It’s ironic to be a fan of a series that is essentially a glorification of Europeans who save the world from Warlock ranked vampires, but believe me when I say it’s a series that’s more addicting than the face of Vilayna Lasalle.

And for some reason, people think that bitch Mily Kunis is sexy.

Castlevania has been… well, for better or worse, under the radar for quite some time up until the “exaggerated” success of Lords of Shadow. For those of you unaware (and there should be quite a lot of you that haven’t been on the internet, I guess). Castlevania is a series of 2D platformers in which you play a family of vampire slayers and blah blah you don’t give a fuck. Just know this.

REAL CASTLEVANIA

And some more for good measure.

NOT CASTLEVANIA Lords of Shallow

To be honest, no one cares whether or not LOS is a real castlevania game. In fact, most castlevania fans don’t care. The game is currently standing as one of the most successful entries in the franchise (with Circle of the Moon following by and SOTN… oh wait, that didn’t really do anything, did it?). The fact is that LOS… is another GOW clone. Much like Dante’s Inferno, western devs show once again that their only real skill is copy/pasting old shit into a new package. The moment you fight your first titan should raise a big ass red flag that “something screams deja vu”.

inB4 “BUT SOTN….”

Granted, Castlevania has copied before with the Metroid gameplay (and unfortunately led to some shitty label called “metroidvania”), but everyone agrees that the change was not actually bad for the series. However, more people are willing to call these games Castlevania than they are with Lords of Shadow. And yet, more people want Castlevania games to be like Lords of Shadow anyway.

This is the beauty of fanbases. No matter what happens, they can mindfuck you with their pathology. One would ask the question that “if the majority of the CV fans don’t consider LOS to be a real CV game, but they would prefer more LOS games?” One would probably guess is that it’s the same problem with new generation gamers in general (and you’d probably be correct). One look at Castlevania dungeon and you would see a thousand shit storms over the games in general. But maybe we aren’t really thinking as to why LOS is the preferred standard. LOS does away with everything that scream Castlevania with the intent of being a derivative Hollywood LOTR  “EPIC”. It becomes evident the moment Gabriel meets some… unicorn or w/e in the forest who helps him out for no reason. It becomes evident with the long, drawn out narratives done by the always overrated Patrick Stewart. It becomes evident when the forest chase sequence has shaky cam syndrome that’s usually employed in fucking hollywwod movies.  It doesn’t even look like a game. The hyper-realism just destroys any semblance of a video game and turns it into another Final Fantasy: The spirits within.

But what’s wrong with the actual Castlevania games that make people prefer these titles? Well, there’s a shit load, but I’ll just point out a few issues I have with it.

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1. The series was never really that popular.

Ask anyone you know what their childhood was like with video games. Most of the time, you’ll probably just get Mario and/or Sonic. Or Street Fighter. Most can point to Mega Man, Street Fighter, or even Double Dragon. Pac Man for those that death warmed over. Amma forbid, Battle toads. Hell, Streets of Rage even gets a mention even though those bastards at Sega won’t revive the damn franchise (but lets make shitty RPG’s called “valkerie Profile” that no one wants except the nerds online).

So why can’t anyone recall Castlevania that well?

Marketing is one reason. Konami has never been known for marketing. Hell, I barely see any commercials for their most popular franchise, Metal Gear Solid. Certainly, they’ve got popular brands such as MGS and DDR, but few people will recall the Castlevania franchise. In all honesty, Konami has never truly bothered to let anyone know the series exists. The few commercials that exist were for SOTN and Lament of Innocence. I think there was one for the gameboy games, but I never saw any for Super Castlevania 4, Curse of Darkness, none for the GBA or DS titles, and jack shit for the NES games. One could assume that Konami is poor, but considering the production that goes into MGS, it’s probably the same reason Nintendo treats NSMB games in that they just don’t give a fuck about Castlevania up until now with Kojima ramming his director’s cock up the series arse.

But even then, the few people that remember the originals don’t remember them that fondly. Most people would probably never go back to the original NES games (me included) and had their view of the series colored on those games alone. I have yet to find one person who claims any of the original NES games were their favorite CV games of all time. That’s fucking impossible at this point. And even then, a lot of people would not find the difficulty of the game bearable. Considering how trite the originals were, you’d be hard pressed to recommend any of those games to anyone. You can find the original 6 Mega Man to be on anyone’s “try out” list. And hell, even Double Dragon. But you won’t find a Castlevania game in sight for the NES try outs.

I’d assume Simon’s quest was probably a hoot if not only because of Nintendo Power’s controversial front cover.

I mean, why would they turn Simon into a Trojan!?

Other than that, I can’t really see why people would care all that much about Castlevania aside from it being a parody of horror films. And even then, the NES games sucked ass.

On the other hand, Circle of the Moon was (and probably is) the highest selling Castlevania game in the series, more than LOS even (Nathan Graves is so much cooler than Gabriel’s pussy ass anyway).

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2. Everyone bullshits when they say they like Super Metroid.

May I interest you in a nice fine course of your IMMINENT DEMIIIIIISE!?

Nintendo fans live in a fantasy world where games that are popular “today” were always popular. That is why we have the myth of Yoshi’s Island being “awesome” and doing wonderful things for the Super Nintendo (like causing people to call NIntendo kiddie). As such, Super Metroid is heralded as the best Metroid game ever, even though it didn’t do shit. The thing that sold Metroid Prime was the Space Marine craze of the 6th generation as well as nice graphics. Super Metroid didn’t do shit for the series except go on hiatus. It didn’t sell well enough for Nintendo to consider it for the N64 (cause Ma’at be told, they didn’t need another blunder). And if I’m being honest, the game is just shit. It controlled like ASS for the majority of the time, boss fights felt slow, your abilities did not feel optimized for combat (your rate of fire is slooooooow, even by the standards of the first game) not to mention how it felt like you were being led on a set path, which is NOT Metroid at all. The game just felt like a mess.

So why did Konami use this “formula” for Castlevania? Apparently, Koji Igarashi is a fan of Super Metroid. That’s ok. The Japanese have bad taste, we know this already (considering one dev said that Transformers ROTF was a creative masterpiece, this isn’t surprising). What is odd is just how much better SOTN is than Super Metroid. While you are being led on a set path it seems, combat is more practical, the game feels neat, controls smoothly, as is just pretty to look at. This was the definitive Castlevania experience…. and it’s still ass. The difficulty felt like it had mood swings from time to time. The majority of weapons you get, you won’t use if you have that magic shield/rod+nice sword combo that you can rape everything with. I forgot what the combo was, but it just destroyed everything once you got it. No need for any real skill even without the combo.

The problem with games like Super Metroid and SOTN is that once you’ve gone through the main castle/planet, the only thing you can do left is explore what little you have left on the map for some tiny extras that won’t amount to shit in the long run. This is the problem with most Adventure games like Zelda in which you go through this big ass world… and then you finish it, all you have left to do is go around… tying up whatever few things you didn’t do.

These games are intended for one playthrough every once in a while. You know why? Because simply put, you’ve been through the entire game, you know all the secrets, the boss strategies, the locations for 100% completion, then you get to a point and say “shit, now what?”. You put it away for a while… then just come back to it.

But what if you have good memory? You’re really fucked now!

Games like this have little to no longevity. There’s no real incentive to go back and continue playing them over and over because once you’ve gotten everything down pat, it’s just a matter of doing speed runs just because you can. This is why most people would have to wait a good while (like 6 months or so) before coming back because the game’s content is just too fresh in your mind at this point.

The problem with Castlevania now is that they decided to add RPG elements to the package. And with that comes a myriad of problems. For one, it gives the game the “grind” if you will. You’ll find yourself killing the same enemies 100 butt fucking times to get one weapon/soul/DSS Card/Glyph, w/e. This shit isn’t fun. Play Dawn of Sorrow and find out that half of your weapon inventory depends on you giving up your monsters souls, and you will soon realize just how fucked up this weapon collection system really is. Not to mention now since you can level up, the games have lost all semblance of challenge. The Castlevania series was (by the few) considered a “man’s game” because everything about them could rape you to crumbs. Now? It’s a damn joke in comparison. The game even makes it a point making some of the series previous bosses into normal enemies you can kill just by pissing on them.

Rags. More powerful than the Vampire Killer.

What happens is the series’s been declawed. Stripped of any real challenge (just like the Metroid Series). While OOE tried to fix that (and succeeded), for the most part, anyone can get into the series and rape it just by killing the same enemies over and over. This is a problem with RPG’s in general, and while it doesn’t completely ruin he Castlevania series, the removal of any real challenge is strongly evident.

Not to mention it just feels like you’re just running around like rambo and just killing everything in your path. It’s fun for a while, but after 7 times, it feels trite.

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3. IGA was kinda fucking it up.

I’ll admit one thing. A lot of Japanese developers piss me off. I can count Aonuma, Iizuka, Miyamoto, Sakamoto, Inafune, Kojima, and Hirabayashifor destroying the Resident Evil franchise.

But Koji Igarashi is (for the most part) a decent developer. Unlike a lot of them, he seems to genuinely care about the Castlevania series and certainly has a lot more respect for it than other developers that inherit a long time series during the 90’s or currently. Hell, he did make a famous stance saying “2D Forever!“. That said, he isn’t perfect. He did make LOI and COD, 2 games that literally made the series a little worse (story wise at least). The portable games have been fun (for a while) up until Dawn of Sorrow. By that point, it was clear that IGA was starting to get burnt out from mass producing the same games. It started with Harmony of Dissonance where he essentially tried to make “SOTN 2”. And it’s very clear that he was. Consider the following.

A. Suspiciously similar Map layout

SOTN

HOD

Notice they have the same castle center block.

B. Same save stations

SOTN

HOD

C. Contains inverted castles

D. Has the “Simon’s Quest” Syndrome.

IE. In Simon’s quest (Castlevania 2 NES), you are required to collect the 5 remains of Dracula’s body to finish the game. To get the true ending for both SOTN and HOD, you have to do the same thing.

Simon’s Quest artwork of Dracula’s heart (EW!)

Like so.

And then Aria of Sorrow, he decided to bring back the weapon collecting element that was the main source of addiction for SOTN in the first place in combination with the Demon Souls System (where you get to collect souls of enemies you killed) which was one of the coolest additions to the series admittedly. With these 2 entries, it’s clear he was trying to outdo SOTN. It’s a good attempt considering how bad SOTN actually is (when no one is blinded by “art assets”) and how superior AOS was.

But then, he fucked up with Dawn of Sorrow. As I’ve said earlier, IGA decided to intertwine soul collecting with weapon hunting. See, in AOS, weapons and souls were segregated. You had to find each and everyone individually. In Dawn of Sorrow, if you wanted every weapon in the game, you desperately NEED souls. See, here’s how it works. In a certain shop, some white bitch can relinquish a soul from you in exchange for crafting a new weapon. This is neat except that if you want 100% completion, you would need to collect at least 2 of each soul in order to keep it and get a new weapon. And this is agonizing considering that the drop rates for souls from monsters like the Final Guard and Iron Golems are completely FUCKED!   If you thought catching legendaries in Pokemon took forever, you have not lived until you’ve tried every enemy in this game. The RNG will tear ass on your patience like you wouldn’t believe. So this whole system just didn’t work and damn near killed the game. Not to mention those damned seals.

Then comes Portrait of Ruin which, ironically, is much better given that it’s less tedious. Even though the story is awful, the characters jumping out of a Saturday morning anime (literally. The dialogue is just…..FUCK!) and character techniques and weapons are essentially the AOS soul system repackaged. POR is the most childish game in the series, more so than Rondo of Blood with that cunt Maria Renard. And this saddens me considering that this game was supposed to be the sequel to Castlevania Bloodlines (which was considered to be one of the darker games in the series), and what we got is a slap in the face in comparison. Not to mention level design was just awful. They placed enemies in some of the most awkward places in this game (there’s a large jelly fish floating above a dining room area why?). And difficulty? It’s all over the place. I can’t believe the guys behind Legacy of Darkness and Circle of the Moon were behind this game. And that animu art style literally alienated a lot of fans.

This art style was done for 2 reasons. He wanted to give the main artist a break, and he wanted to broaden the series appeal. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if not for the fact that Castlevania isn’t a series for fucking children. Let them play that dumb ass Kid Dracula series, don’t fuck up Castlevania for them. That’s probably the reason people hate anime shows now, because they had such a negative influence on video games in general (look at Sonic the Hedgehog).

Anywho, from what I’ve heard, KO-G (KCEK guys behind LOD and COTM) had a big hand in the development of OOE, so maybe that’s why it wasn’t such ass in comparison to the first 2 games. It actually tried to mesh the elements of the classic games and the new. It is fucking hard, for one. The glyphs are another (shitty) soul system mechanic which…. is actually not as awful as the souls from DOS (drop rates are much better), and the music was pretty damn good too (TOWER OF DOLLS REMIX! YES!), not to mention Dracula actually innovates his fighting strategy for once (he walks!). OOE was a bitchin game.

So afterward, he produced 3 final games before moving on to allow Dave cocks to ruin Castlevania. Judgment, Rebirth, and Despair. While I like Judgment, it’s very clear why that game bombed. If you thought the animu shit from DOS and POR were awful, the manganization of Simon Belmont will scare most gay people straight. The designs alone turned people off, but the gameplay was quite shallow itself. Rebirth was pretty good. Despair also sold pretty decently too. But even then, it was clear as day that IGA’s heart just wasn’t into it anymore. These were all just fanservice games with no real meat to em. And they reek of “hastly put together for a buck”. They all have their merits and charm, but at the end of the day, IGA had practically fucked CV with POR.

I can’t really put the full blame on him. He’s not the brightest bolt in Konami’s house of developers. Hell, his interviews on the subject of “Castlevania Legends” speak volumes on how dumb he is. But getting stuck with a franchise that barely sells and being expected to usurp a KCEK game was probably asking for too much givin the series track record. But in the general sense, he had good intentions with a load of bad choices (making Dracula from an asshole to a sympathetic little bitch over women was the killer, as well as making the belmonts completely irrelevant to Dracula’s destruction). But hey, at least Konami is willing shift around the talent after a while. Loads of Japanese developers have job security after 1 success, and they ruin franchises with their egos.

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4. The fans are fucking assholes.

About right.

This goes for any fanbase, but the CV fans deserve honorable mention for being the only fanbase that will fight over any statement, agreeable or contradictory, and the flames of disaster will  engulf the world.

The fire contains the words “Legends is Canon”.

One good look on Castlevania Dungeon forums, and the fanbase will be at war. Every topic, there’s always a fight about what game is superior to the other, and no one can seem to agree on what the best game in the series is (well… except Rondo of Blood, I guess). Not to mention that if there IS a unified opinion, be prepared to have it shoved down your throat as if it’s an undeniable fact. Yes, the CV fanbase represents that of an incredibly dysfunctional hivemind network, which is quite rare given how most fandoms operate. Got a problem with Simon’s design in LOS: MOF? “You’re a waste of Amma’s talent”.

If the fans like something equally, you had better lather up some saliva, get down on your knees, and hope you kiss a well toned female ass because you wouldn’t last a second if you are a contrarian thinker of the community. The problem is knowing how to appease them, because CV fans hate goddamned everything.  Like POR? Fuck you. Think Lords of Shadow is a GOW rip off? “NO! IT RIPPED OFF LOI FIRST!”

It seems most of the discussion is taylor made for ripping apart the series of anything and everything. How Classicvania sucks and needs to be brought back to prevent further suckage, why LOS is a real CV title because it has a million easter eggs to compensate for being nothing like Castlevania, why Dark Souls is infinitely 1upping CV and everything else? Man I can’t stand the hype for Dark Souls. It’s like people are just soooo upset with a franchise that they have to point out how much better something else is at every chance they get. I don’t even know what Dark Souls is and I don’t even want to play it. I can see devs will be playing Yugioh with that shit for years to come.

In any case, the barrier for entry into the CV fanbase is to be born of a Food Network critic and Simon Cowell.  In that you love fucking everything and curse it to crumbs.

When you think about it, #4 is probably the main reason Lords of Shadow is so popular.