Sunday, September 12, 2021

Game 36: Akumajō Dorakyura: Dāku Naito Pureryūdo/Castlevania Legends

I know what you're thinking. "Why are you covering this game instead of Aguri Suzuki F-1 Super Driving which you clearly missed after Agro Soar?" And my answer is "ROM sets are weird, okay?"

Anyway, Castlevania. If you know me, you know my screen name is VastleCania...and yet.

I don't really like Castlevania all that much? Well, I like the ones that purists hate - Aria of Sorrow, Castlevania 64, etc. But old-school Castlevania makes me want to chew my own teeth out. 

I can recognize them as objects worthy of respect but they hit all the wrong buttons for me personally! I want to like them but I am just not very patient, and learning the exact buttons I need to hit to win is just not for me. That's why I was a bit hesitant to talk about this game.
So I surveyed my friends who had a bit more like and background for Castlevania about what the general opinion on Castlevania Legends is. Turns out...nobody's played it.

This is great news! I can say whatever the hell I want and nobody can tell me shit.

Pictured: me not getting told shit

Castlevania Legends is technically a prequel. It's about the first Belmont, Sonia, going to murder the hell out of a count named...Olaf.

Wait, no sorry, I meant Dracula. You know, the vampire?

Anyway, it's firmly in the lineage of the Game Boy Castlevania games, which is to say it's much closer to the first game than anything, though it does introduce a few twists.

Twist number 1: the moon is god damn huge

Primarily, this game does not have subweapons, Instead, Sonia gets Soul weapons, which are completely different. You get them for beating bosses, and you can switch back and forth between them at will. Cool huh?

It also has branching paths in the levels. And by branching paths, I mean occasional dead ends. Slightly less exciting, but at least there are...secret items that lead to an alternate ending, I guess? But only in some of the dead ends. 

How did Nintendo of America let this upside-down cross get past their censors??? Think of the children.

I dunno. It's Castlevania? It's a middling one at best. It's better than Castlevania Adventure I think?

So here's how my playthrough went:

The first level really knocked me around! The enemies are no big deal, but there are booby traps holy shit. Specifically, there are candles that, when whipped, opened a big hole in the ground and dumped me into it.  And the hole is filled with zombies!!!


The first time this happened I thought it was just cruel trolling because the zombies keep respawning. I killed like, 10 of them but eventually they killed me instead and I had to start the level over.

It turns out the trick is to crouch underneath either of the low platforms and just keep whipping. Eventually the zombies will stop spawning, and you'll be unceremoniously teleported back out of the trap. Pretty ineffective Zombie Pit all things considered.

There were also spooooky ghooosts:

The Enigma of Castlevania Fault

Plus your standard repertoire: bats, zombies, fleamen, weird leech things that drop down from trees, dudes with spears, etc. Nothing too amazing.

I was taking my time poking around, and even found a secret item, but these levels are loooong, so by the time I got to the boss I was nearly out of time.

Luckily for me, the boss was really hard and I died before I could run out of time, which brings up another tricky thing about these games. 

See, you can upgrade your whip twice. The first seems to double the damage, and the second adds a projectile. These are really important upgrades! In the Castlevania Adventure, you would lose them as soon as you were hit, which is pretty cruel. But in this game, you at least keep them until you die, which is nicer.

Is that you Bruce? (this is a batman reference (by dc comics (bamtan)))

But it's still very much a "poor get poorer" situation that, when you die, you're stuck facing the boss with the floppy piece of leather you start with, And I don't like hard games!!!

Still, the game has fairly generous checkpointing and it's better than starting the level all over again. Which I have to do anyway because I run out of lives, but the next time I whip that boss's ass!! Eat it, Batman.

Time for level 2:

I've got a question I've been DYING to AXE you!!! SKULL me a favor! VAMPIRES!!

Now I'm in a mansion. A mansion filled with skulls. And these are no ordinary skulls, these are BIG MOTHER SKULLERS just floating around and chompin. Technically they act a lot like boos from Super Mario Bros. 3 with the added complication that they only move when you are walking away from them. So if you stand still, so do they. It's neat!

Also, killing the first boss finally gives me a soul weapon, meaning all those hearts that I collected in level 1 are finally useful! It's a tornado:

Let me AXE you a question or I will CLOCK you upside the head! Okay that worked better this time

For some reason, that tornado...stops time? Timenado. It acts just like the clock from earlier Castlevania games, in fact. It's cool, I guess, I dunno this game doesn't excite me at all. It's very much A Game.

Another weird twist: that "B" meter at the bottom is not the boss's health. If you hit A and B at the same time, Sonia goes Super Saiyan and turns invincible and very fast for about 10 seconds. You can only do this once per stage/life, so use it wisely.

After figuring this out, I saw a great opportunity to use it: a door behind some spikes I could never cross normally.

bottom text

So I turned on my invincibility and walked right across. The secret I discovered was that the door doesn't frickin open for some reason. So I had to kill myself on the spikes to get out of there. Cool! 

I love it!

And that was my last life! I was offered the chance (by Dracula??) to continue.

DracuYES or DracuNO, you'll never DracuFEAT me!!

I declined, and turned the game off.

So there you go! Castlevania Legends: It's a game! I don't have any strong feelings about it one way or the other which is maybe the worst thing I can say about it. It seems like a game I could finish if I cared enough, which I don't, and it was mostly inoffensive, except when it was offensive.

Next time: The game I said in the first paragraph!! Go scroll up if you forgot.

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