Search This Blog

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Favorite Tunes #73: What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse

If you could guess what the focus of this Favorite Tunes was based on that title, give yourself a roasted ham behind a brick wall. I've been wanting to use Castlevania as a centerpiece on Favorite Tunes for the longest time and with it being Halloween, I can't think of a better opportunity. This series has some of the most fondly remembered music in the medium so enjoy a sliver of my favorite selections.

Wicked Child - Castlevania (NES)

I'll bet you were expecting me to start this feature off with Vampire Killer, weren't you? For me, the true difficulty spike in Castlevania comes when you reach the third stage. Those annoying Medusa Heads are present and they just love to appear when there are bottomless pits. Then there's the boss, which is two mummies. Yeah, they share the same life bar, but the fact that there's two of them doesn't make it any easier. Things I like about the third stage? I do like how you get a nice view of another portion of Dracula's castle, what I'm assuming is the final room where you battle him. And Wicked Child is one of my favorite tracks from the game, right up there with Vampire Killer.

Bloody Tears - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)

The black sheep of the NES trilogy, Castlevania II doesn't pack the gut-punching difficulty that it's predecessor and successor do but this didn't prevent the game from giving players a massive headache back in the day. You see, Castlevania II is very much a guide game in that, you pretty much need a guide to get anywhere in the game at all. The less liner approach turned off a lot of players and is the sole reason the game has the less than stellar reputation that it has today. Even so, the game has some nice visuals and a splendid soundtrack. Without this game, we wouldn't have Bloody Tears, a fan favorite that has gotten plenty of remix love.

Aquarius - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)

What many consider to be the pinnacle of the NES Castlevanias, the third entry lets you play as three different characters, each with their own play styles, including Alucard. Castlevania III is also one of the toughest games in the series, giving the original a run for it's money. Castlevania III has two distinct versions of the game, the original release on the Famicom in Japan and the NES version released in America and Europe. Among the differences between the two versions are the soundtracks. The Famicom takes advantage of the extra sound channel to give the music a bit more oomph. Many fans prefer the Famicom soundtrack, but the NES score is still amazingly good.

The Submerged City - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

A retelling of the original Castlevania story, there's still plenty of new material in series' first 16-bit outing. For the first time ever, Simon can influence the direction of his jumps (to a small degree) and the whip can be used to attack in eight different directions. There are also brand new areas and stages to extend the length of the game, although it's still short overall. Taking advantage of the SNES sound chip, Super Castlevania IV has an outstanding soundtrack featuring old favorites and fresh tunes. This is many fan's favorite traditional Castlevania title. In Japan, Super Castlevania IV was released in 1991 on October 31st. History repeats itself with the game re-releasing on the Wii U's Virtual Console service on this very day for America and European gamers.

Bloodlines - Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE, PSP)

For years, this particular entry in the series was only available to those in Japan on the NEC PC Engine console. In 2007 an enhanced version was released on the PSP along with the orignal Japanese version and Symphony of the Night as unlockable bonuses. If you want to experience the original version of the game on a home console, you can download it off the Wii's Virtual Console. Having completed it earlier this month, I can honestly say that it's one of my favorite titles in the franchise in spite of the many, many deaths I suffered.

Calling From Heaven - Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN)

The first of only two Castlevania games to be released on a SEGA console (the other being the SOTN), Bloodlines brought back the multiple character system introduced in Castlevania III, but once you pic either John Morris or Eric Lecarde, you're stuck with them through the whole game or until you lose all your lives and both continues and are forced to start over. Yeah, as tough as Casltevania always was, for whatever reason, Konami decided to make it all the more punishing by placing a strict limit on your continues. Still, this game is certainly worth your time. Before Michiru Yamane worked on Symphony of the Night, this was where she started writing music for the series and it is awesome.

Requiem for the Gods - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS, SAT)

The game that started the whole Metrovania craze that the series has been on for over a decade, Symhony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood. In the prologue, you play as Richter, but you're quickly thrust into the black boots of Dracula's offspring, Alucard, who's on a quest to end his daddy's madness. I don't really need to harp on about why this game is so awesome because everyone and their cat already knows it.

Anti-Soul Mysteries Lab - Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2)

While not the first 3D Castlevania, this title was seen in a much better light than the two N64 installments. Platforming has been a series staple, and even though there's very little of it in this entry, Lament of Innocence still has plenty of whip wielding action and a moody soundtrack by Michiru Yamane.

New Messiah - Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth (WiiWare)

Did you ever play Castlevania: The Adventure on the Game Boy? I did and I can honestly tell you that you weren't missing out on much. Stiff controls, even more stiff than what the Belomnts usually get, super sluggish gameplay and no sub weapons made it a forgettable game. And yet, Konami saw the need to remake it, though one could use the term "remake" lightly here as there so much new stuff that it feels like a brand new game. Rooted in the um, roots of Castlevania's original play style, there is no Casltetroid to speak of. You make your way through six brutal stages but by stage 3, you'll probably wanna hurl your Wii Remote through your TV. That old-school 'Vania difficulty is back in full force. Like Contra ReBirth, this game arranges many songs from existing Castlevania titles, New Messiah was originally used in Casltevania II: Belmont's Revenge, another GB Castlevania entry and the sequel to Castlevania: The Adventure.

Vampire Killer (Arrange Mode ver.) - Castlevania Chronicles (PS)

Well here's that Vampire Killer tune you were all waiting for. It's not the original, but a sweet rave-tastic remix. Castlevania Chronicles packs two game modes, the 1993 X68000 Castlevania remake that was exclusive to Japan and arrange mode, a remake of the original Castlevania title. You'd think music like this was composed just for a listening CD, but nope, you can hear this very music in gameplay if you play on arrange mode. Party at Drac's!

Favorite Tunes Database


Tom Badguy said...

Castlevania does have some kick ass tunes.

Voltech said...

"Without this game, we wouldn't have Bloody Tears, a fan favorite that has gotten plenty of remix love."

I hear that (hurr hurr). Have you heard Castlevania Judgment's version of this song? It's pretty amazing. Although from what I've heard, the game it's attached to is more than a little terrible...

On the other hand, DAT MUSIC. And this music, too. Thanks for sharing.

Reggie White Jr. said...

Castlevania Judgement, while being a terrible game from what I hear, has some incredlbe arrangements of classic themes. The arrangement for Dance of Illusions is by far the best one I've ever heard.