Ah, it's been a while since I have posted last. Been a bit busy, plus this blog is not the only blog I have, as I also have several other blogs, including a blog about demos at http://rjstoredemos.blogspot.com (talks about demos I do, has a section on special promotions online from select retailers, as well as several other features). I also have 2 relatively new blogs, including one about siberian huskies and alaskan malamutes at http://instantblogsubscribers.com/?w=huskies (yes, I am trying out a new blog host for that blog and it is pretty similar to blogspot, with some differences, such as cleaner layouts for blogs, less restrictions on what you can post about, as well as more ways you can monetize your blogs, such as adding clickbank affiliate links, referral links for your Sokule downline, as well as built in referral links to IBS) and a general animal videos blog at http://rjanimalvideos.blogspot.com. Feel free to check them out and subscribe to them too as I try to add new posts to them often too. Anyways, on to this post. As you probably know, it is halloween season and you might be wondering if there are some good halloweenish games to play, and one game series that you are bound to love is the Castlevania Series (it is definately a classic and a very halloweenish game)
The first game series that SHOULD be on your list is probably the Castlevania series. This game certainly does bring back memories, especially back in the days of the classic NES when Castlevania 2, Simon's quest came out, when you played as Simon Belmont in his mission to lift a hiddeous curse that turns people into monsters as well as to defeat the evil Count Dracula. Of course, that is just one of many games in the Castlevania series. In case if you are not familiar with the Castlevania series, it is a lengthy series of games created by Komnai (the same people who made the Contra series) about heroes such as Simon Belmont (as well as his predecessors and successors) in their struggle against the evil forces of demons lead by the evil Count Dracula, who is the "dark lord" (Satan-like) and the main antagonist of the series (though some of the newer games do have a new villian, such as Satan himself at the end of the Lords of Shadows game, besides the 2 expansion packs). Many of the games come in different forms and have evolved quite a bit since the NES games with plenty of hit titles, including "Symphony of the Night", Circle of the Moon, Lamment of Innocents, Lords of Shadow, and many other titles.
Typical themes in the Castlevania Series:
- you fight through hordes of ghosts, goblins, monsters, demons, and other foul creatures of the night that you would find in a halloween themed game, movie or show.
- Plenty of hideous bosses to fight. In most if not all Castlevania games, you are bound to fight some huge and monsterous minions of the evil Count Dracula (which varies by games), with some noteworthy boss fights including: Frankenstein in Super Castlevania 4, Death (the grim reaper, who is pretty much 2nd in command of Dracula's forces), the "Forgotten One" (a very goulish optional boss you can fight in Lamment of Innocents), Legion (a huge ball of dead bodies that appears in some of hte games), Dullahan (the headless horseman look alike), as well as many others.
- The final boss in most (though not all Castlevania games) is usually Count Dracula (who usually teleports around a room and hurling fireballs and other projectiles at you), though he usually comes in 2 forms (a human form, followed by a huge demonic/dragon form).
- Levels do come with good Castlevania style music, especially in the earlier games in the series, such as the "vampire killer", "beginning", and "bloody tears" themes (though many of the newer games have different sound tracks).
Noteworthy titles in the Castlevania Series:
1) Lamment of Innocence -
this is the official prequel of the Castlevania series and is almost like a movie in a way (given the 3D nature of the game as well as the voice acting of the characters and all) and features Leon Belmont, who is a distant grandfather of Simon Belmont, who is on a quest to stop an evil vampire named Walter (who happens to be one of the predecessors of Dracula) and save his wife who was kidnaped by Walter (in an attempt to lure Leon into a cat and mouse game at his castle). While the game may seem a little short, the levels in the game are pretty lenghty and you will fight hordes of skeletons, flying eyeballs (peeping toms), ghosts, zombies, and other creatures of the night, along with some huge bosses like Medusa, a succubus creature, an undead parasite worm, as well as several others. Even in the main castle, the music is creepy, and yes, there is a hideous monster (known as the "Forgotten One") lurking at the bottom of the main castle that you can fight towards the end of the game when you have gotten a certain item to open the door leading to him and you can hear him moving around as you get closer to him.
2) Castlevania 64 -
This is definitely another classic. If you have a Nintendo 64, you would probably like Castlevania 64 (though the camera graphics can be a little choppy). You play as either a girl named Carrie or a decendent of Simon Belmont, named Reinhardt Schneider in their latest quests to Dracula's Castle in their mission to stop his evil plans. By the way, the storylines are slightly different depending on who you play as (for example, if you are Carrie, part of your quest will involve hunting down an evil witch named, Actriz, who is bent on kidnapping and sacrificing young children all in the name of preserving her "youth") and as Belmont, the main mission is to hunt down Dracula (who unbeknownst to him happens to be a mysterious child named Malus though that fact does not get revealed until the end of the game). Plenty of memorable features in this game:
- The eerie feel when playing (especially on the first few levels where you are in the woods and heading into the castle). Also, I do like the boss music as well (the shutter theme) on the early bosses.
- On the 3rd level, you will be going through an eerie maze chasing after Malus (a mysterious kid, who is really Dracula unbeknownst to Reinhardt/Carrie), while watching your back as you have 2 gargoyle dogs and literrally a crazed Frankenstein monster armed with a chain saw (just two hits from that baby can prove fatal for Reinhardt/Carrie) chasing after you for the entire maze portion level (btw, there is a major boss fight at the end of that level). It is bound to get your adrenaline going, as one false move and it is game over there. Even the castle you enter before the maze is eerie as it is full of ghosts, vampires (some of them serve as mini bosses too), a "friendly" ghost named Rosa (who becomes a boss character later on in the game), as well as some other eerie features.
- You do collect gold in the game that you can use to buy items and power ups. Be warned though: the salesman is really a demon in disguise as a salesman and if you buy too often, you will have to fight him as a boss character in the last level of the game (before you fight Dracula).
- You do fight vampires on various occasions, and they can turn you into a vampire if they "bite" you (which comes with negative effects too).
- Epic boss battles too, including a massive battle against Death (has the boss theme from Castlevania Dracula X when you face him), Renon (the "businessman" if you buy from him too often), Actriz (the evil witch in the game), as well as a 3 fold battle against Dracula (including the imposter version of Dracula that you fight at the top of the "Clock Tower" level), as well as an epic two part final battle with the real Dracula.
- Plenty of clip scenes too (plays like a "silent film" though).
As you can see, Castlevania 64 is a one of a kind game for the 64 and is definately a title you don't want to miss. A few downsides though: 1) deaths do come cheap on some levels (by the way, it is possible to fall to your doom in this game), 2) the camera angles can be tricky sometimes, and 3) no voice acting in most of the clipscenes (the dialogues play out a bit like that of a silent film where the game shows subtitles when the characters "talk" in the clipscenes).
Tips with Castlevania 64:
- It is recommended that you play on Medium or Hard since you won't get to the end on "easy mode" (the game ends on level 5 if you play on easy mode, which is not really the final level of the game as much as it might seem like the final level at first).
- You do have to try to get through the levels as quickly as possible since you are kind of in a race against another vampire hunter named, Vincent (who is a reckless vampire hunter who wants to reach Dracula before your character does). If you take too long or you use the sun/moon cards too often, you will have to face Vincent as a boss character, and that makes it so you get the bad ending (though the imposter version of Dracula will seem like the final boss on the surface, especially given the "dance of illusions" theme when you fight him).
- Be careful not to buy from Renon too often, as you will have to fight him as a boss at the end of the game if you do.
3) Castlevania Dracula X (and it's alternate version: Dracula X Chronicles) -
this game is probably one of my favorites in the series. You play as Richter Bemont (one of the many successors of Simon Belmont). Count Dracula had been resurrected by a corrupt priest named, Shaft and Dracula proceeds to kidapping Richter's sister, Maria, as well as his girlfriend (Annette?) and it is up to Richter to "pay a visit" to Dracula's castle, rescue Maria and Annette, and defeat Dracula once again against all odds. The game spans about 8 levels or and has an arcade style feel. Some of the levels also have some of the classic Castlevania music tracks, such as the "Bloody Tears" theme on level 3. At the end of the game is an epic battle against Dracula. Note: while I have played the SNES version of Dracula X, I haven't played the Dracula X Chronicles verion yet. I used to have a PSP, but it broke, but I am planning to get a new one some time, and then I can get the game then. However, I have seen videos of the game on Youtube and definitely seems to be alot different from the SNES version (besides some similarities). By the way, personally I liked Castlevania Dracula X more than Super Castlevania 4 in many ways (probably given the newer feel to the game).
4) Symphony of the Night -
This is the official sequel to Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles (it appears this game takes place after the events of Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles, not the original Dracula X game). Set around the time of the end of Dracula X Chronicles (aka Rondo of Blood), Richter Belmont thought that he had defeated Shaft and Dracula and ended his evil plans, but the not yet over, not by a long shot. Soon, the evil priest named Shaft comes back into the picture, "kidnaps" Richter and causes him to turn evil by making him into "lord" of Dracula's castle, and soon plans the resurrection of the evil Count Dracula (which seems to be inevitable with Richter out of the picture at the time). However, Dracula's "son", Alucard (who seems to be sympathetic towards the human race) intervenes (thus betraying Dracula's cause) and sets on a quest to rescue Richter from Shaft and Dracula's clutches, defeat Shaft once and for all, and stop Dracula's resurrection before all is lost. This game is definately a classic and seems to be the inspiraton for many of the current generation 2D Castlevania games, including Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Portrait of Ruin, and others. You go through not 1, but 2 huge castles (the other one is really a clone of the first one, but everything is upside down there) facing countless foes, hiddeous boss characters (including the infamous Legion/Granlafoon boss, Death, Cerebus, and many others), and make your way to rescue Richter (who is under Shaft's influence) and save the day. The game also uses a level up system, plenty of weapons, shields and other items you can use to help boost your stats and to help progress through the castles, making your character stronger and more powerful as you progress). It also comes with a satisfying ending too. It is probably my favorite Castlevania game. I used to have the game on the Playstation, but decided to sell it along with the original playstation I had around the time I got the PS 2 (sold it to a guy on Ebay). Though, I wouldn't mind getting the Xbox Live version some day.
Well, there are many other noteworthy games in the Castlevania series (this list would be too long if I posted them all) and is worth mentioning.
By the way, what do you think of the Castlevania series? Do you have any favorites? The latest one I've played is the Lords of Shadow version, which is the latest 3D Castlevania game, where you play as Gabriel Belmont in his quest to avenge the death of his wife and rescue her spirit (which is in limbo after her death). The only downside to the Lords of Shadow version is that it is definitely much darker than many of the previous Castlevania games I've played (even on the boss battles, your character now has gruesom fatality moves that you can use to completely destroy bosses when you beat them) and plus part of the game takes your character to Hell (literally), with the end boss being Satan himself (I guess they decided to make Satan the angagonist for LOS), which may be offensive to some, especially mothers.
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