I’ve been more excited for the PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini (or PC Engine Mini, or TurboGrafx-16 Mini depending where you get it from) than any of the other “mini” consoles that have appeared over the course of the last few years.
The reason for this is that I know very little about the PC Engine platform as a whole. I know things in passing, from second-hand information and from occasional enthusing in multi-format games magazines from the ’80s and ’90s — but I’ve never experienced its library for myself.
With the PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini offering a fine curated selection of Japanese and Western releases all loaded up and ready to go, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to start exploring. So let’s do that!
Continue reading PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini: First Impressions
I’ve been continuing to explore Super Castlevania IV recently, and a few things about my experiences have got me thinking.
Specifically, it’s got me thinking about whether or not the concept of playing a game in the “correct” way really exists — and if that’s the same thing as experiencing the game in the same manner and the same context as its original release.
This is a question that is particularly relevant to modern rereleases of retro titles such as Super Castlevania IV, so let’s ponder it together today!
Continue reading Super Castlevania IV: Playing A Game “Right”
One thing I feel like we’ve lost somewhat over the procession of console generations we’ve lived through is a feeling of “uniqueness” for each platform.
Sure, Nintendo still does its own thing and its games are immediately recognisable, but I’m talking more about a very clear look, sound and feel of games on a specific platform; partially a product of the hardware itself, and partially that of the companies specifically choosing to produce work for that platform in particular.
I hadn’t really spent a lot of time with Super Castlevania IV for Super NES until recently, but within about five minutes of delving into it in earnest thanks to the Castlevania Anniversary Collection for Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and PC, I’m absolutely convinced that it is the perfect example of what a SNES game really “is”.
Continue reading Super Castlevania IV: The Quintessential SNES Game
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas!
In 2017, the Second Chance award related to a game that I initially bounced off, but later came back to and found myself having a great deal of fun with. This year, it’s something a little different.
In the last few years, we’ve seen huge growth in the fields of remasters, remakes and re-releases of classic games — attempts to give games from years gone by a second chance at success. Sometimes these are a welcome sight; at other times, they feel like a cynical cash-grab.
Did anything fall into the former category this year? Well, yes, as it happens…
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: The Second Chance Award
One thing that I’ve been gradually learning over the course of the early Castlevania games that I’ve played so far is that it doesn’t always pay to be greedy.
Indeed, sometimes it’s in your best interests to forego potential rewards in favour of just proceeding onwards more safely. After all, you can’t make good use of those rewards if you’re dead, can you?
Castlevania III plays with this idea quite a lot, and it presents a few takes on it over the course of its early stages.
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – #2
I have, as they say, been looking forward to this.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is not a game I have any experience with whatsoever, aside from one critical aspect: its music. Specifically, back when the PS1 was current, I had an original copy of Symphony of the Night (which, believe me, I severely regret getting rid of now!) that came with a soundtrack CD. On that CD was a single track from Castlevania III — or more accurately, its Famicom incarnation, Akumajō Densetsu. It left quite an impression on me.
Now, thanks to the release of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, I finally get to experience Castlevania III as truly intended. And I’m very excited about it.
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – #1
I finished Simon’s Quest! Yes, indeed, even after my podcasting buddy and good friend Chris Caskie suggested that I wouldn’t be able to stick it out to the end… I did!
It wasn’t even entirely down to stubbornness or a desire to prove him wrong. I actually enjoyed the whole experience. Well, all right, most of the experience. I didn’t love the bits where progression was dependent on doing something arbitrary in an equally arbitrary location, and the three bosses in the game were all complete garbage, being both ridiculously easy and mechanically uninteresting… but aside from that, I had a great time.
Let’s review what I’ve learned from my experiences, then.
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – #3
One of the games in Konami’s Castlevania Anniversary Collection that I was most interested to dig into was Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.
I say this with the full knowledge that it has a bit of a reputation as being one of the least well-regarded Castlevania titles out there — but that was, in part, why I was curious to check it out for myself.
The other reasons I was keen to explore it was that the very concept and ambition of it intrigued me — and it’s one of the few early-era Castlevania titles that I’ve never, ever played before at all. So let’s take a first look!
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – #1
Last time around, we looked at how Castlevania’s overall mechanics and sense of game design can be traced forward to technical action games such as From Software’s popular titles.
Today, I wanted to focus on some other important and distinctive aspects of this original NES installment: specifically the platforming component, and the boss fights.
All of the elements we’ll have talked about by the end of today combine together to create the distinctive experience that is Castlevania — not just for this first game, but for much of the early series.
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania – #2
One of the nice things about revisiting old games from a modern perspective is the fact that you can see how certain genres have evolved over time… and sometimes seemingly morphed into different things altogether.
The original Castlevania is a great example of this. Far from being your common-or-garden everyday mascot platformer that we saw a fair bit throughout the 8- and 16-bit home console eras, Castlevania provided an experience that was altogether its own thing, immediately recognisable and immensely influential.
Atmospheric, idiosyncratic and consistently challenging, it’s a game that still holds its own today — just don’t expect an easy ride!
Continue reading Delving Into Castlevania – #1