Because I love to turn mental disorders into prose. Also Games.

Say “Vampire”!

So yeah, I told you I was playing some older-ish games, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Riviera: The promised land.

I’ve made much more progress in the former, so lets go with that.
First off, it’s your standard MetroidVania version of the game for DS, where you start out filling the map to the castle on one screen while whipping, slicing, magicing, and all around breaking every skeleton, suit of armor, ghost and light fixture you can get to. Instead of just one character, there’s two this time. You have the heavy-hitting, whip-using Johnathan Morris, and you have the magical-girl in training Charlotte Aulin. That being said, John’s got a few rage-emo tendencies and Charlotte doesn’t go through a cutscene without saying “According to my research” or “If what I’ve researched is true…” and is much, much easier to die using. She gets very few actual main weapons (She uses books to attack, magically), but she shines with her sub-weapon spells. If you keep your magic filled, she’ll be your best friend. But drain it too much, and it’s back to John to chip away at enemies’ health. Where the two-character system blows my mind is how well it works when you’re both fighting at once. You can summon your ally at any time to fight alongside you. You still control their subweapons, but they move around and protect you well enough. They can’t dodge to save their life, though, and will mostly try to copy you.
The story’s not going to win any awards, but at least it’s varying it up from the standard “Oh snap, Dracula’s back, gogogogo!” scenario. This time, it’s around WWII, and some guy hijacked the castle. From what I can tell, he’s got two vampire girls who are WAAAY to young to be hanging around with him, and a bunch of magical paintings keeping him safe. The main characters show up because they’re the only ones on hand at the moment to come and deliver a banishment pizza to the castle at this hour.
Pause a second: It should be noted that while the actual castle is much smaller than in, say, Symphony of the Night, or Circle of the Moon (My favorite in the series), you travel through those paintings to other worlds, which works it out nicely and adds some variety. A lot of them have a “What if Castlevania was in…” flavor to them, with egypt, london, a circus and other areas. It helps to spread out the numerous varieties of enemies when they fit in their environment.
If you’re a big fan of the metroidvanias, you’ll see a LOT of enemies ripped straight from it. I know for a fact I’ve fought most of these bosses before, and some of these uncommon enemies as bosses. Death looks different though, I.E. Stupid. I’m sorry, Konami. You really just don’t give Death anime armor.
You just don’t. The weapons are visually pleasing, with whips, swords, bludgeons, and a couple odd ducks. Johnathan’s sub weapons take out of your magic, and boy are there a lot of them. For starters, I’ve come across paper planes, cream pies, javelins, martial-arts attacks, discuses and iron balls, and, of course, the classics, like daggers, holy water, and bibles. Charlotte, using her books, isn’t much in the way of direct attacks, but her sub spells range from all four elements, to summoning monsters you’ve killed enough times, to flat-out making enemies explode (That last one isn’t as awesome as it sounds, but just by a little bit). Chain lightning is a treat when you charge it up. She is also the one in charge of some of the navigational sub-magic, which turns you into a toad, or an owl to get into small spaces or fly up high. It’s a bit of a pain to switch to them just to move five or ten feet, but usually the reward makes you forget about the annoyance.

I love the feeling of running through a starting area for any reason and just watching every enemy go down like cardboard cutouts under my high-level boots, and this game lets you know when you’re going to kick some ass. The higher-level you are, the more fun you have, but eventually, spending too much time dicking around to whore XP will dilute your experience of just BARELY beating a boss because you managed your potions and tonics, and landed that last whip-hit with a sliver of health and MP.

I am enjoying this game quite well, so I’d suggest it to anyone who likes platformers, RPGs, and/or whips.

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