Man, I love me some Castlevania, but this week may have blown even my threshold.
I put in some time on the 1UP Show playing the cynical spoiler to Shane’s gushing fanboy. The poor kid is so typecast; he always has to be the defender of the faith as someone else rains on his happy little parade. My opinions for reals can more accurately be summed up with our big honkin’ preview, although I’m not entirely sure a preview that goes on for, like, a thousand words can really be considered a summation. But it’s almost certainly the first professional article about Castlevania to use the term “hootenanny” (and in fact, Portrait could most accurately be described as a “gol-durn hootenanny”) so it’s worth reading for that reason alone.
But that’s not all! Yesterday Kurt Kalata (master of the Castlevania Dungeon) was in town, so we pulled him aside and filmed a Rondo of Blood/Symphony of the Night episode of Video Retronauts for use at some point in the indeterminate future. By the end of next week I should have footage for four episodes complete, which means that I can get working on the task of producing them regularly. Just as soon as we get past the horror of the next month. Between a billion or so reviews and the agony of two console launches, we’re looking at four weeks of serious HRUNGH.
(That’s shorthand for “I used to like videogames so why do they make me want to kill myself?”)
But wait, there’s more!
I’ve also been working on that copy of Dracula X I bought almost two months ago, finally. Now that I’ve been able to play more than a couple of levels, I finally understand the general froth — it’s exceptional. It’s pretty much just another Castlevania, if you play it straight through. But if you start poking around and breaking things, you start to understand how it evolved into Symphony of the Night. There are useless little secrets everywhere, as well as incredibly useful ones as well. Like fully half the stages, that sort of thing.
It is a little disappointing to learn that a bunch of the features and monsters I thought were unique to Portrait of Ruin are actually recycled from Dracula X. Besides the bosses, I think just about every single sprite from the game has now been reused at one point or another. Think of Dracula X as the majestic bison, and Koji Igarashi as the wise Native America who lets no scrap go to waste. I’m pretty sure that if he could figure out how to turn the skeleton sprite into a bone needle he’d do it.
Castlevania: Madrigal of Overdose
Man, I love me some Castlevania, but this week may have blown even my threshold.
28 thoughts on “Castlevania: Madrigal of Overdose”
Hey, about that preorder deal you mentioned in the preview, do you know which retailers are offering that? I think you convinced me to preorder it. Also, do you know if there’s a track listing anywhere for this bonus CD that comes with it?
I know Gamestop/EB for sure, and possibly Game Crazy. There’s no track listing available yet but the Konami reps indicated that it would encompass the entire series, so it’s different from the bonus CD that came with Symphony.
I doubt you can reveal this, but I was quite suprised to learn that besides the two sets of secret characters, there is a fifth secret character. Any hint on who that might be? Is s/he playable in the main game?
Also: have you seen the artbook? It certainly looks impressive…
GameCrazy told me they were getting a “20th Anniversery pack” They’d BETTER get the full thing, or I will be sad.
From my experience with Castlevania, I’d say Iga seems more like the creepy bearded guy who won’t stop, uh… milking the bison. Or… something. I don’t know. At least the milk always ends up sweet, that is to say, the games are good. No, wait. The more I think about it, the more terrifying disgusting this all sounds.
So I guess this means no audio Skype podcast edition dedicated to Drac X? Bugger.
But yeah, you pretty much summed up why Drac X, for me, is the penultimate Castlevania experience. It does have little secrets packed within its stages, but like its traditional predecessors, requires you to go about your battles very skillfully given that you’re armed with nothing but the Vampire Killer and perhaps a sub-weapon. The best part was that the game as a whole was remarkably consistent in its excellence, with nary a weak level, and arguably the most balanced gameplay in the entire series. (As much as I love Dracula’s Curse, Stage 7 of that game, from the “Alucard” subpath as I like to call it, was a pain in the ass.)
It’s a shame Rondo of Blood was pretty much the last old-school Castlevania (Vampire’s Kiss was a lesser remake) because of what more could be done in a more expansive followup.
Anyways, that’s enough RoB rhapsodizing from me.
Dracula X is an amazing game and is one of my favorites in the series. When I first played it, I was surprised to find out how similar a number of the songs are to Symphony of the Night’s soundtrack.
Cannot wait to see the video podcast
i got an incredibly strong sense of deja vu whilst reading this article annd looking at the last two screeenshots, like I’d dreamed this article somewhere before.
but i guess JP does write a lot about castlevania.
“I think the backgrounds are not nearly as good[…] Half the areas in Dawn of Sorrow had 3D backgrounds.”
If I recall correctly, DoS only had 3D backgrounds in a few rooms in the Lost Village and the Pinnacle, as well as the central shafts of the Condemned Tower and Mine of Judgment. Unless you’re counting the speeding clouds that are copy-pasted in just about every room that shows the night sky, but those don’t exactly slay me. And ultimately, I’ll always take beautifully crafted 2D settings as seen in SotN (and now in PoR) over the 3D stuff.
I agree with your point about the need for cohesion when it comes to depicting environments in either the anime style of SotN and RoB or the more realistic style that debuted in DoS, though.
Now, now, don’t be so literal. It wasn’t really half — that was an exaggeration. The point is that I found Portrait’s backgrounds to be good, but a step backward.
I assume this means we’re still no closer to finding a less dubiously legal/expensive method of playing Rondo…although I’m sure Iga is sick of hearing about it and would put it out tomorrow if he could.
Also, which are these “certain retailers” offering that sweet Portrait of Ruin preorder package? Nothing shown for Play-Asia and I doubt that massive a package is a Gamestop/EB preorder. Or do you not know yet?
re: nevermind on point 1–I see you answered the question. I’m going to go reserve it now, kthnx!
“I’ve also been working on that copy of Dracula X I bought almost two months ago.”
“i got an incredibly strong sense of deja vu whilst reading this article annd looking at the last two screeenshots, like I’d dreamed this article somewhere before. but i guess JP does write a lot about castlevania.” Yes, like back in August.
Yes… I was working from the same screenshot files I had posted before. To demonstrate the wisdom of experience or whatever.
I have always though I’m a freak because I think this is a very average game and not a really outstanding Castlevania. I like Castlevania III for NES way much more.
^^ Everyone has their own tastes.
J. Montes (aka Deamentia) of Hudson says that Hudson is hard at work trying to get Rondo of Blood on the Virtual Console among other games.
After you mentioned picking up Rondo of Blood back at PAX or whenever, I followed on my extremely long-lived dream of playing the game followed followed suit. The whole game, from beginning to end, is sublime in it’s Castlevania perfection. I think I now know why they haven’t made any more classic castlevanias… They just about made the classic formula perfect, they had to break some new ground. Music, level design, visuals, gameplay, all totally awesome. It was crazy hard in a few places, though.
cartman414: I absolutely agree. It is a matter of taste. Also, I wish Ducktales could have become a great videogame franchise like Megaman or Castlevania since I think the NES Ducktales game is far more enjoyable than any Megaman or Castlevania game. But, yes, it is a matter of taste. Mine being good taste, of course.
I just hate how my GameCrazy won’t give a definite answer on if they will get the collectors set. A simple yes or no will do.
They might not know themselves. When I asked mine all they knew was what was printed on their notebook, which was ’20th Anniversey Pack’. It’s not really the employee’s fault. I’m trusting them for now, but I might try to talk a friend into ordering off of Gamestop just in case.
“The whole game, from beginning to end, is sublime in it’s Castlevania perfection. I think I now know why they haven’t made any more classic castlevanias… They just about made the classic formula perfect, they had to break some new ground. Music, level design, visuals, gameplay, all totally awesome. It was crazy hard in a few places, though.”
There was still a little room for improvement, namely going for more branching paths and alternate characters a la Dracula’s Curse, and enhancing the controls just a little more.
I always thought that the first level of the SNES Dracula X was based on the first level of Castlevania 3. I don’t think they “missed the point” at all.
No, what made SNES Drac X bad were the hallways filled with spear guards (the extra hard variety) and other similar cheap designs.
Y’know, I haven’t heard anything about this yet, and I doubt it’d be a terrrrible spoiler….Mr. Parish, is there a hard mode for Portrait of Ruin? Is there anything similar to NoSoul or NoUse from Aria of Sorrow, as well?
We keep asking about Portrait of Ruin here, sheesh. Anyway, do we have to throw down extra bank to get them Castlevania pre-order shwag? And that fifth character is probably another Konami character. I guess the Gradius ship.
The best thing about the SNES Dracula X is the fight with Dracula taking place on a series of evenly spaced platforms where if Dracula hit you, you’d be knocked into a hole and die instantly. That is unless you miraculously landed on one of the platforms.
Ooh, macrocephalic. Good word.
About the Portrait of Ruin bonus pack–apparently (at least with EB/Gamestop) you can only get it online, and it’s an extra 5 bucks plus tax and shipping. The brick and mortars only have the standard $34.99 available.
It’s good to see that you’re finally getting around to really playing Rondo. It still saddens me that it took you this long in the first place. When you announced that you first got it… well, let’s just say I am still in shock.
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