7/19/17

Pencilvania

Hot on the trail of the recently streamed Castlevania series on Netflix.
We've decided to play/replay 2 Vania games and see how gracefully or how poorly they've aged over the years.

So crack those whips and bring those sub-weapons for tonight's "an excellent night to play a game"!
Ohhh, we're playing the balls hard NES classic then.
Or we could also refer to it by its Japanese title :
The  American version has that iconic font, animated bat and a turd looking castle but the Japanese version had a cooler looking castle, dripping font and that surprisingly calming blue background. Both game still plays the same way, I guess?

We are then immediately treated to a cutscene.
And it's of you staring at a castle!
There you go, That's as much of a backstory you'll ever need.

As mentioned earlier, this game could be unforgiving with its respawning enemies and merciless ghouls that will intentionally attack you while you're climbing the stairs or attempting to do a jump.
So t'would be best to outsmart the game and show him who's boss!
Surprisingly enough, these are Spartan X cheats that I've accidentally left enabled once and boy was it all the cheats I'll ever needed for this game.
You now have the castle to yourself. Whip as many candles as you want. Whip them all if you really wanted to!
And do you have problems with Mermen?
Problem solved!
Now take a dip in their pool. (No, please don't do that! It's rude and could possibly be life threatening.)

And hey, Wall Chicken!
I guess they weren't able to include that in the Netflix version of things. 
Absolutely bollocks!

The game does become a little bit more manageable.
The only level that I could finish without any cheats would be the first stage.
You just have to hide in this said area and spam the Bat Boss with numerous axes.
After which you get to see a castle map screen, which we really really liked at the time.
But certain enemies will and can still attack you.
Like the Bats ,White Dragons,
Axe Armors,
and the dreaded Medusa Heads.
You might also would want to have a designated button for the enabling and disabling of cheats for the Boss Battles couldn't be activated with the cheats enabled. You are left with a motionless final boss.
And to save time and precious typing efforts, here's a quick boss montage.
HIT IT!
More often than not, the sub-weapons you need for spamming the boss to death are conveniently located right before you fight the boss. So pay attention to what you're obtaining for it might be a crucial item for your victory.

You then fight the two forms of Dracula.
After which you receive this sort of "Funny Ending"
All that trouble for just a bunch of lousy name puns.
Ok, let's move on to the next game!
Now we're talking!

We've actually obtained this game many moons ago. But was unable to play it due to certain specs of our VisualBoy Advance playing GBA games at an abnormally faster speed. Which also meant our enjoyment of Warioware Inc. was at a different pace back in those days.

But alas, enough about the past. For we now can review this Metroidvania game properly and review it properly we shall!
First and foremost, we should just quit comparing this game to that of Symphony Of The Night.
We get it, it's the same exploration formula and all.
But all this nostalgia is weighing us down
and making our enjoyment of the newer games far less special. So let's leave all those Alucard stuff right at the main entrance
as we the enter the realm that is Soma's World.

My god, that sounded like a bad 90's sitcom.
But anyways, let's continue!

As the series shifted its play style, so did the appearance of its lead character.

Gone are the Conan-esque looking buff guys
(Courtesy of  http://jogur.deviantart.com/art/Castlevania-Evolution-212895502)
and in are the more pretty boy/ K-Pop look.
Appearances aside, we intentionally picked Aria Of Sorrow over both Circle Of The Moon and Harmony Of Dissonance due to its non Belmont and non whip wielding protagonist, Soma Cruz

Oy, CRUZ pala siya, nag-CRUZ nanaman ang landas namin!
Pinoy jokes aside! 
The game can be visually familiar 
and yet different at the same time.
As with most Metroidvania games, map memorization is quite important. The exploration aspect is quite heavy and at times, the items from the said hidden area aren't really all that worth it!
Oh boy, yet another SCARF to add to my collection!
And congratulations, 
I JUST PLAYED MYSELF!

Save Point/ Save Room:
Game Over Screen
And due to the new system of soul collecting, you are then REQUIRED to kill an unspecified amount of monsters in order to obtain their souls. There is also an easier way of doing this by doing some fancy attack. But we weren't skilled enough to pull it off.
And there are 113 souls to collect!

Meaning there is twice 
the grinding required to get that very elusive 100%.

And as always, some bosses 
and rooms can be downright unfair.
I've also found it intriguing that there are now devils and demons on this game.
No more blurring the lines between vampires and demons.
No more masquerading them as giant bald men with horns and bat wings!
I guess Nintendo isn't too strict about religious imagery anymore. And that's a good thing!

The dialogues in this game are dreadfully long! Half of the time you're not even reading them because you're low on health and a save room is far more important than any old storyline.
The character designs for the enemies are still pretty darn detailed as they are stunning.
It was quite impressive as to how they were able to fit this many data within a GBA cartridge.
And WOAH, what a twist!

See these are the only dialogues I've ever read! And it pretty much told me everything I needed to know. And also worth mentioning is that GIANT BAT, FLAME DEMON & SUCCUBUS souls are needed to be equipped in order to obtain the BEST ENDING.

And yes, there are 3 Endings for this game, a 
Good Ending.
(Which we were unable to screencap, stupid us!)
Bad Ending.
& last but not the least,
the BEST ENDING!
Please refer to this link as to how to obtain these said endings:
http://www.chapelofresonance.com/games/aos/endings.html

The random soul combination was never really hinted anywhere within the game. This is yet another case of the NINTENDO POWER strategy that most Vania games usually utilize.

After which you do get to face off against Julius Belmont.
Yeah, that guy!
He is not possessed by Shaft or anything like that. He just NEEDS to kill you because he's a BELMONT and you're DRACULA

After which you obtain a skill called BLACK PANTHER.
Nope, not that kind of BLACK PANTHER!
It's a speed ability that makes castle exploring a lot faster.
You are then given a pass to go to the Chaotic Realm.
Where everything is RED and WHITE.
No, I said, RED and WHITE and not REDFORD WHI....oh nevermind!
But it was great to see him again!
Oh, and will you look at that!
It's a motherfuck'n HANDGUN!
How many Vania games would allow you to use such modern day firearms? Only in this game, baybay!

You then face off against CHAOS (we're not gonna spoil its appearance but it's nothing to write home about) and then THE END!

You then unlock a Boss Rush Mode.
Complete the said mode and be rewarded with the most futuristic weapon on the planet.
A frikk'n gun from the future.
Which pretty much makes the game a walk in the park.
And those were the two Vania games. The first one was alright. It was a little cheap with the constantly respawning enemies and Simon bouncing backward after a hit would usually result in instant death. But it is the pioneer and the franchise starter so to speak. So I'll give it that.  But the second game was the shiznit! It was really addictive. I actually played it for 2-3 nights straight. Trying to find all the hidden rooms and grinding my way to obtain all those poor souls.It can be quite enjoyable just as long as you stop comparing it to SOTN.

And speaking of breathing new life to tried and tested formula. We are actually looking forward to Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night.
video
I think the trailer and all these lovely low-res images could pretty much speak for themselves.
So let us go out this evening for pleasure. 
For after all, the night is still young!

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