Check out Josh Hayes, a name Charlie uses for journalism on the internet so that he can say silly personal things without the fear of them being exposed openly. That and to hide from people he knew who he don't want to find him, not no way, not no how.
You still like Castlevania don't you? I know I sure do. Do you like the second Castlevania? Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest - Did you ever play it?
Simon's Quest and me have a weird history. I first got it off my aunt from her bargain bin of Nintendo games that I've spoken about it. At first I was overjoyed, more Castlevania. Yes please. Then I got a little farther into the game and discovered how different it was. Never making any progress in the game, only moving through screens fighting monsters. Years later, someone had me test out a bunch of nes games and one of them happened to be Castlevania 2 with a book. I was overjoyed. Then I read the book and tried to decipher what to do in the game. I'm still not sure if I've beat it or not, Castlevania 2 just messes with me. Pretty sure the copy I had for years was gotten from that friend I spoke about on the Splatterhouse 2 old school games. Forget exactly what I traded him for it, but I got it off him.
Castlevania 2 plays exactly like Castlevania 1. You've a whip. You can jump. The thing is, this is an action RPG adventure not just a straight action platformer. What's worse is without the book you'll be lost as to whats going on, like I was when I first played. The world goes on for what seems like forever to the left and to the right, eventually you hit a wall on either side that stops you. You have to find certain buildings to go in and THOSE are the levels that you have to explore. You have to save up enough hearts from killing enemies to buy a wooden stake, use that on a orb inside each of these levels and that gives you a piece of Dracula. That was another thing that I didn't understand until I read the book. The storyline has something to do with the first game. Dracula died, but he somehow cursed Simon Belmont (your hero character) and now you have to resurrect Dracula by collecting different pieces of his body. I know. That doesn't make any sense to me either. Still a fun game. I love leveling up my whips and collecting hearts to buy equipment. The problem is, there isn't really any indicator of where to go or what to do. Townspeople you can talk to help a little, but their vague. Incredibly vague at that. Even if I did want to do this game right, I would have to use a strategy guide to literally guide me to where I needed to go and what to do. One infamous moment in particular wants you to kneel down in a certain spot WAY over on the left of the starting town. You wait in this little corner for so many seconds. A tornado shows up and that is the only way you can progress. Let me say that again. You kneel down and wait for a tornado to show up and that is the only way that you can progress in Castlevania 2. I don't understand that either.
Monsters in the game are fun too. Skeletons, werewolves, ghouls, Medusa heads (I think?), spiders, and all sorts of other beasts are out there waiting for you. One thing I didn't mention above was the day and night cycle. In a really cool twist time actually passes. When it turns night you get an awesome quote that says "WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT FOR A CURSE." Unfortunately, these day and night transitions have to have a slow moving text screen pop up that can be rather agonizing to you if you just want to run around whipping bad guys collecting hearts. During the night time monsters have twice as much health and I think twice as much strength? Maybe not. I don't recall exactly. I think they also give you more hearts or at least the bigger hearts. You can buy stuff in the stores with those hearts to help out like a flame whip or thorn whip, but it takes so long to run around killing enemies and collecting those hearts that you could be there all day. I've been there all day.
Replaying Castlevania 2 made me think I'd have a chance to beat it finally. That is if I hadn't finished it before, I'm not for sure if I did finish it or not. I think I didn't. I played this game a few weeks ago and got nowhere, as usual. Just running around fighting enemies collecting hearts is enough for me to have a good time. Every time I got low on health I would make a mad dash back to the church to heal and try to conserve my hearts. Unless I'm wrong, I think you lose all or half of of your hearts when you die. You only have three extra men. The passwords are too long to be helpful. Who knows if any regular person has ever deciphered this game without the use of any strategy guides or FAQs. If you've done it WITH the guides, I salute you. Its not that I can't do it, its just that I haven't done it yet. I will one day. Maybe. Until then I guess I'll run around stupidly fighting monsters trying to get a better whip and getting myself killed, frustrating myself, then giving up. That always makes me feel like such a loser or something. I've been playing this game for twenty years and haven't put a dent in it. That's just how I feel. Like I've done wrong not doing the entire game justice by beating it. Anyone else feel that way?
Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest was followed up by the return to the series roots in Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse. That was followed up by Super Castlevania IV (a remake of the first Castlevania) and then Dracula X in America and Rondo of Blood elsewhere. Those two aren't the same game, according to my research, but they use the same character sprites and enemies. Yeah, I don't know either. Castlevania: Bloodlines on Sega came out around that period of time. Called "New Generation" in Europe since blood is somehow offensive or something. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on Playstation and Sega Saturn followed that and from there, a million billion zillion other sequels and spinoffs. The gameboy advance and DS are where more of the games are released these days, although a fighting game Castlevania was just released on the Wii. There was Castlevania 64 and Legacy of Darkness (which is a sequel and I think contains parts from Castlevania 64) there were a few 3D ones released on PS2 and Xbox, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Not sure which came first, ubt Lament of Innocence is only on PS2. That is if the internet is to be believed. My personal favorite is probably the third Castlevania on Nintendo or Symphony of the Night. Hopefully I'll be writing about those soon, right here on Destructoid.
American box art, with Dracula.
European box art, without Dracula.
More screenshots in the gallary. Should I swap out the bad pictures for better ones? I just went straight down the list today. Opinions, thoughts, and criticism are welcome.