I’ve aways loved the music and lore of the Castlevania series but I’ve actually never beat any of the games except Portrait of Ruin on DS. I own almost every game in the series and I’ve made it a “goal” to play through them in 2018 and I always start from the beginning of a series so on with the 8 bit games!
My collection, CIB and in great shape!
Uh shit…These games are really hard for very aggrivating reasons.
I started with CV1 on NES but quickly switched to the FDS version so I could save. The game holds up incredibly well for 1986 even if we were living in a post Super Mario world. The music in particular is incredibe and my favorite part of the game. The movement is slow and methodical but the gameplay feels great. I found the levels themselves to be quite easy but I did have significant difficulty with the bosses. Like most games of the era I died alot while learning the patterns but once you get them down the bosses are a breeze.
Overall I enjoyed the game and I was excited to continue on!
Onto the black sheep the series.
I started with the NES version of CV2. I knew of it’s issues going in (Thanks AVGN) but I figured if I got stuck I could consult a guide. At first I thought the “open world” nature of the game was offputting and I didn’t like how special attacks like holy water or the axe were purchasable upgrades instead of dropping throughout a level. Eventually it grew on me and the RPG like progression felt rewarding. Running around every town and talking to every NPC was standard for the time but it’s incredibly boring today.
This game deserves all of the hate it gets. The game is quite boring and consists of walking around aimlessly finding parts of Dracula’s body. Purchasing items is fine except it requires lots of grinding to purchase them. The game itself is quite easy except you’ll never be able to figure out how to progress without a guide. To me the game felt like a boring loop. Thankfully the OST is killer again and kept me going. After running around aimlessly for a few hours I decided to checkout the “patch” for CV2.
I HIGHLY recommend playing the game this way. It add’s an in game map, the abilitty to save at any time, retranslating the terribly vague NPC dialog and several other “fixes”.
Even with the patch and a walkthrough I found I was just bored. I decided to give up on CV2 and watch a playthrough of the rest. I’m glad I got to experience the game but I’m also glad I stopped before I hated it. It turns out even the final fight with Dracula is incredibly easy. You wont even get hurt CV1 was hard and fair. The only difficulty in CV2 comes from the frustrating progression.
Time to get into the big one, the one everyone names as their personal favorite of the “classic” Castlevania series before it turned into " Metroidvania"
The linear gameplay of the first game is back and it’s incredibly welcome and as a nice change to the formula there also branching paths, recruitable characters to play as and HOLY SHIT THAT MUSIC.
I didn’t even bother starting this game with the NES cart because I knew I wanted those extra sound channels from the Famicom version. I played the translated Famciom version to get the english text and that banging OST.
I can’t go on enough about how much I love the music in this game. I have it on vinyl and I even keep it on my phone.
My personal favorite track is “destiny”.It reminds me of an intro to a Slayer song with some G-funk synth thrown in. I think DR Dre was a CastleVania fan.
Cv3 has a great start. The music kicks ass, the linear gameplay is back and the recruitable characters are a nice change to the formula. I was really enjoying myself to start but eventually the game started to agitate me. The platforming was ramped up and the game is worse for it because the game is a TERRIBLE platformer. The stairs are incredibly frustrating in this series so sections comprised entirely of staircases with a thousand flying fucking assholes boil my blood. Sections where the screen starts scrolling and you’re forced to quickly jump platforms, fight enemies and climb stairs are madenning.
I’m sad to say but CV3 broke me. I can’t stand the staircase sections and I’m not having any fun. I dropped the game for a week and came back to it this morning and within a few minutes I turned it off. I’m on tilt with CV3 and I don’t have any interest in playing it anymore. I love the lore, the art and the music in this series but I can’t stand the gameplay in the 8 bit games. Maybe im just burnt out after playing the 3 games consecutively.
I’m generally not a big fan of the 8 bit era and the first 3 Castlevania games reminded me of why. Poor gameplay coupled with crippling difficulty just doesn’t create a fun experience for me. I’m VERY excited to finally get into the 16 bit era with the CV series and continue on but the 8 bit games just weren’t for me. Maybe you need nostalgia goggles to fully appreciate them.
Im curious to hear your opinions! Let me know why I should pick CV3 back up and finish it or am I best to just leave them and move on. I’m going to give the series a bit of a break then move into CV4, Rondo and Bloodlines.