I’ve been pretty big fan of the castlevania genre for about as long as i’ve known what “video games were.
almost never have i been disappointed by a good Castlevania titled game, whether it came on the nintendo, the xbox, or even the nintendo DS, With the possible exception of simon’s quest there hasn’t been a game in this series that i’ve really seen as a let down, again yes, simon’s quest was at best a cruel trick designed for the seemingly soul purpose of causing the player to break a controller over his or her knee and then get another only for it to be lead to the same fate, but still the story was good, especially among many games where a story meant nothing as long as your character could run and jump and hit things.
Disregarding that title there have been some really great titled released under this great name and pretext , featuring largely the same characters but always under a different pretext and always witha great purpose, with so many great titles under this series’ belt it was hard. well i thought it was going to be hard… as i was rummaging through a big pile of my old games trying to get them all for a picture to illustrage this post, i stumbled upon the disk of what was the clear winner for me. A single glimpse at the disk of my old favorite among some really great games, and i had decided that this post was going to be about the game ” Castlevania, the Course of Darkness” This had been the first game in the series with fully orchestrated music, voiced cutscenes, and generally speaking the level of visual detail necessary to fully illustrate some really amazing characters.
The story in this is so great, that i think it was one of very few early -mid 2000’s games that really could have survived a movie transformation, but i digress, i was in love with this game, but as i look around the internet i saw that this title didn’t get the exposure and attention I truly felt it deserved, so i would like to take this time to just give a few reasons i thought this game was incredible and really deserved much more respect than ” just another Castlevania game”
The characters- For the first time Konami Entertainment had a medium that could present full TV quality images, and that can be both a blessing and a curse for game developement, in the past 16 bit era very little detail was needed to given to a character as it played the game, even in the nintendo ds, the onscreen models were small enough that not much detail needed to be covered. In this however full in depth characters had to be created with voices, motivations, and movements that fit them and the job they did was quite exemplary.
Voices- Again a first for Konami’s dealings with Castlevania, and they NAILED it, every voice is this game was believable, appropriate and really gave ambiance to the character interactions, and i just have to point out Isaac Belmont’s laugh, an evil laugh that to this day is fairly easily my favorite of any medium, even surpassing my closest runner up Mark Hamill’s Joker with a fair margin, It captures the insanity and desire of Isaac so well that I feel this is what truly makes the character the villian.
the soundtrack- Castlevania has always been known for its iconic soundtracks, and this is FAAAAR from an exception, if you played this game and didn’t find yourself at least bobbing your head and smiling from the soundtrack in the abandoned castle, i can only call you impressively apathetic to the influence of music on the ambience of a gaming experience.
the environments- The environments in this title are all unique and clearly different. every town or location you travel to has it’s own unique look and feel that i think truly captures what this is, an adventure.
the inocent devils- I wouldn’t be exaggerating if i said that i found the devil forging was absolutely incredible, and surpassing even pokemon for my enjoyment in training them. Between the different evolution paths, skils, and the amount of incorporation so much so that some puzzles even required you to have a certain evolution in your posession to pass them really made this great fun, also to be mentioned is the “generation system” where innocent devils would only creat devil shards at a level higher than their parents, this meant that you had to be particular about using the highest gen possible for maximum power, i spent hours creating different species from diferent generations of these creature to end up with some truly monstrous beings, including one iytei who’s aura blast was so powerful it could single handedly finish boss rush mode all the way up to isaac’s final battle and dracula’s second form.
last but not least the gameplay- You play as hector, a Devil forge-master, with the power to creat innocent devils to aid you in combat. you have the usual hack and slash skills to use, but with the proper breeding you can control both yourself and your innocent devil at the same time to create some truly AWESOME chains and combos. A battle mechanic that i think was really unique at the time, and extensively enjoyable.
Combined i think these items came together to make what i consider one of the best games released for the Xbox console that i still to this day go back and replay.
Do you have any games you hold in a special place? please comment, share your story.
The only thing better than playing your favorite games is introducing your friends to them and watching them enjoy it as much as you did.