|Videogames||October 7, 2023|
My roommate and I have been on a killer Castlevania kick recently.
It started off with us both going back and forth on Bloodlines, passing the controller off to the other after we run out of continues. He's been playing as John Morris, while I've been playing through as Eric Lecarde. It's been very insightful to watch each other's playthroughs back to back. Our understanding of the game and its intricacies expand with each playthrough, and we would almost always inch closer to Dracula every time we pick up the controller
We would discover tricks that would work for both of our playthroughs, like holding the attack button longer or using a specific sub weapon on a boss. It was also equally as interesting to learn something new that was unique to our chosen characters. It's been very fun experimenting with Eric's spear, coming up with more efficent ways to traverse a stage, and new ways to attack bosses.
The strategy for defeating bosses can be unique for each character. Some arenas have platforms for John to whip-swing and do damage to the boss, which might also act as a platform for Eric to pole-vault up to for safety from the boss's attack. It's so cool to me how much playing as a character with tweaked playstyles totally changes the game at points.
Some stage paths are exclusive to a character. The laser-eyeball climb and wine cellar swing in Stage 5 comes to my mind. My roommate has beaten the game, but I've yet to beat it. I'm able to get to stage 6 pretty consistently, and have made it to the final phase of Dracula's fight once (died in fire-breathing-crotch-demon phase). I have no doubts that I will defeat this game in due time. Neither of us have beaten the game on expert, but this is an achievement that I will someday claim.
God this game is addicting. It's one of those games where countless failures and experimentation teach you what to expect and lead to mastery of the controls.
At this point, if I die once in the first few stages I consider it a bad run and reset the console. There is a password system in place, and you can edit your starting lives, which is very useful for learning specific levels. However, I've preferred restarting from the beginning after I run out of continues, which has lead to getting pretty good at the first half of the game.
Also, for the record: Castlevania Bloodlines' soundtrack is awesome. Peak Genesis sound! By the way, if you want the game to play a Genesis rendition of bloody tears or vampire killer when you reach power-level 4, do this in the options menu: set the BGM to 05, then set SE to 073. I don't understand why this is hidden behind a code, as it really enhances the experience in my opinion.
My roommate has played through Castlevania 64 THREE times. The masochist! He played through Reinhardt's campaign for a second time after playing through Carrie's, because he wanted to see if his initial opinions of the game would be different after playing another character. He even ordered a repro-cart of Legacy of Darkness (in which he has also beaten every character's storyline). It's madness. I haven't picked up the controller for the 64 games at all so I can't really give a proper opinion on the games beyond what I've watched from him playing the game. Although it has a bad rep, it doesn't seem to be as terrible as everyone says it is. It is definitely very flawed, but it has some good ideas and cool shit going on.
I have been impressed by the visuals and overall story telling in the game (ESPECIALLY in Legacy of Darkness). By N64 standards, the presentation is pretty legit. If I ever give the game a run through, It'll definitely be with Legacy of Darkness. Legacy of Darkness truly appears to be a refined, more playable directors cut of Castlevania 64. It's like a much-needed patch and DLC expansion in cartridge form. The controls appear to be snappy and responsive. Like I said, I haven't actually played the game for myself, but even just from watching his controller inputs I get the impression that it's less sluggish than Castlevania 64 (my roommate has confirmed my theories).
From this point forward I'm not sure where our Castlevania journey will take us. We both want to play through Rondo of Blood. Emulation may be the path for this one, as much as I would prefer to play the game on its intended hardware. However, I won't be caught dead shelling out $300+ dollars for a single game, let alone importing the hardware necessary to play it at the moment.
Rondo of Blood may be a distant dream, so I may just try to run through Castlevania 3 again once Bloodlines is defeated. It's been a while since I've last attempted it, but I feel that I might have the necessary patience and stamina needed once I master Bloodlines. I really enjoy the branching paths and unlockable characters in 3. Castlevania seems to flourish when allowing the player to experiment with different playstyles.
I'll keep the good people reading this in the know of our future Castlevania adventures here in our bachelor cave. With a looming, sinister aura approaching in the next couple of weeks, tis' the season for slaying vampires!