Thursday, September 16, 2010

TGS10 CastleVania: Lords of Shadow Trailer

I reserved CastleVania: Lords of Shadow back when it was first announced. And after seeing the trailer below I am all in, this very well may be the CastleVania I've been waiting for Since Symphony of the Night! Finally a badass Vamp Hunter that LOOKS like a Belmont! I'm sorry but Leon Belmont was too much of a pretty boy, Mathias would've choked him with his own whip! Any way enough talk check out Konami's sick ass trailer below from TGS10!
Check out Konami's official site @

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Retro Review: Super Castlevania IV

Not to be 1 up'd by his great great grand papy Trevor, Simon Belmont return's for Konami's first CastleVania in the 16 bit era.
According to the games instruction manual; Once every one-hundred years, there comes a time when the power of good is weakened, and men with evil in their hearts pray for the resurrection of the Prince of Darkness. And with each resurrection, his evil power grows stronger.

So are we to believe a hundred years have passed since Simon Belmont defeated Dracula in the original Castlevania? That is what the US instruction manual would have you believe;

It is time once again for Simon Belmont to call forth the powers of good to aid him in his battle. Armed with his mystical whip, his courage and the centuries-old knowledge of Belmont family training, he sets forth on his mission .

But Super Castlevania IV isn't actually part of the chronology it's a remake of the original in glorious 16 bit graphics, So it should've really been titled Super Castlevania. The game isn't a straight up remake either, it retains the basic platforming game play but it's really more of a reboot, as the game doesn't recreate the original stage for stage with a 16 bit coat of paint.

OK nitpicking aside, graphically Super Castlevania IV was an enormous improvement over it's predecessors and the audio soundtrack truly complimented the atmosphere of the game with it's remixed tracks and new additions.
The frame rate was also so smooth compared to it's 8 bit versions, Simon's animations for walking jumping and whipping were significantly more detailed and fluid. Simon also learned some new techniques with the whip, now you could control the whip in 8 different directions which would come in handy with another new game play addition, using the whip to swing across sections of the stage! That was a fun and well utilized throughout the game, it wasn't just a gimmick used a few times. Simon could also hold out his arm and let the whip dangle and/or "jiggle it".
The stages of Super CastleVania IV is where this game really shines, it expands on the basic stages of the original with altering the feel so much that it no longer played like it's 8 bit predecessors. My favorite stage was the 9th the Treasury, every aspect from the stages soundtrack to the ambient effects to the boss stood out, the stage was beautiful and the effects while battling the Gem Bat boss were a nice little touch.
Super CastleVania IV was one of the systems best titles.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retro Review: Castlevania III Dracula's Curse

Velcome back to my home...
With Konami's third installment of the franchise Castlevania returns to it's roots in more ways than one. Dracula's curse introduces us to Trevor Belmont in the year 1476...over two hundred years prior to Simon Belmonts exploits.
At this point in Castlevania lore the Belmonts have been exiled due fears of their mythical powers and Count Dracula is amassing an army to exact revenge on humanity over the death of his wife Lisa, mother of Adrian Farenheights Tepes (Alucard).
So the Church pleads for the assistance of the legendary Vampire slaying clan and Trevor answers the call.
Castlevania III returned to the action/adventure platforming style of the original, everything from player and enemy health bars to the sub weapon window, the timer, the score are faithfully recreated just like the original.
All the game play aspects from the original are intact, whip power ups, sub weapons, double and triple shot, turkey meals, hidden sacks of gold etc.
Konami did a fantastic job expanding the scope of the original Castlevania, in Dracula's Curse Trevor must travel the countryside to reach the gates of Dracula's Castle but here's where Castlevania III truly shines, you don't need to follow the path that leads to the front gate, there are multiple paths to take through the countryside to reach Castlevania! Essentially the short road to Castlevania is the long trip thru the castle and vice versa.

Another fantastic addition in Castlevania III are the three alternate playable characters, Sypha Belnades, a mysterious warrior that battles Dracula's minions with elemental magic, Grant D'Nasty a pirate who's family were victims of Dracula's army, he is cursed by Dracula until Trevor free's him, and lastly Alucard (Adrian Farenheights Tepes) son of Dracula and a human mother, Lisa Farenheights.
Depending on the path you choose you may not encounter all or any of the three alternate characters but there are benefits to finding them as each has unique abilities that can get to hidden area's within the castle and thru areas

that are especially difficult for Trevor.
The additions of multiple paths and three additional sub characters to play with took an already incredible sequel and added enough variety to warrant multiple play thru's. Along with all the new features the game's soundtrack was also notably amazing for it's generation.
Castlevania III: Dracula's curse builds from the original and does a superb job of improving every aspect as well as incorporating worthwhile additions such as branching paths and multiple characters. Castlevania ended on a high note in the 8 bit era but Dracula would return in a few years on the SNES...


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Unsolved Mysteries presents: Gamer Girls

The Easter Bunny,Unicorns, Santa Clause, Women on the Interwebs, honest politicians, girl gamers....what do all these things have in common?
They don't exist!
Ok maybe there are females out there that play video games but there's no way these chicks do...unless they're getting paid.
Regardless if Team Unicorn are really gurl gamers, the parody of Katy Perry is pure win! Seth Green rapping...trophy unlocked!
Now where are those Frag Dolls???

EMBED-Geek and Gamer Girls Song - Watch more free videos

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Retro review CastleVania II: Simons Quest

One year after the original Castlevania was released, Konami followed it up with the first sequel, Simon's Quest. Like many NES sequels (SMB2), Simon's Quest didn't follow the original game's mechanics, Konami altered the platforming/action game play of Castlevania by adding RPG elements. Originally collecting hearts was simply for the amount you could use your sub weapon, in Simon's Quest collecting hearts also contributed to building your health bar and was used as the games monetary system. The game also adds NPC's to purchase items and weapons and get clues to next objectives.

One of the most prominent changes in Simon's Quest was the exploration aspect which had the player traveling the Transylvania countryside to find five mansions to reclaim five body parts of Count Dracula; his rib cage, heart, eye, nail and ring (not a body part). Each of these items had special attributes to help Simon on his....erm quest, the rib (cage) could be used as a shield, the heart was used to make the ferryman take you to an otherwise inaccessible area, the eyeball showed hidden items, the nail enables Simon's whip to break thru some walls that were otherwise inaccessible, and Dracula's Ring grant's the bearer access to Castlevania.

Other noteworthy new aspects of Castlevania II was the game had a quasi 24 hour clock that shifted from day to night and kept track of the players progress. The game also had three different endings based on the completion time which was pretty rare for console games at that time.

I remember being very excited on my way home from Software Etc. back in the day when I got Castlevania II and being a bit turned off at the radical change from the original, I also remember struggling with some of the games "puzzles" such as finding Rover Mansion under Yuba Lake and passing over Deborah Cliff to reach Bodley Mansion. I remember getting very frustrated because the info the NPC's gave me either was misleading or altogether useless...I think that can be attributed to poor English localization. Konami took a risk by departing so dramatically from the original; Simons's Quest may not have been perfect but it paved the way for one of the most popular titles in the series...Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Castlevania II had enough fresh idea's added to the core action to keep fans of the original cracking that whip, and the next Castlevania would see a return to the series roots and introduce one of the series most popular protagonists...that wasn't a Belmont!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Retro Review: CastleVania

I remember the first time I played CastleVania, it was at a classmates house and a bunch of us played alternating when one of us died. We finally reached the Count at midnight after hours of epic fails. The sense of accomplishment was incredible at the time the castle seemed huge and the boss fights were exciting and challenging enough without being cheap.

CastleVania was just one of the many Konami titles that solidified them as a leading game company. The games graphics were fantastic, the game utilized the 8 bit color pallet to the best of it's ability. Each stage was well designed with fantastic atmosphere thanks to the visuals and soundtrack, each stage had a definate distintiveness that enhanced the scope of the game, giving it the sense that the castle was labrynthian in size. Each of the six bosses felt right at home in their stage, starting with the large Vampire Bat to the Mummy, Frankenstien and the Grim Reaper. These bosses would become permanent residents of CastleVania in subsequent sequels, and the stage design would be enhanced and expanded upon in later sequels also.

Simon Belmont paved the way to become the first in a long bloodline of Vampire slayers, but he wouldn't be the first chronologically, long before George Lucas began the prequel craze in Hollywood, Konami introduced fans of the series to Trevor Belmont in CastleVania III...

Aside from the esthetics CastleVania had fantastic gameplay, Simon's primary weapon could be "powered up" for further reach and power and the effect was noticeable, CastleVania also had sub weapons scattered thruout the game, Battle Ax, Holy Water, Dagger, and Boomerang, these weapons could also be upgraded by double shot and triple shot giving Simon a virtual endless supply of weaponry.

On top of all this the boxart was amazing also!

CastleVania trully earned the Nintendo seal of quality, awesome graphics, soundtrack, gameplay, playability, boxart.