Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PS1 Look - Castlevania Chronicles

Once again Konami saw it fit to revisit that fateful day when a guy named Simon decided to do something about a guy named Dracula. While Super Castlevania IV may have been a re-imagining this Castlevania is more of an actual remake. The stage-designs are several times more familiar, a handful of boss-fights from the first game make their return(with changes of course), and thanks to some changes in mechanics the bosses are also no longer suckers for holy water. Originally this game was available on a PC nobody owned but we got a port in the form of Castlevania Chronicles. The original version is included along with a remake where Simon has gotten a sort of glam-rock makeover and the addition of difficulty settings.

The original game is hard not simply because of the enemies and traps but Konami really took that extra step towards being total jerks. To start with those days of chicken and pot roast buffets from Castlevania 4 are over. The meat locations are very few and far between and as a bonus the wall that contained the very first pot roast you can find – in stage 1-2 just before meeting the Mermen – is now filled with an infinite supply of fleamen. This sort of treatment continues as starting about half-way through the game Simon can be wiped out in as little as four hits. Still it’s not all bad since if you’re really lucky you’ll stumble upon herbs that can be used as a subweapon. For a measly 10 hearts it just might save your life, provided you don’t get dumped in a pit by the next creature you run into it and lose everything.

It doesn’t stop there as the enemies are always placed in spots where they are a threat. A bat can be waiting after almost every jump, medusa-heads are abundant in just the wrong places, bone-tossing skeletons are always seemingly out of reach, and a handful of monsters exclusive to this edition really have it out for the Vampire Killer. One particularly nasty section involves a vertical shaft filled with tiny evil clowns, frustrating flying dolls, and chests that contain deadly bats and balloons (!?). This section also gives the player the finger for attempting to grab a much-needed pot-roast as more than likely they’ll just fall to the bottom as the food disappears. This is important because enemies also respawn off-screen.

With this entry it’s pretty clear that Konami has done all they want to do with the original game. Part 4 was different and that’s all good in itself but with this version it’s all about returning to the challenge that was missing. Still this is likely to be too much for even the Castlevania fans so the remake added difficulty settings. These are rather clever as while they cover the basic stuff like enemies doing less damage, they also allow for Simon to not go flying backwards every-time he takes a hit. The reasoning here is obvious as instead of sailing into pits Simon will just sail straight up for a bit before making a safe-landing. The fact that Simon can take less damage suddenly makes this game quite a bit more manageable. It’s still rough even on the easy setting however or at least it is for me because I still sort of suck at these games.

It’s all good though and certainly more than worth the measly $6 it goes for on the Playstation Network. There’s really nothing bad I can say about this game as it is about as good as the original Castlevania can get.

Game Rating – 5 stars out of 5

Really I’m not sure what I can say here. The controls are flawless, the presentation is great, the level design is both fresh and familiar, and it’ll keep any Castlevania playing for quite awhile.

My Rating – 4 stars out of 5

Whoa now that doesn’t mean I have to absolutely love it either. I think it’s great and all but throw me a bone here (ok strike that, I’ve seen enough flying bones in a life-time). I was not really a fan of the original and this version doesn’t do quite enough to differentiate itself. Plus the sub-weapons feel kind of useless (since they aren’t abusable on bosses). It could just be I’m getting tired of the formula which is to be expected since I’m playing a bunch of games that are similar to one another but uhh… whatever it’s just a score dammit.

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