Since the weather is nice and hot today (91 degrees!) I've decided to give you readers a little "chill" (a scary type of chill) by reviewing a 21 year old game and see if it either holds up, is a relic of its time or a little bit of both, and surprisingly it's the last one. First things first, the graphics definitely don't hold up except for a few good character models, the protagonists some of the monsters such as the giant bull boss, the pseudo-Dracula, Actrise, Rosa, Death, and the Centipedal Dragon form of Dracula (which gets high points for intensity and originality). The environments' props are just cardboard cutouts which is disappointing considering it was 1999 for that matter. The controls themselves are floaty at best and the camera makes the jumping parts a pain times 3 especially at the beginning, no wonder a lot of fans were turned off. However, should you get past that, it gets better, you get some cool level design, some good puzzles, and unique and sometimes intense boss fights, breaking from the usual norm from older 2D Castlevanias where it was either all platform or with RPG elements like in Symphony of the Night. There are two highlight that do hold up and the true reason why I still like this game: the atmosphere and the music. The creepy, lonely environment gives you a creepy feeling of isolation that some older games such as Super Metroid can, but there some jump worthy moments such as your first descent into the tunnel and a cadaver drops from the ceiling followed by this line of dialogue:
"Very rude to disturb someone enjoying their meal. Or perhaps I should think different.....like the main dish has arrived? You smell different from the usual adventurer. I'll kill you here!!!" The bull boss is disturbing, everytime you whack away a piece of him flesh dissolves to bone. Rosa watering her crops with blood, and who could ever forget the terrifying hedgemaze stage? Following the boy Malus while being chased by two stone dogs whose bite paralyzes you and Frankenstein with a chainsaw arm! And as if things weren't more intense, you can't kill those three only knock them down, though you can slow them down with holy water, but not for long. Oh yes, Malus he's creepy in and of himself the secret I won;t reveal here. Finally the sound, there are nice musical renditions of Phantasmic Dancing in Hell, and in the creepy scene mentioned above a creepy rendition of Bloody Tears. My favorite is the 4th struggle which you hear when you face the bull and Dracula's true form. So this game worth playing today? I'd say more yes than no, it deserves a little more respect despite its shortcomings.
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