Video game memories: Castlevania 64

Ugh.

Castlevania 64 is actually just called Castlevania, but due to Nintendo’s practice of putting “64” at the end of every game title, it is commonly known as Castlevania 64.

Right off the bat: Castlevania was a great 2D platformer, and that tradition continued on the PlayStation. Because the Nintendo 64 was good at rendering 3D games, and because of the success of games like Super Mario 64, this one made the jump to 3D. That was a mistake. Worse yet, the game seemed rushed and unfinished. The camera was terrible and was as much of an enemy as Dracula’s minions, and the platforming was wonky at best. (Granted, even the earlier Castlevania games had problems in that regard. Castlevania had never been known for precise jump controls.)

The worst mistake was how the two characters were balanced. You had the cool whip-wielding hero of previous Castlevania games, and you had a little girl. I wanted to play as the hero Reinhardt, and tried several times to do so. I always wound playing as the much more powerful little girl named Carrie. Her fireball had far more range than Reinhardt’s whip, and it was a homing missile. You could charge up and launch a fireball, then dodge the enemy’s attacks while you waited for it to hit. Rinse, lather, repeat until you win. It was absurd that a little girl was far and away the better fighter than what had been the main character of the story.

The game did present the player with a huge area to explore and was quite long. It did a good job creating a spooky atmosphere, especially once you got into the castle. Meeting what appears to be friendly characters only for them to turn into demonic abominations later drew you into the game. It is too bad that the game’s flaws were so prominent, to the point that many players regard this as a terrible game. They are not wrong.

I will admit that I actually did like this game and played it a lot in the 1990’s. It was a disappointment, however, because it could have been so much better. Konami did release a follow-up, which was not as much a sequel as re-releasing a superior version of the same game with more characters and levels a couple years later. Konami learned from the mistakes made here, which is why the franchise is still going.

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