As previously mentioned, Castlevanias of various sorts have been dominating me in recent months. Since I haven’t yet finished any of the games on The List, I figure I’ll talk a bit more about this current obsession and how it ties into the One Hundred Percent Completion Project.
The original Castlevania never really caught my fancy. When it came out for the NES, I still had yet to develop sufficient hand-eye coordination to be worth a damn at it (I was more for the Zapper games and RPGs). As the series went on and I became better able to wrangle a controller I began to realize that I just plain didn’t like the way the Castlevania games felt. The stair-climbing mechanic felt awkward to me, and the inability to change direction mid-jump put me off. The real clincher, though, was the almost complete lack of restorative items. A pot roast or two scattered in hidden bricks throughout the game was not enough. Even today, when I go back and try to play them (hello, GameTap!) those early games feel… awkward.
In 1997, Konami fixed pretty much everything that was wrong with the franchise with Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation and the Saturn. Ushering in the “Metroidvania” style of gameplay, SotN reinvigorated the franchise. I knew absolutely nothing of this. In fact, at the time I was purely a PC gamer, as I skipped the entire Saturn/PlayStation/N64 console generation.
I finally really got into Castlevania with Circle of the Moon on the GBA. Everything I read about it was positively glowing… all the reviewers were comparing its gameplay to Symphony of the Night, which (as I mentioned) I had never played, but the brief descriptions given were intriguing. I decided I must have it. One small problem, though: it was a launch title for the GBA, and I hadn’t planned ahead… my local Best Buy was out of GBAs. Well, okay… not out completely. There was still a pink one. I faced a quandary: not play the game at all for the foreseeable future, or play it immediately but stick myself with a pink gaming machine. I walked out of that Best Buy with my head hung low and a pink Game Boy in my bag.
Tomorrow I’ll continue the ever-so-riveting tale!
[Update: It didn’t end up being “tomorrow,” but I did finish spinning my yarn three weeks after this post.]