Hail fellow fantasy-buffs and gamers!
This week I decided to go a little farther back in time into the early 90, where the console wars had achieved the whooping number 16! Yes, it was the age of the Super Nintento and the competitor, Sega. In the year of 1991 (1992 in the U.S.) Capcom published the fourth installment to the already famous Castlevania series, trying to return a but to the original gameplay of the first one, with the respective changes of game-mechanics. It sold pretty well, and as far as I remember, I enjoyed the game very much.
In 2011 very short lived series (at least up to now) was released by a gamer called Egoraptor. Sequelitis pretended to review old games and how they compared to their further developments, discovering how important game mechanics can be by influencing us on how we play games today. Of special interest today is the review on this game:
After seeing this short explanation I decided to begin playing again those good ol’ Castlevania games, to make a comparison. Now granted, I have never played the 2nd and the 3rd installment of the series, so I can’t say much about how I feel about them. But I relieved many memories with the other two, the first one for the NES system and the first one for the SNES.
As a good gamer I decided that Egoraptor’s interesting point of view would not cloud my way of experiencing the games. He claimed in the video that the SNES version, although great, turned out to be an ungraceful sequel; the inclusion of the classical weapons that supported you (the flask, the knife, the cross, etc.) were not necessary, since the hyper functional whip made them useless. Also, the autor regrets that the necessity of going back to the source materials did not permit the designers to expand the only weapon that mattered: the classical whip. See for yourself on the video above!
This clearly left a little debate going on, and I was highly interested. Recently I got ahold of a copy of the game Super Castlevania 4 and, after a challenge I received from a friend (of which I will talk about in a further post) I decided to compare Egoraptor’s note with mine.
On my side, I have to say that I partly agree with that proposition. It is true that you use the weapons only in certain occasions, since whipping tends to give better results. But when playing the original Castlevania on the NES, I discovered that I used the weapons slightly more; mostly on bosses. There are some areas in the SNES version that are extremely facilitated by the use of the weapons. Take for example world VII, in which there are an of spike deathtraps that kill you in just a slight touch. Some of those spikes are positioned in incredibly sensitive areas, making it difficult sometimes to just jump over. For example, at the end of the first part of the level we have a skeleton spitfire thingy across a slime pit while some spikes move up and down in the middle. Using the whip I have to find there the EXACT spot to stand so you can whip the skeleton dragon thingy without being instantly killed by the up-and-down moving spikes… sounds easy, but there were some moments I had gone one pixel too far… and I had to restart the level (honestly, it is not much distance, but repeating that part multiple times can be a bit frustrating). After some attempts, most of them a success, but still with a lot of defeats, I decided to explore a bit more and found an axe not for away from there. This weapon helped me to stand anywhere on the platform I wanted and still kill the skeleton thingy, not fearing the spikes anymore.
There are many parts like that, in which the weapon was not necessary, but it helped. This one is the fresher experience in my mind. So it turns out that the weapons are a good compliment to the game (all but the knife). I even beat Dracula by using the long-range cross to hit his face in his first phase. But if there is a truth in Egoraptor’s words, it is the whip mechanics.
I kinda feel that the game went too traditional… the only real new mechanic was the “hanging and swinging on the rings” feature, which is in itself quite good, but I fell not enough. Someone commented in the video that he did not go far enough in the game to be able to say that. Now that I have finished it, I have to say that I do not agree totally with the commenter: there is not much to do with the whip.
I feel that a great opportunity was missed here, since the new ranges of the whip where not totally exploited. Sure, you can whip up to avoid some enemies beforehand, but I would have loved a few new uses: switches or, as presented in the video, maybe a line on which you have to go up and down to avoid obstacles. Nothing too fancy though.
I even though I disagree with the AVGN when he says that Super Castlevania 4 is the best game of the series, I still think this is one of the best. It is a straightforward platformer, and only some candles feel like unnecessary, but from there on every element plays its role on defeating the evil forces of Dracula. Even though the missing mechanics are fault of an attempt to return to the original, they are not sorely missed; the game works perfectly fine as it is. I am still and I will always be a big fan of the original Castlevania though, since it was exciting to play, extremely hard and, antagonizing the AVGN again, the controls were perfectly frustrating… making you plan each movement more carefully than just running ahead.
Well, for now I will again say my fare wells!
May they smile upon your way!