Thoughts on the older castlevania games?
I’ve played Castlevania 1 and 3. I beat CV1, and I’m stuck on this river/waterfall part in CV3. What I’ve gotta say is, there is no game I’ve played that requires quite as much intense focus as CV3. The game is constantly throwing things at you as you go, and requiring you to commit extremely hard to every button press you make. You need to jump at exactly the right points, you need to jump at exactly the right angle, at the right times, or you will fall to your death. You need to whip exactly when enemies are at the right range. You need the right powerups, need to use them at the right times and absolutely not whip a candle and just grab whatever comes out, because you might replace your level 2 bottle with a level 1 cross, which sucks.
Classic Castlevania finds its depth through level arrangements that force you into enemies in ways that synergize with their movement and attack patterns, giving you slight chances to overcome them. It has enemies work together in ways that are tricky to deal with, often exposing you in the attempt to fight off one. It’s almost always throwing multiple things at you. Like in the early levels of Castlevania 3 you get medusa heads and platforms which flip if jumped on. You get stairs you need to walk down onto skeletons throwing bones up at you (stairs which lock your movement much like a ladder you cannot jump off of). Sure, you only get 3 jump paths, but the level layouts stress the difference between those 3 much more than most games with more flexible jump arcs. The distance of the jump is tuned to require you to walk partway off of blocks as you make the jump, then they’ll throw in a ghost following you around to make the jump even harder or more stressful. Many of the bosses and enemies are simple, but because you spend so long on each attack, it’s a strong commitment in order to deal damage. It’s a question of whether you can get that hit in or it’s unsafe. Because of the restrictions on movement, enemies frequently came at you from places that were difficult to hit, such as above your head or from below you, or in the case of medusa heads, both. One arrangement has an enemy on a platform one block lower than you, requiring you to find a space in its back and forth movement and sword thrusts to move down in order to attack it, but then they stick crumbling blocks at the point you need to drop down. The whole game loves to be an asshole in this way.
It is VERY MUCH like a 2d form of Dark Souls, and I don’t do the Dark Souls comparisons lightly, the games feature very similar characteristics, strong commitment to actions, aggressive level designs and enemy placements. Later games in the Castlevania series even got a nonlinear structure like Dark Souls, but unfortunately their level design had grown thin, and the concept of commitment wasn’t held with as much regard anymore. I feel like Order of Ecclesia was the game that finally got the whole newschool and old school castlevania formula together in one game