Castlevania Retrospective #2: The Classicvanias (Part 2)

Castlevania Retrospective Part 2

Guess what? I didn’t completely forget about this retrospective project! After four months the second part is finally here… and I still haven’t beaten every Classicvania, or at least not every Classicvania gameplay wise. This piece DOES instead choose to rank the last of the traditional retro Castlevanias with the cut off point being the 2000s. Okay yes there is still technically Castlevania Chronicles but I’m covering the remake which was in 2001.

Castlevania has been kind of a strange entity in that nearly EVERY game in the series were linear sidescrollers, and then everything changed when the Symphony of the Night nation attacked! Since then the only traditional sidescrollers have been the aforementioned Castlevania Chronicles, the Rondo of Blood remake Dracula X Chronicles, the WiiWare title Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth that can no longer be purchased since WiiWare was shut down, and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon that isn’t even an official title.

But this article is about the five Classicvanias that preceded those ones, although that term is a misnomer because on two of them are good. Anyway let’s get going. Read more

Standard Review: Ghosts ‘n Goblins (Arcade/C64/ZX/NES/Amiga/GBC/WS/GBA/PC/IOS/Android)

Ghosts 'n Goblins | Level 1

Ghosts ‘n Goblins was always infamous for being one of the hardest games ever made. That statement is pretty much 100% accurate, Ghosts ‘n Goblins is so difficult that it is only on the border of how difficult a game can be while still being playable. One should note that I am using the word “difficult” and not “challenging.” The reason I say this is because being challenging is generally a good thing as it implies that a game brings you up to its own level by being demanding and through its design.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins, on the other hand, is just difficult in the sense that it is very patience trying and unfun. Before I hear the parade of apologists proclaiming “git gud” I should make it clear that I did beat this game twice, and yes I am counting it as twice regardless of that stunt they pulled the first time. Ghosts ‘n Goblins may be beatable, but it isn’t exactly an enjoyable game to play. Most players will be having far more frustration than fun and beating it serves no purpose other than bragging rights. Read more

Standard Review: Heavenly Guardian (PS2/Wii)

Heavenly Guardian | Box Art

Heavenly Guardian seems to have been a game that was a victim to some pretty poor reception if its metacritic page is any indication. Ultimately I would have to say that, while criticism towards this game is not entirely undeserved, it is a bit much to claim it is a bad game because of it. A lot of these reviews simply made claims that the game was “dated” and touched on production values rather than talking about important gameplay elements that can make or break the game as a whole. Read more

Castlevania Retrospective #1: The Classicvanias (Part 1)

Castlevania Retrospective Part 1

So there is this video game series called “Castlevania.” I’m sure you never heard of it as it’s quite obscure like everything else I cover. In all seriousness though there was a time when Koonami actually made good games and wasn’t obsessed with Pachinko machines and Soccer games. They had many influential and beloved series such as Gradius, Ganbare Goemon, Metal Gear, Contra, Suikoden, and Silent Hill, and not to mention plenty of other cult hits like Shadow of Destiny, Azure Dreams, Zone of the Enders, and other series that I never actually played but will still get weebs riled up by mentioning since no one else knows they exist.

The last time I did a retrospective, it was on Namco’s Splatterhouse series where I reviewed each game individually. I only needed to cover five games so that was more manageable, but the Castlevania series has over 40 of the bastards to cover and I kinda want to do other shit. As a compromise I decided I would start by covering multiple games per article so I don’t need to write a full review for games most of you already have played or know you should play. This does still allow me to touch upon the more obscure and lesser known entries in the series and compare them to the ones everyone likes and mock how inferior they are or make you feel bad about having not played them (mostly the former in this piece). Read more

Amazing VGM: Monster Dance (Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest)

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest | What a horrible night to have a curse

Simon’s Quest was an interesting game. There were a lot of unique ideas present at the time and it laid the groundwork for what Koonami would later perfect with Symphony of the Night. Yet there are also a lot of shortcoming present. I’m not here to talk about those though, we’ve all seen the AVGN video after all. Instead I would like to focus on its presentation, and by that I mean the track listed in the title of this article… you did notice that right? Read more

Amazing VGM: Battle 2 (Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest)

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest | Pazuzu

Admitting that you like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest… is kind of like admitting you are sexually attracted to trans women. A lot of people will strongly and adamantly deny it to save face… but everyone secretly likes both and it’s more cool to admit you do than to deny it…

…it’s a joke…

…no I don’t support lesbian erasure…

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Amazing VGM: Satellite (Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom)

God Phantasy Star III was such a weird game. Its setting seemed to be this weird cross between medieval and futuristic yet never was really set on one, the plot was barely prevalent but what little prevalence it did have was of the “WTF” variety, the poor testing and rushed design ended up with a lot of exploitable bugs or just odd occurrences such as a random enemy that was given that absolute highest possible stats and was stronger than the final boss… but could still be beaten relatively quickly cause it has the same amount of health. The game is an absolute mess and I cannot help but find it fascinating even if the game itself is ungodly tedious.

The music is something that also contributes to the surreal nature of the game. The soundtrack obviously tried to go for a more orchestral approach but trying for symphonic on the Genesis sound chip ends similarly to trying to tell Razorfist he’s wrong; they both just kind of implode on themselves at the mere thought of the possibility.

The resulting soundtrack is one full of tracks that are in the realm of “sometimes work but sometimes don’t.” Some tracks such as “Laya’s World” are actually Read more

Splatterhouse Retrospective #4: Splatterhouse 3 (Genesis)

Splatterhouse 3 | Box

Ah, Splatterhouse 3, the most ambitious of the original series by far. A lot of arguments could be made for Splatterhouse 3 being both the best AND the worst game in the series (not counting Wanpaku Grafitti). Splatterhouse 2 perfected the gameplay formula of the first game, and thus our developers likely did not know how to make any improvements. As a result, they did whatever any good developer does when they can’t top themselves; create something that throw the old formula in the trash and start from scratch. Given the stagnation of series that continue to rehash the same formula over and over again, this is a sign that quality is put over profit; but the results tend to vary.

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Splatterhouse Retrospective #3 – Splatterhouse 2 (Genesis)

Splatterhouse 2 | Japanese Cover

Splatterhouse 2, known as Splatterhouse Part 2 in Japan, was a good game, a serious improvement over Wanpaku Graffiti if you even consider the games comparable. I would definitely consider it to be among the all time greats of the Sega Genesis, and would strongly recommend it to those whom are fans of Genesis library given that it is often overshadowed by… just about every Sega published title on the system. Whether I would consider it a better game than the first Splatterhouse though, I am undecided on.

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Amazing VGM: Hell Chaos (Splatterhouse)

Splatterhouse (1988) | Hell Chaos

Well, this is the final VGM of the month and I am feeling hella satisfied that I managed to get a Halloween/horror themed VGM up each week. Yes, “Appetite” counts since Starless IS one of the most horrifying games ever created (albeit for all the wrong reasons), and “The Eye Awakens a Jungle” is a pretty freaky track even if Earthbound isn’t a horror game (although mu training, brain surgery on children, and Giygas should be enough to qualify it). So, what better way to end off this month than with a final boss theme from Namco’s arcade horror classic, Splatterhouse?

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