A week in the making! In this scary Negative World Podcast episode, Alaska_Gamer talks about the disturbing Alien VS Predator 2, Guillaume talks about the spooky first NES Castlevania as well as the eerie Castlevania X: Rondo of Blood, and Anand discusses his grotesque Nintendogs + Cats adventures.
The gang then talks about Western RPGs turning into action games in order to sell better, the necessity of game critics, and predictable or unpredictable enemy patterns in old school action games. Featuring bonus talk about cooperative action!
As usual, the theme music comes from Negative World's owner and ghoul, Zero. Those creepy notes you hear are coming to you from beyond the grave. Also, Castlevania.
I think I messed with with the title, here. It's meant to point out that we talk about scary games and that the podcast accidentally coincides with Halloween. But I should have said "accidentally topical" in that case, right?
Topic 1: I'm a bit lost when hearing about games like Alpha Protocol, I've never heard of it before. I've heard of Mass Effect but only have a vague idea what western RPGs are all about. I don't think any games of that type have appeared on a Nintendo system?
Topic 2: The gaming media does not really have a big role in my gaming life anymore like it used to. I now rely heavily (like > 90%) on coming to Negative World and discussing games and people's recommendations here rather than going to big review sites. I never visit the old site many of us flocked away from, but I do check out Nintendo World Report sometimes, primarily because I've come to know the staff over there from listening to their podcasts.
Yes, Sir Master Sephiroth has been writing excellent in-depth reviews for the Metroidvania games on Nintendo handhelds!
Funny how Guillaume mentioned Anand and Alaska Gamer causing an implosion because they both enjoy talking over the other person. It does make for a more difficult listen, to be honest.
I'm a bit lost when hearing about games like Alpha Protocol, I've never heard of it before. I've heard of Mass Effect but only have a vague idea what western RPGs are all about. I don't think any games of that type have appeared on a Nintendo system?
Nope, I don't think so. But here's hoping, with the Wii U...
Frankly though not getting Alpha Protocol wasn't such a big loss. I stand by what I said: if you're going to make an RPG, make it play like an RPG. If you're going to make an action game, make it play like an action game. Because I know what RPGs are like, I know why I can put a shotgun to someone's face, pull the trigger, and miss. I understand that it's dictated by stats and dice rolls. But they hide that fact, stupidly, and Johnny Action probably just thinks the game is broken.
Excellent podcast @Guillaume, and thanks for the shout out!
With regards to your A.I. topic and how you seem to understand it better as an adult, I was thinking that it could be all of those years of training. I'm betting most people here are like me, where they were gaming before they were talking (Intellivision for me). Therefore, just like decades of practice made Michael Jordan a basketball god, maybe decades of practice has made us "gaming gods." We probably have much faster reflexes, highly developed muscle memory, and a better understanding of movements and patterns in videogames, among other things, than our younger versions. All of this allows us to go into "Zen" mode much more easily, which allows us to better control the action on the screen. And just like Micheal, the years have made us wiser with regards to how to play a game intelligently instead of haphazardly.
Surprised to not hear you weigh in on the action rpg topic with Xenoblade, panda. Do you think it's compromising anything for being what it is? Was it that you don't think it's actiony enough for it to be considered along these lines?
Anand put me in this interrogaty mood. It should wear off soon.
Xenoblade might do at least a couple things anand doesn't like, like high level enemies only being beatable if you grind enough (I think Xenoblade's window for do-able fights is like 5 levels? Otherwise you miss too much for anything to happen).
I listened to the podcast on my way to work today. (and various other places I drove to today as well - don't worry, I don't have a two hour commute to work!) Great show, you guys.
I just wanted to pipe in on the Castlevania discussion near the beginning:
1.) The Japanese name for the series is Akumajō Dracula. It basically translates to "Demon Castle Dracula" or "Devil's Castle Dracula" - depending on who you ask. It's in reference to the fact that the game takes place almost entirely in Dracula's Castle, and the fact that the castle itself is a demon. Alucard makes reference to the fact that the castle isn't just brick and mortar in Symphony of the Night. When he meets up with Maria, she mentions how she's getting lost in the halls. Alucard tells her that the castle is a "demon of chaos" and has the ability to take many forms. Every time the castle is resurrected along with Dracula, it takes a slightly different form. That's how Konami can kind of get away with making the stages different in each game, despite it all technically taking place in the same castle.
It also leads credence to the idea that the castle is itself a demon, or at least of unholy origin, because the sub-weapon Holy Water explodes and bursts into flames when thrown on the ground. Holy Water would only do that when touching something evil. It may sound like a strange theory, but consider the fact that in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, the sub-weapon Holy Water does *NOT* burst into flame when thrown, and that game does *NOT* take place in Drac's castle. .... kind of interesting the think about, if nothing else.
2.) On a totally different note, the name "Castlevania" sounds awesome. It's not silly or stupid. Yes, it's totally made up of course (I suppose Konami of America felt a little shy about putting "Demon Castle" on a video game) but it's totally sweet.
3.) Castlevania was originally thought of to be a continuation of "Dracula" by Bram Stoker. It was also intended to be a "movie-like" experience - notice how in the first three games on the NES, the title screen has those film slides across the screen? Little square holes that you'd see on the side of film? It was supposed to be like an interactive (monster) movie. Thankfully, the series has become more "game" than "movie" over the years. Probably because Konami was smart enough to put Iga in charge, and Kojima had nothing to do with it, lol.
4.) In the beginning of Rondo of Blood, when Death "greets" you on the carriage, he says: "Time to test your strength" when he shoots that big attack at Richter, and when Death leaves, he says "Next time, it won't be so easy." Just wanted to let ya know!
5.) Was Castlevania really *that* brown? It was more somber than other games around that time I suppose, but it was still rather bright (and gaudy) - mostly due to technical limitations, lol.
I do enjoy a good Castlevania discussion! Keep up the good work, fellas!
Yeah, I was totally wrong about the meaning of Akumajou Dracula. I was thinking Aku = evil, so curse. WRONG.
That Holy Water theory is kind of trippy. I would NEVER imagine that developers of the time would do something like that on purpose, though.
I've also always liked the name Castlevania. It might be kind of dumb when you break it down, but it had a certain mystique and aesthetic appeal. Like "Wolfenstein". And, hey, at least it wasn't originally named after the Devil, like the Nintendo game.
And I also totally forgot about the film grain. That probably explains the color palette, as well. That series actually WAS pretty impressive in terms of presentation and theme, now that I think about it. Musically, too, of course.
By the way, Guillaume, I have another possible reason why Castlevania might not have clicked with your younger self - the fixed jump, perhaps? A lot of people hate having a fixed jump with no momentum control, especially after growing up with Mario. I kind of like it. It feels arcade-y, and reminds me of Rastan, Strider, Ghosts'n'Goblins, etc.
@Renjaku Omigod, definitions are so important! Otherwise, you could be unknowingly arguing apples vs. oranges (but no one will ever realize it)!
Life is a roundtable.
I ask questions to force myself to stop talking.
@roykoopa64 Actually, I realized halfway through that I couldn't even hear Alaska interjecting when I was talking. Some kind of connection issue. That's why it seems like I was continuing to talk over him. (Sorry, Alaska.) Happy Birthday!
I thought I might be the only one who seldom visits gaming media sites. I do have a good feeling about Nintendo World Report, though, because they cover a lot of Nintendo-affiliated stuff that most sites won't. That's a valuable service. Yet another review of the latest Blockbuster? Not so much.
@Renjaku If running away/avoiding the area for a bit is a viable option, then maybe it's not such a big problem. It's funny when you wander into a cave and get mutilated by some high level creature. But not when you have to pass through the cave to continue the game.
Even though I seldom play RPGs, I love talking about them, because their appeal is so fascinating and mysterious to me, much like cars, spectator sports, and modern jazz. It's also why Shiren the Wanderer fascinates me, being an RPG that I enjoy (probably because it's so non-representative of the genre).
@Guillaume Honestly, it always seemed lazy to rely on 'dice rolls' in a game, besides in a D&D game, perhaps. It seems especially lazy to use strict D&D-type rules when you're not even making a D&D game. One thing you can say about Japanese RPG devs is that their rulesets certainly aren't married to a strict, archaic format (with the exception of DQ, and such). I don't really care for Tri-Ace's games, but their battle systems are fucking CRAZY.
@sirmastersephiroth Before the recent retro explosion, I kind of felt that I was a WORSE gamer than when I was a kid, just because of the waning level of challenge. But the VC has shown me that I can now beat the games that I never even conceived of beating in my youth. A lot of that is probably patience, though. Patience and suspend states.