Monday, 26 September 2011

Castlevania: The New Generation (Genesis/Mega Drive)

A.K.A. Castlevania: Bloodlines in North America, and Vampire Killer in Japan, confusingly.

The series had already jumped to arcades, C64, MSX, Amiga, PC, X68000, and the TurboGrafx, and with this Sega's system finally got a Castlevania game of its own.

This isn't the first Castlevania with multiple characters, Dracula's Curse and Rondo of Blood beat this to it, but this is the first to start with a character select screen.

Weirdly neither of them have the last name 'Belmont', though John Morris is related to them and has the legendary Vampire Killer whip. Which is the leading cause of Dracula deaths, beating 'stake to the heart' by a huge margin.

So THAT's where Castle Dracula is. Also, it's confirmed to be called Castle Dracula.

And so John Morris becomes the latest hero to stand at this gate and look up at Castle Dracula.

Well I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it plays like a Castlevania game. John Morris moves pretty similarly to Richter Belmont in Rondo of Blood, he can turn while jumping but can't really steer himself. He can fire his whip in different directions but can't spin it around like Simon Belmont in Super Castlevania IV.

One weird change I've noticed though; there's no hearts! Instead of collecting hearts for ammunition, I collect gems. And like Rondo of Blood there's no time limit.

Also, John Morris is the Hulk.

Simon, Richter and Maria are all from systems which stretch their video output to a different aspect ratio, so they'd appear wider on TV. But even taking that into account Morris is still twice their size.

Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Bloodlines is mostly identical to New Generation as far as I can tell, except for some extra gore (and being 60hz instead of 50hz). This zombie getting chewed on by evil birds just isn't here in New Generation.

Damn, this place is starting to look really familiar. And it still has the zombies wandering around.

It seems that some of the sub-weapons have been changed. For instance the old cross shaped boomerang has been replaced with a more boomerang shaped one.

You know, this could be a nice looking place if it had a bit of redecorating and repair work done, some windows replaced, new curtains and an exterminator brought in to take care of this nasty zombie infestation.

Oh, another similarity to Rondo of Blood; the characters can jump on and off stairs. So instead of having to walk from the bottom right to the top, I can just jump up them quickly. It's a massive improvement over the old system in my opinion.

Yeah, this is just Castlevania again. There's the staircase leading down to the water with the mermen jumping out, and there's the cracked wall with the food hidden inside on the right.

Oh cool, you can actually see it's a destroyable wall in this game. I realise that marking secrets does tend to make them less secret, but it's subtle, it's fine.

If I was playing as Eric Lecarde I could just super jump up to the top of the wall and skip the mermen section entirely. Which is awesome.

It turns out that they've replaced the food with a book that gives extra weapon power, which is why his spear's glowing green.

Damn these guys are creepier looking than I remember.

John Morris's whip would be super powered after grabbing the book from the wall, but I lost it when I took damage. It seems I can only keep the power as long as I can avoid being hit.

I killed the bat boss already in Castlevania 1, so this guy's shown up to replace him. He's got an annoying howl that makes the windows in the background shatter, raining glass down onto me. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to avoid the glass so I'm just going to run up and hit him.

Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Oh, another difference between the other versions and the censored European New Generation, is that poor Eric Lecarde gets impaled on his own spear when he dies. In New Generation the spear gets knocked off screen instead, and never returns.

Rotating platforms with spikes on one side... fun.

Apparently that guy wasn't actually a proper boss, so I don't get a full health orb, or even a map screen interlude.

Has this place gotten weirder since I was last here?

Instead of wandering around the boring side of the castle, we're going to take a short cut to the top across a collapsing bridge of bones. I don't even want to know what kind of creature this used to be.

Fortunately those birds are too preoccupied with saving their own skin than bothering me right now, or else this could have gotten dangerous.

Hey, you're not Dracula!

I used a super sub-weapon attack to blow some pieces off him (at a cost of more hearts), then finished the job by wailing on him with the whip. To be honest, he's not the most fearsome boss I've come across in a Castlevania game.

Huh? What the hell is that, some kind of password?

And stage one is finally complete, onto stage two... Greece!

Wait, I'm in Greece now? That's it, I've finished all of Dracula's Castle? Well, okay then.

This water effect would look cool if it'd stop bouncing up and down on screen. Subtle would have been better.

Oh shit, the level's filling up with water! I guess there are some time limits in the game after all.

The screen is moving up at a fixed rate, so there's no way for me to race ahead. Or even see what's ahead. I mean I assume both stairs lead the safety, but I don't know for sure.

I went the wrong way! Move your ass before you drown!

This would be the guy flooding the level then. He doesn't fight back, but I have to kill him before he drowns me.

And then immediately after killing the boss I'm taken down by a single bird. Again.

I killed the water guy again, dodged the birds, then got my ass handed to me by another bloody mid-boss.

Though I do have 1 bar of health left... I can still win this.

See! All I had to do was stand close to him and his attacks couldn't touch me. Onto the next crisis.

Fuck... he had a friend.

Huh, what the fuck?

CONTINUE 2

But...  two continues for the entire game? You've got to be shitting me. Sure they give me passwords every stage, but these stages are huge! What the hell made them think that now would be a good time to scrap unlimited credits?

Okay, whatever, I'll keep playing and see how far I get with my continues. Back to the start of the section then.



ONE REPLAY OF STAGE 2 LATER.



After fighting my way up the tower and through the mid-bosses I've got to get back down again, by keeping up with the water as it empties out. For some reason.

Unfortunately just took a hit from a Medusa head on the way down, and my character never learned to swim.

The bad news is, I missed the raft on the way down. The good news is it's okay! The water emptied out just enough as I was falling to make this a non-lethal depth!

No kill for you this time, you bodiless snake-haired bitch!


LATER.


Huh? I don't seem to be able to hurt this guy.

Oh, it turns out that I had to chip away the middle section of his body so that the upper half falls down low enough for me to hit it.

This game actually has some interesting boss fights in it, it's just a shame this one is about to kill my dude.


ONE BOSS FIGHT LATER.


We're in Italy now?

Those Belmonts had things so easy. All they had to do was get inside Castle Dracula, then get up to the top tower and kill the guy living there. But that was just stage one for team Morris. This heroic pair knows that to truly destroy evil you need to take a road trip across Europe.

Yeah okay mate, just snap the possibly 1000 year old pillar off and use it as a club why don't you? Minotaurs are total dicks.


LATER.


Finally I get to see what the inside of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is like. Sinister and full of spear wielding harpys.


LATER.


Uh, how do I get across? Maybe if I'd been playing as Lecarde I could super jump up and... no I still probably wouldn't get enough distance. So my options are 'jump down the hole' or 'try to jump onto the mummy's bandage'.

Neither worked. Game over.


This is a great looking, imaginative game with decent music and solid gameplay and I would have probably kept playing if the game had let me. If they'd split the levels in the middle, added recovery items after mid-boss fights, put in a Rondo of Blood style level select and character change menu, and gave me infinite continues, this could have been one of the best of the series for me.

But they didn't, so it's not. Next game.

1986 - Castlevania (NES)
1986 - Vampire Killer (MSX2)
1987 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
1988 - Haunted Castle (Arcade)
1989 - Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy)
1990 - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
1991 - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Game Boy)
1991 - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula / Castlevania Chronicles (X68000)
1993 - Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo / Rondo of Blood (TurboGrafx-CD)
1994 - Castlevania: The New Generation / Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis/Mega Drive)
1995 - Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss / Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)
1997 - Castlevania Legends (Game Boy)

3 comments:

  1. You DO know that John's whip can attach to the ceiling, thereby enabling you to swing across gaps, right?

    I guess not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It never even occurred to me to try it to be honest. You don't get that skill in any of the other Castlevanias (as far as I know), and whips generally don't stick to ceilings in real life.

      It's my own fault for not reading the manual first, as it does explain how to do the move perfectly clearly. Though I probably would have forgotten I could do it by that point anyway.

      Delete
  2. Yeah, i die in the same part because of that, its just hard to think that u had that skill.

    ReplyDelete

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