusa is bad luck. Falling into a gap thirty times because of a Medusa is just awful. Also, WHY ARE MEDUSAS SUCH A PAIN. Overall, I had a lot of fun here, despite getting stuck on the Medusa area just after the first boss. (I know, casual, etc.)

Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest
Wow. This is an awful sequel. Confusing, and not in the good Dark Souls or Metroid way, just obscure. The controls are somehow CLUNKIER, and the gra—
As I was saying, the graphics are unimproved over the original. You’d think they’d have made things look BETTER now that they were more used to creating that Gothic look on the NES, but apparently not. It’s definitely a different game, but I’d need a walkthrough and some cheats to have ANY chance of progressing. The music is still great, ho—
Oh, and the freaking text boxes. Geez. Just. WHY would you do that? This makes the stupid owl from Ocarina of Time seem concise and to-the-point. Slow text boxes and unskippable cutscenes are two things you should never do as a game developer. If you have done those things, please reconsider your career choice. 

Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse
Oh. Oh my. The graphics are so much more detailed in this. Everything just looks so much better, despite the fact that it’s running on the same system as the previous two games. It’s immensely improved. I am a happy man-thing. The music, too, is better. And that opening cinematic—surprisingly epic! Everything about Dracula’s Curse feels so vibrantly Gothic. That’s not a combination of words I ever expected to use, but I just did. So deal with it. It’s vibrant, and it’s Gothic. And it’s awesome. The gameplay, also, too, feels much tighter—the controls are more responsive, the layouts are more sensibly navigable, while still challenging. There’s a persistent problem with stairs that’s carried over from the first two games (I forgot to mention it in my notes for them), but that’s minor when I’m having fun. And I am. This reminds me of Dark Souls a bit, in that when I progress, it feels like a result of my skill, not dumb luck. It probably still IS dumb luck, but, you know. Although, those bloody hunchbacks… HOW DID THEY MAKE AN ENEMY WORSE THAN MEDUSAS? Overall, I’d rank this the highest of the three NES Castlevanias. I’m super excited for the SNES Castlevanias, honestly. Should be pretty fun, I think. 

Next week: Crystalis, Cobra Triangle, Contra. Guess which one I didn't get far in.