Castlevania (Nintendo 64)

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Castlevania (Nintendo 64)

Postby shootingstar » October 15th, 2015, 8:20 pm

I am a huge fan of Castlevania but do not have much experience with the 3D editions. All I really know is the Critic hates them. But when I started collecting for the N64 I noticed that the Critic gave this game a good review even though he didn't like the other 3D Castlevanias. I bought this cartridge based on the Critic's good review, if he liked it then it must be good right? I don't think so.

The game sure gives a good first impression, though. It starts out with a shot of the castle during a lightening storm. The music is excellent for the N64, especially when the boy in the title screen starts playing the violin... wow. No matter what that music gets me pumped and it feels like maybe this game isn't so bad.... then I start playing it.

You are presented with a choice of two characters, Reinhardt, with the traditional whip, and Carrie, who shoots homing fireballs at enemies. Each character also has stages unique to them, though they share a few stages. This Review will be based on Reinhardt's campaign, I have not beaten the game with Carrie, just messed around with her a bit, honestly I have no desire to play the game again.

The controls seem fine, with A jumping, B attacking, and the C buttons are used for functions such as using your sub weapon, picking up items. The game starts out fine, with a voice acted introduction, and then your character is in a rainy forest. Lighting strikes the trees. The music is used for great dramatic effect. You open a gate and fight a giant skeleton. During this fight you begin to see the camera problems manifest, but it's not a huge deal, right now. After beating him, though, you are forced to walk through a forest killing respawning skeletons. This forest goes from dark, to brightly lit with no music whatsoever, and you run around, pushing levers over and over again to open gates. Yeah... that declined quickly. Luckily future stages are more interesting and have music.

The combat is quite a problem. Often I had trouble trying to hit and keep the camera focused on enemies. One big reason is there is no lock on. Scratch that, there is, but you are locked in place while using it, so it's worthless. Not being able to strafe around enemies while locked on is a major problem. The camera is also an issue. Many times you will have trouble seeing the enemies because the camera angle is poor. There are three views, Normal which keeps the camera behind your back, Action which I honestly am not sure how it works, and Battle which keeps the camera focused on the enemy. I like the battle view when fighting bosses, but often the camera will go all over the place in this mode. I took a lot of unnecessary hits because of the camera angle being poor.

But the biggest problem is the jumping. There is quite a lot of jumping over deadly pits, and it's terrible. First it can be glitchy. This is easily seen in the first level when you must climb up a series of ledges to get up a cliff. Usually you'd jump towards the platform like in Mario 64, but if you try that here, he won't jump high enough, instead sliding past the platform in a glitchy manner (not sure how to describe this in text), falling to your death. So I would have to slowly inch over until I was under the edge and jump straight up. Very annoying. Fall damage is also an issue, and it's easy to mistime a jump and slam down onto the floor to your death. The camera can also cause you to miss a jump. Often you would need to grab onto a platform to get onto it, and this requires some very accurate jumping. The platforming isn't smooth and reliable like Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie, it's very glitchy and difficult to use. Often I would get nervous trying to do it because I had so much trouble with it. There are far too many instances where you need to make jumps on small platforms, so you will die quite a bit from this. The enemies aren't even much of a threat compared to the jumps. Basically, if you are used to other N64 platformers...well this won't be as good.

There is also a day and night system, but it's not really utilized except for some doors that can only be open during a certain time, and a sequence where you must meet a woman in a room at a certain time. It's pretty much discarded at the second half of the game as well. You can use sun and moon cards to move time forward if you need to do so.

The only other thing of note is you can buy items in a shop such as items that restore health and get rid of status effects. You get lots of money as well as items in the levels, so you most likely won't find yourself low on a needed item. You can save the game via white gems throughout the level. There is some replay value as there are 2 characters and secret areas in the levels, but who knows if you will want to replay it.

The graphics are good, however there is a lot of fog in the game. Still, the environments look detailed and properly aged, and the character models look good and animate well. The sound is good, as I have said above, the music isn't CD quality but is quite good nonetheless.

I don't get the Critic's review. I want to like this game, but I have so many issues with jumping and fighting I just don't enjoy it. There are good aspects, but it's not enough. I have played many 2D Castlevania games, so I expect a Castlevania game to feel smooth and polished, and this game feels like it needed more work in the game play department. This game is the last of the older style linear Castlevania games, and it's too bad it ended like this.

Final Grade: D

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Re: Castlevania (Nintendo 64)

Postby ptdebate » October 16th, 2015, 11:03 am

I can only imagine the disappointment of Castlevania fans who purchased the N64 at launch rather than the Playstation, since only a year later the latter console received one of the best Castlevania games ever, whereas the former would have to wait three more years for one of the worst Castlevania games ever.

Another thing that's strange about the two N64 Castlevania reviews is the scores...Legacy of Darkness literally contains an improved version of the first game and then some. How can they be the same score?

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Re: Castlevania (Nintendo 64)

Postby SigSauerLover » October 16th, 2015, 1:05 pm

It's not perfect, but I find the game to be very playable and good to me. Sure, the jumping can be a pain. Yes, the camera is garbage. But that was the case for the majority of games at the time.

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Re: Castlevania (Nintendo 64)

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » October 26th, 2015, 10:05 am

Maybe it's better I played the director's cut first. Hitting the enemies was almost as easy as Strider, and this was when I mostly played any game I bought on a PC with keyboard, to see them in high resolution, without taking a performance hit. (Majora's Mask was impossible. The keyboard was no substitute for an analog control.)

I still want to play the original, even knowing all the flaws. The universe presented in the director's cut was still the best written Castlevania, by far. The characters have more depth than "We just popped up to go wandering around in Dracula's castle together, like a bad Scooby Doo episode.", and may even feature some actual emotions. Even the shopkeeper has some hidden menace, especially for those of us raised in fundamentalist homes...

Playing through all of this with cheesy voice acting, and new (old) costumes?

It feels like a really good rom hack. So much more enthusiasm than polish.

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