Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolution? Kill Dracula!

This monday marked another point in the hit-or-miss offerings on the Wii Shop Channel, but there is one game release that would definitely count as a "direct hit."  At last, the long anticipated Castlevania game for WiiWare hit consoles all over the US.

Turns out, though, that it's actually a remake of a long forgotten chapter in the history of the Belmont family.  The new game is called Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, which refers to the first Castlevania to come to the Game Boy in 1989.  Following the quest of Christopher Belmont to stop Dracula from resurrecting once again, it actually takes place one century before Simon's foray in the original NES title.  Unfortunately, Castlevania: The Adventure was mediocre, at best, which disappointed Game Boy owners at the time.

Fast forward exactly twenty years. Konami reveals that it dusted off this game, gave it a serious overhaul, and re-released it to the gaming public.  I say exactly twenty years because the ReBirth version was released in Japan on October 27th of this year (while the original was released in October 27th of '89) and the US release for both versions was in December, though I don't know the actual release date of the original game.

So, as the game celebrates its 20th birthday, the question stands: has it aged well?

Considering the fact that the original was an uninspired attempt to bring the franchise to the portable market, ReBirth is a complete makeover.  This game is the equivalent of that forgettably frumpy girl from elementary school that turned into an unattainably hot woman once she got to college and the only thing you can think of when you see her is, "Damn, I wish I had been a lot nicer to her back then, so I could TAP THAT ASS!"

"You snooze, you lose, punk-ass.  Bitch be mine, now.  Blah!"

Not only is this game a significant improvement of the original, it's actually a step up from the NES games.  I've known a lot of people who played the original Castlevania games and each of them complained about some of the really fucking annoying things that repeatedly get you killed: swarms of medusa heads, not being able to attack on stairs, damage knockback pushing you off that moving platform to your death.  Guess what?  You won't find any of them in Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth.  No knockback damage, none.  Medusa heads are still there (this wouldn't be a Castlevania game without them), but you won't have schools of them trying to fly up your ass while you jump from platform to platform.  Yes, you can use your whip on the stairs.

Some things are exactly like they used to be, though.  You have to climb the stairs just like you would in the old games.  By the way, remember how you couldn't swing your whip upward, diagonally, or in any other direction than straight ahead?  Yeah, that's back.  But, they did bring back the whip power up where you can shoot fireballs with it, so it's a decent trade.  To be honest, the way it's set up, I didn't feel the need to whip diagonally, anyway.  That's what's good about this game.  The difficulty stems from it actually being "challenging," instead of "retarded."  You won't find yourself in a situation where you'll ask, "How the fuck am I supposed to do that?"  This game relies perfectly on skill, which makes this game more appealing to people who usually hate frustrating platform games (myself included).  If you die in this game, it's your own damn fault.

Actually, I've noticed that I've unlocked a feature called "Classic" mode.  I tried it out a little bit, but I'm not sure exactly what it does different from "Normal" mode.  Given the extras I unlocked in Contra ReBirth, I wouldn't be surprised to find more.  (Update: "Classic" mode only affects the physics of Christopher Belmont's jumping, making it as difficult as the traditional NES games.  Learned that the hard way; won't be using it again.  Also, from what I've read, it seems there are no other extras in the game.)

Despite a minor setback with the insanely hard Gradius ReBirth, Konami's ReBirth titles are doing a great job of reinvigorating these classic franchises from the NES era.  Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth definitely refines the retro gameplay that its predecessors set and reintroduces the story of this forgotten Belmont.  This time, doing it right.

Though why they used this crappy music, instead of some classic Castlevania tunes, for this trailer is beyond me.  

Kaiser out

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