All Of The Vania, None Of The Metroid.

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Posted by Yummylee (24646 posts) -
No Caption Provided

I bought a 3DS!

Well, I bought a 3DS like maybe two months ago at this point, but nonetheless I still continue to own and play games on my relatively new-spangled videya games console. However weirdly enough the type of cartridges that have found themselves snuggly fitted into its port (uh...) are of DS games rather than the 3D variety.

''...Bitches''
''...Bitches''

I do in fact own a couple of 3DS titles--Kirby's Triple Deluxe and Tales of the Abyss--to which I have invested a fair chunk into both. Although my recent craze has admittedly taken over and left those two at the sidelines. My recent craze being of course the Castlevania series! And more specifically the MetroidVania variety at that.

I was pretty hesitant as to which one to get first, and upon reading some opinions it seemed pretty evenly split between which one of the three--Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia--was the most popular. The one I ended up getting first was Portrait of Ruin anywhoo -- I think probably because it was the cheapest on offer.

So,

Portrait of Ruin

Oh, the humanime!
Oh, the humanime!

I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

I don't have much experience with this sub-genre, so Portrait of Ruin still managed to feel relatively fresh of an experience as of late. I had indeed played Symphony of the Night via XBLA years back, but I can remember getting lost shortly upon unlocking the mist power and got bored exploring the castle... Shadow Complex (which was also my first MetroidVania game) was thusly my primary frame of reference. Though it's admittedly been a fair few years since I played Shadow Complex at that... I should probably in fact give that another go, given my recent obsession and all.

Anywhoo, Portrait of Ruin. It encompasses all of the hallmarks we associate with the Symphony of the Night design of Castlevania, with a massive 2D castle to explore (albeit semi-linearly), light RPG mechanics, screen-filling bosses, and so on. In the grand scheme of things this is essentially another Symphony of the Night, though that's certainly not a bad thing!

The presentation for starters is just as stellar as you'd expect; even when viewed from a modern perspective the game still has a fetching look to it, with plenty of visual variety throughout the castle. The soundtrack is also really good at that -- another staple of this franchise. The combat, while simplistic, still manages to feel satisfying in slashing/cleaving/whipping (especially whipping) your way up, down and around to Dracula's domain. While there isn't necessarily a loot grind exactly, there's enough gear and hidden goodies to locate that exploration always feels beneficial and inspires you to make sure you've searched every corner of the castle.

Always Be Whipping... Always.
Always Be Whipping... Always.

I suppose the primary differentiator that PoR utilises to help set it apart from its forebearers is the introduction of starring two dual protagonists, Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. Jonathan is basically your traditional Castlevania protagonist, being able to utilise an all manner of swords and whips ect, and is likely to be the one you'll be directly controlling the most. Whereas Morris relies on melee and many of the series' staple sub-weapons (and then some), Charlotte is a spellcaster. Though that doesn't mean she can't also handle herself in a scrap, courtesy of a number of books she can equip that'll then sprout swords and shit for her melee attacks. The books that extend three different weapons at different angles in particular are actually really effective. That said, her overall melee damage can't quite compete against most of Jonathon's assortment of toys, nor can she take a hit quite as well, either.

Her variety of magic spells still offer up a lot of customisation all the same, and the handy ability to instantly call her at your side to perform a set-spell before then disappearing again is ever so useful. You can also opt to have her follow alongside you thattaway, to which she will join in attacking whatever enemies are nearby, and any damage she (or Morris if you're controlling Charlotte) sustains will instead eat away at your stamina/mana bar instead.

That said, I still more often than not rolled with Jonathan on his lonesome, occasionally switching to Charlotte when I want to cast a spell to its full potential -- summoning her to your side only has her cast the spell at half its power. Having her along to dish out a little extra damage can certainly prove useful, but because the AI is so rudimentary then it sometimes amounts to a waste of stamina having her going about attacking things of her own volition.

There's some occasional puzzles that requires you to switch between characters, or maybe tell one character to stay put while another does something else. But by and large it ultimately feels just a little tacked on. Though I believe you can in fact play the game cooperatively??

Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent
Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

If there is one major problem I have with the game it's that its default normal mode is a little bit on the easy side, especially once I acquired a Long Spear, and even more so once I unlocked the Royal Sword. However its Hard mode feels just a little bit too punishing... It probably starts to ease up a little as you acquire more gear, but the beginning of that game on Hard mode is fucking nasty. Practically everything can kill you in like 2-3 hits, whereas it takes much more to kill one of them. Even the most rudimentary of enemies like the zombies, bats and skeletons prove to be a serious threat. Overall the balance of frustration and fun is a little off for me in that mode, in that it's basically all frustration with none of the fun =/

Nonetheless overall I've really enjoyed it, and it's made for a great jumping off point into me binging through all of these damn things. In fact I've even gone back to it and decided to play through it again from scratch -- because why not?? Also, the way the 3DS makes the sound of a door opening/closing when you open/close your 3DS is pretty cool.

Unlockable Stuff!

One thing I really appreciate about these games is the tradition of including an uber-powered unlockable character to then get up to all sorts of sequence-breaking with. By which I'm of course referring to Richter mode! Or... ''Richiter'' mode as the game refers to it.

Playing as Richter is a joyous amount of fun, and while there's no story, inventory management, items, gear, or... well not much of anything really besides what you see on the screen, Richter himself is so bloody fast and powerful that the sheer act of playing as him is a reward in and of itself. Plus, you do at least level up so there's some degree of progression to it all. Since Richter is so powerful I decided to play it on Hard mode with him, and while it's actually still pretty damn difficult, it feels like I have much more of a fighting chance overall. Though because of how fast he is it can be a little difficult to reign myself in; sprinting and leaping around on full-auto is so fun that it's hard to stop, which very quickly results in my death...

THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG
THIS GAME IS SO PRETTY OMG

I wish I could carry the same enthusiasm for the Sisters mode, though. I was actually pretty excited to play as the duo, only to have that excitement deflate like a ruptured whoopee cushion upon finding out that all you can do with 'em is use the stylus to perform a spell per sister. It's just kinda boring really, as you simply float about and stick the stylus on the screen to watch ice orbs fly everywhere. There's of course still no gear or anything like that and it's extremely shallow. There appears to be a bit of story involved with this one, but whatever, the stories even in the main modes are rather thin and poorly written, so the story of a small side-thing isn't exactly very enticing. Shame really, as again I was pretty excited at the notion of getting to play as them.

I've also read that there's an unlockable Armour Knight character, only it requires you to kill 1000 Armour Knights during the main game... One Thousand. Of this one specific enemy.Putting that to scale, by the end of my first playthrough I had killed about 3000 enemies.

Symphony of the Night

And European boxart wins again ;)
And European boxart wins again ;)

The Grand Daddy of the entire franchise, and one half of the whole MetroidVania sub-genre thing in the first place. As I mentioned earlier I did already play this way back when, but after putting in some time with PoR I then figured now is as good a time as any to return back to the Champion.

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases, however what it can hold above the rest is funnily enough its presentation. Whereas most games in this series have adopted a more anime-inspired look and sound, Symphony of the Night carries the classic Gothic stylings of the series. The game still looks superb to this day and has a heavy atmosphere about it all, in so small part down to its soundtrack. PoR certainly has some great tracks on there, but it's much more JRPG-ish as opposed to the grander and more bizarre SotN's soundtrack.

What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?
What CAN I DO FOR you... Stranger?

Despite that, certain aspects like your inability to slide, or the less prominent fast-travel portals, can make it a little less accessible. Plus, while there's plenty of weaponry, most are all basically just swords. There are different qualities like some have a faster attack animation and such, but there's nothing that gives you the same degree of disparity between switching from a regular long sword to a spear for example.

One other aspect that I really dislike is the use of fighting game-esque button commands for your spells. In the heat of battle having to pull them off is tricky enough as it is, let alone when you're also trying to do it with a 360 controller. As such, I primarily went through the game pretending they didn't even exist.

OK, and just to get the criticisms outta the way, Richter mode in this isn't especially great. I mean playing as Richter is still a lot of fun, and that slide leap move of his is probably my favourite anything in the history of Castlevania thus far. However because there's once again no gear to collect or even any levelling up this time, it's like Richter was dropped into the wrong game. Which... of course is true in a way. It basically feels as if the main pull for playing as Richter is to fight the bosses, as exploring the castle is kind of a drag. To constantly leap around only to be rewarded with more hearts really sucks. Also, most of the bosses are kinda easy as Richter funnily enough.

I've read that you can at least increase your overall health, though there's no kind of feedback to obtaining a health upgrade, and it treats it no differently than if you've just collected another heart. It basically feels unfinished, as if this was the developers experimenting with the idea rather than actually giving you a healthy alternative to Alucard.

Now, with all that outta the way, this game is still pretty damn awesome. One aspect that is undoubtedly worth all the praise is its Inverted Castle. It's probably the best use of a New Game+ ever from what I can tell. With the way it literally flips the entire castle upside down, it in doing so creates a completely new environment with new traversal obstacles to overcome. Of course, there's also plenty of new enemy types, bosses, and gear to find. So in that regard I don't know if it really counts as an example of NG+... But in any case it's a shame that no other Castlevania game to my knowledge has utilised such an interesting concept.

The voice acting and dialogue are also hilariously awful. Well, Alucard's mostly fine, but Richter & Dracula in particular are a laugh riot. Also, fun fact: the guy who voices Richter is the same guy who voices Chris Redfield in the original Resident Evil! Hey, it wouldn't be a Yummylee blog without a sprinkling of Resident Evil in there somewhere...

''What do you here?''... u wot luv

FUUUUUUU
FUUUUUUU

The difficulty is an improvement too, as it can certainly prove to be a challenge at times. Galamoth is also without a doubt the hardest anything I've fought across all of these I've played... The only way I could beat him was with the shield rod and alucard's shield. Oh, and btw, I had to look up that using the shield rod with shields actually grants you different abilities. As far as I'm aware the game doesn't ever tell you the button combination to then use the ability. Anywhoo, it's actually kinda hilarious how broken that ability is. Once activated your shield then does about 424423 damage per second. Which, hey, at least it gives your a shield an actual use!

I attempted Galamoth many a time simply with my skill, but I just couldn't do it. Those electric balls he'd constantly keep summoning, and reading that he has like 15000 health, when all of my attacks do about 4 damage without any sort of buff, well... Would you kindly go fuck yourself, Galamoth. It gotten to a point where the boss was built around a war of attrition than anything.

Dawn of Sorrow

Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?
Err, Hammer? Maybe wanna watch your hand there?

Given that I'm seemingly on a quest to play every single one of these in the wrong order, next up is Dawn of Sorrow!

And I quite like it! A lot, in fact.

Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh
Oh right yeah, one of your abilities quite literally turns you into an amazonian... Huh

It's always strange when you play a predecessor, because you can't help but head in with the mentality that you're playing a sequel, even when you know to expect that maybe it won't be quite as refined, or maybe this one feature you liked isn't there ect. Though because so many of these games are so similar, it's pretty easy transition all the same, especially after going through SotN.

In fact beyond a few minor differences, it is exceptionally similar to Portrait of Ruin, right down to enemy sprites. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. While they're both rather comparable, I think I'd hafta say I prefer Dawn of Sorrow just ever so slightly. Which is weird because at first it wasn't quite grabbing me as much, yet as it went on it eventually became just as addicting. I don't what it was that clicked, but... this one definitely took a bit of time for to me really get stuck in for whatever reason.

Anywhoo, I'd say it has a more consistently entertaining soundtrack, and the overall difficulty balance is a little better, too. It's still not especially difficult, but there's more of a challenge all the same I'd say. The way you can acquire like every single enemy ability in the game is also really enticing and makes it exciting to encounter new enemies. Sure, in PoR a lot of enemies would drop their weapon or a spell centred around their attacks, but because so many were spells as opposed to weapons or sub-weapons, it wasn't quite as exciting as what you could potentially uncover in DoS. Manticore Tail, motherffffffffff!

Some truly memorable boss battles as well, with the puppet master and mirror jester bosses in particular a couple of standouts. Though on that note, it also features some of the worst. Dario is an especially poor one as he basically just stands there with like 3 attacks or something. That, and there's his infuriating ''ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'' he literally does like every 3 seconds.

I also think it's interesting how instead of finding weapons, you upgrade them via specific enemy souls you acquire. On one hand it can make exploring around a little less engaging, because of the knowledge that you're not going to find any new weapons. But on the other, it again only makes grinding out enemy souls all the more surprisingly addictive. It's a pretty great system overall that I really enjoy, and of all the ones I've played thus far it's easily my favourite with regards to your sub-weapon/magic customisation.

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.
From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

Now the one primary complaint I have for this 'un is the magic seals -- the ''connect the dots'' stylus sequencer things. They're honestly more trouble than they're worth and at best merely prove to be a minor nuisance, but at worst can be utterly infuriating. They start off simple enough as you basically just connect the dots to make a triangle, but of course they soon start getting more complicated, until you find yourself doing circles followed by semi-circles and stuff. The one that really tore at me was when fighting Death and having to do magic seal 5. The battle itself was rather tricky to begin with, and to end it with that Magic Seal BS really tested my patience. It got to a point where Death himself wasn't much of a problem, but every time it came to the magic seal I wouldn't quite do it fast enough or my lines weren't straight enough or whatever.

It doesn't really add anything to the game and mostly comes across as something they shoved in purely because, hey, there's this touch screen doohickey so... Having to hold a stylus in my hands while also play the game can be a tad unwieldy anyway, and I'd much rather developers either build a game completely around the use of the stylus, or pretend that it doesn't exist. Though to be honest I think that's probably my only major flaw with the game.

Julius Mode!

Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.
Cuz I'm a Creepy Raper Guy, see.

Oh, baby here we go. To be quite frank I'd probably say I've had about as much fun playing as Julius as I've had with Soma. For starters he's basically in his 50s, which I always like in my protagonists, which also means that he's not quite as... athletic as Richter for example. He comes across a lot more even scaled overall, and in fact his default running speed seems to be slower than Soma's. All in all, playing as Julius is a lot of fun, and I especially like the additional music peppered throughout the game. It even has a Barkerville remix!.. Oh, yeah, I must confess that when that song started playing, my first instinct was to start humming it while pronouncing the Barkerville syllables in my head. Curse you, @brad...

What's also neat is how you're not just playing as Julius, but will eventually come into contact with Yoko and even Alucard. And by Alucard I mean Alucard... Like, Symphony of the Night Alucard, right down to his inability to slide and how he's the only one of the three who can sit in chairs. Because he already had that animation so, hey! Though despite that, I still found myself playing as Julius more often than not. It's his name on the mode after all! Alucard seems to purely exist for his traversal abilities really, and I guess Yoko has her small healing ability by way of her regular attacks each providing a small bit of health -- like, literally 4 or something. Though it's honestly so small that it borders on useless, even if it does slightly increase every so few levels. Her magic abilities are rather powerful, but... Julius all the way, mang. Plus, switching between characters isn't nearly as instantaneous as it is in PoR, so it's something of a hassle really. Though you are invincible during the short transition animation, which I guess could be used to your advantage if timed right.

Like Richter Mode, playing without the option to use items gives an additional layer of complexity to the game and suddenly makes you take all of those potions and puddings for granted. It's certainly not impossible, though, it just means there's less room for error. Fighting Death has proven to be rather tricky, but thank the Lord there's at least no magic seals in here!

Shame The Abyss(full) area is so short, though. Once I went through the portal I had hoped it was then going to open up an entirely new area about the size as the Cultist Castle. But alas.

Order of Ecclesia

No Caption Provided

All right, here we go! A badass looking female protagonist, complete with a return to the more Gothic-inspired art style of old! It's even bucking its own trends and trying out some new ideas!

And yet... I don't quite like it...?

Man, this sucks. I don't mean the game exactly, but rather my own reaction to it. It has a lot of qualities that should make it shoot right up to becoming one of my favourites even. However the way the combat is designed doesn't sit well with me. OK, first I at least want to say that I'm not opposed to the World Map design. While having this giant, singular environment to explore is fun, I'm game for any other ways they wish to dish out all of the many different environment aesthetics. And boy, is there variety! The game looks fantastic as well and is easily the best looking of the DS trilogy.

Unfortunately I'm not much of a fan of the combat. See, instead of picking up weapons, you must find Glyphs. Upon absorbing these Glyphs they will give you your weapons and also magic spells. You can equip a different Glyph per hand, so you could dual-wield swords for example, or stick a sword on one and a lance on another. However all weapons (least so far) function the same, and instead are differentiated by their type. So, you're going to want use hammers against skeletons for example. But their actual animations all play out the same and just don't quite carry the same satisfaction as the weapons of the older games do.

You can again also equip spells, and there are Glyph combinations that can form into a unique special attack. Oh, because you also now two mana bars, with one determining your regular attacks/magic, and the other being your hearts, which is used for your Glyph combos, making it resemble closer to the older games of the series. Though your primary bar replenishes almost instantly when used. Hearts, however, are much rarer, so it'll force you to use your Glyph combo attacks in moderation.

I have little problem with the idea behind the Glyphs system, but the core combat attacks don't quite do it for me. I also don't think the music is anything special thus far, either. Though being able to collect CDs of classic Castlevania songs and play them over the level is quite a treat. I also like the idea behind the HUB village, that you slowly grow as you save more of its villagers. Again, there's a lot of things I like in this game, but unfortunately I currently can't get over the combat system as of now.

I'll certainly make an effort to complete it, though it's also much more difficult than its priors. That crab boss in particular musta taken me about 20 attempts! Still, part of me wants to complete it just so I can play it with the unlockable character and see if maybe I prefer it that way.

Oh! Conclusion!

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT
TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

OK, I have actually totally been playing Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance lately as well.... But hawt dayum I think this blog is long enough as it is, so if I were to be bothered to write up a little summin' summin' related to those then it'll have to be for another time. To put it short, one I like, one less so. Guess which one's which.

Still, my point has been made: these games have got me good. I'm admittedly fearing the inevitable burnout like you'd expect, but it's not quite here yet and damn if I can stop even if I wanted to! I've even got Aliens: Infestation over here for just a little extra smidge of that Metroidvania'n.

And who can blame me! It's a design that still stands up to this day; the 2D format allows some stupendously beautiful art for starters, and the act of continually unlocking new stuff and being able to further explore an ever growing environment is ever so tantalising. It's that aura of mystique that pulls us on, it inspires us to search every cranny and whip every wall... just in case. It may have taken me a few years, but I'm happy I've finally gotten around to discovering what is so beloved about these games. Though weirdly enough they're all a lot... shorter than I would have imagined.

Don't get me wrong, with them all averaging at about 9-10 hours just with the main game, they've certainly got a decent length about 'em. But when you look at the map and your statistics, you'd think you would have just surmounted a 25-30 hour long adventure. Eh, but again, I'm certainly not complaining about their value. Maybe it's just my way of admitting that I want more -- more castles, more whips, more double jumps,

More!

Also, @vinny, where'sa ma VinnyVania?!

Outro Music Sure Why Not

Avatar image for corevi
#1 Edited by Corevi (6796 posts) -

You should probably get Fire Emblem Awakening...

Anyway Barkerville

Loading Video...

Avatar image for elixirbronze
#2 Edited by ElixirBronze (547 posts) -

I would watch the shit out of a Vinnyvania of the old DS games, especially DoS and PoR.

Also OP you need to play Circle of the Moon on GBA which is probably my favourite in the whole series.

Avatar image for csl316
#3 Posted by csl316 (14925 posts) -

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Avatar image for video_game_king
#4 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

@yummylee said:

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT
TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

Please tell me nobody overheard you saying that while you were playing the game.

Avatar image for yummylee
#5 Edited by Yummylee (24646 posts) -
@corruptedevil said:

You should probably get Fire Emblem Awakening...

Yeah, maybe one day. It's going for full price, though, which seems a bit steep given how much time has passed. I'll be sure to get around to it eventually no doubt.

@elixirbronze said:

I would watch the shit out of a Vinnyvania of the old DS games, especially DoS and PoR.

Also OP you need to play Circle of the Moon on GBA which is probably my favourite in the whole series.

I would much rather watch Vinny continue on with the older generation of Castlevania, mainly because I haven't played any of them and I always prefer watching the staff play games I'm not already familiar with. Though really at this point I'd be happy with Vinny playing anything! I was thinking about getting Circle of Moon, too. The reason why I got the other two was because they came in a double-pack. From what I've seen Circle of Moon looks kinda rotten, though... Awfully dark, too. I could get it for about £9 used on Amazon currently, which is certainly much fairer than what every other one of these typically goes for. So, I'll certainly keep it in mind. But for now I've got plenty of Vania on my plate as it is.

@csl316 said:

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Yeah, Ecclesia appears to be really popular I've noticed. Which is why it's all the more depressing that it's just not grabbing me; it makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me >_>' And Symphony of the Night is fantastic! But it was also released in 1997... so, y'know, times have changed is all. You can't even slide! And I must reiterate that its Richter mode is kind of a wet blanket.

@video_game_king said:

@yummylee said:

TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT
TAKE IT YOU SLIMY CUNT TAKE ITTTTT

Please tell me nobody overheard you saying that while you were playing the game.

Loading Video...

;)

Avatar image for elixirbronze
#6 Edited by ElixirBronze (547 posts) -

@yummylee said:

I would much rather watch Vinny continue on with the older generation of Castlevania, mainly because I haven't played any of them and I always prefer watching the staff play games I'm not already familiar with. Though really at this point I'd be happy with Vinny playing anything! I was thinking about getting Circle of Moon, too. The reason why I got the other two was because they came in a double-pack. From what I've seen Circle of Moon looks kinda rotten, though... Awfully dark, too. I could get it for about £9 used on Amazon currently, which is certainly much fairer than what every other one of these typically goes for. So, I'll certainly keep it in mind. But for now I've got plenty of Vania on my plate as it is.

Yeah the game is way darker than the others and it doesn't necessarily look the best visually (although I think it looks way better than Harmony of Dissonance), I think the reason it looks a little jarring now is because it was an early GBA game and so it was meant to be played on a dark screen without the backlight. But if you want kickass gameplay and the best skill system in the entire series Circle of the Moon is the choice. Jeff even called it "one of the best portable adventures ever created" (in 2001 but whatever, 9.6 is still a good score).

Avatar image for hailinel
#7 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

In retrospect, I was not a fan of Dawn of Sorrow. It's not bad, but those moments where you have to trace sigils on the touch screen to finish off bosses got to be a pain, particularly in the later portion of the game. I'm actually of the opposite view to you, as I actually found Order of Ecclesia the most enjoyable of the games for the way its combat and exploration work. The glyph system is a nice twist on the formula in a series dominated by whip-wielders.

Avatar image for csl316
#8 Posted by csl316 (14925 posts) -

@yummylee said:
@csl316 said:

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Yeah, Ecclesia appears to be really popular I've noticed. Which is why it's all the more depressing that it's just not grabbing me; it makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me >_>' And Symphony of the Night is fantastic! But it was also released in 1997... so, y'know, times have changed is all. You can't even slide! And I must reiterate that its Richter mode is kind of a wet blanket.


See, SotN and Mario World are consistently battling for my favorite game of all time. Future games certainly make improvements, and I can see it being dated for people without the nostalgia (granted, I didn't play it til a couple years later).

I remember it winning some award in EGM and thinking they were crazy. I mean, Tekken 3, Tomb Raider II, and Crash Bandicoot 2 came out in '97, among other classics. But I eventually came around and played it on accident, until I got to the point of maxing out every familiar and learning how to play the clock tower theme on guitar (one of my earliest guitar solos!).

Richter sucks. I mean... why use a whip when you can SOUL STEAL.

Anyway, your post is making me want to revisit some of the DS games. I know people hated on the XBLA multiplayer game, but I remember having some fun with it and I have DLC to explore.

Avatar image for hailinel
#9 Edited by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@csl316 said:

@yummylee said:
@csl316 said:

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Yeah, Ecclesia appears to be really popular I've noticed. Which is why it's all the more depressing that it's just not grabbing me; it makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me >_>' And Symphony of the Night is fantastic! But it was also released in 1997... so, y'know, times have changed is all. You can't even slide! And I must reiterate that its Richter mode is kind of a wet blanket.


See, SotN and Mario World are consistently battling for my favorite game of all time. Future games certainly make improvements, and I can see it being dated for people without the nostalgia (granted, I didn't play it til a couple years later).

I remember it winning some award in EGM and thinking they were crazy. I mean, Tekken 3, Tomb Raider II, and Crash Bandicoot 2 came out in '97, among other classics. But I eventually came around and played it on accident, until I got to the point of maxing out every familiar and learning how to play the clock tower theme on guitar (one of my earliest guitar solos!).

Richter sucks. I mean... why use a whip when you can SOUL STEAL.

Anyway, your post is making me want to revisit some of the DS games. I know people hated on the XBLA multiplayer game, but I remember having some fun with it and I have DLC to explore.

I find it sad that, from my point of view at least, Order of Ecclesia will be the last great Castlevania game. The whole Lords of Shadow series and Mercury Steam just shit all over everything since.

Avatar image for csl316
#10 Posted by csl316 (14925 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@csl316 said:

@yummylee said:
@csl316 said:

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Yeah, Ecclesia appears to be really popular I've noticed. Which is why it's all the more depressing that it's just not grabbing me; it makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me >_>' And Symphony of the Night is fantastic! But it was also released in 1997... so, y'know, times have changed is all. You can't even slide! And I must reiterate that its Richter mode is kind of a wet blanket.


See, SotN and Mario World are consistently battling for my favorite game of all time. Future games certainly make improvements, and I can see it being dated for people without the nostalgia (granted, I didn't play it til a couple years later).

I remember it winning some award in EGM and thinking they were crazy. I mean, Tekken 3, Tomb Raider II, and Crash Bandicoot 2 came out in '97, among other classics. But I eventually came around and played it on accident, until I got to the point of maxing out every familiar and learning how to play the clock tower theme on guitar (one of my earliest guitar solos!).

Richter sucks. I mean... why use a whip when you can SOUL STEAL.

Anyway, your post is making me want to revisit some of the DS games. I know people hated on the XBLA multiplayer game, but I remember having some fun with it and I have DLC to explore.

I find it sad that, from my point of view at least, Order of Ecclesia will be the last great Castlevania game. The whole Lords of Shadow series and Mercury Steam just shit all over everything since.

Honestly, I really enjoyed the Lords of Shadow stuff (took some time to get going, and I haven't finished 2 yet because people convinced me it's bad).

But I would love a classic 2D one done well, man. I'd love it so damn much.

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#11 Edited by Justin258 (15548 posts) -

I actually bought Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia earlier this year as well! And I liked both of them quite a bit.

I really liked Dawn of Sorrow quite a bit.

Order of Ecclesia is a fine game but it is ridiculously, ball-bustingly hard. I like that quality, but sometimes I just don't want to play it. I haven't finished it.

@hailinel said:

In retrospect, I was not a fan of Dawn of Sorrow. It's not bad, but those moments where you have to trace sigils on the touch screen to finish off bosses got to be a pain, particularly in the later portion of the game. I'm actually of the opposite view to you, as I actually found Order of Ecclesia the most enjoyable of the games for the way its combat and exploration work. The glyph system is a nice twist on the formula in a series dominated by whip-wielders.

I do think that Dawn of Sorrow would be better without the touch-screen boss-finishing bollocks, but I don't really hold it against the game because when it came out Nintendo was expecting every game to have touch screen stuff in it. EDIT: Also because I spent some time practicing all of the seals, especially the harder ones, so that I wouldn't fuck them up while fighting bosses. I guess that had something to do with me not hating them.

@yummylee Please tell me that you're going to, at some point, dive into the genre's other defining half? Super Metroid? Also known as one of the greatest games ever made? If you're enjoying these, then you should absolutely give one of the 2D Metroids a try. I guess Zero Mission would be acceptable, but Super is the superior game in my opinion. You said that Shadow Complex was your first Metroidvania so I'm assuming you haven't played them.

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#12 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (7827 posts) -

It really makes me sad that Aria of Sorrow isn't brought up that much when talking about Castlevania games, because it's probably as close as a game in the franchise has gotten to Symphony of the night. I played it for the first time earlier this year and was thoroughly surprised at how similar it was to Symphony. Aria nails the tight controls, progression and the music. I tried the other two Gba games as well, but I really disliked them based on their controls alone. Seriously, forget all the rest of these games for now, go play Aria of Sorrow!

Great blog by the way.

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#13 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15648 posts) -

Man, you're effin' crazy playing all of these here metroidvanias back to back to back to back. I played Dawn of Sorrow earlier this year and found it a thoroughly well-made game that does no more or less than what it sets out to do. Maybe I'm not the biggest fan of SpaceWhippers (as Mento calls them), but I guess I have a harder time getting into installments in the genre that aren't Super Metroid/SotN/Shadow Complex caliber.

I will say that I vaguely remember owning order of ecclesia at one point and not loving it, but I couldn't tell you much else about the rest of em. I get the impression that the entire lot of the GBA/DS Castlevaias are all decent comfort-food caliber products.

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#14 Edited by GERALTITUDE (5985 posts) -

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

Avatar image for slag
#15 Posted by Slag (8152 posts) -

Dang man, now that is a quality blog!

Also you make the best captions, holy crap. You had me rollin' with a couple of those.

Avatar image for video_game_king
#16 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

@slag said:

Also you make the best captions, holy crap. You had me rollin' with a couple of those.

Loading Video...

Avatar image for slag
#17 Posted by Slag (8152 posts) -

@slag said:

Also you make the best captions, holy crap. You had me rollin' with a couple of those.

Loading Video...

haha you make good captions too VGK.

They weren't all hits, but @yummylee had some good zingers in there.

e.g. Jonathan Morris, ESRB Agent

Oh, the humanime!

From what I can tell it seems only those of the Dracula bloodline have the uncanny ability to sit in chairs.

btw how many youtube videos do you have bookmarked? 1,000? 2,000? Because dang are you quick on the draw with these.

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#18 Edited by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@slag said:

Also you make the best captions, holy crap. You had me rollin' with a couple of those.

Loading Video...

Nothing makes Rachel cry. What the blazes are you talking about? She only makes others cry. :P

Avatar image for video_game_king
#19 Edited by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

@hailinel:

Just because I have these videos doesn't mean I know what they're referencing. It's BlazBlue, isn't it?

Avatar image for hailinel
#20 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@hailinel:

Just because I have these videos doesn't mean I know what they're referencing. It's BlazBlue, isn't it?

Yep.

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#21 Posted by xyzygy (10595 posts) -

I really loved Portrait of Ruin. I also liked Ecclesia, but I found the layout of the maps to be a little strange and there wasn't as much to explore in comparison to other titles.

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#22 Posted by AndrewB (7816 posts) -

A) I love how you basically came to the same conclusions I did about the series despite playing them in a different order. I played a little of Circle of the Moon, all of Harmony of Dissonance, a little of Aria of Sorrow, all of Dawn of Sorrow, all of Portrait of Ruin, *then* went back to play Symphony of the Night (most of it - stuck at a certain point in upside-down-verse and never finished), and then played enough of Order of Ecclasia to get to the first "bad end," at which point I gave up because I wasn't liking the game and also had no idea what to do to progress the story anyway.

Portrait of Ruin doesn't hold a candle (har?) to the Sorrow games. The duo mechanic was built for co-op and is entirely useless in the land outside of the place it was developed because of it. Even beyond that, though, the castle design just seemed so bland to me, and the soundtrack reaching too far into the nostalgia remix pot instead of coming up with quality original scores.

Sorrow (both Aria and Dawn) has both an interesting plot and unique and fun gameplay mechanics going or it. I might still say that Symphony of the Night is the best game in (that style of) the Castlevania series if I had played it first, but to me the Sorrow duology is the best.

As I alluded to before, Ecclasia wasn't my cup of tea despite appreciating where they were going with it. If they were dropping the general Metroidvania "open-world" then they would have been better served not including the map and building the game on a more unique, not block-based level design. And yes, I think I was ruined by the Sorrows combat mechanics being so great that neither Portrait or Ecclasia felt right given how much they aped the style.

B) How has Tales of the Abyss(full) been so far (or have I already asked that question elsewhere? I seem to remember asking before)? I started playing it ages ago via PS2/emulator but wasn't enthralled by the story (a mistake given how all of the Tales games I've played tend to be a slow burn). I think I'm also broken by spending so much time with Symphonia that any protagonist which doesn't control exactly like Lloyd feels wrong.

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#23 Posted by Yummylee (24646 posts) -

@yummylee said:

I would much rather watch Vinny continue on with the older generation of Castlevania, mainly because I haven't played any of them and I always prefer watching the staff play games I'm not already familiar with. Though really at this point I'd be happy with Vinny playing anything! I was thinking about getting Circle of Moon, too. The reason why I got the other two was because they came in a double-pack. From what I've seen Circle of Moon looks kinda rotten, though... Awfully dark, too. I could get it for about £9 used on Amazon currently, which is certainly much fairer than what every other one of these typically goes for. So, I'll certainly keep it in mind. But for now I've got plenty of Vania on my plate as it is.

Yeah the game is way darker than the others and it doesn't necessarily look the best visually (although I think it looks way better than Harmony of Dissonance), I think the reason it looks a little jarring now is because it was an early GBA game and so it was meant to be played on a dark screen without the backlight. But if you want kickass gameplay and the best skill system in the entire series Circle of the Moon is the choice. Jeff even called it "one of the best portable adventures ever created" (in 2001 but whatever, 9.6 is still a good score).

Hmm, well you've sold me! Or at least the future me :P I'm now much more inclined to give it a go sooner rather than later, but I'm not quite ready to buy myself yet another game for the DS as of now. I've already just recently bought Shinobi, Elite Beat Agents, Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D, and Chinatown Wars! So my portable gaming backlog is already starting to mount!

@hailinel said:

In retrospect, I was not a fan of Dawn of Sorrow. It's not bad, but those moments where you have to trace sigils on the touch screen to finish off bosses got to be a pain, particularly in the later portion of the game. I'm actually of the opposite view to you, as I actually found Order of Ecclesia the most enjoyable of the games for the way its combat and exploration work. The glyph system is a nice twist on the formula in a series dominated by whip-wielders.

Yeah, the magic seal stuff really drags the overall game down a bit. It's not enough to sour the entire game, but it would have undoubtedly been better without them than with.

@csl316 said:

@yummylee said:
@csl316 said:

Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the handheld games. All pretty solid, though Ecclesia felt the most rewarding to me. I should also say that it's the first DS one I played.

Also:

"Because it's a much older game there are certain elements that are inferior to the DS releases" SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT IS PERFECT MANKIND ILL NEEDS A SAVIOR SUCH AS YOU!!

Yeah, Ecclesia appears to be really popular I've noticed. Which is why it's all the more depressing that it's just not grabbing me; it makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me >_>' And Symphony of the Night is fantastic! But it was also released in 1997... so, y'know, times have changed is all. You can't even slide! And I must reiterate that its Richter mode is kind of a wet blanket.


See, SotN and Mario World are consistently battling for my favorite game of all time. Future games certainly make improvements, and I can see it being dated for people without the nostalgia (granted, I didn't play it til a couple years later).

I remember it winning some award in EGM and thinking they were crazy. I mean, Tekken 3, Tomb Raider II, and Crash Bandicoot 2 came out in '97, among other classics. But I eventually came around and played it on accident, until I got to the point of maxing out every familiar and learning how to play the clock tower theme on guitar (one of my earliest guitar solos!).

Richter sucks. I mean... why use a whip when you can SOUL STEAL.

Anyway, your post is making me want to revisit some of the DS games. I know people hated on the XBLA multiplayer game, but I remember having some fun with it and I have DLC to explore.

You've just reminded me that I was edging ever so close to getting that HD multiplayer thingymagig as well! Until I found out it's still going for the full price of £12 four years later, and that it doesn't even include the many DLC characters and levels they've released since then. =/

@yummylee Please tell me that you're going to, at some point, dive into the genre's other defining half? Super Metroid? Also known as one of the greatest games ever made? If you're enjoying these, then you should absolutely give one of the 2D Metroids a try. I guess Zero Mission would be acceptable, but Super is the superior game in my opinion. You said that Shadow Complex was your first Metroidvania so I'm assuming you haven't played them.

I've certainly always been curious in giving Super Metroid a go, but I don't have many options at hand to actually play it. Is it available on the 3DS store? That'd be something, though even that doesn't give me a sure shot as I can't actually access the internet with it as of yet... My internet's still currently all wired with no sort of wi-fi functionality, least not to my knowledge. It's very possible that I'm simply doing something wrong on my end, though.

@hailinel said:

@csl316 said:

See, SotN and Mario World are consistently battling for my favorite game of all time. Future games certainly make improvements, and I can see it being dated for people without the nostalgia (granted, I didn't play it til a couple years later).

I remember it winning some award in EGM and thinking they were crazy. I mean, Tekken 3, Tomb Raider II, and Crash Bandicoot 2 came out in '97, among other classics. But I eventually came around and played it on accident, until I got to the point of maxing out every familiar and learning how to play the clock tower theme on guitar (one of my earliest guitar solos!).

Richter sucks. I mean... why use a whip when you can SOUL STEAL.

Anyway, your post is making me want to revisit some of the DS games. I know people hated on the XBLA multiplayer game, but I remember having some fun with it and I have DLC to explore.

I find it sad that, from my point of view at least, Order of Ecclesia will be the last great Castlevania game. The whole Lords of Shadow series and Mercury Steam just shit all over everything since.

Isn't the head honcho behind Castlevania basically in the middle of developing a Not-Castlevania game, though? Much like how Inafune is making a Mega Man game in all but name only? Plus, there's still always going to be plenty of MetroidVania games on the horizon. Currently there's Axiom Verge, though that's more veering on the Metroid side with regards to its aesthetic. And I believe there's twoShantae games on their way for this year, and then there's this Timespinner thing, too. Though that one is admittedly quite a ways off.

I do hope that Castlevania gets back to what it's known for, though. It'd be especially grand if they would at least release one more classic Castlevania game on consoles before they go off and do all of their experimenting and genre-mixing or whatever with the series.

Post's getting to be a little big right now so I'll cut it off from here. But as is my way I will assuredly respond to everyone who's kind enough to post!

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#24 Posted by Justin258 (15548 posts) -

@yummylee: Super Metroid is available on the Wii. I'm pretty sure it's available on the Wii U, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. The 3DS's virtual console is, for some reason, populated by Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. I think there are NES games on there, but no NES games. This is nuts, my fucking PSP can emulate SNES and GBA games, why can't the 3DS?

Anyway, emulate Super Metroid if you can't get a hold of it any other way. It is a must-play game, especially if you find yourself enjoying these types of games. It's pretty much the best Metroidvania out there.

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#25 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@yummylee: Super Metroid is available on the Wii. I'm pretty sure it's available on the Wii U, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. The 3DS's virtual console is, for some reason, populated by Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. I think there are NES games on there, but no NES games. This is nuts, my fucking PSP can emulate SNES and GBA games, why can't the 3DS?

Anyway, emulate Super Metroid if you can't get a hold of it any other way. It is a must-play game, especially if you find yourself enjoying these types of games. It's pretty much the best Metroidvania out there.

The 3DS eShop has Game Boy and Game Boy color games, NES, and I believe Game Gear games as well. They don't offer SNES games on the platform likely to encourage people to buy a Wii U (which Super Metroid is available for). Metroid Fusion is also on the Wii U Virtual Console, though you can also play it on the 3DS if you have ambassador status on it.

Personally, I prefer Metroid: Zero Mission over Super. It has some refinements over the SNES game and over Metroid Fusion that make it play better, in my mind.

Avatar image for justin258
#26 Posted by Justin258 (15548 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@believer258 said:

@yummylee: Super Metroid is available on the Wii. I'm pretty sure it's available on the Wii U, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. The 3DS's virtual console is, for some reason, populated by Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. I think there are NES games on there, but no NES games. This is nuts, my fucking PSP can emulate SNES and GBA games, why can't the 3DS?

Anyway, emulate Super Metroid if you can't get a hold of it any other way. It is a must-play game, especially if you find yourself enjoying these types of games. It's pretty much the best Metroidvania out there.

The 3DS eShop has Game Boy and Game Boy color games, NES, and I believe Game Gear games as well. They don't offer SNES games on the platform likely to encourage people to buy a Wii U (which Super Metroid is available for). Metroid Fusion is also on the Wii U Virtual Console, though you can also play it on the 3DS if you have ambassador status on it.

Personally, I prefer Metroid: Zero Mission over Super. It has some refinements over the SNES game and over Metroid Fusion that make it play better, in my mind.

I said above that Zero Mission would also be an acceptable Metroid game to try. I hold it in pretty high regard, but I feel like Super Metroid is better designed in a lot of ways. It never has to tell you where to go while Zero Mission does feel the need to tell you a few times, for one. Super is also the one that's more historically significant to the genre in question, so that's another reason to pick it over Zero Mission. And it's bigger. And has more powers and weapons. And it doesn't have a stealth section.

If you like Metroidvanias, Super Metroid and Zero Mission are both must-plays. Prime is also an excellent game but it's not 2D so it plays a little differently.

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#27 Posted by Yummylee (24646 posts) -

It really makes me sad that Aria of Sorrow isn't brought up that much when talking about Castlevania games, because it's probably as close as a game in the franchise has gotten to Symphony of the night. I played it for the first time earlier this year and was thoroughly surprised at how similar it was to Symphony. Aria nails the tight controls, progression and the music. I tried the other two Gba games as well, but I really disliked them based on their controls alone. Seriously, forget all the rest of these games for now, go play Aria of Sorrow!

Great blog by the way.

Thanks! And I have been playing Aria of Sorrow and think it's a lot of fun. In fact after playing that and Harmony of Dissonance it's hard to believe they were both released on the same console. Aria looks, plays, and most importantly sounds worlds better than HoD.

Now I would have given AoS its very own blog segment, but like I mentioned my blog was starting to feel a little bloated as it is already. If I can muster up the motivation again I'll be sure to blog about Aria, Harmony of Dissonance, and maybe Circle of Moon if I get round to it. Probably throw in some Aliens: Infestation, too!

Man, you're effin' crazy playing all of these here metroidvanias back to back to back to back. I played Dawn of Sorrow earlier this year and found it a thoroughly well-made game that does no more or less than what it sets out to do. Maybe I'm not the biggest fan of SpaceWhippers (as Mento calls them), but I guess I have a harder time getting into installments in the genre that aren't Super Metroid/SotN/Shadow Complex caliber.

I will say that I vaguely remember owning order of ecclesia at one point and not loving it, but I couldn't tell you much else about the rest of em. I get the impression that the entire lot of the GBA/DS Castlevaias are all decent comfort-food caliber products.

Ha, I think your comfort food analogy is the perfect summation to describing all of these handheld SpaceWhippers, which is also such an awesome name. For some reason the name brings to mind some sort of animated cartoon produced by Adult Swim about Space Truckers...

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

Thanks! And I dunno really... more of the same? These are the sort of games where the production values go a long way in keeping me engaged; the music, the art, the controls -- even if they're just essentially making ''another one of those'' then so long as it's well made, I'm game! I suppose the important distinction I'd want is that it's available on home consoles, as while I'm perfectly fine in playing these on my 3DS I do wish I could alternatively play them on my big TV with a controller like SoTN.

@slag said:

Dang man, now that is a quality blog!

Also you make the best captions, holy crap. You had me rollin' with a couple of those.

Cheers! And I'm happy to hear I was able to elicit a few giggles with my captions!

@xyzygy said:

I really loved Portrait of Ruin. I also liked Ecclesia, but I found the layout of the maps to be a little strange and there wasn't as much to explore in comparison to other titles.

I haven't played very much of Ecclesia so I couldn't speak to how big the game is in comparison to the others. I noticed you didn't mention your opinion on Dawn of Sorrow. Have you not played that one or...?

@andrewb said:

A) I love how you basically came to the same conclusions I did about the series despite playing them in a different order. I played a little of Circle of the Moon, all of Harmony of Dissonance, a little of Aria of Sorrow, all of Dawn of Sorrow, all of Portrait of Ruin, *then* went back to play Symphony of the Night (most of it - stuck at a certain point in upside-down-verse and never finished), and then played enough of Order of Ecclasia to get to the first "bad end," at which point I gave up because I wasn't liking the game and also had no idea what to do to progress the story anyway.

Portrait of Ruin doesn't hold a candle (har?) to the Sorrow games. The duo mechanic was built for co-op and is entirely useless in the land outside of the place it was developed because of it. Even beyond that, though, the castle design just seemed so bland to me, and the soundtrack reaching too far into the nostalgia remix pot instead of coming up with quality original scores.

Sorrow (both Aria and Dawn) has both an interesting plot and unique and fun gameplay mechanics going or it. I might still say that Symphony of the Night is the best game in (that style of) the Castlevania series if I had played it first, but to me the Sorrow duology is the best.

As I alluded to before, Ecclasia wasn't my cup of tea despite appreciating where they were going with it. If they were dropping the general Metroidvania "open-world" then they would have been better served not including the map and building the game on a more unique, not block-based level design. And yes, I think I was ruined by the Sorrows combat mechanics being so great that neither Portrait or Ecclasia felt right given how much they aped the style.

Yes, while SoTN is certainly worthy of respect because of what it achieved at the time, I'd probably hafta say the Sorrow duology as you put it are better games overall. Though again, I do really enjoy the atmosphere SoTN has crafted more so than the bright and colourful bounciness of the DS lot.

Honestly the reason why I'm disappointed in myself for not enjoying Ecclesia is because they actually tried something different. Considering all of the previous releases are basically just rehashes of what we're already well accustomed to, Ecclesia's world map and Glyphs system helps set it apart. And for a lot of people these changes worked for the better! Just wish I could say the same.

@andrewb said:

B) How has Tales of the Abyss(full) been so far (or have I already asked that question elsewhere? I seem to remember asking before)? I started playing it ages ago via PS2/emulator but wasn't enthralled by the story (a mistake given how all of the Tales games I've played tend to be a slow burn). I think I'm also broken by spending so much time with Symphonia that any protagonist which doesn't control exactly like Lloyd feels wrong.

It's... well, it's still far beyond the likes of Symphonia 2 (OMG FUCK THAT GAME SO HARD), Graces F, and Xillia. But it doesn't quite compare to, say, Symphonia and Vesperia. For one thing the writing is really awkward and the localisation is much clunkier than how Symphonia turned out. Funnily enough it's playing all of the other Tales games that has made me appreciate Symphonia's story and localisation all the more as of late.

Luke the main character in particular comes across as whiny little shit. Though while that may be intentional, the way they go about it is that he basically just keeps telling everyone to shut up. Like, that's it. That's the extent of his teen angst -- ''shut up''. Which honestly just seems really tame. There's also a character that's afraid of women, because LOLZ, and of course the token 12 year old character. Only unlike someone like Presea, who actually breaks the typical JRPG trend by being very emotionally subdued, mature, and logical (and also secretly being an adult of course), this one is just another hyperactive source of comic relief. She's also voiced by Laura Bailey, and while she's proven to be a fine voice actress in other games, she's near unbearable in all of her JRPG roles from what I've seen.

I don't overly dislike the cast of characters much like I did in Graces F or anything, I just don't find them to be quite as engaging as the cast in Symphonia and Vesperia. I can see where they're going with them, like your requisite ''Older character'' who's all mysterious, overly sarcastic and aloof, but again the awkward localisation can make certain character traits fall flat. The skits once again are also poorly written, and aren't even voiced this time either. Which is especially strange since I believe Legendia before it featured voice acting for their skits. Oh, and it even has a high-pitched mascot character thing in here, too. Story seems OK, if a little difficult to follow at times... don't really have much to say in that regard as of now.

Combat's a lot of fun at least. I play as Guy myself, primarily because I like his character design and Johnny Yong Bosch is cooler than Yuri Lowenthal. It plays much like Vesperia, only when you're free running and attack you don't do a swipe attack and instead perform a regular attack, which can make any attempt to run around and start attacking another enemy more awkward than it should. There's also this system of ''Fons'' (elements, basically) that once a certain Fon type attack has been unleashed in the arena enough times it will form a circle. Then when you head into the circle you can change certain artes depending on the element and the arte. Overall I really enjoy the actual playing of Abyss, and the only reason I'm still not currently stuck in is of course because of being sidetracked by all of these SpaceWhippers.

Oh, the soundtrack is really good at least.

I'd like to blog about my thoughts on it eventually when I complete it. But then I've also for the longest time been meaning to blog about my time playing Symphonia, the Hitman HD trilogy, the Prototype games... I so often tend to start up my blogs, have difficulty trying to articulate it all and have it flow at a leisurely pace, then save it in wordpad and leave it there.

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#28 Posted by Slag (8152 posts) -

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

I know this wasn't aimed at me, but as someone who plays these kinds of games too.... and assuming you are talking about the genre not just Castlevania.

What I'd like to see is a lot more variation in story telling/theme and setting. There's too many games in this vein that are too blatantly trading too hard on Metroid Tropes (isolation, futuristic empty eerie alien environments, etc) as wannabe clones. A game like Guacamelee (your avatar is Javier Jaguar yeah?) or even Shadow Complex I think demonstrates how versatile this genre can be.

Mechanically I don't think the wheel necessarily needs to be invented here although new wrinkles never hurt (I like the Roguelike mashups Rogue Legacy and Abyss Odyssey too), but there is a whole wealth of settings and stories that remain untapped in this genre.

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#29 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1900 posts) -

Bummer you didn't like Order of Ecclesia. It's probably my favorite game since Symphony. But then again, I actually like Lament of Innocence so what do I know.

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#30 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

I thought Ecclesia was better than Portrait which was very linear. Ecclesia was also linear, but at least tried out some new ideas with the glyphs and overworld map. Dawn of Sorrow is my favorite on the DS because it's the only one to feature a proper, maze-like, explorable, sufficiently connected Dracula's Castle. And I'm a whore for farming souls. Fuck that symbol drawing shit though. Fuck that straight to hell.

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#31 Posted by xyzygy (10595 posts) -

@yummylee said:

@xyzygy said:

I really loved Portrait of Ruin. I also liked Ecclesia, but I found the layout of the maps to be a little strange and there wasn't as much to explore in comparison to other titles.

I haven't played very much of Ecclesia so I couldn't speak to how big the game is in comparison to the others. I noticed you didn't mention your opinion on Dawn of Sorrow. Have you not played that one or...?

Unfortunately, no. I have been kind of holding out on finding one used, but I think I might just pick up a copy from Amazon sometime soon. I just looks so damn amazing. It's one of the only Castlevanias I haven't played...

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#32 Edited by EuanDewar (5160 posts) -

I'd quite like to know what you think of Aliens: Infestation. I'm up and down on metroidvania style games but I love everything about the Alien universe and it's design. Might try it out myself.

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#33 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (7827 posts) -

@yummylee: Glad you're enjoying it so far. Looking forward to it if you do decide write something up. Also, that Aliens Infestation game looks kinda interesting too. I completely forgot it existed until you mentioned it. Might pick it up.

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#34 Posted by Karkarov (3385 posts) -

You know it is funny. Thinking back I have also played all these games though I think Order of Ecclasia was so ho hum for me I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Yeap I have played em all, I know cause I remember little bits of doing it and the names and the box art.... The only one that has ever stuck with me though or I remember as being better than "okay" is still Symphony of the Night. It was a great game than is still great today and it is still the best of these games even today. I think they just tried to go too far down the weird mechanics schtick, good level design and bad ass bosses was what the series needed but they kept overhauling the basics while not improving on those.

I do think Soma is the best character next to Alucard though, Soma is the one I prefered to use too in that weird Castlevania no one really liked Harmony of Despair.

Uh also the trick to Galamoth is using your poison mist form to nickel and dime him, dodge into his legs, smack him a few times, then mist back out to nickel and dime a little more. That and not getting hit. Though Alucard's Shield and the Shield Rod are a great combo. You could always go old school and duel wield Crissaegrims, money!

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#35 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5985 posts) -

@slag said:

@geraltitude said:

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

I know this wasn't aimed at me, but as someone who plays these kinds of games too.... and assuming you are talking about the genre not just Castlevania.

What I'd like to see is a lot more variation in story telling/theme and setting. There's too many games in this vein that are too blatantly trading too hard on Metroid Tropes (isolation, futuristic empty eerie alien environments, etc) as wannabe clones. A game like Guacamelee (your avatar is Javier Jaguar yeah?) or even Shadow Complex I think demonstrates how versatile this genre can be.

Mechanically I don't think the wheel necessarily needs to be invented here although new wrinkles never hurt (I like the Roguelike mashups Rogue Legacy and Abyss Odyssey too), but there is a whole wealth of settings and stories that remain untapped in this genre.

oh slag, my questions are always open to you. Not sure if it's your fault or where this tick developed but I use "slag!" as a catch all curse word for things like stubbing my toe, things going wrong with work, etc. Actually I guess maybe that makes it sound like I don't like you?

Anyways.. :D

I definitely agree the tone of so many vanias is too similar.

Obviously, I love the hell out of Guacamelee. There are four things that stand out to me from that game versus a usual Metroidvania.

1) very fast, high skill platforming

2) fighting game-style combo combat that can be demanding

3) towns!

4) Bright colours and tons of energy

A new vania wouldn't need to borrow any or all of these, but any one of the 4 could be an interesting addition.

Thinking about Rogue Legacy makes me think of a Castlevania where you play through generations of Belmonts. Would be cool!

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#36 Posted by AndrewB (7816 posts) -

@yummylee said:

Yes, while SoTN is certainly worthy of respect because of what it achieved at the time, I'd probably hafta say the Sorrow duology as you put it are better games overall. Though again, I do really enjoy the atmosphere SoTN has crafted more so than the bright and colourful bounciness of the DS lot.

Honestly the reason why I'm disappointed in myself for not enjoying Ecclesia is because they actually tried something different. Considering all of the previous releases are basically just rehashes of what we're already well accustomed to, Ecclesia's world map and Glyphs system helps set it apart. And for a lot of people these changes worked for the better! Just wish I could say the same.

I respect SOTN and there's no modern Castlevania track which rivals that first stage opener ("Dracula's Castle"), but with my entry into the series being more closely tied with the Sorrows games, I just enjoyed the souls system too much. I've also watched way too many SOTN speed runs to take it seriously anymore. I know that my opinion is probably entirely based upon my timing into the series post NES era, but it is what it is. Heck, I probably enjoyed Harmony of Dissonance as much as I did SOTN because of it. The one thing I hate about the Sorrows era games was the shift from a "Gothic" art style to more of a stereotypical anime one as part of a shift to the modern era in the timeline. I think that has a lot to do with affecting the tone.

I get the idea with Ecclasia but I just don't think it was different enough (still clinging onto the grid-based map system despite being a mostly flat-ish layout, from what I remember, at least) and obviously the ways it was trying to be different combat-wise didn't strike the same cord as previous entries. I'd still love to see a new 2D Castlevania game if it had something fresh to bring to the series, and it's been quite some time... I might even settle for "just another SOTN," but really I'd hope for more, and there are plenty of games in the same vein that I would probably rather catch up on instead (Elysian Tail or Rogue Legacy, or even a future Shadow Complex 2).

As for Abyss, I guess I can't overlook the character stereotypes in all other Tales and JRPG games in general, but still seems like a bummer. I think it was the characters and general lack of early plot direction that caused me to stop playing in the first place. I guess I should try switching up my player controlled character and just get used to it being different/not as fluid. Also, the lack of full voice acting until Vesperia was a huge sticking point to me. Such a relic of the past. Even if it's terribly acted, it's better than silent lines of text alongside expressive anime caricatures). I mean, my biggest draw to Abyss was because it was a Tales game on a portable platform - the only way I tend to make it through a JRPG these days (actually, I think Symphonia was the last JRPG that wasn't a Tactics style game I made it all the way through and enjoyed enough to play through multiple times). I just want to lay in bed and hack away at the game in hour or so chunks.

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#37 Posted by EuanDewar (5160 posts) -

Also, since you're kind of my go to Resident Evil dude I'll slot this one in here: Do you think Code Veronica X holds up? The HD version is on sale for a fiver on XBL right now.

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#38 Posted by ichthy (1351 posts) -

Everyone will probably have a differing opinion, but I rank the SotN-style CV games in the following order:

CotM > AoS > DoS > OoE > > SotN > PoR >>>>>>> HoD

People may think I'm crazy for ranking SotN so low, but like some others in this thread, I played it after all the GBA games, so by the time I got to it the gameplay wasn't novel anymore. My first game in that style was CotM, and I get nostalgic about that game the same way others do with SotN. Sure it was impossible to see on the GBA screen, but I loved the DSS magic system, even if certain card combinations were straight up broken and made the game trivial.

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#39 Edited by Yummylee (24646 posts) -

@slag said:

@geraltitude said:

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

I know this wasn't aimed at me, but as someone who plays these kinds of games too.... and assuming you are talking about the genre not just Castlevania.

What I'd like to see is a lot more variation in story telling/theme and setting. There's too many games in this vein that are too blatantly trading too hard on Metroid Tropes (isolation, futuristic empty eerie alien environments, etc) as wannabe clones. A game like Guacamelee (your avatar is Javier Jaguar yeah?) or even Shadow Complex I think demonstrates how versatile this genre can be.

Mechanically I don't think the wheel necessarily needs to be invented here although new wrinkles never hurt (I like the Roguelike mashups Rogue Legacy and Abyss Odyssey too), but there is a whole wealth of settings and stories that remain untapped in this genre.

Ha, that's a much more interesting answer than what I gave! I never even thought about it like that and was more so thinking mechanically. But you're right, porting the metroidvania design spec into new environments, time-periods, art styles, storylines ect. could make for a lot of potentially interesting games. Your examples of Guacamelee (haven't played it myself) and Shadow Complex in particular are spot on.

Bummer you didn't like Order of Ecclesia. It's probably my favorite game since Symphony. But then again, I actually like Lament of Innocence so what do I know.

Never played any of the PS2 releases, primarily because the reception to them has been rather tepid at best. What styles of games are they anyway? Are they hack n slash DMC-like affairs?

I thought Ecclesia was better than Portrait which was very linear. Ecclesia was also linear, but at least tried out some new ideas with the glyphs and overworld map. Dawn of Sorrow is my favorite on the DS because it's the only one to feature a proper, maze-like, explorable, sufficiently connected Dracula's Castle. And I'm a whore for farming souls. Fuck that symbol drawing shit though. Fuck that straight to hell.

I've never even really thought about the differences to how PoR and DoS' environments were designed. I guess PoR's is a little more linear because the castle is likely much smaller, to account for all of the painting environments you head into. I never found that PoR's castle wasn't spacious enough to allow you to do things in different orders, though, specifically which of the later paintings you decide to tackle in what order.

And yes, fuck that symbol drawing shit indeed.

@xyzygy said:

@yummylee said:

@xyzygy said:

I really loved Portrait of Ruin. I also liked Ecclesia, but I found the layout of the maps to be a little strange and there wasn't as much to explore in comparison to other titles.

I haven't played very much of Ecclesia so I couldn't speak to how big the game is in comparison to the others. I noticed you didn't mention your opinion on Dawn of Sorrow. Have you not played that one or...?

Unfortunately, no. I have been kind of holding out on finding one used, but I think I might just pick up a copy from Amazon sometime soon. I just looks so damn amazing. It's one of the only Castlevanias I haven't played...

Hopefully you'll get around to playing it one day, as since you like PoR as much as you do then there's a very high chance you're going to have a lot of fun with DoS.

I'd quite like to know what you think of Aliens: Infestation. I'm up and down on metroidvania style games but I love everything about the Alien universe and it's design. Might try it out myself.

I haven't played very much of it yet but it seems rather interesting, particularly the perma-death system and how the game just keeps rolling once a team member dies. They're not especially distinctive, but they each differing personalities and will respond differently to scripted conversations you have with your commander, so it seems like there could be some intriguing replay value on offer. Controls are a little more cumbersome than I'd like, but it at least portrays a foreboding enough atmosphere. And of course, it has the classic Aliens assault rifle sound effect, and that's always a treat.

Thinking about Rogue Legacy makes me think of a Castlevania where you play through generations of Belmonts. Would be cool!

No Caption Provided
@karkarov said:

Uh also the trick to Galamoth is using your poison mist form to nickel and dime him, dodge into his legs, smack him a few times, then mist back out to nickel and dime a little more. That and not getting hit. Though Alucard's Shield and the Shield Rod are a great combo. You could always go old school and duel wield Crissaegrims, money!

I remember I would often hang between his legs, but the space within his legs is so finnicky that I'd end up getting it anyway. Plus, even with poison mist I would do so little damage that the battle seemed like it would have taken me about 2 hours to beat him the old fashioned way. So, I'm pretty OK in cheesing it the way I did in the end.

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#40 Posted by GunstarRed (6047 posts) -

Did you know that if you beat the bosses in Ecclesia without taking damage they drop a little medal on the ground. The giant enemy crab boss is most definitely the hardest one to get because it can't be exploited using the crazy powerful weapon combinations. You have to go through all of the steps. Real pain.

Also, Beginning was the song I was tunelessly humming to you the other day. That bit of music is awesome. It has that "Fuck, yeah! Whippin shit to death!" keyboard running through it.

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#41 Posted by Yummylee (24646 posts) -

@andrewb said:

As for Abyss, I guess I can't overlook the character stereotypes in all other Tales and JRPG games in general, but still seems like a bummer. I think it was the characters and general lack of early plot direction that caused me to stop playing in the first place. I guess I should try switching up my player controlled character and just get used to it being different/not as fluid. Also, the lack of full voice acting until Vesperia was a huge sticking point to me. Such a relic of the past. Even if it's terribly acted, it's better than silent lines of text alongside expressive anime caricatures). I mean, my biggest draw to Abyss was because it was a Tales game on a portable platform - the only way I tend to make it through a JRPG these days (actually, I think Symphonia was the last JRPG that wasn't a Tactics style game I made it all the way through and enjoyed enough to play through multiple times). I just want to lay in bed and hack away at the game in hour or so chunks.

I gotta be honest, I think I'd much rather take silent text over bad JRPG voice acting, especially after how much of it I've had to endure in the latter Tales entries. Symphonia 2 in particular... I had heard all of the horror stories about that game, but Mother of God. What was that one line... 'Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality'

...Fuck me.

Also, since you're kind of my go to Resident Evil dude I'll slot this one in here: Do you think Code Veronica X holds up? The HD version is on sale for a fiver on XBL right now.

Uhh.. Hmm, if I'm to be honest Veronica is my least favourite of that era of Resident Evil. It has a more cartoonish art style to it over the likes of remake and zero, and many of the gameplay mechanics of RE3 are gone, as they were both in fact developed simultaneously and Veronica was to initially be RE3. You can't even manually go up/down stairs anymore in that one, yet the zombies can. So, that may sometimes lead into situations where you can't walk down a flight of stairs and have to then wait until the zombie reaches the top. Also, Steve Burnside. That guy is just the worst.

It does have some fine 'Wesker being all Weskery'' scenes, though, and the story itself is somewhat interesting. Soundtrack's pretty good as well. Have you at least played through RE2 yet? As it's basically a direct sequel to that.

@ichthy said:

Everyone will probably have a differing opinion, but I rank the SotN-style CV games in the following order:

CotM > AoS > DoS > OoE > > SotN > PoR >>>>>>> HoD

People may think I'm crazy for ranking SotN so low, but like some others in this thread, I played it after all the GBA games, so by the time I got to it the gameplay wasn't novel anymore. My first game in that style was CotM, and I get nostalgic about that game the same way others do with SotN. Sure it was impossible to see on the GBA screen, but I loved the DSS magic system, even if certain card combinations were straight up broken and made the game trivial.

You're now the second person singing the praises of Circle of the Moon! Which pushes me ever so slightly closer to trying that one out. Also, ouch, no love lost for Harmony of Dissonance? I can see why I guess, as the soundtrack is bad enough that it actively brings the rest of the game down with it unfortunately. It's why like I said above it's crazy to think that HoD and AoS were released on the same platform given how far superior AoS is.

Did you know that if you beat the bosses in Ecclesia without taking damage they drop a little medal on the ground. The giant enemy crab boss is most definitely the hardest one to get because it can't be exploited using the crazy powerful weapon combinations. You have to go through all of the steps. Real pain.

Also, Beginning was the song I was tunelessly humming to you the other day. That bit of music is awesome. It has that "Fuck, yeah! Whippin shit to death!" keyboard running through it.

Welp, I think it's safe to say I won't be collecting any of those medals. Also, I do not recall any humming. Though yes, that song is faaaaan-tastic. A perfect opener for when you're then put into the shoes of a 50 year old Belmont badass.

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#42 Posted by EuanDewar (5160 posts) -

@yummylee: No joke was gearing up to play Resi 2 a few days ago and they announced that Resi 1 remake/port/whatevs. Call me overly optimistic but I'd bet they're getting that out of the way at the start of this generation so they can do Resi 2 next, so I'm saving it till then.

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#43 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5985 posts) -

@yummylee: thank you so much for that gif! made my day. Just amazing.

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#44 Posted by 49th (3884 posts) -

I loved the DS Castlevania games, I'd say Portrait of Ruin was probably my favourite even though most people seemed to like that one the least. It was interesting being able to control both characters and the story was pretty cool.

Castlevania was half the reason I bought a 3DS but they proceeded to butcher everything I like about the series with a bullshit pseudo 3D tie-in. Hopefully Igarashi will do something similar to Keiji Inafune and kickstart a spiritual Castlevania game - I think he mentioned something like that at one point.

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#45 Posted by ichthy (1351 posts) -

@yummylee: Thanks to this thread I just purchased a used copy of CotM a few minutes ago. Now to find me a GBA Micro that costs less than $100...

I would absolutely recommend playing CotM, although it may be harder for you since you started with the DS games. It may not necessarily be a better game than the later sequels, which introduced more interesting mechanics and deeper character customization, but keep in mind it was launch title for the GBA, and only the second Metroid-inspired Castlevania game to come out. At the time that blew my mind. Looking at the game now certain aspects of the graphics do look fairly dated, especially the three frame walk animation that may as well be from the NES Castlevanias. I remember a common complaint in reviews was the game was too dark, and that was certainly true playing on a non-backlit screen (not a problem after the GBA SPs were released), but personally I think the darker colour palette fits the overall tone much better then what was used in HoD.

And speaking of HoD, I think I dislike that game much more now than when I actually played it. Gameplay-wise it really did just feel like more Castlevania and I know I enjoyed playing the game. But looking at it now critically, especially with knowledge of what came after it on the same platform, I don't think it's very good. The music is mediocre and unmemorable, which is a travesty for a Castlevania game, and there was something really wrong with the actual sound quality. The castle design was the worst of the seven Metroid-vanias, with lots of dead ends and backtracking. The magic and item system was simplified; you can kill bosses without even trying using the wind + book combination. The colour palette became all bright and gaudy (I understand it was due to the GBA's lack of backlight, but that blue halo surrounding Juste is real distracting). It also has THE dumbest and easiest final boss of any Casltevania game. AoS then came out and eclipsed it in every single way.

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#46 Edited by Yummylee (24646 posts) -

@yummylee: No joke was gearing up to play Resi 2 a few days ago and they announced that Resi 1 remake/port/whatevs. Call me overly optimistic but I'd bet they're getting that out of the way at the start of this generation so they can do Resi 2 next, so I'm saving it till then.

lol huh, strange timing. Though er, I wonder... I've seen this theory that Capcom are gearing to announce an RE2 remake of some sort popping around on the article & thread discussing the RE remake HD port. Part of me quite frankly would rather they don't even attempt such a feat, least of all not a complete remake. Maybe if they were just simply compile all of the content across the multiple ports it's had over its lifespan and spruce up the graphics some, then sure, I'd be OK with that. A complete remake, however -- with modern day Capcom at the helm? Now that frightens me...

@49th said:

I loved the DS Castlevania games, I'd say Portrait of Ruin was probably my favourite even though most people seemed to like that one the least. It was interesting being able to control both characters and the story was pretty cool.

Castlevania was half the reason I bought a 3DS but they proceeded to butcher everything I like about the series with a bullshit pseudo 3D tie-in. Hopefully Igarashi will do something similar to Keiji Inafune and kickstart a spiritual Castlevania game - I think he mentioned something like that at one point.

My only experience with the Lords of Shadow series was about an hour with the first one. Which I'm to understand has a pretty slow opening, so I'll admit I haven't given it a fair shot. Still, now that that series over I do hope they'll bring it back to what Castlevania is known for. Although the Lords of Shadow series is their best selling Castlevania property... Nonetheless, like I mentioned above there's still plenty of other metroidvania games on the horizon, and it's the sort of sub-genre that's stayed this popular for a reason. Many reasons in fact!

@ichthy said:

@yummylee: Thanks to this thread I just purchased a used copy of CotM a few minutes ago. Now to find me a GBA Micro that costs less than $100...

I would absolutely recommend playing CotM, although it may be harder for you since you started with the DS games. It may not necessarily be a better game than the later sequels, which introduced more interesting mechanics and deeper character customization, but keep in mind it was launch title for the GBA, and only the second Metroid-inspired Castlevania game to come out. At the time that blew my mind. Looking at the game now certain aspects of the graphics do look fairly dated, especially the three frame walk animation that may as well be from the NES Castlevanias. I remember a common complaint in reviews was the game was too dark, and that was certainly true playing on a non-backlit screen (not a problem after the GBA SPs were released), but personally I think the darker colour palette fits the overall tone much better then what was used in HoD.

And speaking of HoD, I think I dislike that game much more now than when I actually played it. Gameplay-wise it really did just feel like more Castlevania and I know I enjoyed playing the game. But looking at it now critically, especially with knowledge of what came after it on the same platform, I don't think it's very good. The music is mediocre and unmemorable, which is a travesty for a Castlevania game, and there was something really wrong with the actual sound quality. The castle design was the worst of the seven Metroid-vanias, with lots of dead ends and backtracking. The magic and item system was simplified; you can kill bosses without even trying using the wind + book combination. The colour palette became all bright and gaudy (I understand it was due to the GBA's lack of backlight, but that blue halo surrounding Juste is real distracting). It also has THE dumbest and easiest final boss of any Casltevania game. AoS then came out and eclipsed it in every single way.

Watching videos of it on youtube definitely deterred me a little, but after hearing a fair bit of positive buzz surrounding it, it sounds like a game that's worth checking out all the same. Plus at least this way I know what I'm getting into. It would be quite a shock to be greeted with its comparatively weak animation and lack of colours.

As for HoD, you're pretty much spot on, especially regarding the castle design and bosses. In fact I'm pretty certain I've beaten every boss I've encountered on my first try... And the castle is indeed something of a nightmare to traverse; there's so few teleportation devices, and not only that but they only go one way! The soundtrack is also pretty weak, no doubt about it. I do kinda like the jaunty merchant theme, though.

Even though it's undoubtedly one of the weaker Castlevania games, it's still enjoyable enough that I'll at the very least see it through to the end. Though unlike the rest, I probably won't as inclined to give it another playthrough. One thing I do really like about it, though, is how fast you can continually dash both forward and backward. It can make all the inevitable backtracking a little easier to deal with least, and it's just a lot of fun to dash around everywhere.

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#47 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1900 posts) -

@yummylee said:

@soldierg654342 said:

Bummer you didn't like Order of Ecclesia. It's probably my favorite game since Symphony. But then again, I actually like Lament of Innocence so what do I know.

Never played any of the PS2 releases, primarily because the reception to them has been rather tepid at best. What styles of games are they anyway? Are they hack n slash DMC-like affairs?

They are basically DMC and Metroidvania light. They combat system isn't terrible complex, and there's not a ton of exploring, but Lament of Innocence nails the feel of Castlevania the best of any of the 3D games. Curse of Darkness is better in both the combat and exploration, but it doesn't feel as Castlevania-ey. The reception on them were mixed because they don't scratch either itch quite like you want them. Lament of Innocence may have my favorite sound track of the series though.

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#48 Edited by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

@yummylee said:

@soldierg654342 said:

Bummer you didn't like Order of Ecclesia. It's probably my favorite game since Symphony. But then again, I actually like Lament of Innocence so what do I know.

Never played any of the PS2 releases, primarily because the reception to them has been rather tepid at best. What styles of games are they anyway? Are they hack n slash DMC-like affairs?

They are basically DMC and Metroidvania light. They combat system isn't terrible complex, and there's not a ton of exploring, but Lament of Innocence nails the feel of Castlevania the best of any of the 3D games. Curse of Darkness is better in both the combat and exploration, but it doesn't feel as Castlevania-ey. The reception on them were mixed because they don't scratch either itch quite like you want them. Lament of Innocence may have my favorite sound track of the series though.

I'd say that Lament of Innocence is the best of the 3D Castlevanias as well, and feels much like a 3D interpretation of the Metroidvanias that feature the whip-wielding Belmonts. Curse of Darkness is more akin to Aria/Dawn of Sorrow or Order of Ecclesia, in that the protagonist has a very unorthodox ability set for Castlevania and doesn't fit into the idea of the traditional Castlevania protagonist. In both cases, I feel that both games were unfairly maligned in some ways, as I think they still had the stigma associated with the N64 Castlevanias, with their horrible cameras and subpar to poor gameplay. People weren't convinced that Castlevania could be done in 3D, but the PS2 entries pull off the idea of a 3D Castlevania of the Metroidvania mold very well.

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#49 Edited by Slag (8152 posts) -

@slag said:

@geraltitude said:

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

I know this wasn't aimed at me, but as someone who plays these kinds of games too.... and assuming you are talking about the genre not just Castlevania.

What I'd like to see is a lot more variation in story telling/theme and setting. There's too many games in this vein that are too blatantly trading too hard on Metroid Tropes (isolation, futuristic empty eerie alien environments, etc) as wannabe clones. A game like Guacamelee (your avatar is Javier Jaguar yeah?) or even Shadow Complex I think demonstrates how versatile this genre can be.

Mechanically I don't think the wheel necessarily needs to be invented here although new wrinkles never hurt (I like the Roguelike mashups Rogue Legacy and Abyss Odyssey too), but there is a whole wealth of settings and stories that remain untapped in this genre.

oh slag, my questions are always open to you. Not sure if it's your fault or where this tick developed but I use "slag!" as a catch all curse word for things like stubbing my toe, things going wrong with work, etc. Actually I guess maybe that makes it sound like I don't like you?

Anyways.. :D

I definitely agree the tone of so many vanias is too similar.

Obviously, I love the hell out of Guacamelee. There are four things that stand out to me from that game versus a usual Metroidvania.

  • 1) very fast, high skill platforming
  • 2) fighting game-style combo combat that can be demanding
  • 3) towns!
  • 4) Bright colours and tons of energy

A new vania wouldn't need to borrow any or all of these, but any one of the 4 could be an interesting addition.

Thinking about Rogue Legacy makes me think of a Castlevania where you play through generations of Belmonts. Would be cool!

Thanks man, always dig your insight!

Hah, yeah sometimes I feel conflicted changing my name, but Slag has been my favorite Dinobot for decades so I'm pretty attached to it. It wasn't till a few years ago I learned that a word we use in my part of the world to mean a piece of this stuff

No Caption Provided

(Which I also think is cool), is used quite awfully across the pond. btw IDW Transformers comics use "Slag!" the same way you do.

re: Guacamelee

I just played Guacamelee about 5 months ago and I loved it. To me it felt a lot like a Zelda 2 if it was done today (with obviously different artstyle and aesthetic) if it were done right). Clearly the in game references showed Z2 definitely was a deliberate influence too I loved it for many the reasons you did, but mainly I really loved how it tapped into a setting/aesthetics we don't see often enough in games (looked very reminscient of that old cartoon Mucha Lucha). Man was that game pretty. The platforming in that game was really good too, and of course the combat was excellent as you mentioned.

Really though I think it's an excellent proof of concept of what is truly important about Metroid from a genre standpoint. It isn't space, Samus, or being abandoned in a humanless environment (although all those things are great in their own right), It's being able to go anywhere in a side scrolling world, while having some of your paths and areas gated by tools/abilities you need to acquire through combat trials/dungeons.

It's the same thing that worked in the original Legend of Zelda (despite the topdown perspective) and would have worked in Adventure of Link if the save system wasn't so harsh.

I feel like despite the genre being so old, it has so much untapped potential creatively. I think the fact people call them Metroidvanias in a way is evidence (similiar to how FPS was once Doom Clone and MOBAs were once DotAlikes) that there is a lot more that can be done here.

You're absolutely right a Castlevania: Belmont Legacy would be absolutely incredible! Especially given the lore of this series!

@yummylee said:

@slag said:

@geraltitude said:

Amazing blog..

Thanks for the read. I should really finish SotN.

Any thoughs on what a new 2D vania for consoles should aim for?

I know this wasn't aimed at me, but as someone who plays these kinds of games too.... and assuming you are talking about the genre not just Castlevania.

What I'd like to see is a lot more variation in story telling/theme and setting. There's too many games in this vein that are too blatantly trading too hard on Metroid Tropes (isolation, futuristic empty eerie alien environments, etc) as wannabe clones. A game like Guacamelee (your avatar is Javier Jaguar yeah?) or even Shadow Complex I think demonstrates how versatile this genre can be.

Mechanically I don't think the wheel necessarily needs to be invented here although new wrinkles never hurt (I like the Roguelike mashups Rogue Legacy and Abyss Odyssey too), but there is a whole wealth of settings and stories that remain untapped in this genre.

Ha, that's a much more interesting answer than what I gave! I never even thought about it like that and was more so thinking mechanically. But you're right, porting the metroidvania design spec into new environments, time-periods, art styles, storylines ect. could make for a lot of potentially interesting games. Your examples of Guacamelee (haven't played it myself) and Shadow Complex in particular are spot on.

Thanks!

Oh man you really should play it. If you enjoy a good space whipper, Guacamelee is top shelf stuff. Maybe a little light on the exploration side, but the art, music, combat and platforming are all wonderful.

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#50 Posted by cannonballBAM (783 posts) -

@yummylee: Have you played "Rondo of Blood" before?

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