My non-video-game-playing fiancée blew my mind the other day by discovering something in a video game that I thought I knew inside out.
Eh, I guess I can’t really call her completely game-averse anymore. A couple of months ago, she had a random urge to try some games from my library and discovered that the single kind of game she genuinely likes is the portable Castlevania lineup. After all this time, I learn she’s a lady after my own heart… mostly. (I can’t quite convince her that Metroid is brilliant.) When she learned I was going to play the original Castlevania for our livestream the other night, she wanted to stick around and watch but had to get home and sleep in preparation for an early photo shoot the next day. So, I promised that we could play a bit sometime later, even though I knew she probably wouldn’t care much for the older game. Graphics matter to her, but more than that she likes the way the later games let you grow more powerful through exploration.
After clearing the first level and utterly failing to convince her those white things that attack in clusters of three are in fact meant to be zombies and that the game’s graphics were pretty much completely amazing in 1986, I let her give it a try for herself. She edged forward through a couple of stages, tentatively, and then proceeded to blow my mind by doing this:
It turns out there’s a hidden treasure here (the strange-looking blue thing on the right edge of the screen) that I never knew about. The original Castlevania is full of hidden treasures, and after nearly 25 years and heaven even knows how many playthroughs, I thought I knew them all by heart. I even earned ten bucks for the Red Cross by preemptively collecting the hidden crown at the start of Stage 04 before someone offered to make a donation if I grabbed it. But no; after whipping every single wall in the game and ducking on every slightly out-of-place block cluster, I still hadn’t found this one. I’m sure I’d even ducked on this little raised bit of floor at some point, only to find nothing. What I hadn’t done was stand there for several seconds doing nothing; invariably, I take down the spear-wielding guard who patrols to the left and hop over the block outcropping to proceed on my merry way. At no point have I ever stood in uncertainty on those blocks wondering how I can take out the guard from up there without a weapon capable of hitting below my feet. Cat managed to one-up me at the game by not really being sure how best to play. That’s kind of awesome.
After I picked up the scattered fragments of my mind, which had been thoroughly blown, I looked up a list of hidden items in the game. By all appearances, it looks like I managed to find them all back in the day — from hopping past the entrance in Stage 00 to ducking over the isolated block beneath the floor in Stage 08 — all except this one, which I managed to overlook all these years because I’m too efficient to stop and smell the… well, I guess it’s not really roses, huh? The musty undead treasure chest?
I should have Cat play Mega Man for me next. Maybe she’ll find a hidden weapon I never knew about or something.