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5 Castlevania Games That I Disliked
Beloved and legendary as it is, the great Castlevania franchise is not without its missteps and fails. Here are five Castlevania games that didn't quite work for me. Five episodes that either didn't live up to the hype, or simply failed to provide the sort of macabre Gothic castle adventuring experience that I came to associate with the series. This list is in ascending order of "dislike-ness."
5.Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
I'd start with something sacrilegious. I was bored by Castlevania II. The one in which poor Simon got all sickly and cursed and wandered about the countryside searching for body parts. Now, I know Castlevania II is regularly included in lists of top NES games. And in terms of game design, it was a laudable attempt by Konami to go beyond a stage-by-stage layout. Still, it was just dreary. Repetitive too, With lacklustre background design and forgettable boss fights. (Were they even boss fight? You could walk away) On the positive side, Castlevania II did have two great BGM tracks in its limited repertoire. One of which, Bloody Tears, went on to become one of the three great signature soundtracks of the series.
4. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
The "Metrovania" episodes of Castlevania were thrilling because they each offered a new gameplay style to look forward to. With the exception of Dawn of Sorrow, that is, which reused the same soul system found in Aria of Sorrow. Yes, the system was enhanced. The Nintendo DS also had better graphic and sound capabilities. But to me, it still felt like a convenient rehash of Aria of Sorrow. There just wasn't that "freshness" in the gaming experience.
Moreover, the muddled story line started in Aria of Sorrow continued to bug the game. Like its predecessor, Dawn of Sorrow was also set in the future, but its stage design simply didn't feel very futuristic. The entire premise of Soma being a good reincarnation of Dracula also received little development, with no other stunning revelations or twists in the tale. That there were no subsequent episodes with Soma as the lead strongly suggests to me that Konami eventually felt the awkwardness of the story direction too. Thankfully, they chose to abandon it. Castlevania fans were spared more bewildering episodes of Dracula reborn as a bishonen, cloak wearing schoolboy.
3. Castlevania: Dracula X
By itself, Dracula X, or XX in Japan, wasn't a bad game. Problem was, it truly, truly paled when compared to the PC Engine episode it was based on. For two years, I gawked at magazine pictures of Rondo of Blood, and was thrilled when I read a version would be made for the SNES. And then I discovered to my horror it was so Slashed. (Play the BGM track here) So absolutely butchered. What happened to Maria and her cutesy animal friends? What happened to Richter and all the branching routes? As many Castlevania fans have highlighted, Dracula X would have fared much better, had there not been a Rondo of Blood beforehand. I still blame Konami though. If you want to make an alternate version, at least make an equivalent one. Who appreciates a discounted version?
2. Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
There was quite a bit of hatred when Castlevania: Lament of Innocence was released. Both for the (allegedly misogynistic) rewriting of Belmont clan history, and the insipid 3D stage design. I would partially defend Konami by saying the problem with the 3D stage designs was something they couldn't possibly overcome. Somehow, Castlevania just needs to be appreciated in 2D, with gaudy colour schemes and impossible architectures and all that. On the other hand, I fully agree with all else that was said. What dull story and game progression. And what awful names! Er ... Walter the vampire? Pagoda of the whaaaat Moon? Corny. Even for popcorn horror standards. It was just too corny and too un-Castlevania.
1. Castlevania: Judgement
One of the things I really love about the Castlevania franchise is that there is always consistent effort to update the game play. It grew from linear progression to multiple paths, then to Metroid-like RPGing, and finally to 3D. And so when I heard about a Castlevania fighting game, I thought, erm, okay... ... Why not? It would be nice to see different characters from different games thrown together. It would also be interesting to see their power combos. In short, it would be something different and special.
Oh gosh. How terrible, terrible, Judgement turned out to be.
There were so many things wrong, worst of which being the art style. I was fine with the anime / goth direction in the Metrovania and PS2 episodes. But to start going all Bishonen and Death Note like? With Koei-Tecmo style oversized weapons and sexualised outfits? What was Konami thinking?! For crying out loud. Thank goodness they realised what a horrid mistake this was, and didn't consider a Judgement 2. Had they done that, they would have put me off the series for good. I suspect the same outcome would happen for most other Castlevania fans too.