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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

*CRICKETS*

So yeah, I've been quieter than usual haven't I?
  I didn't forget this place, I've just been super busy believe it or not. Shocking I know...Me...Busy, but its true. 
Back to School time is always crazy at my house. Supplies and clothing to buy, nervous kids to reassure, sleep schedule to adjust to...I've had plenty of thoughts but no time to actually sit down and write. 

I'll be honest, School started yesterday and man, I'm beat. Gotta wake up an hour earlier than last year in the morning and make 2 separate pick up trips after school. Its gonna take me a while to adjust to it all. 

While I've been on radio silence I finally got myself a car with air conditioning which is a really big deal to me considering the temperature is 97 right now. Also got a bona fide gaming PC  YAY!!!! So I've been installing stacks of games on this thing, you know, so I can NOT play them like I do my console games.

I haven't bought many games lately...lets see...

Bought Castlevania HD the day it came out because well....I love Castlevania. Still kicking myself, what a waste of money. I hadn't intended to write much today but since I'm here...lets just do a mini review of Castlevania HD

CASTLEVANIA HARMONY OF DESPAIR


  What can I say? At least they gave it an appropriate title. Though if they REALLY wanted to get it right they should have named it "Discord and Frustration".
   First I will admit to not playing Multiplayer yet, though I feel that any game that has single player should be able to stand on its merits in single player and not use the "oh but its better in multiplayer" excuse. 
   Second, I will admit that I played the first stage only and will probably never play the thing again. Yes, I'm biased. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not angry and bitter about the fact that this is the second Castlevania game to be released in the past few years that I don't care for. (the first being Order of Ecclesia though I managed to actually play it 8 times in a row...Like I said, I love me some Castlevania)
   And Finally, I like a challenge, a slight challenge. If I have to replay the same section more than 10 times then I'm not playing it. Call me a wuss or a whiny gamer but I'm not one for going it on "Super crazy hard insane mode" on any game, I tend to start on normal and if all else fails I am NOT too proud to kick it on over to easy. Yes, I did indeed play DMC3 on Easy, but I redeemed myself by playing Bayonetta on Normal and starting it on Hard.
   To add to that I will admit that I really didn't care much for the Castlevania games that preceeded SOTN except for maybe Castlevania64....Reinhardt was cool. I like the whole pretty boy exploring the spooky castle thing. Not so thrilled with the sides-scrolling death wish of the older games.
   If after that you still feel my very biased opinion might have merit...then read on...
   As I said, I bought it the day it was released and actually sat there watching the little download bar...pathetic, I know...but the thought of playing a  Castlevania game made me giddy. I fired it up and was given a choice: who will I be? well, what are my choices? 

Alucard- Of course he's in this game, That names got almost as much mileage on it as his daddy's. Guaranteed sale if you mention his name.

Soma- Slowly he is climbing the Castlevania fame ranks. Who doesn't love yet another white haired protagonist? He's also got 2 games of his very own. Plus...he's kind of an extension of Alucard and Dracula considering that (THERE WILL BE A SPOILER IN THE NEXT SENTENCE!!!)he is Dracula's reincarnation (OK, SPOILER OVER YOU CAN READ AGAIN)

Jonathan and Charlotte- Yes, I realize those are 2 different people so maybe they deserve their own little section but if you've played Portrait of Ruin you can't think of one without thinking of the other: CHARLOTTE! JONATHAN! CHARLOTTE! JONATHAN! CHARLOTTE! JONATHAN!  Of all the recent Castlevania games I think that their Game is the most reviled, even more so than the two 3D horrors that were released on PS2.  The arguments range from hatred of the anime art style to the rehashing of levels during the second half (wth? it worked for SOTN. besides, pretty much all the side scrolling castlevania games since SOTN is a recycled mish-mash....and I love it!)


and finally...


Shanoa- Ahh...Shanoa, what can I say about her? While I totally dug her outfit and the fact that she was a "she", she also has the misfortune to be in the game I liked the least. I know a lot of people thought he Glyph system was fresh and new but...to me it was like a hokey version of Soma's soul system...only less interesting. While the first time  through I switched glyphs constantly  because everything seemed to suck, by my third playthrough I was basically using one set for everything. Then there is the biggest change...how they "mixed it up" with an overworld map. I didn't care for the world map crap. basically it just took longer to get where you were going. Most of the paths were completely linear and palette swaps of earlier areas, you had to go into each area twice and the castle was pretty weak. Then there is Shanoa herself. A non-likeable character given amnesia about 5 minutes into the game. Oh yeah, that really made her not be completely bland. Her Glyph-Absorbtion however was steeped in sex-appeal...so beautiful and bland...sounds about right I guess... I preferred that manic poor-man's Balthier Albus to Shanoa, at least he had personality.




So those are my choices? hmm...How about Maria? Juste? Julius? Richter? No? Yeah, they'll be DLC so they can milk the name.


 With the decided lack of fashion flair and white hair named Juste, I went with that other white haired pretty boy Soma (I really love that coat of his). Right off the bat I notice...There's a time limit! Well that sucks. When I open the menu the clock continues to run! That sucks even more. The controls are...how can I put this in G or at least PG rated terms? I zig when I try to zag and my character must be a heavy worlder (obscure Andromeda reference there) because jumping seems to be a major strain. double jumping gets me slightly higher than standing on a step stool. This is not looking good.


  Moving on I notice that i'm doing a lot of back-and-forth -ing. Not only is the game divided into timed levels but  you have to backtrack incessantly. Bad controls, backtracking, can it get worse? Oh yes it can!  You can only change your equipment, items and weapons at certain spots, and of course the clock continues to tick while you do so. 
  I died. I died a lot. I died a lot in the very first few rooms. After dying 5 times I switched to Alucard. He fared no better than Soma. about 5 rooms in I died the death of the uncoordinated...Falling on spikes while trying to jump on a swinging pendulum... Gritting my teeth in frustration I went with Jonathan for my next go-round. While he fared better than Alucard and Soma, only dying the spiked death 3 out of 6 times, He still wasn't working out for me.   Who's left? The chicks...! One I can't stand and the other was just a means to an end.
   I couldn't decide so I asked my daughter to pick. Not being a Castlevania fan she went with who was prettier, Shanoa. She wasn't pretty for long, I'll tell you that...She jumped better than the guys, her attacks were stronger than the guys, unfortunately she seems to be made of tissues and crackers. A breeze could knock out half her life. Of course, since I dislike the character I didn't spend too much time reviving her. I moved on to my final choice, Charlotte. 
   Poor little Charlotte, stuck as a sidekick in an underappreciated title... Used by Jonathan as his own personal ladder to get to higher ledges...On paper her weapon seems ridiculous....a book that opens up and stabs things with many weapons (paper-book....I'm a rip! ok..that pun went too far, sorry), in practice however, its pretty damn cool. Surprisingly I did the best with Charlotte, her controls were pretty accurate, her jump was kind of floaty  which was nice, the book cause adequate damage to enemies and her magic fireball attack was REALLY helpful; distance killing is always good.


   Did I make it to the end of the first level at least? Truthfully, no, not even close, but I came close to actually enjoying the game while playing as Charlotte!Jonathan! (I can't help it, they just belong together).


   Overall, I was disappointed. I was hoping for a new adventure, for a fun little jaunt with the characters I love. Instead it was a poor rehash of the worst elements of the last few titles. Its disjointed, uneven, limiting and frustrating. Perhaps it IS better in multiplayer, I don't know, but that still isn't an excuse for sloppy single player. This game feels..rushed and incomplete and obviously quality control was on vacation. For 400 points, I'd consider it a learning experience...for 800 points I'd consider it a waste....for 1200 points? its highway robbery, especially considering the DLC. What DLC? Do I know something you don't? No, but really, can there be any doubt that it will inevitably have DLC and that you will have to pay for it? I think I'll take my trusty DS out and play Dawn of Sorrow again, or hell, keep the Xbox on and just switch on over to SOTN.  Save your pennies and your points.






   














   




2 comments:

Jim said...

wow, quite a post.

and I agree that while computer gaming is the best some of the console games are just awesome.

I have not played a Castlevania for awhile and this one looks worthwhile.

many of the console games do seem to over use DLC.

Sihaya said...

Don't make the mistake I did. Try the demo first...wait...did you get an xbox? cause Castlevania is an Xbox360 exclusive.