The Castlevania franchise has a rich history and is dear to the heart of many gamers. For this retro game club, we chose to play Rondo of Blood, a game which had previously been denied to the North American audience and came out on the PC Engine (the Japanese equivalent of the unsuccessful Turbo Graphx CD). The game fetches over $100 on Ebay, but thanks to the Virtual Console we can all get it for $9 in all its untranslated, imported glory.
According to some, this game represents the pinnacle of the series. It does seem to take a few steps backward as it loses some moves from the SNES game that came before it, for instance the ability to swing the whip in other directions than right in front of you, but your character remains one of the more agile Belmonts, being able to jump on and off stairs and other feats like that.
The most striking improvement, however, is the game's non-linearity. You may fall into pits in this game, but rather than fall to your death, you will simply fall to a lower level, an alternate course, often with its own boss waiting for you at the end. Some paths are easier than others, so choose wisely.
You also have to, over the course of the game, save three damsels in distress, trapped inside Dracula's Castle. I have to assume this is in order to get a better ending, although... there might be more to it...
The game offers beautiful 16 bit graphics and a fantastic soundtrack. We are in for a treat as apparently, the VC version of the game is one of the best ways to experience it (though PSP owners can also follow along). According to 1up: "The emulation errors that plagued VC's earliest TurboGrafx-16 releases are gone, so this version of the game is colorful, crisp, pixel-perfect, and sounds great. The PSP port was frankly lousy, with muddy color and off-kilter sound. Even the original PC Engine version looks crummy on an HDTV. But here on Virtual Console, it looks and sounds and plays perfectly. This is the definitive edition of the game, or as close to one as we'll ever see."
Why not add Rondo of Blood to your collection, and indicate you are currently playing it? And don't forget to rate it when you're done!
List of Awesome A list paying tribute to all the brave warriors who play the game to completion as Richter
DAMN IT. It's a terrible level and you're a bad person for liking it.
I already got the other prisoners though, so that's the last one I need. Then I'll...beat the game again? Does something special happen? An extra stage? Tougher boss? Guess I'll find out. Then I'll go through with Maria, I guess.
EDIT: I just read your spoilers and realized THAT ISN'T STAGE 5' THAT WAS 4'. Thanks for making me play the worst stage ever another five times looking for something that isn't there! AAAAAHHHHH
@Guillaume & @nate38 Finally finished stage 5'. I took the lower path. I was disappointed to see that, at the end, it jumped to Stage 6 with the 5 Pronged Boss Battle with Shaft & friends. I'll have to go back to finish the upper path.
^ Yeah, Maria's double-jump ability really destroys any challenge the game may have posed. Her "birds" attack is super-strong, and I feel she has like, impossible control over her jumps, even in mid-air.
Oh my god that wasn't even...Maria just steamrolled through the game in nothing flat. It's not even fair! LOL even the castle crumbles for Maria when it didn't for Richter! She is just stupid overpowered!
Anyway yeah, glad this game got picked for the first RGC in a while. Far and away my favorite old school Castlevania now. I wonder if Dracula X SNES will ever hit the VC...
Stage 4 was pretty challenging, what with the spikes, the Axe Armors, and various hazards.
But then I get to the boss, and it's not too hard! Especially compared to the previous boss. I beat the boss: Flying Skull with Bloody Tears and a kissing woman stealing my hearts. Cool! Oh, her name is 'Carmilla'...
Stage 5 was not too bad either, if you know what you're doing. The start of the level may seem daunting until you realize you can just plow through.
The boss was kind of tough: Death! And how cool is his final form when he gets down on the ground and fights you one-on-one, like the ninja he is.
Just finished the game once again, with Richter Belmont without getting hit once in the final battle (it's terribly easy). This time, though, I had all maidens and paths open. The ending is slightly different. When you are traveling back home on the carriage, the faces of all four maidens appear at the top, one by one.
Maria's ending is also different. In this one, you actually see Castlevania destroyed; go figure.
Don't count me as having finished it with Maria. I still have to do a playthourh as her. I'll post again when I finish it.
Nice job, guys! I just played a ton of the game yesterday and can proudly say I've finally beaten the game with Richter, and gotten 100% completion.
On the first playthrough of this, I was stuck on Shaft's Ghost for the longest time for some reason. I think playing through the rest of the game again got my Castlevania skills back in order. Stage 5' was a tremendous pain in the butt though--two paths, both equally evil. One was a massive test of your combative skills, the other was all platforming, and both began with an obnoxious pier level.
Overall, I really enjoyed the game. It's clear that there was a ton of love put into it, given the level of detail that went towards creating a compelling experience full of surprises. Whenever I see stuff like the decomposed body in the room before the minotaur (the one sitting in the chair that you can whip), it's clear to me that the developers put their best foot forward. The gameplay is classic Castlevania, taking pretty much the best aspects of the series and working around that. I really liked the use of sub-weapons here--they all felt very useful and possibly the most balanced of the classic series. The Axe is larger and does more damage, the Dagger is quicker and has more range, the Holy Water creates a moving wave (and you can also do damage with the bottle throw itself) and the Cross--which was always the ultimate OP weapon--is about the same here, but not quite as OP since everything else got a boost. The Bible is a solid new addition, as are the ultimate attacks.
The platforming is excellent, and I enjoyed the branching paths here more than in Castlevania 3, since there's a sort of primitive map/level select here (in CV3, I can never really keep in mind which paths I took in previous playthroughs). But yeah, there are minor challenges/puzzle elements to keep the player alert and looking for the secret paths (like not falling through the floor in some Medusa Head sections). The combat is equally great, with tons of enemies requiring different strategies. And there are few moments where the game actually gets cheap (parts of 5' admittedly drove me crazy).
I would like an option to exit an already-beaten level though, and I think Maria should've only been playable after you defeat Dracula once. She has a ridiculous number of advantages over Richter.
I could go on about the cool throwbacks (like in level 6) and exciting rogue's gallery of bosses (including a succubus that snogs Richter or Maria [!] to drain them of hearts), but I'll leave it at that. It's a great game, especially when I was expecting something on the audio/visual level of Bonk's Adventure (the only other TG-16 game I own). Rondo of Blood is so far ahead of that, it's not even funny. It's my second-favorite Castlevania, behind Super Castlevania IV. In fact, I think I'll go play that one next.
Currently fighting Shaft. Was getting stuck on The Mummy but now I started getting up in his face hiding in the Turtle Shell and it was no problem. I've only tussled with Frankenstein once and died then had stop playing. Should beat Shaft next session I would imagine.
In stage 5 I had more problems getting to the ship than I did fighting Death (I'm using Maria). I finally realized I needed to stop hesitating for hearts and just rush through quickly. Otherwise I'd get hit by a skull or by the long range weapon the enemies on the platforms use.
I'm pretty much rubbish at this game but I'm having a great time.
EDIT: Had to give my Max avatar a rest while I show the TG-16 some love.
Just started, made it through level 1. I picked up Maria in level 2, but I got whooped by the boss (was doing awful until I realized too late that the whip did more damage than the Holy Water). How many characters are there to find?