Spent every free hour last night, and today, re-playing retro Castlevania games. Gosh, I’m so out of practice! I used to be able to reach Death in the first game without taking a hit. Last night, I barely made it past the wicked third stage intact. No thanks to those blasted Medusa Heads.
Gave up and moved on to Dracula XX. I have not played this SNES port of Rondo of Blood for years, not since getting the upgraded version for the PSP in 2008. What I remember about this version: it’s exceedingly frustrating and pretty lacking in mechanics compared to the PC Engine original. I didn’t remember wrongly. This time, I didn’t even get past Stage 2.
Bleah. But no bother. I wasn’t looking to complete anything. Abandoning 16-bit Richter, I switched on 16-bit Simon and struggled through a few stages of Super Castlevania IV. When I felt adequately warmed up and “in the mood,” I turned on the episode that I was really intended on playing, this being Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Or as it’s known in Japanese, Akumajō Densetsu.
Why the Sudden Craving for Retro Castlevania Games?
Why, to prep myself for the Castlevania Netflix series, of course!
Incredibly, despite its movie-perfect premise and popularity, no Castlevania movie or series was ever made. Not till this year, that is.
Now, I know I’m generally ambivalent about movie or television adaptations of games in my movie reviews. I’ve also mentioned before I feel it’s impossible for such adaptations to please fans. (Thus why I enjoyed the Resident Evil movies; because I don’t play the RE games)
But hey, this is the game franchise that I’ve loved since 12. Netflix’s decision to do it as an animated series also seems to be a promise that the end-result wouldn’t suffer the usual problems with live-action adaptations. I have high hopes for this miniseries, I’d say. From the looks of the trailer, I think I am not going to be disappointed.
Enough! Episode one is already available in the system. I’m off to medieval Wallachia.
My History With Konami’s Castlevania Games, If You’re Interested.
Castlevania was my sixth NES cartridge; yes I remember it that clearly.
My parents bought it for me in 1986 after I pestered them for half a year. Prior to that, how did I learn about the game? Well, the shop we bought my NES at had it on display. Throughout the whole hour of testing and bargaining there, I was absorbed with trying to get past the first stage. I was also far more interested in Castlevania than any of the packaged free titles the shop was offering.
By the way, CV was one of the more expensive cartridges back then. Thus why the merchant absolutely refused to offer any packaged deals for it. The rascal.
For the next, I don’t know, three or four months? I played nothing but Castlevania on the NES. With the unflinching perseverance of an actual vampire hunter, I made my way through Dracula’s castle, downing jumpy skeletons and snuffing Medusa Heads by the ten and hundreds. While I did so, several profound transformations also happened within my pre-teenage mind. I wouldn’t realise these till I gave them serious thought many years. I’m happy to say every change is in one way or another, a great thing for me.
- I developed a lifelong fascination for European castles. I have never actually told anyone this, not till this post. All my European trips were planned around which castle or palace I could visit. In recent years, which cities would give me the strongest Castlevania vibes too.
- Correspondingly, I developed an interest in European mythology, arts, architecture, etc.
- Few would disagree with me when I say Castlevania music is kickass. Those hours with the first game, and subsequent ones, cemented my respect and fondness for video game music. Actually, the very first mp3s I transferred to a phone were all Castlevania songs. I don’t claim to be a prophet, but since the 80s, I knew video game music would one day be performed as symphonies.
- (3) probably had a great influence on my determination to learn the Yamaha Electone organ. It’s such a great instrument for playing VGM alone. Sadly, I don’t play enough VGM on it nowadays.
- This might sound a little silly. Playing Castlevania games and other Konami titles on the NES convinced me that Konami is hands-down the best game developer. The creativity, the execution, the branding, and especially the music!
This conviction, admittedly, is a little scarred in recent years, with Konami discontinuing quite a few of its classic franchises, and with the whole MGS scandal.
Still, if I had to indicate in a poll the video game developer that I respect most, Konami would be the name I would write right away. This, thanks to a certain 8-bit whipping sprite known as Simon Belmont. My steadfast avatar in the daunting quest to take down the world’s most famous vampire.