Welcome to the Retro Gaming column. Last time I discussed Shining Force. In this edition, I am covering some of the Castlevania series and some of the things that popped out at me while playing Rondo of Blood, the game only released on PC Engine CD in Japan and PSP.
I recently went through the painstaking trouble of setting up Hyperspin on my PC. It is a pain to setup, I’m not going to lie. If you’re savvy-ish, you will eventually catch on after the initial learning curve. However, once it is setup, it is friendly for non-tech folks to use (provided everything is working).
A Look Back at Some of the Castlevania Series
The Castlevania series is about vampire hunters hunting down Dracula at its very core. I have always been in love with these darkness of this series.
Let me take a look at some of the notable games I played a lot of in the series:
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is an odd one. Most of the NES sequels back in the day completely abandoned a lot of the aspects of the original. This is not something you generally see these days. You have to hand it to the developers for trying something new. This game was almost impossible with the Nintendo Power Guide back in the day. Today, you can just read through some guides or watch YouTube videos on it.
One thing that sequel had was quite possibly the best NES 8 bit music of any game of that generation. Check them out!
The game that was my jam was Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.
This game was more of a return to the original game but had some not as linear aspects. You had multiple paths, companions, and powers you can adopt. It was also the game to introduce the character of Alucard, Dracula’s son. I can not play it as well as I used to these days. However, when I was 8 years old, I got almost all the way to the end without any cheating.
Then there was this game…
If I didn’t mention Symphony of the Night I’m sure I would be in trouble. This game redefined a whole genre of 2D Platforming games called “Metroidvania.” It emphasized exploration in a great world. I always discovered secrets in this game. I completed it both on Playstation 1 and Xbox 360 a few times. Still one of my favorites.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
One game I’ve never had the chance to ever play was Castlevania: Rondo of Blood for PC Engine CD (known in the states as the Turbo Grafx).
So I loaded it up for the first time on my PC and finally played it. This was the last of the old school style of Castlevania games before Symphony of the Night. Just like the originals on the NES, this game is great. The mechanics are great. The soundtrack is really nice. Overall, I love it, despite not being very good at Castlevania like I used to. It is fun and if somehow you get a chance to play it, do it.
Why Are You Whipping At the Walls?
My wife, while watching me play. noticed initially I was attacking the walls with my whip. Every classically trained Castlevania player knows you are supposed to do this.
“Why are you whipping the walls?”
I say “Gotta get that sweet sweet Wall Meat baby!”
I guess to someone who has no idea what is going on, some of this seems absurd.
You see, apparently the chef in these Castles decided to hide cooked meals in the walls. Being in the walls somehow prevented them from getting spoiled and preserved them forever for human consumption and restore your health. You just had to find them with your whip.
You see a wall? Now whip it! Into shape. Shape it up. Get straight. Go forward. Move ahead. Try to detect it. It’s not too late. To whip it. Whip it good
The Worst Item Drop
By the way, can we talk about the worst item drop in the games pre-Symphony of the Night? I am of course talking about this big bag of fucking nothing:
Fucking money! Seriously, fuck this item drop. All it did in the 8 bit/16 bit days was add to your score! Your score amounted to basically NOTHING! Fuck that shit. There were no leaderboards. It erased your scores after a reset. These were back in the day where there were no achievements or trophies in video games. (Yeah, we just played them because they were fun). Nothing! The honest achievement in those days was simply beating the freaking game. It was literally a placebo until the game designers figured out you could exchange money for goods in the later games.
Hell, at least Mario figured out you could get extra lives with gold with the first Super Mario Bros game. They had that shit pretty much locked down from the beginning.
So Many Freaking Cheap Enemies
While I do love Castlevania games, it is amazing how many cheap enemies I put up with in this game just to get ahead. I simply don’t have as much patience as I used to.
First one on my list, boomerang axe guy. Seriously, screw this guy! He has an endless supply of giant axes that he just throws at you… if you jump over it, that’s great. However, it comes back like a boomerang due to some voodoo magic or some shit. Don’t give him 1/10000th of an inch or he will screw up your life.
And these Medusa Heads are terrible. They fly at you in a pattern that you can kill based almost solely on luck. If you don’t time it just exactly right, you can count on losing much of your health! AHHH!
These are just two barrage of cheap enemies.
Skeleton Warriors: The Nonsense Enemy
Take a look at this enemy… the Skeleton Warrior…
“Why is he holding a bone?” Because for whatever reason he throws bones at you. Seriously… bones? Are they his bones? I don’t know.
Why and how? I don’t know. Where does he get the bones from when somehow his whole body is intact? I don’t know, man. I just know that a shot from your whip will knock him into pieces as opposed to him disassembling his body to kill you and then jumping around for no reason.
Let us face is though…
Of course, the answer to all of the logic questions I pose in this question is “It is a video game!”
I am not arguing against that but it is amazing how much we don’t notice about the details when we are having a lot of fun. I think, in the end, this proves Castlevania is fun and timeless.