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    • The Last Party Call

      5 years ago


      On April 2, 2013, Nexon America announced that the Free to Play game Dungeon Fighter Online would be closing down in June.

      As a huge fan of the beat 'em up, Action RPG, fighting game, and hack 'n' slash genres, I was ecstatic to find this game. Essentially it was the game I'd wanted to be made since discovering any of the above genres - fast-paced, flashy action with lots of customization, and more or less a combination of all of the above genres. For months this game took up a lot of my free time, and tried to get my friends as into it as I am. Granted it never took up any priorities, but it was that one game that could instantly get rid of my stress, not to mention it was just a great game to cap off the day with.

      For almost any other game I typically wouldn't even give a shit and would just let it go, but for me this game was different. It was unique, and even though there are games like Elsword and Mystic Fighter that are trying the same ideas, they just don't have the same charm that initially drew me in.

      As much as I'd love for somebody with some clout in the industry to get the rights and keep this game alive, I'm pretty sure that won't happen. So instead, I just wanted to share some of my experiences with this game, as well as some of the videos that have entertained me. Maybe, you'll see what I saw, and understand how unfortunate the death of this game is.

      NOTE: None of these videos are mine or contain me playing, but I think they show off how fun this game is better than I can.

      DFO with some Dynasty Warrior love as well? Fuck yeah!

      Ah, the Suju Tournament. Basically a fighting game within a beat 'em up - I can't think of a better formula, really.  Don't let the video fool you - the tournament is a lot harder than he makes it look!

      Looks pretty cool, sure, but what about when you're fighting multiple enemies?

      Remember when I brought up fast-paced gameplay? Yeah, this is why.

      The most elaborate fighting game can't even begin to compare to how satisfying it is to clean house like that. Intricacy and complexity are definitely there if you want it, but maybe you just want everything in front of you to die instantly. No problem! DFO's got something for the lazy, too - and the best part is that you'll still feel awesome!

      Playing solo is fun, but the ability to team up with 3 other people to take on the hardest dungeons of all -- well, that's where the real fun comes from!

      The Otherverse requires you to party up with other players, because they're so difficult that it would be impossible for a single player to conquer them on their own. The hardest of all of these has got to be the Castle of Bakal, the lord of dragons, but also the most fun bar-none...that is, when your team-mates don't get killed and leave you by yourself:

      The thing is, there are so many great things about this game, and I've only scratched the surface. So, to everyone reading this, I implore you to download the game for yourself, and at least give it a try before it gets taken away. This is a game that ended way before its time was up, and it deserves to have a legacy.

      ...and, if anybody just so happens to know somebody that might be able to acquire the rights for localization, make some noise for this game. Nexon ran this game into the ground by chasing its customers away and neglecting it in terms of updates. Maybe in more capable hands, this game could have become bigger than Maple Story.

      Until then, this is the last Party Call...

      I'm really going to miss this game...


    • When a Franchise Drops the Ball

      6 years ago



      Within this console generation, there have been several games that just didn't deliver to fans what other games in a series have.  Now, in this console generation, complaining about anything is typically frowned upon (for...some reason), and due to the high volume of those defending these games...well, sufficed to say that there have been a large number of controversies recently.


      What I hope to do with this blog is not only explain why I believe certain well-known games failed, but examine the merit of each side's arguments.  As such, I have selected 4 of the most controversial and supposedly biggest let-downs from this console generation.



      To start this off, I'm going to talk about the game that inspired this blog:



      Ninja Gaiden 3 is a lazy installment to the franchise at best.  With the multiplayer components being some of the weakest ever seen, and a story easily summed up as both "contrived" and "boring," Ninja Gaiden 3 disappointed almost all of the loyal fans to the series.


      The original NES trilogy, arcade game, and Master System games set a gameplay standard that most are familiar with: unfair, difficult, but insanely fun.  Beyond that, the games were as cinematic as you wanted them to be.  For example, you could plow through the game mindlessly slashing away solely to get from one level to the next; however, the alternative strategy involved utilizing the various power-ups you'd acquire, such as hopping over the Windmill Shuriken to make it orbit around you or ganging up on foes with shadow clones.


      This is a gameplay element that the 3D reboots retained, and expanded upon.  Sure, you can utilize the insanely-overpowered weapons to plow through the game, but the combat system was far more intricate.  To get into the true meat of the game, it was required that you knew what you were doing; timing was key, and players would have to switch rapidly from offense to defense at the drop of a hat.  This is what made the gameplay so engaging, and slaughtering hordes of enemies with visually-stimulating combos was so much of a reward that the cutscenes became far less necessary -- if you skipped all of the cutscenes, you'd still be left with an immersive and exhilarating experience!


      ...and so, we get to Ninja Gaiden 3:



      This game replaces intricate combat with Quick Time Events, not partially but as a whole.  Combat revolves around senseless button-mashing, and most combos end with a QTE of Ryu slashing his way through a single enemy.  Essentially, it's the same as the Obliteration Technique from Ninja Gaiden (Sigma) 2 on 360 and PS3, except that not only is it far more convoluted and watered down, but now the player has far less control over it.


      What this leads to is a game that bears little-to-no resemblence to the installments that preceded it, and is dumbed down to a game that may as well be playing itself.  The player is rewarded for doing very little, and the game tries its hardest to let the player beat it.  One of Ninja Gaiden's greatest charms was that it was frustrating, and victory was always out of your grasp.  Once you finally got to the next area after hours of trying, it was an immensely-gratifying experience that few other games could ever compare to.  Ninja Gaiden embodied the merits of perseverence, and that sense of accomplishment is the greatest reason why fans are so loyal to it.  Ninja Gaiden 3 outright betrays this, and its greatest sense of challenge comes from disorienting fogs of war or battling against its overly-cinematic combat system instead of giving the player the freedom of gameplay that its predecessors had.  The game is not truly challenging, and as a result is not truly rewarding like the other games were.


      Speaking candidly, I can safely say that as a hardcore Ninja Gaiden fan there has never been a game that has disappointed me more, and left me feeling betrayed by a franchise I adored so much.  However, the one thing that this game was able to give me as a player was a genuine understanding -- an understanding of the disappointment fans of other games have felt in recent years....





      3 months ago, if you had asked me what I thought about Final Fantasy fans that felt betrayed by FF XIII, I'd have said that they were over-reacting, and that the game really wasn't that bad.  Though I have only played Final Fantasies 1, 5 and 6 (and a little bit of 7), I was able to see that it wasn't even worth mentioning in the same sentence as those games, but if the Final Fantasy name was omitted from XIII few would have condemned it.  It's only now that I realize I've been inadvertantly proving their points for them.


      While Final Fantasy XIII is in no way a terrible game, and still has an enjoyable experience in itself, that experience is in no way similar to any other Final Fantasy game, and for all the wrong reasons.  It's good to have something fresh which ends up being difficult to compare to the other games in the series, but Final Fantasy XIII removed so many features that had become staples of the franchise prior that it became difficult to recognize it as a true Final Fantasy game (ie, open-world exploration, likeable characters, and a battle system that often forced you to react in a specific way).  Instead, they were replaced by a subpar story, bland characters, and a battle mechanic that is often accused of "playing itself."



      Beyond this, the player moved on a strictly-linear path, giving them no free range to go exploring in the enchanting worlds that the series had become known for.  While to many this seems like a short-sighted nitpick, it betrayed one of the things that made fans fall in love with the series; with that taken away, it's only natural for their experience to deteriorate. 



      ...Speaking of a linear path:




      When having a discussion about exploration in a game, it's impossible not to mention the Metroid series.  Samus is always dropped into a mysterious and perilous world, and it leads to a unique alchemy that possibly only Metroid fans could understand; every area became more and more unpredictable as you progressed, and thorough exploration would get you the tools you needed to better protect yourself against a threat you could only imagine was there.  You were truly made blind, and it made you appreciate Samus as a character because she had to rely on her instincts  rather than her combat prowess.


      Metroid: Other M, on the other hand, took that aspect away in favor of a more in-depth combat mechanic.  To make matters worse for fans, Samus was made into what could easily be equated to a dilligent guard dog, attacking only when given permission, and ultimately, due to her belief in an irrelevent figure of heirachy, existing for very little else.


      Again, prior to playing Ninja Gaiden 3 I would have told you that I thought Metroid fans were making a mountain out of a molehill, and that Other M still brought some fascinating new game mechanics to the Metroid series.  Though the delivery of the story and character development is more shallow than a puddle of gooey gnat shit, the gameplay still offered something fresh and enjoyable despite the lack of the defining trait of the franchise, its exploration factor -- and thus -- a big part of its replayability.




      The Castlevania franchise is known for its dangerous gameplay.  The earlier games focused on crippling the player character to implement difficulty, while Super Castlevania IV sought to empower the player and make the environments hazardous, with Bloodlines and Rondo of Blood falling somewhere in between these two categories.  However, Simon's Quest, Symphony of the Night, and the majority of recent Castlevania games inherited a Metroid style.  This effectively offered both the threat of a foreboding and mysterious environment, as well as the benefits of playing a truly powerful character that can only become stronger.


      Enigmatic characters are yet another staple of the series, from weapon masters like Alucard and Soma to the amnesiac mage Shanoa.  The villains also offer the same trait, including the deceptive Carmilla, the dreaded castle guardian Death, and of course Dracula himself.


      The retro games as well as the "Metroidvanias" share the same appeal: the allure of the unseen, and the dangers of what is soon to come.  Boss battles are hectic, and stage hazards grow ever more dangerous as you progress.  Though both styles of games implement this in different ways, they also encourage the player to take in their surroundings, leading to yet another beloved trait of the franchise: the gothic scenery.


      This is where many fans feel Lords of Shadow dropped the ball.  The game delves into the world of senseless hack 'n' slash/beat 'em ups like God of War.  This isn't a bad thing on its own, but the extravagant action deeply retracts from the player's ability to identify with his surroundings, because aside from a select few spots the player is focused more on the action, not the environment.



      That's not to say that the visual appeal of Lords of Shadow is gone, but it tends to deliver this allure by showcasing mastodonic bosses.  The dark and dreary tone of the game makes it nothing less than depressing, whereas previous Castlevania environments teemed with a life of their own by having environments you could truly interact with and feel like a part of.  While Lord of Shadow did have its own interactive aspect, it's done so differently that the entire game can easily be seen as a black sheep.








      You'll notice that these complaints are all something that could easily be described as "nitpicks," yet you're a fool to contest the notion that a game's strongest points are often the small quirks it has that you as a player can appreciate.  All four of these games lack a major trait that the player associated with the series, and to have that trait taken away is simply confusing -- it leads some to believe a game is worse than it really is, and delivers an ultimately empty gaming experience.  There's nothing wrong with a game changing its core mechanics if it's for the greater good, or even just as an experiment, but to not even acknowledge these traits makes for a game that is blatantly insulting to experience.


      However, as stated before, that's not to say that these games are inherently bad just because they're seen as disappointments...as a matter of fact, I think the cold hard truth that the games really aren't that bad makes them that much harder to accept.  It would be so easy for a die-hard fan to say that a game has poor execution and hope that the developers do better next time, but when a crucial element of the franchise is completely omitted it makes it difficult to even consider that game as a part of its respective franchise; knowing that it's supposed to be leads to disappointment, resentment, and even outright hatred because you are -- for whatever reason -- unwilling to accept it as such.  Yet, if the games really aren't as bad as their made out to be, this winds up making the fanbase look even worse in the eyes of many others.


      To those that think the alleged Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy, and Metroid "fanboys" are simply "butthurt" and refuse to accept change, I ask you to consider this:



      Imagine your favorite meal, perhaps a family specialty.  Someone comes along and makes it for you, but they forget to include a key ingredient -- an ingredient that made all the others pop, or maybe one that just stood out on its own.  Maybe it's still good, and maybe the person who made the meal put a lot of work into it, but can you honestly deny that you're disappointed that it didn't have that ingredient?  Now, let's assume this meal has some sort of sentimental value to you, such as a childhood favorite, or something that was made by a long-gone friend.  Is it really that irrational to get angry over something that means so much to you?



      I said it in a previous blog, and I'll say it again here: some people seem to think that for a game to evolve, it needs to change.  Sorry, but that's absolutely, irrefutably, 100% wrong!  A game needs to perfect itself; that is, it needs to not only correct its flaws, but enhance the traits that it has that nothing else can compare to.  A game sequel needs to focus on how to reinvent these traits.  It's a truly difficult thing for a franchise to accomplish, and certain franchises like Call of Duty and God of War get off with a free pass on the matter for whatever reason.  Like Super Mario Bros. 3, a game can be enhanced from the original ten times over (or more), yet absolutely nothing about the core gameplay or concept needs to change -- it just needs to be noticeably enhanced.


      I can no longer fathom why these 4 games (and many others) create so much friction amongst the fans.  Since every gamer is an individual, it's fair to assume that they expect different things out of a game, and certainly that could be applied toward two fans of the same series who have differing opinions about a certain installment.  If someone believes a series has taken a step backward...what's wrong with that?  Why does it matter so much to you that a large portion of people cannot enjoy a game that you do (or vice-versa), and why does either side have to be branded a "troll," "fanboy," or some other cartoonish form of zealot?


      That's pretty much all there is to say on the matter, and hopefully I've lent a little more credence to the arguments against these particular games, as well as the ones in favor of them.



      So with that, g1s, I leave you with this question: What was the game that disappointed you as a fan of a franchise, and what was it that disappointed you about the game?


      Thanks for reading, g1s, and I'll catch you later.


    • Top 20 Castlevania Songs (20-11)

      6 years ago


        As some of you may know, the NTSC version of "Castlevania" on the NES just had its 25th anniversary earlier this month.  Now, I'm a pretty big fan of the Castlevania franchise, so I wanted to pay homage to this great franchise in some way.


      In the interest of quality, I have listened to the soundtrack of literally EVERY Castlevania game (whether I've played them or not), and cherrypicked what I feel are the best of the best. More importantly, however, I want to discuss how each song made me feel as an avid Castlevania fan, and why I picked them for this list. So sit back, kick up your heels, and enjoy listening to some of the best songs a video game could ever deliver! This is "SireAzmodan's Top 20 Castlevania Songs!"







      "Clock Tower"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)


      The song sounds very peaceful, right? Serene, calm...yeah, just give it a minute (literally, one minute). It slowly builds up with a steady percussion, smooth bass, and soft melody. The gears of the tower spin and the Medusa Heads fly at you, pissing you right the fuck off....but then the song speeds up. God damn, is this catchy, and it builds up to a climactic crescendo, as if to symbolize the upcoming battle with the Reaper himself!


      That foot-tapping tempo and awesome lead just carry this song into a completely different direction than I thought it was going to go, and it was one of the most pleasant surprises in the entire game. A highly memorable track that I underestimated far too much, I feel that "Clock Tower" is the perfect way to start off this list!






      "Jail of Jewels"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS)


      From the old up to the new, the haunting vibes of the franchise have never relented. Portrait of Ruin and its outstanding soundtrack stand as testament to this statement, and "Jail of Jewels" is but one of the many instant classics gamers can find from it. It has this hard-hitting but tranquil melody with a strong, constant percussion and smooth bass line that just create an amazing synergy -- a synergy that I've come to expect and love from the Castlevania games.


      Bearing one of the most memorable soundtracks in the entire franchise, Portrait of Ruin is truly a masterpiece of a game!







      "Wicked Child"

      Song origin -- Castlevania (NES)


      Oh come on, you all know this one!


      Not only is the song an NES classic, but its placement in the game was perfect! Stage 3 is where the original Castlevania's difficulty started to step up noticeably, and no song could have set the mood better than "Wicked Child." Often associated with bone-throwing skeletons, ravens, and those damn hunchbacks/fleamen, there is no retro gamer that won't be filled with nostalgia upon hearing this song....for better or worse.







      "Poetic Death" AKA "Death Ballad"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Saturn)


      Alright, admittedly I'm not the biggest fan of the original, but the Castlevania HD remix is simply ball-busting with its awesomeness, and it could represent no boss better than it represents Legion and Galamoth. Fighting off hordes of the undead and evading Legion's flames or lasers combined with "Poetic Death" make for one Hell of a tense moment. This song is all about the action and tension of a classic boss fight!


      Yet "action" is still not enough to summarize everything that this song delivers. "Atmosphere" is a word that you're going to hear a lot in this blog, because most every Castlevania song can deliver it (except for anything from Harmony of Dissonance...we don't talk about that game's music. Ever.).







      "Dwelling of Doom"

      Song origin -- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)


      Yeah yeah, rag on the game if you must, but there is absolutely no denying the sheer kickassery of its music! Even though the game itself didn't deliver what it could have, the music still offers an enjoyable experience that has shaped both the franchise and memories of gamers alike.


      "Dwelling of Doom" is such a song for me. While many may complain about Simon's Quest for various (understandable) reasons, this song alone was enough to earn the game my praises even along with my criticisms. The melody and rhythm are stupendous, and it acted as more than enough motivation for me to get to all of the mansions; anything just as long as I could hear this badass song again!


      While Simon's Quest may be a terribly flawed game, there was absolutely nothing flawed about its music.







      "Invitation of a Crazed Moon"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS)


      This is literally all you need to hear to sell you on one of the DS's greatest games, and incidentally it just so happens to be one of the first you hear, to boot. A new-yet-familiar aura surrounds this song; it's something that some Castlevania fans may not necessarily expect to hear in the series, and yet it reeks of the glorious aroma that is Castlevania. I think it's time for me to use that a-word again, folks -- atmosphere. It's atmospheric not only with the environment of the game, but with the style that the game takes on. Portrait of Ruin is an evident experiment for the franchise, and a unanimously successful one.


      "Fresh" and "nostalgic" aren't two words that you'll hear together very often, but Portrait of Ruin is sure to make any Castlevania fan throw these two words together constantly through both its gameplay and its music, and if you doubt me then you need seek no further proof than this song. I know I didn't need to.







      "Praying Hands (Cloud Castle)"

      Song origin -- Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (GB)


      "Praying Hands" is such a beautiful and serene song that almost sounds like it belongs in an adventure RPG more than a Castlevania platformer, however it still has that one special something that makes it belong. Say it with me, folks: "atmosphere."  


      A soothing, headbobbing melody just pulls you into the meat of this horribly underrated song, and thus into an equally-underrated gem of a game.  The arpeggios 50 seconds into the song are beyond tranquil, and the melody afterward is so overwhelmingly positive.  I constantly wonder why the original Game Boy trilogy never got the attention they deserved, but maybe if more people heard the amazing music they had to offer like this one, maybe they'd finally earn their long-overdue legacy...


      Just let your head float in the Cloud Castle, and enjoy the glory that is "Praying Hands."  ...Or just do your best happy dance, whatever works for you.







      "Reincarnated Soul"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)


      It's not often that a song makes a game for me, but this is one rare occasion where that is in fact the case. Bloodlines has a beautiful sense of difficulty-progression, great visuals, and an amazing soundtrack, but once I'm done with all of that and have beaten the game I always want to go back to that first stage, and to the song that started it all for me. This song is -- right down to the bone -- pure, unfiltered Castlevania.


      The Genesis garnered a poor reputation for the audio of most of its games, but it was because of games like this that Genesis loyalists will swear to the contrary, and "Reincarnated Soul" is an example of a song that must have done nothing less than push the console's audio to its limits.







      "An Empty Tome"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (NDS)


      Sometimes you don't need to have played a game to appreciate how amazing a song is -- "An Empty Tome" is such a song. While I'm disappointed (and slightly disgusted) by the fact that I haven't played all the way through this installment yet, I still absolutely adore this song! I looked at so many songs from this game to see which should be on the list, but none of them could quite compare to this. In fact, most fans would go so far as to call this the definitive song of the game -- and don't get me wrong, the other songs are pretty damn good, too, so that's saying something.


      I can't put my finger on why, but this song just kinda calls out to me for some reason; maybe it's the instruments, the panning, or just the stellar composition. Gah! What am I saying, it's all of the above!







      "The Lost Painting"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Saturn)


      This peaceful song sounds almost like some sort of macabre lullaby, singing you into an eternal slumber. While undeniably the most serene song in the franchise, it's probably also one of the most unnerving. As though each note of the song was shrouded in spectres and shades themselves, even the player knows something lies at the other end of this song. Mind you, it's usually a Crissaegrim because you hear it the most when farming Shmoos, but you get the idea.


      There's just something so relaxing about "The Lost Painting" that I simply cannot describe, and that works out so masterfully in the game as well; you're exploring an inverted castle with enemies that are far more powerful and tons of surprises waiting for you, and this track is the perfect way to throw the player off their guard. Traps, Poltergeists, and so many other things can surprise the Hell out of you, and it adds an unnerving sense of peril to such a calm song.





      Well, that's all for the first part of the list -- be sure to check out Numbers 10-1!




    • Top 20 Castlevania Songs (10-1)

      6 years ago


      If you missed numbers 20-11, you can find them here.  Anyways, let's get on with our celebration of this great franchise, shall we?






      Song origin -- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)


      As we get to the Top 10, it's only natural we come across some more classics, and what better pick than the NES jewel "Aquarius?" Dracula's Curse is renowned for its soundtrack even among Castlevania games, and each track seems to be better than the one that preceded it. "Aquarius," coming as late in the game as stage 7, is no exception.


      As with most classic chiptunes, there's not much to be said that hasn't been said countless times before, but I will say that I always felt this track lived in the shadow of "Beginning." For shame...








      Song origin -- Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)


      Why does this song make me think of Robin Hood...?


      A unique song for the series, "Awake" is the perfect analogy for Circle of the Moon; unlike all the other games in the series, yet it eminates the unmistakable aura of a Castlevania game. A fitting introduction to what is easily one of the greatest games on the GBA!


      Interestingly, this is a game that most people overlooked. It was the first game to follow in Symphony of the Night's footsteps, but it also borrowed heavily from the original style of Castlevania. Beyond that, it implemented unique gameplay elements that haven't been seen since. Due to this, I implore readers to play this game, and discover the awesomeness that is Circle of the Moon!







      "Battle of the Holy"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)


      The first track of Christopher Belmont's first adventure, "Battle of the Holy" is nothing short of devastating from start 'til finish, and it left me stupified the first time I heard it. The intro sets up for one of the most catchy themes in the franchise's history, and the song seems to keep building and building until (and even after) it repeats. Even for a Castlevania game it's mesmeric, and a classic in every sense of the word!


      The game may not have aged well, but that doesn't mean this song doesn't give me a massive Nostalgia Boner.  Yes, that's a thing now.







      "Underground Melodies" (AKA "Clock Tower's Fear")

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Haunted Castle (Arcade)


      It's about time that we touched on Dawn of Sorrow, don't you think?


      There are some things about this game that are nothing short of stupendous, and as far the music goes you'll be hard-pressed to find a better song than this! I've always admired the perfect level of panning between instruments in Castlevania music, and this is exemplified by virtually every song in Dawn of Sorrow.


      So why this song, then? Really, I could put the entire soundtrack for the game in this slot (except for one track), but what makes "Underground Melodies" stand out from the rest is the upbeat nature it maintains through its entirety. The other songs feel noticeably more foreboding, but this track conveys a mood that the others lack, and I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it is.







      "Divine Bloodlines"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PC-Engine), Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)


      It was only fitting that the badass Richter Belmont got a theme to match, and holy shit what a theme did he get! The only Belmont to roundhouse Dracula right in the teeth, Richter Belmont was already summed up as "awesome" with this amazing song, as it's probably the greatest part of his arsenal. He's kinda like Duke Devlin from Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged; his powers of sexiness and awesomeness come from his theme song.


      Okay, so he lost the Vampire Killer. He never needed it, and he proved that the Belmonts didn't, either -- the Belmonts themselves were powerful weapons! Oh yeah, I guess I should start talking about the song...


      Edit: The song is awesome. That is all you need to know. Ask questions and I will kick you in the vagina. If you do not have one then my foot will make one. Have a nice day.

      Sincerely, Richter Belmont.







      "Crimson Blood"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (XBLA, PSN)


      Dear...sweet...lord, this is epic! I know that word gets thrown around a lot, but I really can't think of any other word to describe it. "Eargasm" doesn't even do it justice! Ever since I first heard this song, I've achieved a constant state of tantric orgasm in my ear drums. It gets to be really awkward at parties...


      While electric guitars may seem like they wouldn't work for Castlevania, the fact that you can choose just which stage to play this (or any song in HD) in make it so much better. Just pop this on in Chapter 6 and you've got one Hell of a fun experience ahead of you! The melodies are sick, and don't even get me started on the finale of the song! No really, I'm already leaking ear jizz as we speak...


      It was only fitting that we get to the big stuff in the Top 5, but what exactly can top this masterpiece?







      "Don't Wait Until Night/Heart of Fire"

      Song origin -- Castlevania (NES), though "Don't Wait Until Night" debuted in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)


      As I said before, Aria of Sorrow is my favorite GBA game by miles, and this song is the greatest reason why. As I made my way through the game, I knew it was a game I wanted to play again. At the end of the quest, I faced off against the most unexpected opponent: Julius Belmont.


      This may have been nothing for most people, but as a Castlevania diehard this blew me away! The same whip that I guided Simon, Richter, Trevor, and Christopher with was now being used against me, and my mouth literally dropped at this realization. The fight progressed, and I was thoroughly enjoying the song...


      ...and then it happened.


      The song powerfully morphed into "Heart of Fire." Instantly, memories of the NES classic came pouring into my head, and all I knew at the time was that this was the most amazing boss fight I had ever seen before, and it still stands as one of my fondest gaming memories.


      It wasn't over yet, though. After beating the game, I learned that I could play as Julius, and I was delighted to hear the song play once again. The Belmonts will always make Castlevania awesome for me, and Julius is my second favorite of them all!







      "Into the Dark Night"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (NDS)


      Having recently played through Aria's esteemed sequel, it didn't take very long for me to discover that this game was a marvel of musical virtuosity, and "Into the Dark Night" showcases it better than any other. The beauty of slaughtering the creative bosses like Puppet Master and Zephyr to this awesome song was more immersive than even a Castlevania game had delivered to me prior to playing Dawn of Sorrow, and it's all thanks to this song. The vibes I get from this song...this is a Castlevania boss fight personified in music form, and there's no other way to describe it.


      Adrenaline and -- you guessed it -- atmosphere, hit the player like a torrent, and the song stays as strong as it starts off. Another work of genius, plain and simple!







      "Ebony Wings"

      Song origin -- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (NDS)


      The Order of Ecclesia version is alright, but this version is simply masterful! "Crimson Blood" brought my ears to orgasm, and then "Ebony Wings" completed the job, if you catch my drift. The absolute pinnacle of what a Castlevania stage can sound like: fierce, haunting, and unforgettable, not at all unlike who this song represents.


      As one may guess, this is Death's turf, and you've got to dodge stage traps and scythes while ascending his Clock Tower. Folks, "atmosphere" is no longer a word I can use, because it just doesn't do this justice.


      I think my favorite part is the drumming, to be honest. I love the guitar, but the drumming just gets me every time, and it sets the perfect mood for climbing the tower and taking Death out!






      Alright, now for some Honorable Mentions before we get to number one:




      "Vampire Killer," "Out of Time" --[Castlevania, NES]

      "Bloody Tears," "Silence of Daylight" --[Simon's Quest, NES]

      "Beginning," "Mad Forest," "Big Battle" --[Dracula's Curse, NES]

      "Forest of Monsters," "Entrance Hall," "Chandeliers" --[Super Castlevania IV, SNES]

      "Den," "Dance of Illusions" --[Rondo of Blood/Dracula X, PC-E/SNES]

      "The Discolored Wall," "Iron Blue Intention" --[Bloodlines, Genesis]

      "Crystal Castle," "Plant Castle" --[Belmont's Revenge, GB]

      "Castle Dracula," "Tower of Mist," "Festival of Servants," "The Tragic Prince," "Pitiful Scion" --[Symphony of the Night, PS1/Sat]

      "The Arena" --[Aria of Sorrow, GBA]

      "After Confession," "Scarlet Battle Soul," "Pitch-Black Intrusion" --[Dawn of Sorrow, NDS]

      "Crucifix Held Close," "Gaze Up at the Darkness," "Piercing Silence" --[Portrait of Ruin, NDS]

      "Rhapsody of the Forsaken," "Symphony of Battle," "Riddle" --[Order of Ecclesia]

      "Tractus" --[Harmony of Despair, XBLA/PSN]






      Number One!



      "Simon's Theme"

      Song origin -- Super Castlevania IV






      Song origin -- Super Castlevania IV


      I know, it's really predictable to do the whole "end with a tie" thing in a list, but for me these two songs are the pieces of bread that hold the delicious sandwich that is Super Castlevania IV together. Easily one of my favorite games of all time (competing only with Link to the Past and Golden Sun), Super Castlevania IV created some very deep-rooted memories, and I would question whether or not I'd be the gamer I am now without it.


      That's where these two songs come in. These are genuinely more than just songs to me, they feel like a part of me.


      Everything that I love about the franchise is embodied within "Simon's Theme." It's catchy, it's got a good vibe, and the way it's composed is simply something to be admired. One of the greatest themes in gaming history to symbolize one of its greatest characters, Simon Belmont.


      If Richter is the most badass and Julius is just awesome, Simon is without a doubt the best. His strut makes him look like he ought to be narrating himself in the third person while killing hordes of the undead, and not even look crazy. "Why," you ask? Because he's Simon Motherfucking Belmont! Accept no substitute!


      Super Castlevania IV empowers the player, and the castle itself becomes the threat. Platforming is key in this SNES gem, but enemies? Simon can make short work of them; he always could.


      "Ending" is the more sentimental choice for me, however. As the credits roll and this song plays, I know that there are few players who can't help but let a contented smile cross their face, whether they beat it one time or a thousand. When a game ends it's all about the music because the music is what makes the memory, and the music is what will bring it back. Some games give you nothing at the end, and so you're left with nothing to remember, but Super Castlevania IV feels as though it's giving something back to the player everytime he or she hears this song during the credits.




      Castlevania is a unique franchise, to be sure. There may be impostors, but fans know that the real thing has something that nothing else could ever touch. I'm personally of the belief that its music is the source of that "something," and I think it goes a bit deeper than nostalgia...


      ...It's "passion." Passion for great music, passion for great games, and a passion to build memories -- and live them over and over again.  It's because of this that I want to ask something of everyone reading this:


      Share your Castlevania memories in the comments, and let me know how you feel about the franchise.  Feel free to comment about the blog itself, but I want to hear what it is that made the games so memorable for you; whether it's the music, the gameplay, the graphics, or anything else.



      ***This blog is dedicated to a fellow g1, Castlevania fan, and a very dear friend who not only inspired this blog, but also encouraged me to finish it. Thank you, Zach!



    • Castlevania Through the Looking Glass

      6 years ago


       What's going on, g1's?  Welcome to the first "episode" of what I like to call 'Through the Looking Glass.'  In this series, I'm going to look at various franchises that I have a strong opinion for or against.  Each game within said franchise will be analyzed for traits the average review may leave out -- more to the point, I'm going to see if I can pinpoint exactly how and why these franchises have or have not evolved.  In addition, I'm going to provide a retrospective and mini-review for each major game that I discuss.


      NOTE: Bear in mind that I don't declare myself to be any kind of expert; this is just my own analysis.  Also remember that I haven't played every single game in this (or many other) franchises, so for me to look at every detail in any given chronology is unlikely.


      On to Castlevania, this is one of my three favorite franchises, and has several titles under its name that are well-worthy of their massive praise and following.  


      However, certain titles have gone ignored, some hog a spotlight, and others still gain ridicule...


      Even more interesting, however, is that there are two primary styles of Castlevania, each one commanding a large fanbase that is often sectioned off from the other.  I'm going to discuss these styles in more detail a little bit later, but for the sake of exposition for those that are unfamiliar with the series, the debate is essentially "Platformer Castlevania's" VS "RPG Castlevania's."


      So without further introduction, let the analysis commence!


      Chapter 1: "RetroVania, Castlevania Begins"



      (This is going to be the longest section of the blog)


      The original Castlevania was released in 1987 on the NES (1988 in Europe, and 1986 in Japan for the FamiCom), as I'm sure many of you already know.  Drawing inspiration from classic horror movies, Castlevania was (and is still) considered to be a near-milestone in platforming, and incorporated brilliant concepts into its level design.  In fact, the best way to describe this game (and its impact on gamers) would be to break down each level, and describe in vivid detail why this game's praises are sung so loudly.


      Stage 1



      Stage 1 is the tutorial of the game, and teaches you the fundamentals as any good game should.  The first couple screens introduce you to the concept of your whip, as well as whipping candles and torches to strengthen it.  You'll also find hearts and a Dagger, which serve as an introduction to the subweapon system this game utilizes.  Seconds later, it tests you further with some basic enemies to destroy while also introducing you to the other subweapons, as well as the basic platforming you'll encounter throughout the game.  The first boss, the Phantom Bat, is your first test against a truly mobile enemy.  In order to beat him, you're expected to practise your maneuverability, something that will become essential later in the game.


      Stages 2-4


      The reason why I bundle these stages together is simple: they do the same thing.  Following the logic of standard difficulty progression, each one of these stages takes what you learned in the previous stage(s) and steps up the difficulty a notch.  Stage 2 introduces the hated Medusa Heads and multi-hit enemies, Stage 3 bombards you with overhead and long range attacks, and Stage 4 teaches you to predict and react to overwhelming odds.  Each stage also increases the difficulty of the platforming in an effort to teach you how to multitask (ie, whipping while jumping and mastering the delay on your whip).


      Stage 5



      This is the most important stage in the game.  Stage 5 serves not only as the pinnacle of difficulty, but also as the amalgam of everything that you've learned thus far.  The stage starts strong, and grows ever more ruthless.  Where the other stages would stack the odds against you, Stage 5 would push you to your limit as it progressed.  The infamous "Medusa Hall" before the boss fight is a substantial challenge, and requires a balanced combination of focus, patience, and aggression to surpass.  Once you do, however, you'll learn that the hall was merely a warm up...



      Death is an iconic boss in Castlevania, maybe even moreso than Dracula himself, and I believe that the reason for this was introduced in the original fight against him.  He's the mountain of the game; the ultimate challenge that you can barely fathom accomplishing.  Literally everything that the game has taught you up to this point MUST be applied to the fight with Death, or you will fail!  Reading patterns, predicting projectiles, jump-whipping, and so much more are required for this fight, and when you finally win....


      Stage 6



      One thing I've yet to address is the spectacular music of this game, and stage 6 exemplifies its brilliance better than any other.  As I said before, Death was the ultimate test in Castlevania, and with him beaten the player must be feeling pretty damn confident.  This is where "Out of Time" comes in:



      This track essentially says to the player, "You did so well that, well...remember that first boss?  Yeah, I'll bet you could take on five of them right now all at once and treat it like nothing."  Oh, and guess what?  You do.  The last remnants of resistance on the way to Dracula show off not only Simon Belmont's power and growth as a character (without dialogue, I might add), but also how you've backed Dracula into a corner -- you're coming after him, and there's not a damn thing he can do to stop you.


      Dracula himself evades you by teleporting and using his tricks to his advantage, going so far as to sacrifice his mobility and defense for raw power.  Once again, this builds Simon up as more of a confident hero, while also doing a great job conveying how desperate Dracula is to beat him.


      Well, that's it for the break-down, and I think I covered all the bases...except for one problem: Everything that I said are what I believe were the intentions of the developers, but they're made moot by the subweapons.  Yes, I'm saying it here and now: the problem with the original Castlevania are the subweapons.


      Don't get me wrong, while they do add tons to the gameplay, the subweapons absolutely break this game, and half of them were far too powerful -- in so far as to render the whip (and therefore, most of the lessons regarding the core gameplay) useless.  The Crosses, Daggers, and especially the Holy Water destroy the slower and stationary enemies without giving them a fighting chance, and in the case of the Holy Water even the bosses are obliterated in seconds flat!  Due to this major flaw, it was essential for an improvement to be made to the series, and as a result Konami began to experiment a little bit...



      Chapter 2: "The Game That Everyone Says is 'Bad'"



      It would be prudent for me to assume that you've all seen either AVGN's review or Egoraptor's Sequelitis, so I think most of us are on the same page with this game.  While a flawed sequel, this marked the beginning of a series of experiments within the Castlevania franchise.  What a lot of people may not realize is that this was in fact a successful experiment, if not an overly-ambitious one for its time.


      Serving as a precursor to what would become "Metroidvania," Simon's Quest had you roam in a massive world, and aimed not to power down the character for the difficulty, but to impede his progress in a different way.  You have access to an insane inventory of weapons and subweapons, and Simon retains a dominance over the monsters that continues to grow as you progress through the game, although that holds little effect if you don't know where to go.  Navigation was where this game drew its difficulty from (as well as speed-running for the good ending, which I can say from experience is pretty damn difficult).  It wasn't the best way to go about it, but the idea itself is worthy of praise.


      Once again, the subweapons held dominance, but this time they did try to emphasize the whip.  As a matter of fact, the one thing this game did better than any other retro Castlevania game was moderate the Vampire Killer's use.  You started with the Leather Whip, and then after playing the game for a while you upgraded to the Chain Whip, the Morning Star, and eventually the Flame Whip.  This let the player appreciate each upgrade, as opposed to taking for granted the fact that you would max out your whip within the first 6 torches you saw.  While this attempt ultimately failed due to cookie-cutter enemies and the overpowered subweapons, it was a good thought for the franchise.



      Chapter 3: "The Adventure That the World Forgot"



      Starring Christopher Belmont (an ancestor of Simon), Castlevania: The Adventure was yet another experiment within the franchise.  This time, subweapons were nixed altogether, and the Vampire Killer was truly the focus of the gameplay.  As with previous installments the whip would level up, but this time around it would launch a fireball at its third level.  Getting hit would weaken your whip, but this did act as a very efficient replacement for the subweapons.  This game is the smoking gun for my theory regarding Konami being unhappy with the over-powered sub-weapons, yet it also does point to the contrary...


      The enemies in this game behaved a little bit differently.  Bats, for example, no longer flew across the screen, but hovered over your head -- often in swarms!  With a unilateral whip and no subweapons to speak of, overhead enemies were a nightmare, and are the ultimate downfall of Castlevania: The Adventure.


      While this was a worthwhile addition to the franchise, it was still in the same boat as Simon's Quest.  It may have had some good ideas, but in the end they just weren't pulled off very well, and neither was able to correct the flaws of the original game without creating their own problems.





      Chapter 4: "The Curse to End the Curse"



      "Fuck it, we're going back to basics!" -Konami, 1989


      Okay, so I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically the thought that went into Castlevania III...and guess what?  It was GLORIOUS!!!  Taking the core element from the original, but adding some branching paths à la Simon's Quest, Dracula's Curse also managed to correct the flaws of the original!  Trevor Belmont, another one of Simon's ancestors, is on his first quest to destroy Dracula, which canonically-speaking is probably the most important confrontation with Dracula in the series.


      The first thing is that it moderated your subweapons, or rather, your ammunition.  Hearts were a bit more scarce in this game (not in terms of availability, but rather in terms of value), and it was always a good idea to holds onto the subweapons until the boss fight.  Without removing the subweapons or altering them, Castlevania III figured out a way for them to compliment your whip -- not the inverse!  On top of this, they introduced enemies that were more vulnerable to the whip, as well as three new characters that had their own uses for the hearts you'd collect: Alucard, Sypha Belnades, and Grant.  Trevor's whip made him the best melee attacker for range, while Sypha's spells allowed for crowd control, Grant's agility for the platforming, and Alucard as a balance of Trevor and Grant.


      Next, Konami was able to focus on the difficulty.  Everything said about the original Castlevania in this blog can easily be applied to Castlevania III, yet still improved upon.  The lessons you learned were harder, and the game itself felt far less forgiving than any of its predecessors.  This time, though, it was because you were forced to learn these lessons -- you didn't have shortcuts anymore, it was all on you!



      Chapter 5: "16-Bit Duality"



      After Dracula's Curse brought it back to basics, Konami would follow in its wake while still adding innovations.  Super Castlevania IV acted as the experiment for the platforming and action, but Bloodlines seemed to act as a different kind of test...


      I'll touch on Bloodlines a little bit later, but as of now I'll just talk about Super Castlevania IV.


      Again, Egoraptor discussed this recently, but I feel that he overlooked something very important.  For those that haven't seen his Sequelitis, he claims that the omnidirectional whip renders the subweapons useless, but because it was such a short episode he didn't really break it down as well as he could have.  The subweapons still serve as a compliment to the whip, but the Vampire Killer was intended to be Simon's greatest asset, hense its name.  I personally believe that Castlevania IV was an attempt from Konami to remake the original game and fix its flaws, and I for one feel that they were indeed successful.    This isn't to say that the subweapons are useless, though.  It's still advantageous for you to use the Axes or Crosses for multiple hits, or the Knife for "sniping" enemies, but this time they don't end up overshadowing Simon's primary weapon.  That said, though, Egoraptor's point does hold strong merit, and it is a noticeable flaw of this game.


      However, the platforming was clearly the focus of this Castlevania game.  While the others balanced them out, I've always been under the impression that this game tried to make the stage hazards more perilous than ever before to add depth to the game's environment.  Whether we're talking about a moving rug, falling stalactites, or a crumbling platform, Super Castlevania IV emphasized this element even more than the action the series had been known for up to that point.  The action was still stupendous, but among all of this were the small touches that truly gave this game its charm.  The Nerd said it best when he said that, "the attention to detail is exquisite!"



      Did you ever notice how Death sucks the life out of you every time he hits you?  Yeah, I'll bet you didn't!


      So what about Bloodlines, then?


      The Genesis got a worthy rival to Super Castlevania IV.  Bloodlines was more challenging than Super Castlevania IV, yet it focused on a different kind of experiment.  It introduced a new family, the Morris'.  While the lack of Belmonts may have bewildered some players, the classic schematic was back: straight-forward but action-packed platforming.  While you didn't have the advantage of an omnidirectional whip, the game still worked is magic in a new, curious way: 'Bloodlines' seemed more intent on theming the castle.  That is to say, this game wanted to improve the overall architecture and feel of the environment.



      However, Bloodlines didn't do too much to add to the series in terms of gameplay as opposed to concept.  While that may not seem like it does a fantastic game like 'Bloodlines' justice, it's still very important, and it's a fitting note for me to close this chapter.  It's time to move on to...



      Chapter 6: "Symphony of the Night...'Nuff Said."



      Up until a month ago, I had never played this game, and therefore was ignorant of why it received so much praise.  While I personally hold several other games in the series in higher esteem, Symphony of the Night certainly lives up to its reputation, and is arguably one of the biggest steps (if not the biggest) that the franchise has taken to be so successful.


      Following in the footsteps of 'Simon's Quest', 'Symphony of the Night' is also a great combination of previous Castlevania games.  The architectural and theatric influence of Bloodlines, the freedom of movement and combat from Castlevania IV, the sequel to Dracula X/Rondo of Blood, and the host of several other homages.  It was with this game that I discovered Konami's devotion to the history of this amazing franchise, and how thorough they were.  It was clear to me now that the franchise had always been heading for this kind of step forward, and thinking back to the first time a Bat dropped a Stop Watch in the original Castlevania reinforces that statement for me.  The RPG element was just screaming for attention, but with Symphony of the Night it felt to me like that element finally got a chance to shine, and boy did it ever!


      ...Of course, that's not to say that this game is perfect.  The first problem with the game is the lack of scaling.  Sure, the game can have its challenging moments, but if you find a Crissaegrim the game is pretty much broken.  Hell, even without it most of the bosses felt incredibly boring and anti-climactic.  The "Metroidvanias" have had this problem ever since, but some of them have found different ways to cope with it.  'Symphony of the Night's' unlockable 'Richter Mode' allows you to play through the game with the classic style of a whip-user, and many other games in the series have done the same (or similar) things.  Still, the problem only rectifies itself slightly, and the game does feel a lot easier than it should



      A big part of why it still feels easy on Richter Mode is that the game's architecture doesn't really punish you the same way Super Castlevania IV or Bloodlines' would.  As opposed to losing health or dying instantly, you aren't really punished for not making a jump.  Typically, a failed jump will only cost you a few minutes at the most to get back to where you were before falling, but because of how powerful Alucard is, that's not really hazardous (not even if you bump into an enemy during the fall).


      The next problem  are the awkward spell inputs.  While they aren't hard to do, they're really impractical.  Fortunately, this isn't a mistake that has been repeated since Symphony of the Night, as most of the "Metroidvanias" to follow in its footsteps used fighting game-style inputs for spells, special attacks, and the like.


      However, Symphony of the Night also does an impeccable job of foreshadowing the raw power you can get.  Prior to meeting Death, Alucard is virtually indestructable.  Soon enough, Death takes your power and items away, which obviously signifies that even Alucard isn't as strong as Death is.  As a result, you not only have to reclaim your former power, but you eventually learn that you can become even stronger than you were before bumping into Death!  Again, this may not sound like much, but it did wonders for my overall experience with the game.


      Symphony of the Night is a game that will certainly exceed your expectations if you haven't played it yet, but there was still work to be done so that Castlevania could be improved...



      Chapter 7: "Sorrow?  What is There to Be Sad About?!"



      In what I feel was the next step up for the Metroidvania games, Aria of Sorrow managed to thoroughly impress me even at a first glance.  While a diminished difficulty was still a huge problem, it added a curve-ball: Soma, who is essentially the reincarnation of Dracula, or at least the new vessel for Dracula's power.  In this respect, you are able to command the legions of Dracula's Castle by absorbing their very souls, which then allows you to harness their abilities in some way, shape, or form.  This adds an arsenal of both weapons and magic that exceeds what Alucard had to work with, and while this may seem like a minor detail, it does fit the bigger picture.  After all, with so many options at the character's disposal, there are obviously a ton of options for the player's style.


      Though this is one of my favorite GBA games, there really isn't much more to say about it that I haven't already said.  It was a small step forward for the series in itself, but it also gave way to Order of Ecclesia and Portrait of Ruin, two grand departures from the traditional "Metroidvania" styles.  Unfortunately, I can't really make a comment on those games since I've yet to play them, but I know enough about them to understand how and why they're considered to be so different from Symphony of the Night and the GBA games.



      Chapter 8: "Castlevania HD"



      Before I get into this, I just want to say that this game was the inspiration for this blog.  Castlevania HD (Harmony of Despair) is what I like to call "A Retrovania masquerading as a Metroidvania, and a Metroidvania masquerading as a Retrovania."  In a word, this game is one giant homage to the entirety of the franchise, going so far as to remake stages from Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Symphony of the Night, and even the entirety of the original Castlevania!  To boot, several different characters are included in this game, and thus tons of different play styles are possible...and the best part?  Multiplayer!


      In Castlevania HD, not a single stone was left unturned.  Whether it was with stages, bosses, characters, items, spells, or music, it feels like the entirety of the Castlevania chronology has been paid massive tribute.


      Yet, this game also manages to correct major flaws of the series that I had mentioned above!  For example, traps are very present in this game, and each time you collide with a trap you'll lose a flat 10% of your health.  On top of this, the characters don't level up (although some characters' weapons can become more powerful, and they can equip better gear as well), so while this still isn't the hardest game in the series, it still does a much better job with scaling (at least for solo play).  There's a (to my knowledge) newfound emphasis on platforming for this Castlevania RPG, and in my opinion that kicks tons of ass!





      The Castlevania franchise will always have a very warm place in my heart, and its boss battles and music have always been some of the most creative and memorable that I've ever experienced as a gamer.  I know that some people prefer the retro games over the RPG games (and vice-versa), but I wanted to write this to show you guys why I feel both styles are equal in quality, but more importantly that neither need contrast the other.  On top of that, I wanted to voice my appreciation for this stellar franchise, and give my two cents on why I feel so many games within the series have earned their immortalization.


      I also would like to know what you guys think of the franchise in the comments below, and also what flaws you see in recent games that could be improved (be mindful of spoilers, though).


      Until next time, g1's!

    • "Cut the Crap" -- SireAzmodan's Plea to Gamers

      6 years ago


       You know, I'd like to think that I'm a pretty open-minded person.  I've always been of the belief that any opinion is valid, so long as it's backed by solid logic.  While I'm pretty opinionated and outspoken (often to my own detriment), I applaud anyone who can prove me wrong and educate me, even if their argument doesn't change my opinion.  In short, I respect people who think for themselves.


      Ever since the internet exploded, the notion of thinking for yourself has become something to be scrutinized.  Those who step away from the huddled masses are automatically called "hipsters" or "trolls," and sadly this seems to be getting worse and worse.


      I'm going to talk about 3 things in the video game community that I see as issues -- not because they're opinions I don't agree with, but because they're opinions that I don't think anyone truly believes, or are simply a product of "believing what you're told."  Let's begin!




      "Call of Duty's Campaign Justifies the $60 Price Tag"



      Before I begin, I just want to ask one question: If people criticize M. Night Shyamalamaramadan's movies for being little more than a culmination of plot-twists, and condemn Michael Bay for making stupid stories/leaving plot holes and covering them up with pretty explosions...why do they praise the CoD campaigns?   I'm not going to get off onto a rant about the stories being good or bad, but the truth of the matter is that a Call of Duty's campaign is very similar to the "entertainment" made by the aforementioned "film-makers."  Call of Duty consistently has a contrived story and horribly-predictable "twists"; sorry, folks, but it's true.


      Moving on...


      As someone who enjoys the games on a regular basis, I know a lot of people who play CoD quite a bit as well.  As a result, I'm often asked if I'm going to buy the next Call of Duty, to which I say, "Probably not.  I'll rent it, then I'll see from there -- 60 bucks is too steep to buy a game that gives me the same thing as another game I own."  Their reply is usually something along the lines of, "It's not steep, it's worth 60 bucks," and when asked why they're always able to blow my mind with their own variant of the same bullshit justification: 'The Campaign.'  



      Here's my first plea, gamers: don't feed me that garbage and expect me to swallow it.


      Now if you like the campaign in CoD, that's cool; like I said, I'm not here to talk about whether it's good or bad.  Here's the fact, though: when you tell me that the campaign is worth paying 60 dollars for, you really don't believe it -- I know you don't.  When I sign onto XBox Live to see who's online, I usually see a bunch of people playing Call of Duty...'s multiplayer.  The few people I do see playing it for the campaign later tell me they're achievement-hunting, or they're just "checking it out."  So you're telling me that 60 bucks is worth 1000 points that don't do anything and sating your curiosity...fuck.


      Another truth is that all each CoD game adds to the multiplayer are re-skins of weapons, a few new killstreaks and perks, slightly-updated graphics and controls, and maybe a new game mode.  You can still glide like you're Akuma whenever you knife someone, the spawning system is broken, and perks are imbalanced.  These are problems every CoD game has, and just doesn't even try to improve,  but if fixed could go toward warranting the game's price tag.  


      For some people, though, the new weapons, killstreaks, and game modes are enough...and you know what?  That's great!  Hey, it's your money, and if that's what you have fun with then spend it on that.  I'm not going to tell you not to spend your money on CoD, but just be honest about it!  Don't say that you're buying it for the campaign when all you play is the multiplayer, and above all else don't throw out bullshit justifications that you believe even less than I do! Just fucking admit that you're okay with getting the same experience over and over -- contrary to popular belief, there really isn't anything wrong with that if you genuinely enjoy it.




      "Rare Doesn't Know How to Make Games Anymore!"



      If you honestly believe this, there's a pretty good chance that you're fucking wrong.  Just sayin'.


      While I like Nuts 'n' Bolts, I do understand why people were disappointed by it, and I also understand why people are upset that Rare has abandoned their classic franchises.  However, the childish temper tantrums I see on the internet, even from -- no, ESPECIALLY from the ScrewAttack Crew are embarrassing to watch.  I expect this ignorant drivel from random people on the internet, but ScrewAttack is in the business of knowing better.


      Here's a fact about Rare that not many people know: the company is rotting from the inside, but not for the reasons you think.  The way Microsoft is forcing them to run the company has cost most veteran employees to leave over the past decade, and if you know anything about how Microsoft treats its "associates" and "subsidiaries" you can see why.  Rare doesn't have the staff to make the software and hardware that Microsoft demands while still pumping out the games fans want.  While it would be great if they could do both, it's just not that fucking simple.  However, Rare has gone through so many studio managers in the past few years that it's astounding, and the founding members are long gone.  Still, even though they may not make the games we want, that doesn't mean they're incapable of making good games, nor are they incapable of making games that have their classic atmosphere.  They still have many talented people working for them.


      I know what you're going to say: "But they said that the future is Kinect."  Well...maybe it is.  Kinect was designed with the next generation in mind, so isn't it at least possible that we haven't seen the full potential of it yet?  It's also possible that Rare could make the game that makes it a must-have.  Unless you're a soothsayer (and even if you are), you probably don't have any way to see the future, so to make the statement that a company is "incapable" of something is nothing less than arrogant.  Even though Microsoft is making them run the company into the ground and essentially forcing them to make stuff Rare's fans don't want, that doesn't make them any less capable of doing more.


      I don't understand why this whole "Rare is inept" mentality is still going.  Rare's done a lot of good lately:



      • Kameo, one of the 360's launch titles, was a very enjoyable game that reviewed favorably.
      • Viva Pinata is a very true Rare game; it's fun, and it masquerades as cute but is actually somewhat disturbing in its own way.
      • Jetpac: Refuelled is a really fun XBLA title.  It's a remake of one of Rare's first games, and if you're a fan of old-school arcade games you'll love it!
      • Nuts 'n' Bolts tried to be an homage to both parts of Banjo history: Banjo-Kazooie, and Diddy Kong Racing.  The result is altogether different from both of these, but it has the same atmosphere as both games -- quirky, cheerful, and simple. 



      I've noticed something from Rare fans: when they talk about how they feel jaded, they either condemn or ignore anything and everything released after Microsoft acquired Rare.  Hell, in the intro of Nuts 'n' Bolts they joke about how nobody knows about "Grabbed By the Ghoulies," which is yet another quirky achievement of theirs.  Now, there was a time where I thought the whole "Hating Rare" bandwagon was a product of franchise fanboyism, but I've realized that it may be a deep-seated Nintendo fanboy thing.  I've put a lot of research into this, and I've learned that this contempt toward Rare is not a new development -- everything from Rare since 2002 has met with the same reception that their games are meeting with now.


      Okay, so some of you might think I'm looking at things through rose-colored glasses.  Well, here's the thing -- the gameplay of Rare's N64 games were never really THAT good.  



      The harsh reality is that Rare's games will fail today because parodies just don't work anymore.  Hell, look at Duke Nukem: Forever -- do you honestly think that a Conker game would fare any better?  Both have a dark sense of humor that often tried to offend people, and they parodied various pieces of pop culture from the 90's.  We're living in an age where, for some reason, that's unacceptable.  Games like Banjo, Conker, and even GoldenEye won fans over because of how light-hearted they could be.  After all, most of you don't remember intense firefights from GoldenEye, you remember doing stupid shit like sliding across the floor on one knee while karate-chopping constantly -- that's what Rare did, guys; they were never this godly developer you make them out to be, and they really haven't fallen so far from grace that they're incapable of doing those things again.  Games like Viva Pinata prove that point better than I ever could. 


      I know, you're shocked, but what made the games brilliant were their atmosphere, whether it was the happy-go-lucky tone of Banjo-Kazooie or the disturbing content in Conker's Bad Fur Day -- in both cases, the gameplay was really only average.  Killer Instinct, as another example, is a parody of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.  It tried to be unbalanced and ridiculous; it never tried to be "good"regardless of  whether you thought it was or not -- it just tried to be fun.


      ...That's actually a really good segway for the final point:




      Quality Doesn't Always Have to Dictate Why You Love or Hate a Game


      I'm going to preface by talking about two games:



      I don't like these games.  As a matter of fact, I can't fucking stand the series; I find them boring, monotonous, and the story is something I've seen a hundred times in sci-fi.  However, I humbly acknowledge that this is a fantastic trilogy of well-developed games.  Not perfect (no game is), but it's still something I could find myself recommending despite the fact that I don't like it, simply because I understand why people see it as a good series of games.


      On the flip side...



      Sonic '06 is easily one of the worst games ever made.  Plagued by glitches that make the game unfathomable to beat, awful physics, mutilated control, a camera with ADHD, and a metric fuckton of other shit, this game is a complete abomination.


      ...and I wouldn't have it any other way.


      This is honestly my favorite game from this console generation, simply because it's so bad that it takes shittiness to an artform!  I mean, they HAD to be trying to make it this bad!  Still, no other game has ever made me laugh so hard that I couldn't breathe, and I can truly say that I enjoyed playing it.



      What I don't get is why other people can't do the same on both sides, but what's worse is when the people who can are criticized for being able to.  If a game is truly bad, you don't have to bullshit and say that you think it's good just because you happened to like it.  A lot of people actually try to say that Sonic '06 is a good game, and even though I love it I'm the first to jump up and say that it's a fountain of orca jizz in video game form -- after all, that's why I enjoyed it.  Contrarily, if somebody were to say that Mass Effect sucks, I'd willingly stand up for its quality, even though I didn't enjoy it.  It may seem hypocritical to some, but your experience (and thus, your opinion) doesn't necessarily have to be a reflection on the game's quality.


      This kinda ties in with what I said about Call of Duty; you don't have to throw out bullshit justifications to warrant why you like something and/or why you choose to support it.  Sometimes just saying, "I have fun with it" is enough.  If that isn't enough to please someone, fuck 'em.  Fuck 'em in the urethra with a cactus.


      ...That's a fitting note to end this on, I think.





      I know that this was kind of a short blog, but I feel like I've made my points rather clear.  Just cut the bullshit, gamers, and stop repeating every damn thing that you're told.  Think for yourself, and have fun on your own terms, form your own opinions, stop with all of the hyperbole, and don't feel like you have to justify the things you love or dislike.  Just be honest!


    • The REAL Reason You Hate Rare

      6 years ago


       If there is one thing I hate, it's a misplace hatred (as ironic as that sounds).  There is no greater example of this in the gaming community than the bandwagon everyone and their mother is jumping on: hating Rare.  The thing is, I expect to see ignorant fanboys act like this, but when people like the ScrewAttack crew spout such uneducated jargon it really makes me lose respect for them.


      Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that Rare hasn't fucked up -- you name one veteran developer that hasn't.  What I'm saying is that the problem is nowhere near what everyone makes it out to be.


      Let's get started, shall we?



      "Waaaah!  They aren't making the games I want! *snivel hick* I hate Rare!"



      So people hate Banjo Kazooie: Nuts 'n' Bolts because they don't think it's a fitting sequel.  Alright, that's fair enough, and I can accept that you don't like the game -- whatever your reasons may be.  I'm not aiming to change your opinion on it, but I do want you to consider these points before you judge it:


      • Banjo didn't begin as a platformer


      I often hear the complaint that, "it's a fun enough game, but it didn't have to be a Banjo game.  He's not supposed to be driving a kart!"  Oh?  Well, alright, explain this picture to me, then.



      Diddy Kong racing is where Banjo started, and the platformers came afterward.  If you say that he "doesn't belong in a kart," not only are you openly giving the middle finger to the roots of your franchise, but you're proving my belief that you don't know what the Hell you're talking about by contradicting yourself.  You say a game is betraying its roots in a way that disregards the roots of the franchise?  What the Hell, people?!


      • Rare has wanted to make a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing since before the GameCube launched


      Another Banjo game that gets criticized is "Banjo Pilot," a game that was initially intended to be a Diddy Kong Racing game.  However, they were acquired by Microsoft during the development period, and though they were still able to release games on the GBA, they no longer had access to the IP's that would enable them to make a true Diddy Kong Racing game.  Beyond this, from what my research points to, what became Banjo Pilot was supposed to be released on a home console, but for obvious reasons it was impossible.  As a result, the game had to be shrunken down to a level that the GBA could handle.


      While Nuts 'n' Bolts is certainly not a Diddy Kong Racing game, it's not much of a stretch to say that it stands as not only an homage to Banjo's platforming roots, but also to his kart-driving roots




      "Harumph!  Rare doesn't know how to make games anymore!"



      If you honestly believe this, then you're fucking wrong.  That simple.  You may not like Banjo Kazooie: Nuts 'n' Bolts, Kameo, Jetpac Refuelled, or Viva Pinata, but they're good fucking games whether you want to admit it or not.  They're designed well, and they're certainly a better product than those who bitch about Rare could create.





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