Castlevania

  • Reading time:2 min(s) read

I just now, after over a decade, finished Castlevania 1 (only by playing the japanese version on the easy setting and saving a lot)… the ending credits say the music is by — “Johnny Bannana,” I believe was the name. Also, they call Simon “Simon Belmondo.” There are mounds of credits such as “Plot: Brahm Stoker” and “Frankenstein: Boris Karloff”… hm.

I finally downloaded an msx emulator and frontend, in order to play Vampire Killer. The graphics in it blow the nes version away, but it’s impossible to play. It makes the original US ver of Castlevania seem like a pushover…

You can see sorta’ see how VK is a game-in-development… how, when they remade it for the nes, they looked closely at its structure and remixed the elements in a more palatable form. The rounds are very similar in structure and background, identical in music (though the psx music is better), almost identical in character and monster sprites, but in the nes version there’s scrolling, the enemies are placed sanely (inasmuch as they don’t keep coming in an unending stream, but, rather, are put in specific places), you don’t have to look around for keys and whip walls in hidden places to finish levels, and you get to really use items.

I think Simon’s Quest was a way of trying to put some of the original elements back into Castlevania which they thankfully removed for the nes conversion — such as the idea of an inventory; buying items and searching for others; having a nonlinear(ish) round structure. The shield from CVII is even in there… though nobody appears to shoot at you, so its usefulness is questionable. Actually, there’re two different shield types.

Playing that game from hell for about half an hour gives me a much greater appriciation for what it later spawned, and helps me to understand the series better, as well — just to see kind of the thought processes behind the first game, before major editing, and from where some ideas from the second probably came. Sort of like listening to Purest Feeling, the major difference being PF was a lot better than PHM in a number of aspects.

Best Brains

  • Reading time:1 min(s) read

MST3K is going to only have thirteen episodes this season, inasmuch as Sci-Fi decided not to pick up the option for the remaining nine (making a complete season).

Here’s the good thing, however — There Will be a season ten, and Sci-Fi and Best Brains are getting along wonderfully (unlike how everything went with Comedy Central)… There’s no ratings problem, and the show isn’t disgruntling anyone at the station. Sci-Fi seems to be grateful to have some light-hearted original programming to flesh out the turgid bleakness of much of the material on the station.

Hardware Encoding

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I just had a dream in which there was a tape recorder-like device that would rearrange the magnetic pattern of any object you put into it (invisibly, of course), so you could, say, put a piece of paper in it and have a message recorded on it. Then, of course, only you would know what objects had messages recorded on them.

Freezing

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Can’t feel the keys to type — the power just came back on a half an hour ago — it’s been out for six days, now. Over half a million people (in other words, a full 50% of the state’s population) were knocked out by the storm. As it is now, only about a quarter of the state is still blacked-out, and it’ll take another week to fix it all completely, they say…

It’s been cold. In the teens. No heat. Power lines down all over the roads and yards. Nearly all the trees knocked down.

Sinister Levers

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I can’t believe how difficult it is to operate a spoon with my left hand…

The Darkness Between the Pixels

  • Reading time:2 min(s) read

I think what’s so attractive about old nes games is, it’s just popped out to me, how dark they all feel — just a little surreal and a little mysterious. Blaster Master and Simon’s Quest and Zelda and Metroid — there’s so much which can’t be seen — you don’t know what anything is, and have to fill it in for yourself. All of the creatures in Blaster Master are a flat gray. The colors in Zelda are completely two-dimentional blobs; it has indistinct sound effects and rocks which look like turtles. Metroid is all black and empty, as is Blaster Master — and, actually, lots of Zelda and Simon’s Quest, really. They feel. . .unexplored. There could be anything in any niche. It’s like a dream. . .

With today’s games, you see everything and you know where and what everything is. The jellyfish in Blaster Master Look like the Metroids. Goonies II — well, that’s a strange one. It sort of overproves the point.

Life Force and Gradius. . .

The games which were hardest to play, I think, were the darkest ones — Gradius and Metroid and Castlevania 1; all great, but all kind of depressing. The games of today are… Microsoft/Apple spawn. They don’t feel real because they’re made to feel too real. Old NES games are like a dark fantasy — they feel so unreal that the mind makes them more real and alive than anything today could strive to be. And they’re mostly smaller than this text. . .