Sunday, February 18, 2007

Castlevania II - Beat the game

Wow, um, so that's Castlevania II. Yeah. And they say Zelda II is the black sheep of the Zelda family. It may be, but at least it is still a decent game. Castlevania II? Not so much.

I generally dislike games that are tedious and frustrating without a walkthrough. Castlevania II is nigh impossible without one. To progress, you must do esoteric things like kneel with a crystal at a certain place or throw garlic in a specific location. You are often (though not always) given a hint by the villagers about what to do, but it can be damn cryptic. This would be bad enough, but half the villagers are damn liars. Yes, they tell you things that just plain aren't true and it is up to you to figure out if it is just another cryptic clue or a complete fabrication.

Also, I remember Castlevania being a damn hard game. In its sequel, the monsters are fairly pathetic. Oh, the ones outside can occasionally give some trouble (especially those damn slimes). Inside the mansions, there is very little variety in enemies and they are all easy to take down. The only challenge comes when they are placed such that it is nearly impossible to go up or down a set of stairs without hitting them. This feels cheap and unfair, not challenging. And why are there only three freaking bosses in the entire game (including the final battle with Dracula)? And why are they all ridiculously easy? One would think the Grim Reaper and Dracula should possess some challenge, but apparently the developers thought differently (Dracula can famously be defeated before he has a chance to move).

You may be heartened to know that there is some challenge that will cause you to die. Unfortunately that comes out of frustrating jumps. In Castlevania II you have absolutely no control over your jump once you commit to it. The designers apparently thought it would be fun to have several places where platforms are placed exactly at your jumping range such that jumping just too early has you fall to your death. They were incorrect, it is not fun. It feels cheap and wrong. So, yeah, the biggest challenge comes from annoying jump sequences.

The music does rock, though. Maybe that is enough to redeem. If I were enough of a nerd, I would know the name of the piece used as the outdoor day theme. Bloody Tears maybe? Regardless, it is awesome.

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