Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Castlevania part 3

After playing through the Castlevania trilogy I was at a point where I knew for certain that I would be a nerdy gamer for the rest of eternity.  My imagination went crazy thinking of how they could take the series in upcoming installments.  I started to get wrapped up in dozens of NES game series' like Zelda, Ultima, Dragon Warrior, and Double Dragon which helped me grasp the concept of long and involving games with multiple paths and difficult challenges while still teaching the ways of quick hand eye coordination!!  I was like an NES ninja!  Learning from my master, mimicking his movements from my ca... wait... wrong blog post!
Anyway, I was pretty much fully sucked into the world of video gaming.

The 16-bitters were coming.  Sometime during the time I was really getting hooked on the NES (1989 to be exact) the Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 were released.  If you had lived in the Nintendo Power world(like I did), you really had no idea anything else existed!  I remember in 1991 picking up my first copy of EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly) and it had a headliner of 'Super mario Bros. 4'!  I was like O_O  OMG!!  Mario 4??  When I purchased the magazine I saw reviews and games I had never heard of.  The Genesis?  Micheal Jackson has a video game?!  Ok, it wasn't that bad, but I really had never played a 16-bit console till I got my SNES in 1992, so bear with me... matter of fact, you should probably know that I grew up in a small town.  I ran with a pretty nerdy group of guys and we played lots of video games.  We didn't know anyone that had gotten a Sega Genesis and knew even less people that had even heard of the TurboGrafx so seeing this gaming magazine with all these foreign consoles displaying crazy advanced graphics really blew my mind!

Seeing game reviews and going to some more arcades really helped me grasp the idea of what 16-bit games could look like.  I don't remember where I was, but I do remember calling everyone I knew the day I saw the very first screen shots of Castlevania IV for the Super NES.  How epic could this be?  How amazing it looked!  WOW!  How many twists and turns would this game have, how many paths could we find or characters to rescue to play as!?  This looked to be the greatest video game every created.  And it was, but I wouldn't be able to play it till I got a Super Nintendo, so I had to do the unthinkable.  I had to sell off my NES console and my collection to pay for the new 16-bit monster!!  Regretfully, I did.

I spent a good chunk of late 1991 and early 1992 selling off my NES collection, and in May of 1992 I finally got the SNES.  The day I got it, I called two of my buddies and we ran to the closest video store. We rented Zelda III, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, and.... of course.... Super Castlevania IV.  We quickly biked back to my place and we carefully placed the cart into the 16-bit Nintendo.  And like magic the little purple beam of light passed over the screen and the legendary Konami logo appeared.  The game intro(which we all watched in entirety) and the game's first stage were about as perfect as I could imagine.

Castlevania IV is almost like a retelling of the original Castlevania.  The hero is once again Simon Belmont, the gameplay is more linear style only offering challenging level after level, and there is no allies this time around.  It's Simon vs. the world of darkness!  One of the best things I fell in love with in Castlevania III was the ability to go in different directions and find allies to join your quest for peace, you would think that those features being absent from this offering would bother me, but it didn't.  There were three things that really stood out to me when I first got a chance to play this game, that were brand new to the series; the music, the graphics, and the controls.  The music was.. ,screw it, IS a masterpiece  I've never felt this into a game before, every tune sets the mood, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities!  The graphics are just so out of this world!  Parallax scrolling, spinning levels (thanks to Mode 7), zooming monsters in and out of the screen!  When I imagined what a 16-bit Castlevania would look like, I never quite thought it would look this good.  There were certain parts that just really took my breath away.  The controls: this is the point of the game that is the absolute perfect.  Simon Belmont moves so fluidly and naturally.  It almost makes the first three games in the series feel clunky in comparison.  I would have to say that Castlevania IV absolutely perfected the control of a castlevania hero.  The whipping in every direction, the whirling it around to toy with baddies, the jumping, stairs, falling, jump controls even, and of course moonwalking are all perfect!

After Castlevania IV I really couldn't wait to see what a possible Castlevania V might look and play like!!  Could we see the same controls and music/graphics of this type mixed with a more open style of game similar to Castlevania III?  I paid very close attention to EGM's and Nintendo Power for most of 1992 all the way through the beginning of 1993 and I didn't see anything about a new Castlevania game.  I mean, what gives?  Where is castlevania V?  Maybe I was spoiled rotten for so long.  I had gotten the original Castlevania around 1988, Castlevania II in 1989, III in 1990, and we got the amazing Super Castlevania IV in 1991!!  I was used to battling dracula on a yearly basis!!  Was the series dead?  Did Castlevania IV undersell?

Then suddenly it happened.  EGM had an article in March of 1993 talking about something called 'Dracula X' by Konami.  At first I glanced over it saying "Dracula X"  What was this some kind of movie game?  But then apon looking closely I realized it was a new Castlevania game!!  It was coming out in 1993, and was being released on the PC Engine.  It wasn't coming out in the US!!  WHAT?!?!  WHY!?!?  I was really not happy about this.  Then after doing a bit more research I found that the PC Engine had actually been released in the states as the Turbografx 16!!  All this time, and I hadn't even realized!  This would bring on a whole new obsession that pretty much turned me into the biggest Turbo head that I know, but alas, that is something that should be saved for another series of blog posts!  (_joshuaTurbo's love connection with the TurboGrafx16!!  LOL)

The game looked awesome (Dracula X)!!  It was 16-bit.  Was a Super CD game, with cut scenes, and CD red book audio!  It had multiple paths, and even had the possibilities of finding and playing as other characters.  This seemed like the 16-bit sequel to Castlevania III the more I read about it.... but, again.  It was still not coming out in the US.  Why the hell didn't TTI/ Hudson pull some strings and get this released here?!?  This was one of the big three at the time that I feel could have REALLY helped the system!  (What are the big three?  again.... I'll do a blog post about that.)
Now I had always been a pretty big Nintendo nut up till about 1993.  I was pro NES over the Master System and Atari 7800 and I was pro SNES over Genesis.  I knew that there was never anything on the Sega systems that would draw me away from my precious Nintendo consoles.  It almost drove me to a hatred for the Sega Platform.  Whenever a good game would pop up on the Genesis, I remember thinking 'oh those bastards, I hope Nintendo makes a better game' and couldn't help on looking down on the general library of Sega games.  Boy did my world flip when I saw in an early 1994 EGM that Castlevania was making the jump to Sega Genesis!!  I was like OMG!  What are they thinking??  At first I was seriously butt hurt.  It was almost like my feelings were hurt.  (At this point it had been 3 years since the last Castlevania console release (and no I don't count the Gameboy games, didn't really like 'em))  Why didn't we get a new Castlevania game on the SNES!?!?

Most of the first screenshots/teasers were of pretty bad quality.  I remember thinking 'boy this is going to suck'.  Hoping that maybe Konami would realize this was a bad idea and quickly release a new SNES game of equal awesomeness as Castlevania IV!!  I had started hanging with a guy that owned a Genesis (Finally) and played around with some more of the library.  While I will always, and still do, say the Genesis library isn't as good as the SNES library, it is pretty awesome.  And it was good to see a guy that was able to love both the Genesis and the SNES.  I was still learning how to do this.  The day finally came for the release of Castlevania; Bloodlines for the Sega Genesis.  We picked it up at the video store and brought it to his house.  I took it out of the case, and put it in the Genesis.

What happened next really blew my world.

Next: Castlevania on the flip side!


You read it. You cannot un-read it.

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