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Zulu avatar 6:43 PM on 06.21.2008  (server time)
Castlevania: Maneuverability Of Ungodly Stiffness

[This is the start of a new line of articles I thought I'd try to write up every now and then. They are about taking on different perspectives to major infamous flaws in games. These perspectives may not be ones that I hold onto myself. I am simply writing about them to help broaden my opinions on certain games and franchises.]

In the creation of Castlevania franchise, I'm not sure if Konami was originally bucking for an action game. Action games usually are often heavily reliant on smooth controls. Castlevania on the other hand has some of the stiffest controls I have ever witnessed. I know that Konami in that same time period has made many great action games with silky smooth controls, so why would they care to burden Castlevania, a budding title with alot of potential, with these stiff ungodly controls?

You can look at this in two ways. One, if it's true that Konami was originally aiming for an action game, then they screwed up royally with the controls. Two, Konami went a different route and put a twist on the action formula. A twist that would rely more on memorization and pattern recognition then quick reflexes and maneuverability.

Taking an approach to this with perspective number two, I don't think that making an action reliant game was Konami's main initial vision for the Castlevania franchise. The controls were good enough for what this game was all about. To help further prove a point from this perspective, I will also bring in account Castlevania 2 and 3. Not once between the gaps of the development of these 3 games has Konami ever really changed the control scheme. They were either too damn lazy to change these controls, or they just kept them like they were because of a stance in this formula that bares heavy reliance on memorization.

To be able to get through Castlevania you have to really study what is going on just to progress. Unlike action games where you have the chance to finish the game in one sitting, Castlevania is different because you have to indeed learn and study the game. There is no way anybody can finish one of those 3 games in their first play through. This is what I like most about this title, and the 2 following it. They demand sacrifice from you.

This formula, no matter how frustrating it can be at times, is very very richly rewarding. Progressing anywhere can give you enough satisfaction to carry on. This balance between cradling two opposing emotions influenced by the design is what I admire most about the original Castlevania games. Just finishing one is almost orgasmic. I can see why people hate the controls, but when you look at these games from a different perspective, it is in truth, hard to see anything remotely wrong with them.

However, maybe Konami really did screw up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was made by the same company, the controls were amazing, and it also relied on memorization and pattern recognition just like Castlevania. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles though still had that wider window of luck compared to Castlevania. By that I mean, because of the smooth controls and maneuverability that this game possessed, there was a better chance of finishing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a first sitting then there was with Castlevania. Although to this day, I have never witnessed anybody who has been able to finish either one of these games on their first try. Both require a lot of practice, and both have very little room for error. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles though is a little more lenient with this then Castlevania because of the controls.

All in all despite either these controls being intentional or not, Castlevania will always be a classic. I could probably go on about this for days repeating myself, but I just wanted to point out a different perspective on Castlevania's notoriously stiff controls

Article inspired by Kawaiininjakat.
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*Minor Edit: To make a better comparison, I changed Contra With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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