There’s treasure everywhere

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.

17 thoughts on “There’s treasure everywhere

  1. Congrats! My biggest girlfriend-videogaming breakthrough was getting her interested in Kirby’s Epic Yarn by convincing her it was “like Super Mario Bros., but easier.”

    Also, I love the title of this post.

  2. I’ve forgotten quite a few of them, but there’s a moai statue bonus in the second loop. Ace!

  3. The closest thing I have for this, where a person finds something or succeeds due to fumbling around (sometimes intentionally), is the Homer Simpson.

    Just remembered something: you know how I once said, though not in the most inarticulate manner, that sometimes I’d end up thinking a song I’d heard would fit in a certain type of game? Well, I remember thinking “La Isla Bonita” by Madonna was a perfect tempo match for the Castlevania soundtrack.

  4. I thought sites like Castlevania Dungeon and Castlevania Realm pretty much detailed all the CV1 secret items available. Don’t tell me you don’t know about the secret Moai treasure that appears also on stage 2 and only on the second playthrough?

    • I’ve never looked up the bonus locations. I found them all through obsessive play and never considered checking a guide.

  5. that’s amazing man. My wife recently played Castlevania for the first time and loved it. Which blew my mind. She finds a lot of games “too hard” including something like Street Fighter II. But Castlevania (and even weirder, Ghosts N Goblins) she totally fell for and found them fun even if they were hard. It’s so totally awesome when I casual gamer finds the game that really clicks with them and hooks them.

    • Street Fighter II is too hard.

      I’m terrible at Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, but at least I get what I’m doing. No matter how many fighting games I try to play (outside of Smash Bros.), I find them completely incomprehensible.

  6. Have you introduced her to Symphony of the Night yet? That seems like it would be her sort of game if she likes the portable DS games.

  7. You should totally let her play TMNT II so we can finally know how to unlock Simon Belmont.

  8. I actually didn’t discover that exact secret until about two months ago when I played Castlevania on my new Retro Duo. Completely blew my mind.

  9. My favorite is the only 1-Up in the game, which is found by walking against a certain wall for about five seconds.

    I wonder how many people realize that all the arcane ducking and such in Simon’s Quest is just a repurposed mechanic from the first game.

    • I certainly had no idea. Before this, I thought the only secret items in Castlevania were the meat and weapon multipliers hidden in the walls.

    • The difference being that it wasn’t mandatory in the first Castlevania. I weep for anyone who owned Simon’s Quest but not Nintendo Power issue 2.

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