Castlevania

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Stalvern
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Castlevania

Postby Stalvern » June 1st, 2022, 9:05 am

I've been thinking lately about how much I love Castlevania III. It almost feels underrated, given the worship Rondo of Blood gets – I do love Rondo of Blood, but Castlevania III has more complex levels, more characters (who aren't half as cheap as Maria), and darker, richer atmosphere. (It also has a much better clock tower, the most important part of any Castlevania game.) Even the American version, without the special sound chip and with the nerfed Grant, is still the pinnacle of the series to me. The Japanese version is transcendent. How did they pull this off after Simon's Quest?

Please gush about your favorite Castlevania here, even if you're wrong and it isn't Castlevania III.

Zack Burner
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Re: Castlevania

Postby Zack Burner » June 1st, 2022, 9:25 am

Alright, one of my favorite game series! I've got three all-time favorites:

Super Castlevania IV - some say it's a sequel to Simon's Quest, some say it's a remake of the first game, but whatever the case it's a legend on the SNES. There are lots of things I like about this game: the ability to whip in 8 directions as opposed to 2 in earlier installments, the bestiary, the music, the level design, the bosses, and of course the Dracula fight. The bosses themselves are all memorable whether they're easy (like Rowdwain, Medusa, or Frankenstein) to downright hard (like Death, Dancing Spectres, Akmodan, and Slogra). Gotta love Simon's theme, gets you in the right mood.

Castlevania Bloodlines - The only Genesis title is in the same league as Super Castlevania. I like that you can pick one of two as opposed to sticking with one character. Both John and Eric are great I can't favor one over the over. I like some blood effects like the halving of the zombies, the gibbing of the hellhound, and decaptiation of the harpies. My favorite piece of music is the Leaning Tower of Pisa theme as it's pretty creepy. The bosses are all memorable. I like the nice trip around Europe for levels instead of just in the castle itself.

Castlevania 64 - the most underrated in the series is my all-time favorite Castlevania game. I don't understand all the hate and backlash this one got as it's got some virtues that far outweigh any negatives it has. The negatives are the awkward camera angles, the floaty controls, and the puzzle where one part has you carrying magical Nitro. Like Bloodlines you can choose between 2 characters, and while I like both, Reinhardt is my character of choice for the whip and sword. The bosses are terrific like the giant skeleton, Rosa, Death, the Demon Bull, and the final Dracula fight in an alternate dimension that will really have you on your toes. Best of all the endings should you perform well, are worth all the pain. Adding to all this is an element of horror that 2D installments don't have such as the vampire ambush in the villa and the infamous Hedgemaze chase, which has given many players nightmares. Too bad the creator took this out of canon as this game deserves more respect.

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DrLitch
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Re: Castlevania

Postby DrLitch » June 1st, 2022, 10:32 am

Castlevania III is certainly up there and it has that old school charm of giving the player few crumbs of comfort, your personal feelings be damned on the final level. I like it a lot. I personally consider the first Castlevania and Castlevania III to be in the same league for different reasons although the scope of III and it's ambition is remarkable. This is basically an Alien vs Aliens debate as to the better film.

Super Castlevania IV was compelling in it's own way but to me it was missing what made the prequels special. For one the boss battles were very mediocre and the game was designed perhaps to mitigate the potential for temper tantrums. I must admit I struggle to muster enough nostalgia for this one to pull this over the line. A good game but definitely not great (apart from the ending sequence where the hall lights up and you climb the stairs).

Rondo of Blood brought Castlevania back. Part of what makes this game so special is the Audio and Visual quality - on a system that purportedly was the weakling of the big three. Parallax scrolling? It is there. Better than Castlevania III? I don't know about all that but it certainly worthy of the praise it gets. It is up there for sure.

Bloodlines is also up there with the best Castlevania games. Solid challenge, trippy level design, awesome soundtrack. My brother thought I was just being a Genesis fanboy for preferring it to SCIV but he more recently agreed it was a better game. Time has been kind to it - it is different but it is still a pure Castlevania entry at heart.

The Sharp X68000 also had it's own Castlevania game. I did not play it until I purchased the computer for a reasonable price much later in life. It was released on the PS1 as Castlevania Chronicles. Like SCIV it is a remake of the original Castlevania except sticks a little closer to the original material and there are some Haunted Castle references in there. The most challenging Castlevania I have played and the soundtrack has many options on hardware. Quite brilliant stuff but low on the novelty front. A worthy entry nonetheless.

Castlevania 64 is definitely fascinating but I have a hard time calling it good. One that has the potential to grow - it just requires a grab me moment. There were apparently two games on the N64 I have only played one of them. The one where you have to bomb walls I did not play.

Castlevania Adventure Rebirth on the Wii is surprisingly good although not a top tier entry.

There were a couple of 3D titles on the PS2 I thought were good, if perhaps a little cheesy. It has been over 15 years since I last owned a PS2 so I cannot remember their names. (I could of course Google them :lol: )

I wont bother commenting on the Metroidvanias since .... being a fanboy of RPG's and the genre would bias my opinion too much.

My vote for best, Rondo of Blood, Castlevania III/Castlevania, Bloodlines. Not necessarily in order.

Rondo of Blood for the win perhaps on grounds the soundtrack blew my mind and it heavily inspired Symphony of the Night.

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Stalvern
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Re: Castlevania

Postby Stalvern » June 1st, 2022, 8:19 pm

Zack Burner wrote:Adding to all this is an element of horror that 2D installments don't have such as the vampire ambush in the villa and the infamous Hedgemaze chase, which has given many players nightmares.

I don't know if it's in the original game, but Legacy of Darkness has skeletons riding motorcycles in the hedge maze, which alone makes it a great game.
Last edited by Stalvern on June 1st, 2022, 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Matchstick
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Re: Castlevania

Postby Matchstick » June 1st, 2022, 8:57 pm

Stalvern wrote:I don't know if it's in the original game, but...

I believe the original Castlevania 64 had Frankenstein's monster chasing you through the hedge maze with a chainsaw! Haven't played the game in decades, but that part stands out in my somewhat-fragmented memory.

Skeletons on motorcycles were in the first part of the game, the opening area with the giant ape-like skeleton boss that rose up out of the ground. At the time, I thought Castlevania 64 made an excellent first impression.

I rented the original NES trilogy over and over again as a kid. Growing up in Kentucky, we didn't have access to many stores that sold video games, so rentals were often my own way to play any game, period.

My favorite is, was, and likely always will be Dracula's Curse. It was the first one I owned, as it was the only one FuncoLand had in stock when I went away from town one day looking for a Castlevania title. I still have the orange cardboard store-branded dust sleeve they gave me with the game, too. Classic.

I also adore Bloodlines. Like Litch said, my Super NES-loving friends gave me a ton of lip for liking the game back in the day. But I do agree it has aged well. It's nice to see it be re-released in recent years.

Rounding out my top three would be Belmont's Revenge for Game Boy. As much as I loved Castlevania Adventure, the second game upped the ante in almost every way. I might still prefer the first Adventure title due to nostalgia alone (what a killer soundtrack!) but once I got the follow-up, it didn't take long for me to recognize its greatness. As a bonus, both titles play great on Super Game Boy, too!

Hagane
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Re: Castlevania

Postby Hagane » June 1st, 2022, 9:39 pm

Castlevania III is a fantastic game, I would pick it over Rondo of Blood, Rondo is great but I do prefer III over it, the first Castlevania on NES also a very good game but III improved on it in almost every way.

Super Castlevania is fantastic too, very atmospheric with outstanding music, the 8 way wip made it unique and special in the Castlevania series, a nice change of pace. As for Bloodlines it's ok, it's just that it seems like a bunch of discarded stages from other Castlevania games throwed togheter but without an unit, no wonder many people forget it even exist, but it's a fun game. There is also Castlevania Dracula X on SNES, a remixed version of Rondo of Blood, a cool game with beautiful graphics, a very hard game btw. Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge on Game Boy is great too. As for Castlevania Chronicles on PS1 I'm yet to finish it.

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Stalvern
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Re: Castlevania

Postby Stalvern » June 1st, 2022, 10:32 pm

Matchstick wrote:I believe the original Castlevania 64 had Frankenstein's monster chasing you through the hedge maze with a chainsaw! Haven't played the game in decades, but that part stands out in my somewhat-fragmented memory.

Skeletons on motorcycles were in the first part of the game, the opening area with the giant ape-like skeleton boss that rose up out of the ground. At the time, I thought Castlevania 64 made an excellent first impression.

The Frankenstein monster with the chainsaw is definitely in Legacy of Darkness, but I don't think the motorcycle skeletons show up so early. I remember just being blindsided by the first one coming out of the fog in the maze.

JWK
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Re: Castlevania

Postby JWK » July 15th, 2022, 11:29 pm

I can’t believe I didn’t notice this thread before today. Lol. I’ve been known as the Castlevania guy for a while here. It remains to this day my favorite video game franchise of all time. But my tastes have changed a bit since posting reviews for games in the series almost 10(!) years ago. Let’s do this!

1. Akumajo Dracula X: Chi No Rondo - Looks like this is a popular one for people to at least mention in this thread. To me, this is by far the most ambitious game in the linear series, even if you don’t think it’s the best. The graphics, the music, the anime cutscenes, the requirement of the Super CD Rom2 attachment to the PC Engine, the branching paths, the graphic update to common enemies, the multiple playable characters, the optional save-able girls, and secrets, secrets, secrets! Plus, I *do* think this is the best game in the entire series. It’s infinitely playable. There’s rarely a month that goes by that I don’t finish it completely. If I’m nit-picky, I could fault the game for being a little too easy. But it’s not difficult to overlook when the game itself is so good. Believe the hype. Rondo of Blood is the real deal.

2. Symphony of the Night - Yet another popular choice, but I can’t discount my love of a game just because others love it too. As a first “Metroidvania,” this set the bar incredibly high. And while I would certainly entertain the notion that either “Sorrow” game is actually better, this has the most memorable castle design and best graphics of any of the non-linear Castlevanias. Alucard is a blast to control, most enemies have a ludicrous number of animation frames and the music is the best of the entire PS1/Saturn/N64 generation. I now own the Saturn version and it’s pretty wonky with slowdown, no transparencies and stretched graphics to deal with the console’s higher resolution. But it’s still fun to see the differences, the new areas, and Maria as a playable character right from the start. In terms of voice acting, I’ll always love the NA original. “What is a man?!?” is now common gamer jargon. The PSP port probably has *better* voice acting from an objective quality standpoint, but trust me. Go for the original.

3. Castlevania III: Draculas Curse/ Akumajo Densetsu - It warms my gamer heart to see so many love this game as much as I do. So what do we have here? One of the most ambitious games on the NES/Famicom. Perhaps the console’s best graphics, use of color and music. Branching paths, fluid gameplay, precise hit-boxes, perfect difficulty curve. And with the ability to finish the game with multiple characters, the replayability is through the roof. If you have the chance to play the Famicom game, you’ll love the extra audio channels and the subtle differences between it and the North American game. If Gimmick/Mr. Gimmick didn’t exist, I’d say this is the single best 8-bit game in the history of the medium.

4. Aria of Sorrow - Oh, man… It took me a while to choose between this, Dawn of Sorrow and Portait of Ruin. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. But it’s difficult to bet against Aria, probably the single best game in Nintendo’s entire Gameboy line. One immediate fault has more to do with the GBA’s scratchy, mono speaker than it does with the music itself, the composition of which is excellent. It’s fun to have a new, future setting for a Castlevania. Plus it takes place on the moon, so that’s… something. Lol. Soma Cruz is fun to control and some of the large swords later in the game are arguably more fun to do combat with than the whip the series is most known for. It’s a very short experience, too. Might take you 5 hours to beat if it’s your first time. But replaying it has proven quite enjoyable. It’s also pretty fun to use Julius Belmont in the post-game content, but using Julius/Alucard/Yoko in Dawn of Sorrow and Richter/Maria in Portrait of Ruin is far more fun and fulfilling. But the base game in Aria is the superior experience. Probably. Maybe. I might change my mind tomorrow.

5. Castlevania: Bloodlines - It might be a little surprising to have this unique game as my #5 pick, but I feel confident in saying it deserves a spot here. Konami was late in the console generation to support the Mega Drive/Genesis, but they squeezed everything they could out of the hardware. Amazing graphics and color. Incredible music (on a console famous for having inferior sound capability compared to its contemporaries). Fast, satisfying action. I’m a Castlevania traditionalist, so I only play as John Morris but I like that Eric LeCarde is an option. Nice for replayability, for sure. And while the game is pretty tough, it’s very bearable with a little practice. Replaying the game after you’re familiar with it has actually increased my appreciation of it, as opposed to Super Castlevania IV that seems less fun with familiarity. I know that’s a controversial statement, but I know Castlevania IV like the back of my hand and I can’t really get myself to play it much anymore. But Bloodlines is superb and perhaps the most underrated game in the entire franchise.

Those are my picks! It’s important to know that while playing the original games on the native hardware is, of course, awesome all 5 of my picks are available on PS4/5. Most are available on Switch, too, so the barrier to play these masterpieces is pretty low, all things considered. I enjoyed reading everyone else’s posts. There are no wrong answers and no wrong way to enjoy one of gaming’s most consistently great series. Continue to enjoy these games for years to come!

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m0zart
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Re: Castlevania

Postby m0zart » August 19th, 2022, 11:51 pm

Zack Burner wrote:Castlevania 64 - the most underrated in the series is my all-time favorite Castlevania game. I don't understand all the hate and backlash this one got as it's got some virtues that far outweigh any negatives it has. The negatives are the awkward camera angles, the floaty controls, and the puzzle where one part has you carrying magical Nitro. Like Bloodlines you can choose between 2 characters, and while I like both, Reinhardt is my character of choice for the whip and sword. The bosses are terrific like the giant skeleton, Rosa, Death, the Demon Bull, and the final Dracula fight in an alternate dimension that will really have you on your toes. Best of all the endings should you perform well, are worth all the pain. Adding to all this is an element of horror that 2D installments don't have such as the vampire ambush in the villa and the infamous Hedgemaze chase, which has given many players nightmares. Too bad the creator took this out of canon as this game deserves more respect.


I always think I’m a weird Castlevania fan, because I loved boTh Castlevania 2 and Castlevania 64. Castlevania 64 is a crazy good ride and has a truly creepy atmosphere that other Castlevania games don’t have. Most of them have a cartoonish sense to them, but Castlevania 64 definitely did not.

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m0zart
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Re: Castlevania

Postby m0zart » August 19th, 2022, 11:55 pm

Stalvern wrote:
Matchstick wrote:I believe the original Castlevania 64 had Frankenstein's monster chasing you through the hedge maze with a chainsaw! Haven't played the game in decades, but that part stands out in my somewhat-fragmented memory.

Skeletons on motorcycles were in the first part of the game, the opening area with the giant ape-like skeleton boss that rose up out of the ground. At the time, I thought Castlevania 64 made an excellent first impression.

The Frankenstein monster with the chainsaw is definitely in Legacy of Darkness, but I don't think the motorcycle skeletons show up so early. I remember just being blindsided by the first one coming out of the fog in the maze.


The chainsaw Frankenstein is in both Castlevania 64 and Legacy of Darkness. I also remember the skeleton bikers coming early in Castlevania 64, towards the end of the initial level outside the gates, appearing during the end of the battle with the giant ape skeleton. Hope I’m remembering correctly.


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