The Castlevania Cycle

Posted by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
 "Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known"
I have a weirdly repetitive relationship with the 2D Castlevania games, and that’s not just because Konami have stuck to the same formula since the evergreen excellence of Symphony of the Night. Every now and then I’ll feel the desire to explore the side-on hallways of another labyrinthine castle, taking on the familiar parade of paranormal antagonists. I’ll get a hold of Castlevania game I’ve not played and, full of enthusiasm, I’ll fire it up. The Castlevania Cycle has begun and Phase One is complete.

Phase Two kicks in almost immediately after Phase One, when I remember my immaculately-coiffed hero invariably starts out as a poxy underpowered wimp. Obviously it doesn’t put me off the game entirely, but there’s definitely a sinking feeling in the centre of my chest. I realise how far I’ve got to go, exploring the massive map(s) and slowly building up my character, before I come close to feeling like I’m in control of a 50 pixel high badass.

Once I start uncovering more of the map and getting into the adventure, Phase Three makes an appearance. As is the nature of these games, the designers enjoy leaving trinkets and areas of the map visible but tantalisingly out of reach. This stirs some small amount angst in me, as I try to keep a mental checklist of the interesting places I should return to. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at learning maps quickly. However, I just know there’s going to be one thing I’ll either forget the placement of, or forget to revisit altogether. Cue compulsive completionist crisis.

Phase Four doesn’t come about until I’ve finished the game. This is where my brain accidentally records over the gloom of the opening stages, and in its place is the blissfully triumphant memory of beating the game. For me, the initial apprehension of facing this monumental task never happened, and as far as I remember the whole game was a nigh-perfect experience. Boy, I can’t wait to play another one!

In fact, all this talk has made me wanna go and…
#1 Posted by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
 "Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known"
I have a weirdly repetitive relationship with the 2D Castlevania games, and that’s not just because Konami have stuck to the same formula since the evergreen excellence of Symphony of the Night. Every now and then I’ll feel the desire to explore the side-on hallways of another labyrinthine castle, taking on the familiar parade of paranormal antagonists. I’ll get a hold of Castlevania game I’ve not played and, full of enthusiasm, I’ll fire it up. The Castlevania Cycle has begun and Phase One is complete.

Phase Two kicks in almost immediately after Phase One, when I remember my immaculately-coiffed hero invariably starts out as a poxy underpowered wimp. Obviously it doesn’t put me off the game entirely, but there’s definitely a sinking feeling in the centre of my chest. I realise how far I’ve got to go, exploring the massive map(s) and slowly building up my character, before I come close to feeling like I’m in control of a 50 pixel high badass.

Once I start uncovering more of the map and getting into the adventure, Phase Three makes an appearance. As is the nature of these games, the designers enjoy leaving trinkets and areas of the map visible but tantalisingly out of reach. This stirs some small amount angst in me, as I try to keep a mental checklist of the interesting places I should return to. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at learning maps quickly. However, I just know there’s going to be one thing I’ll either forget the placement of, or forget to revisit altogether. Cue compulsive completionist crisis.

Phase Four doesn’t come about until I’ve finished the game. This is where my brain accidentally records over the gloom of the opening stages, and in its place is the blissfully triumphant memory of beating the game. For me, the initial apprehension of facing this monumental task never happened, and as far as I remember the whole game was a nigh-perfect experience. Boy, I can’t wait to play another one!

In fact, all this talk has made me wanna go and…
#2 Posted by eroticfishcake (7792 posts) -

...and? AND?!
 
That aside, I also suffer from this syndrome. I know I have it but it doesn't stop me from finishing SoTN (for the thirteenth time.)

#3 Posted by Sweep (8986 posts) -

I never played castlevania but I loved the fuck outta Shadow Complex so maybe it's worth going back and trying it out. Games like this bring out the bastard completionist within me. It's phase three that I fear the most :(

Moderator
#4 Edited by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
@eroticfishcake said:

" I know I have it but it doesn't stop me from finishing SoTN (for the thirteenth time.) "

Yeah, I pop SotN into the Playstation every couple of years, too. Although I'm disappointed I'll never be able to see that twist with fresh eyes, it's still such a rock-solid romp that I enjoy it every single time. Well, apart from Phase Two.
#5 Posted by eroticfishcake (7792 posts) -
@buzz_clik:  True but it's still pretty badass watching that scene (especially with the new voice acting and script on the PSP version). Contrary to you I actually enjoy Phase Two quite a lot. Like most RPGs it's the sense of progress that really appeals to me. Sure it's pretty daunting every time you start a game and think ahead to all the shit that you need to do (particularly to get stuff in Phase Three) but getting new stuff and hearing that "Level Up!" sound effect never gets old for me. Besides, running around the castle willy-nilly is made easier by the music and wonderful visuals. Just a little more though.
 
Speaking of which, I just started a new game on this yesterday...I should get to it.
#6 Posted by End_Boss (3220 posts) -

I remember when I was like, thirteen, I tried Castlevania. I also remember reaching an early jump and realizing that my character's legs must have been made of cut down redwoods, because damn if he didn't plummet into that pit with all the subtlety of an atom bomb every time.
 
I didn't play any Castlevania games after that.

#7 Posted by Jasonofindy (258 posts) -

Oh how I wish Konami would make a 2.5d Castlevania game for XBLA or PSN instead of their continued exile on the handhelds.  I could see their concern "that there wasn't a market" for 2D games of this type on the consoles, but the success of Shadow Complex has blown that misconception out of the water. 

#8 Posted by Steve_C (1757 posts) -

Aside from brief minutes spent with some GBA Castlevania (which I wasn't keen on from first impressions), i've never really experienced the series. I didn't even know too much about it until 'metroidvania' kept being thrown around in the run up to Shadow Complex.
 
I need to get around to playing SOTN. Have the environments ever progressed beyond the standard castle-looking backgrounds, as it has always put me off slightly. As a location it does nothing for me, at least when I think about it. Having not really played one the different areas may vary a lot more like in a metroid game.

#9 Posted by CptBedlam (4460 posts) -
@Jasonofindy said:
" Oh how I wish Konami would make a 2.5d Castlevania game for XBLA or PSN instead of their continued exile on the handhelds.  I could see their concern "that there wasn't a market" for 2D games of this type on the consoles, but the success of Shadow Complex has blown that misconception out of the water.  "
Same here. I want to enjoy the 2D sprites in HD. And while I love SotN, I'm not to keen on handheld gaming. :(
#10 Posted by ninjakiller (3405 posts) -

I think I have most of the Castlevanias on gba, good times. 

#11 Edited by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
@Steve_C said:

" Have the environments ever progressed beyond the standard castle-looking backgrounds, as it has always put me off slightly. As a location it does nothing for me, at least when I think about it. Having not really played one the different areas may vary a lot more like in a metroid game. "

Castlevania maps usually have a large chunk set in a castle, but it mixes up the look of each part of the map pretty well - for me, part of the appeal is seeing what interesting architecture and visual style is around the corner. There are many times, however, where the games venture into places outside of the confines of the castle, from underground caves to desert sands to confusing supernatural areas that have no earthly equivalent.
 
@ninjakiller said:

" I think I have most of the Castlevanias on gba, good times.  "

Circle of the Moon was a very enjoyable title, fer sure.
#12 Posted by Dolphin_Butter (1917 posts) -

You should play Castlevania II. That'll break this cycle right quick. :D

#13 Posted by FalconCritical (224 posts) -

I have SotN on Playstation, PSP and now XBLA. Have played it through probably close to 50 times, and to be honest I prefer the older cheesy dialog than the remastered stuff for PSP.  Got the XBLA version for the old voices and the achievements, know that game like the back of my hand now so I play it while I listen to the bombcast each Wednesday (for me).

#14 Posted by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
@Sleepy_Insomniac said:
" You should play Castlevania II. That'll break this cycle right quick. :D "
Heh, no thanks. I've never played it, but with all the mentions it gets in various podcasts, articles and forums I feel like I have. Spooky mallards ahoy!
#15 Posted by buzz_clik (7030 posts) -
@FalconCritical said:
" I have SotN on Playstation, PSP and now XBLA... "
Wait, you don't own the Saturn version? And you call yourself a fan! *tsk*
#16 Posted by JCGamer (671 posts) -

Every winter/Halloween I get into the Castlevania mood.  I tell my wife it's perfect "video game weather".

#17 Posted by FalconCritical (224 posts) -
@buzz_clik:  True enough, though I never had a Saturn.  Had I the console I'd have bought the game - for Maria mode (old skool) and the hidden extra room at the start.
#18 Posted by MercuryCrusader (257 posts) -

The big problem I have with the recent 2D Castlevania games is Symphony of the Night. Yes, it was a good game, but it wasn't the Castlevania games I remember.   I didn't want to play "Metroid RPG", I wanted to play old school Castlevania. That's probably why I loved Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth more than any of the handheld Castlevania games.

#19 Posted by eroticfishcake (7792 posts) -
@FalconCritical:  Ever wondered why Konami never added the extra content from the Saturn version over to the PSP/XBLA ports? I just don't see why they shouldn't. I need my fix dawg!
#20 Posted by FalconCritical (224 posts) -
@eroticfishcake: There wasn't any point on the PSP, they redid a ton of it including completely replacing all Maria's sprites and giving her moves like her Rondo version, which is technically the better way to go.  In terms of XBLA, its the Playstation version that was so popular and well known, so perhaps they just figured that was the one to port.  I believe they had different glitches too, and its the PSX glitches that everyone remembers and loves.  Incidentally in the PSP version even all updated you can still 'cheat death' and keep your Alucard gear at the start.
#21 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

You might even call it a curse! :)  
 
Circle of the Moon managed to be fun enough to play through that I did all its bonus modes pretty quickly in succession, I think.  I know this because when I picked up the game later I was disappointed to find I'd already unlocked everything.

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