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
I'll be following along on the PSP version (the original, not the remake). I've played it before on the PSP and I didn't notice any of the problems Jeremy spoke of. I'll give it a spin soon and I'll let you know.
According to some, this game represents the pinnacle of the series.
That surprises me. Unless you hate Metroid/RPG elements but love graphics I don't see why this game would stand out particularly
That's the reason why I bought it, but this game proved the series isn't for me. I find the series/game stiff and tedious, I much prefer Ghouls'N Ghosts in the same genre.
What other games in the series have you played Simba? Obviously this game doesn't represent the Metroid influenced Castlevanias games at all (except graphically) so you shouldn't judge those based on Rondo. And for older games I would recommend the original, Castlevania 3 and Castlevania 4 all over this game, personally. I'd probably say go for 3 if you like a challenge.
I haven't heard many people call this game the pinnacle of the series, but I think it is sort of the "transition" game between old linear Castlevania and new Metroidvania, so people who like elements of both will probably love this one.
I have been stuck at stage 6 for awhile now. Well, I was stuck one day, and never really went back yet. As long as we are going back to it, anyone have any hints for the boss rush? I can get all the way to the last one (I think?) using Maria but I never finished it.
The fact that it was a Holy Grail for many for so long many have inflated its reputation, but I disagree that it does nothing that stands out except for the graphics or music. I do think there is something to be said for it still being an action-platformer without RPG elements, and for stripping away many of the issues of the old games. And again, the branching paths are pretty impressive. I don't know too many games from that time that did that, except Demon's Crest.
I'll go so far as to say I've never heard anyone call it the pinnacle, until today. Usually I hear that praise heaped on either 3, Super or Symphony of the Night, depending on the generation of preference.
I'm stoked this was the choice, guys. I've started on it, but haven't gotten particularly far. Plus, the Wii is in my bedroom, so it's a convenient one to play before bedtime. Looking forward to it.
I like it a lot--personally, it's one of my favorite Castlevanias. It feels like a slick mix of Castlevania 3 and 4, with some really cool, ambitious ideas and--amidst a few branching paths--good ol' linear level design. Ahh, just how I like my Castlevania!
@kriswright Man, I love having the Wii in my bedroom, too. But most often these days it's downstairs on the big screen TV so everyone can play Wii Fit, Wii Sports and other multiplayer games comfortably. I've been doing a lot of handheld gaming right before bed.
Fine, FINE! Jeremy Parish calls it the pinnacle of the series! And since he loves the series so much and is cited so often on Wikipedia, I figured he's sort of the closest thing to an authority on Castlevania.
I started from the beginning, it's been so long since I last played it. Probably a good thing, too: I'm getting my ass kicked. I'm really not sure if I like playing as a Belmont... any of them. So stiff! Even though Richter is marginally more agile than some of his ancestors and descendants.
One very important thing that I forgot to mention in the OP, and it's rather vital if you want to enjoy the game at all: there is this orb that will appear in the sky every time you kill a boss, and then fall down. You have to jump and catch it in mid-air before it falls to the ground. Anyone who does not do this is completely missing the point of playing old games and should turn in his gamer card immediately.
Anyway, I'm in Stage 3 right now, and I remember it giving me trouble unless I was using Maria. The enemies sure dish out a lot of damage, more than I remembered. And the Medusa heads, argh!
One benefit of choosing this particular Castlevania game that I had forgotten about: it's uncensored, baby! It's a BIBLE spinning around me, kids, not some lame Magic Book. And it's a cross I threw through that monster's face, dammit.
edit - This is somewhat relevant. I hope the pic shows, not sure if you can hotlink from Something Awful. They probably turn it into gay porn or something. Tell me if it's the case!
Got to Stage 5 boss before game over'd. Pretty enjoyable so far, more so than the other old-school Vanias. Richter moves a bit better than his ancestors and the challenge has been pretty fair for the most part.