Retro Forum

Topic: A long post about a slightly low-quality game I recently played (Castlevania)

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EarthboundBenjy

1. Posted:

I posted about this in the retro purchases thread, but I thought I'd say a bit more about it. So... I'm going to talk about Haunted Castle Arcade... I bought the Japan-only PlayStation 2 release from eBay, because I so desperately needed to add it to my Castlevania collection. This game is from a series of Konami arcade re-releases for the PS2 called "oretachi ge-sen zoku", and it comes with a bunch of extras, including two mini discs with video clips and the soundtrack on them. Very nice indeed. :D
On the instruction booklet, there is some odd English text:

"A little embarrassed but good old memories...In the time that video games were just like video games, we tried to show off but always failed. Relive the series of the 80's gorgeous (troubled?) masterpieces with the sizzle of your prime!"

Well, okay then. Let's talk about the game.

This time Simon has to rescue his fiance Selena from Dracula. In the intro, Dracula invades the wedding and steals her right before they become married.
So Simon takes off his wedding tux, puts on his leather miniskirt, grabs his whip and sets off to rescue his beloved.
This story of wife-kidnapping doesn't seem to fit with the already-established events from the other Castlevania games involving Simon Belmont. But let's ignore that for now.

Simon Belmont has blue hair in this game. This is important to point out, because in artwork for Castlevania 1, 2 and 4, Simon has blonde-brown hair, and from Castlevania Chronicles onwards, Simon has bright orange hair. This game is truly unique. And this isn't the only reason.

So you put some money in the arcade machine. Or in the case of the PlayStation 2 version, you press Select, which here acts as the "drop 100 yen into the machine" button. One credit equals one full life bar. You can put in as many credits as you feel like, but throughout the entire game, you are only permitted to use 4 credits maximum. If you run out of health, then you have to start again from the very beginning.
You can choose to use your 4 credits whenever you like, by pressing the start button. You can even use all four credits to have a massive life bar from the start, if you want (but that means that if you die, it's final). Falling into a pit does not use up a credit, but it does take away some of your life.

First of all, let me comment on how ridiculous this is. This system does give the player a sort of health management system to work with... but it really doesn't function as an arcade game at all.
The game just decides to pull the plug after you've gone through your lot of 4 life bars. Want to play more? Well, start from the beginning. No other way around it. This means that the game actively discourages players from inserting any more than four credits at a time. It means that if you get to a tough level, die for a fourth time and want to try again, well tough. You can't. This means it's an arcade game that DOESN'T CARE IF YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE MONEY ON IT! It's simply ludicrous.

So anyway. There are no candles to whip here. Specific enemies drop hearts, whip upgrades and subweapons. There is literally only one place in the entire game that houses each item. The bomb subweapon is from a skeleton on a bridge in level 1. The whip's Morningstar upgrade is from a bat at the start of level 2. Even the heart drops are strict and not random at all - the skeleton after the stairs in level 1 will always drop a big heart, for instance.
Each subweapon costs 1 heart to use except for the stopwatch which costs two. Any hearts left over at the end of a stage are converted into health, which is great since, as we've already established, health is such a scarce and valuable commodity in this game.

The game is full of cheap hits and unfair traps. In level 1, some statues in the background fall over on you, with no way to know beforehand that the area in front of you was unsafe. Things like this just means that you'll have to memorise the level rather than actually reacting to the hazards. That's not to say that the other Castlevanias didn't benefit from memorisation - it's just that in this game, it's more of a necessity.

So, the game is six stages long. This means, if you're going to beat this game, you'll need to get pretty good at dodging the traps in the first few stages to have any hope later on. Remember, you only have four life bars from start to finish. Every hit taken, even at the beginning, will count against your chances of even being able to finish the game at all. This game calls for skilled play from start to finish.

There's only really one more thing to say about this game...and it's that the game isn't really very good. I mean, it's not terrible... it's not as bad as Castlevania Legends, for instance, but it's just very strange. It doesn't act like the other Castlevania games in many regards, and it's certainly not very user-friendly at all. I'm sure I'll manage to beat it with enough practice, though. I'll give this game half a thumbs-up. That's all.

EarthboundBenjy

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KingMike

2. Posted:

It's an arcade game. It was meant to eat your quarters.
I think even the arcade versions of Contra and Super C(ontra) gave you a credit limit before you had to start over.

From what I recall, if you don't use your credits for extra HP, you get a full recovery after a level.
I also remember mermaid skeletons in the second level, where you can only avoid them by knowing their hitbox. Yeah, the designers went there. :P

KingMike

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EarthboundBenjy

3. Posted:

It's not a full recovery. It uses your remaining hearts and converts them to HP. If your life bar becomes full, then you get to keep the hearts that weren't used up.

I also just managed to get to level 3 before using up all my credits! There are fleamen everywhere and it's making me sad. :(

EarthboundBenjy

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ogo79

4. Posted:

"A little embarrassed but good old memories...In the time that video games were just like video games, we tried to show off but always failed. Relive the series of the 80's gorgeous (troubled?) masterpieces with the sizzle of your prime!"

that was fantastic

the_shpydar wrote:
As @ogo79 said, the SNS-RZ-USA is a prime giveaway that it's not a legit retail cart.
And yes, he is (usually) always right, and he is (almost) the sexiest gamer out there (not counting me) ;)

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EarthboundBenjy

5. Posted:

By turning the difficulty down to Easy, I was able to beat Dracula. His second form took a total of three hits with the cross subweapon... he was down before I even knew what his attacks were.
After stage 6, it went to "stage 7", which is just stage 1 again but I got to keep my items and score. I guess the game loops forever, which is cool.
I'm actually starting to enjoy this game. I should try on Normal difficulty next.

The mini-DVD included with the game shows a video clip of someone playing and clearing up until stage 3 without dying. Though at the end, they were down to really low health and just resorted to cheesing through the boss with the stopwatch subweapon.
It seems that there are only 2 stopwatches in the entire game, both from very easily-missable flying enemies (a bat in stage 2, and a crow in stage 5). I'm not entirely sure if that counts as "balancing-out" its effectiveness against bosses, Konami! Heh.

There's a "Hard" difficulty included, and also a "Very Hard" difficulty as well. Dang, I couldn't beat it on Normal. :/

EarthboundBenjy

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EarthboundBenjy

6. Posted:

Doing some research on this game, and apparently, the American version was messed up because it removed the hearts andthe subweapons, and enemies did stupid amounts of damage to Simon... Is that really so? 'Cause that's kind of ridiculous. Why would they turn an already kinda bad game into something ridiculous?

EarthboundBenjy