Games Inbox: What is the best Castlevania game?

The Monday Inbox continues its appraisal of the most recent Nintendo Direct, as one reader has some questions about Shadowrun Trilogy.

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Birthday surprise
Just found out that it was the 35th anniversary of Castlevania on Sunday, which I should’ve have anticipated as it’s also the 35th of Metroid this year and those two games came out very close to each other. The first Castlevania wasn’t a Metroidvania, but the MSX2 computer version that came out a month later was starting to edge that way. It’s all very complicated but I find it fascinating how the two games came out at the same time and had very similar ideas.

I think generally Castlevania is better known than Metroid, even though the best Metroids are regarded as better than any of Konami’s games. The obvious answer of which is best is usually Symphony Of The Night but I actually think it’s Rondo Of Blood on the PC Engine, or maybe Aria Of Sorrow on the Game Boy Advance. Which means that it did have an anniversary celebration of sorts as both games are in the new Castlevania Advance Collection (kind of, Dracula X is basically a dumbed down Rondo Of Blood).

The bigger question than which is best though is when there’s finally going to be a decent new game, which is much harder to answer. I really hope Konami has got something in the oven, but I won’t be holding my breath on either the release or the quality. Still, happy birthday Castlevania!
PS: Is GC going to review Castlevania Advance Collection?

GC: We’ll try to, but as we’ve said before we hate surprise releases, as they play havoc with our schedules. We’d love to know what benefit publishers think they get out of it.

Direct announcements
Anyway, it’ll play great and 2022 promises to be a big year for the Switch after the pandemic years of remasters and remakes. With Splatoon 3, Pokémon Legends, and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 to add to Bayonetta 3 it seems the big releases of the year are already locked in. Sprinkle in a few smaller releases like Kirby and remasters that I’m sure they’ve got in the pipeline (hello Metroid Prime rumours) and Nintendo probably feel as far as first party published games go the year is sorted already.

My two most intriguing announcements were firstly Disco Elysium, which is fairly buggy on PC and (I’ve heard) runs like a lame dog on PlayStation 4, so wonder if we’ll get a XCOM 2 style situation with the Switch release. Hopefully not, since if Metroid Dread and Shin Megami Tensai 5 hold up it’ll crown a very strong Christmas for the console.

Then the N64 games… I’m interested to see how these hold up. One of the biggest issues with that console was the dodgy performance of the games. The reason the SNES and Mega Drive hold up today is a lot of (I know not all) the games ran at 60fps. If they ever get the rights to GoldenEye 007, for example, that game ran at about 20fps… then Mario Kart 64 is at 30fps which to play is bloody awful compared to Mario Kart 8.

Will they try and boost these or just chuck them over the wall? The clips seemed like the later… and let’s face it, Nintendo do specialise in doing the bare minimum.

Past tense
Well, that Nintendo Direct was quite the rollercoaster. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when they announced casting for the Mario film. I will do everything possible to avoid seeing that. The games were far better. I was actually intrigued by a Kirby game for once, fans finally got to see something of Bayonetta 3, and the final trailer for Metroid Dread looked good. Personally, I doubt I’ll ever go back to Animal Crossing, but at least Nintendo are continuing to provide updates.

The N64 games reveal had been rumoured and while I think it’ll be cool to have an N64 controller to play these games, there’s not many games from day one. I won’t pay more than £2 a month for these games, so £20-ish more on top of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription, so I’ll wait and see what they charge.

This year has been quite rough as a Switch owner. I loved Super Mario 3D World, especially Bowser’s Fury, but that was February and I haven’t played much since. I’m really hoping Metroid Dread is good because that’s the only other game I’m likely to buy this year.

GC: The games were far better? Can we borrow your time machine?

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Home run
Well, that was an interesting Nintendo Direct. Bayonetta 3 looks lovely, Mega Drive games on Switch Online, and another trailer for Metroid Dread (which since it’s out in just a few weeks and has already been heavily advertised, seems a bit of a waste of time). I’m not a fan of Kirby, but that one looked quite nice.

I didn’t watch it live, and had to switch to the US presentation during the Splatoon 3 trailer, as for some reason the UK version just hangs on that for another 15 minutes (i.e. just the one frame, no audio).
Joseph Dowland
PS. When you removed my Homestar Runner reference in my previous email, was it that you didn’t realise and thought it was a genuine mistake on my part?

GC: Was that in the subtitle of Ys: The Oath In Felghana? We just assumed you couldn’t remember how to spell it.

Different ‘Run
So, of all the things in that last Nintendo Direct, one thing caught my interest above all else: that Shadowrun collection. However, as my knowledge of the franchise extends solely to the SNES game, which I remember really liking, but very little of what it was about, I’m unsure of what this new collection actually involves.

I briefly looked online for details, but little of what I saw told me what I wanted to know. Are any of the three games included remakes of that SNES game, or even the (very different, but also vaguely connected) Sega Mega Drive game of the same name?

GC: Although there are some story links to both the SNES and Mega Drive games the trilogy collection is a remaster of a trio of PC games from eight years or so ago.

Corporate reality
As a fan of PlatinumGames, It was good to get an update regarding Bayonetta 3, but if it is truly not Hellena Taylor voicing the character again then it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It may seem to some people fairly innocuous, but not hiring somebody because they are part of a union seems indicative of the ugly business practices in the video game industry of which we are becoming increasingly aware. Of course, there may be a legitimate reason, and yet GameCentral said themselves that Nintendo have prior history in that they have done this before.

All in all, I hope Bayonetta 3 turns out to be as good as the others, but if a company with the money Nintendo has engages in what is tantamount to withholding rights to workers then that is disgusting. I
suppose it is no shock when someone such as Noam Chomsky describes corporations as private tyrannies, and so Nintendo behaving as a tyrant would be unsurprising.

It is an interesting juxtaposition when you watch the Nintendo Direct, as the presentation is designed to display their family friendly credentials, and yet their true face is a far cry from it.
Mr Verbosity

Devilish fun
Having taken a trip down nostalgia lane this weekend by playing Diablo 2 Resurrected, I thought I’d write in to say how much I’m enjoying replaying this great game, from the dark atmosphere to the amazing soundtrack – it’s just so much fun.

It also made me realise just how disappointing Diablo 3 was, which had no atmosphere, and a far too easy loot system where you’d find something better every two minutes. I mean, if I’m playing Diablo I want to earn my loot, not just have it handed to me! The only thing I enjoyed about 3 over 2 was the customisation of the skills, that did add depth to the combat. But aside from that I’m so glad to have 2 back.

Light at the end of the tunnel
We are almost a year into the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 launch and there is still almost no stock to go around. However, slowly but surely, stock levels are gradually improving with production ramping up, higher yield rates, etc.

These factors will eventually overpower bots and scalpers soon! Hopefully, more people can get a new console soon! Stay positive, keep calm and never give up!
DeniedRapier241 (gamertag)

Late entry
I’ll pick three games that deserve a 10/10 which are not the usual suspects, and that by conventional measures clearly have flaws, but are so good in other areas that they easily would be a 10 for my taste.

First would be Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. The gameplay is excellent and is the closest any modern game has got to capturing the magic of GoldenEye 007 on the N64. In the end though, the most salient
feature is its characterisation and story. The mix of B-movie schlock, moments of sincere tenderness, and completely off-the-wall comedy should by any rational measure fail utterly, and yet it moves so deftly between them, just like Zorba the Greek dancing in a hurricane.

Also by happenstance, I was watching a podcast tonight on YouTube called Inside of You, as it featured James Marsters the audiobook narrator of my favourite series of books called The Dresden Files. Anyhow, when asked what TV shows he was watching his reply was that he was more of a gamer, and then briefly extolled the virtues of Wolfenstein 2, citing it has his favourite game ever and its relationship to the current political climate in America. It is about an hour and six minutes in if anybody is interested.

Secondly, there can be only one, no not Highlander, but God Hand. Wow, what a game. Platinum, then Clover Studio, have never surpassed the crackpot genius of this game. The combat system has no rival, with its seemingly surface simplicity which hides vast depths, with its ability to configure hundreds of moves to create your own unique combos and fighting style. I was hoping for something that improved on this with the God Of War reboot, as it shared the same over the shoulder style, but what a clunky and repetitive experience that was by comparison.

What is most compelling though is how the game reacts to how well you play by making the game dynamically more difficult, but in a highly intelligent and rewarding way. This aspect is not only greatly
satisfying by motivating you to improve, but also demonstrates how difficulty in games should not be an issue. If done correctly, difficulty settings should not even exist as a concept as the game should be constantly responding to how well the game is being played. I could continue with this topic as it has been discussed here recently, but maybe another time.

Lastly, I would choose Ōkami. It takes fortitude to make what amounts to a Zelda game in all but name, and yet somehow Platinum pulled it off. A unique art style and combat mechanics are what stand out. Yes, it probably overstays its welcome by being too long, but no other developer has taken on Nintendo pound for pound in this way and made something that could easily be a great Nintendo game in its own right. For my taste, it is the second best Zelda game, after Ocarina Of Time.

Ah, that good was fun thanks for reading.
Mr Verbosity

Inbox also-rans
So is Chris Pratt going to do a bad Italian accent or not? I really can’t imagine he will, but if he doesn’t how a catchphrases like ‘It’s a me’ and ‘mamma mia’ going to work?

If this Epic Games v. Apple business is proof of one thing it’s that money doesn’t make you happy. Although judging by Tim Sweeney it seems to make you crazy.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by various readers, who asked what is the most memorable video game box art?

It can be either memorably good or bad, but which made the most impression on you and why? Since physical copies are becoming increasingly rare you may never have seen the artwork in question on an actual box but how important do you feel key art images are in setting the tone for a game?

Have you ever tried to get a poster or other merchandise featuring the image and how iconic do you think it is outside of gaming?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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