Courage, don't leave." These words escape the lips of Schneider Belmont, heir of the ancient Belmont clan of vampire hunters, as he prepares to resume his family's timeless struggle against their sworn enemy, Count Dracula. It is the late 19th century in Transylvania's province of Wallachia. During this time of peace and prosperity, the people have become complacent and have returned to their wicked ways, stirring their evil ruler from his century-long enforced slumber. Sensing the mounting danger, Schneider Belmont sets out to meet his fate.
When Konami announced the first 64-Bit installment of its popular Castlevania series would be a 3D adventure, many long-time fans were skeptical; while it might be a decent game, they argued it would be virtually impossible to retain the gothic look and atmosphere of its 2D predecessors. In short, it just wouldn't be Castlevania. Having recently received our first preview copy of the game, however, we're happy to drive a stake through the heart of such skepticism; from the opening cinema on, the game's familiar music, enemies, weapons and creepy atmosphere make it a worthy heir of the Castlevania name.
Given their complexity, Castlevania's controls are surprisingly intuitive. While "A" and "B" still serve as Jump and Attack, any similarities to previous Castlevania titles end there. The most important new addition is a"Lock-On" button (R) that changes the focus of your attack. As N64 gamers learned in WCW vs. nWo, such a button is essential when battling multiple enemies in a three-dimensional environment. Individual buttons also are assigned for a secondary (sword) attack, special item attack, crouch/slide, item collect and camera change. As for Castlevania's gameplay, Konami has borrowed heavily from Tomb Raider; Schneider Belmont has acquired the Croftian ability to cling from ledges and to perform lateral shimmies and pull-ups. (No word on graceful handstands, however.) Like Tomb Raider, damage from falls is proportional to height. The game also employs Tomb Raider-style cut-aways to reveal the results of pulling switches.
Castlevania purists, however, needn't get too excited; the game retains far more elements from previous Castlevania titles than it borrows from Ms. Croft's adventures. You still get to shatter endless armies of skeletons with your trusty whip, secret items still can be found inside vases and torches, and for recovering from injury and fatigue, nothing hits the spot quite like a large leg of lamb. You'll also find such familiar projectiles as daggers, axes, boomerangs and vials of holy water.
Castlevania retains many of the role-playing aspects introduced in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night; while journeying through Drac's home, you'll encounter plenty of supporting characters, including a famed vampire slayer (at least in his own mind) and a beautiful vampiress. You can also find and purchase a number of special items, including special cards that instantaneously bring on nightfall or daybreak. Time, in general, seems to play a significant role throughout Castlevania; areas that are relatively safe during daylight hours become positively nightmarish after nightfall. Certain puzzle elements are believed to be contingent upon the time, as well. Lastly, and probably most significantly, time becomes critical if your character becomes afflicted with vampirism; not even a tanning lotion with an SPF rating of 1000 will save you if you step outside at high noon after being bitten by one of the Count's loyal blood suckers.
The ability to play as a second character, a young girl named Carrie Fernandez, should greatly pump up Castlevania's replay value. Unlike the famed Belmont dan, not much is known about Carrie, except that she is gifted with great magical powers. As her story unfolds, Carrie becomes an unwitting dupe in a coven of witches' plot to resurrect the slumbering Count. In contrast to Schneider, Carrie's primary weapon is a blast of energy she fires from her hands. Carrie's secondary weapons are a pair of magical rings she can use to slash through enemies. The developers also use Carrie to provide a bit of comic relief; unlike Schneider, who can effortlessly perform baseball-style sliding attacks, Carrie's slide is an awkward belly flop.
While there's already much to like about this 3D, 64-Bit Castlevania, the early build we received is not without its problems; awkward camera angles occasionally make it difficult to see enemies you are fighting and lead to many accidental deaths during platforming segments. The controls and collision detection need some work as well. Despite these flaws, however, Castlevania already looks like one of the most promising third-party N64 titles we've.
We're waiting for Dracula's appearance on the PlayStation later this summer, Konami is preparing the venerable series for Nintendo's 64-Bit system.
Castlevania 64 is still in very early stages and is tentatively scheduled to be ready by year's end. As you can see by the pictures, the characters and objects are all made from polygons. There are light-sourcing effects, but it remains to be seen how detailed the characters are. To achieve a vast, viewable landscape. Konami may sacrifice some details or they may cover things up a bit with fog effects and draw the game with a higher amount of detail. Whichever they choose, the recent PlayStation version proved that Konami has not forgotten how to do a good Castlevania game while pessimists will insist they won't be able to transfer the spirit of the series into the 3-D realm.
The children of the night are all grown up!
Count Dracula. Lord of Darkness, master of evil, ruler of the undead, able to wear a cloak and get away with it. He's a classic villain, an eternal staple of the battle between good and evil who can be taken out as many times as you like and yet somehow always manages to find a way back to life. Best of all, he's out of copyright!
Castlevania is the umpteenth incarnation of the vampire-themed adventure from Konami, and marks the first time the stake-hammering vibe has appeared in 3-D. The previous games were complex 2-D platformers (the most recent, Castlevania X, appearing on the PlayStation) and, to keep fans of the old games happy, Konami has included plenty of platform sections into this new game as well.
The setting is the mid-i9th Century, and Dracula - long thought dead - has returned to Transylvania, casting a grim pall of doom o'er the land (sorry, but it's obligatory to write like that when doing Dracula stuff). As is traditional in the Castlevania games, it's down to a lone hero to penetrate Dracula's fortress of death and stuff the Count's fanged gob full of garlic bread before banging a stake through his black heart.
Castlevania gives players a choice of two characters - the latest in a long line of vampire slayers, Reinhardt Schneider, and the oddly-Hispanically-named-for-a-resident-of-Transylvania Carrie Fernandez, a young girl with magical powers. Depending which character is chosen, the route through the game changes, although most levels have to be faced no matter who you play.
In play, Castlevania comes over as a cross between Tomb Raiderr and Zelda. It's more like the former, with lots of platform leaping and switch pushing the Zelda-style bits (like the ability to force the camera behind your character) give the impression of having been added at a later stage of development. Probably shortly after Zelda was unveiled at Space World '97...
The camera is, annoyingly, probably the worst enemy in the game. Most of the time, it hovers rather like Banjo-Kazooie's (but without the ability to position it yourself) so that Reinhardt or Carrie can run around and fight enemies without it suddenly shifting position, but there are too many points where the camera unexpectedly swings around to give you a 'better' (ha!) view. Unforgivably, some of these points are in the middle of complicated platform sections, where an unwanted camera movement usually makes you jump in entirely the wrong direction and end up with your head looking like a dropped watermelon.
In tight quarters, the camera is often unable to decide where to go, and it ends up swinging madly from place to place as you move around. This is a common problem in 3-D games, but not being able to position the camera yourself makes it more irritating than usual. There are several sections where you come under attack, but it's impossible to get the camera to show who's attacking you!
Fortunately, Castlevania manages to elevate itself above the limitations of its dodgy camera. Heavy on atmosphere and filled with some clever puzzles to complement the vampire-killing and platform-jumping, Castlevania succeeds in moving beyond its 2-D ancestors while still keeping their feel. It also breaks with tradition by making one of the very first enemies you encounter a boss, chucking you right in at the deep end, and keeps you on your toes throughout. There's a nerve-wracking section set in a hedge maze, for example - if it doesn't get your heart racing you're probably already dead!
On the whole, puzzles involve the old 'find object A to open up area B' routine, but there are plenty of more involving ideas as well, like the planetarium conundrum or the time-based puzzles (a clock is always ticking away in one > corner of the screen) where certain places and people are only accessible at the right time of day. Vampires, of course, are more active at night...
The Tearless Vampire Killers
Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, the Belmonts of the previous games, Reinhardt is a born vampire slayer. His speciality is using his family's holy whip to separate the undead from their component body parts, but he's also a dab hand with a sword. Main Weapon: Whip, Secondary Weapon: Sword.
A young girl who has recently been orphaned, Carrie realises that the cause of her mother's death is of Drac, and sets out to get some payback. Although she's physically weak, Carrie's magic can be very effective, especially when powered up fully. Main Weapon: Homing spell Secondary Weapon: Xena-style rings-o-doom.
The variety that Castlevania offers is one of the game's best features. You never know quite what to expect as you enter a new area, and there are some genuine brown trouser moments when a seemingly innocuous situation takes a sudden twist. Try playing Castlevania with the lights out and the sound cranked right up. Before long it'll save wear and tear on your seat, because you'll only be using the edge of it.
The bad news, especially for those spoiled visually by the likes of Zelda and Turok 2, is that Castlevania's looks are... well, 'mixed' would be the kindest way of putting it. The early levels are plagued by some horrible blurry textures and occasionally obtrusive fogging, and there's a generally fuzzy look to the game as a whole. Despite some of the later stages having some very detailed scenery, the overall look is more like an early N64 game than one that's appeared three years into the machine's life.
As for the main characters and creatures of the night, these look better, but again Zelda has gone and ruined it for everyone else. After Nintendo's tour de force, Castlevania's populace has a somewhat mechanical feel, people bodypopping about like those stupid robot dancers that plague town centres of a weekend. That's not to say that they don't look good - Reinhardt and Carrie in particular are well-detailed, and some of the monsters are suitably ugly - but there's no real feeling of life behind them. Most of the time, the camera doesn't get in close enough to show the creatures of the night to their best advantage.
One area where Castlevania excels is in its music. Konami's games have always been noted for great tunes, but Castlevania is probably the best example of the N64's musical prowess to date. The music isn't non-stop, like Turok 2's ultimately repetitive background sounds, but comes in at appropriately dramatic moments. Cut scenes are also accompanied by music that suits the moment - the scenes with vampire maiden Rosa, for instance, are as mournful as her mood.
Castlevania is a good game with some infuriating faults, most of which could have been fixed given a bit more time. The camera definitely needed more work, and a lot of the textures on the scenery would have benefited from some extra attention. The translation of the text into English (despite appearing in the US first, Castlevania is a Japanese game) is also surprisingly shoddy in places.
On the whole, if you're prepared to overlook, or at least work around, the faults, Castlevania is well worth considering. To see all the levels you need to play the game with both characters, and it also has plenty of hidden extras (new costumes for the heroes, secret stages and the like) that have to be hunted down. If a bit more time had spent tidying up the rough edges, it would have been a cert for a Sizzler award.
The only thing that old hands at Castlevania will be left wondering is why you can't swing with the whip...
2nd rating opinion
This is what games used to be like - simple, atmospheric and bloody hard! Castlevania 64 takes the best elements of the classic 8 and 16-bit platformers and gives them a 3-D makeover. Mature gamers will love it but the difficulty level might put off younger fans.
Not so much cheats for this game as handy hints and tips. It's a pretty challenging game though, so you'll probably need them!
Get the first green gem which is hidden inside a torch on a floating platform in the forest stage, and when you finish the game Secret One will be unlocked, letting you play the game on the Hard difficulty setting.
Alternate Costume (Carrie)
When playing as Carrie, look out of the top of the Tower of Sorcery and you should see a torch on a floating platform. Use some holy water to reveal the invisible path leading to the torch and break it to get the purple gem which unlocks Secret Two on the item list -- Carrie's second outfit -- once you finish the game.
Alternate Costume (Reinhardt)
When playing as Reinhardt, go up to the third level in the Tower of Execution and slash one of the iron maidens for the Exeaition Key. Go back down to level two and enter the Iron Gate, walk down the hallway and look over the ledge to spot a floating platform with another iron maiden which has a purple gem inside. This is Secret Two on the item list, and unlocks Reinhardt's second costume upon completion of the game.
Secrets In The Castle Courtyard
Wait until the stroke of midnight in the Castle Courtyard and a secret platform rises from the fountain, giving you access to the items on the top.
At the entrance to the garden, turn right and look upwards to see a platform. In front of it is an invisible ledge that you can pull yourself up onto. This is a good vantage point from which to attack the hounds once you open the gates.
Secret Of Renon's Contract
During the Villa stage, Renon tells you there is a section of his contract which you can't read. This section states that you can visit Renon as many times as you like but your expenditure can't exceed 30,000 gold. If you go over that amount you have to fight Renon.
Talking To Rosa
To talk to Rosa -- the vampire who waters the Villa roses -- simply enter the room in the Villa with all the red roses in it. At 3am Rosa arrives.
Inside the Villa, Charlie Vincent says he will defeat Dracula with or without you. If you use too many Sun and Moon cards from then on and take too many days to reach the final stage you'll find Charlie's reached there before you and been bitten by Dracula's servant, thus becoming a vampire himself. You then have to kill him, which results in the bad ending. If you manage to make it through the game fast enough to arrive at Dracula's servant before Charlie, then you get to fight the true forms of Dracula and watch the good ending.
Fans of Castlevania will have a whole new problem on their hands with the Nintendo 64 version of the classic franchise--killing vampires and running from the undead in 3D. This ghoulish game will feature uniquely timed gameplay: During the day, you're free to roam and dispose of the undead you find hiding in the castle's darkest corners. But beware! The children of moonlight can attack where shadows are rampant. At night, you must survive the ghouls that are strengthened by darkness and avoid becoming a vampire yourself! N64 owners will enjoy a new, completely different experience from their PlayStation brethren's. Look for the chills to start later this year.
Look who's popping up on the retro hit parade for the Nintendo 64! After seeing what The Legend of Zelda has done to shore up Nintendo's game library, Castlevania, another blast from the past, is making the jump from 16-bit to 64-bit But is it a smooth jump?
In a gorgeous rendition of the old Castlevania tale, you choose to play as either Reinhardt or Carrie, vampire hunters who want to do a little exploring--and a little heart-staking. Reinhardt carries a whip (and a vestigial sword that's pretty useless) to snap apart enemies and to break open pots, coffins, and other obstacles. The lovely Carrie takes a more feminine approach, doling out death with fireballs and a pair of handheld rings that are just as useless as Reinhardts sword (unless you're close to an object that can be felled only with pin-point accuracy).
Sight of the Living Dead
Casdevanias scenery is like a travelogue of the undead. Graveyards, dilapidated castles, and haunted rose gardens are among the games environments--all perfecdy created to heighten the games sense of tension. To further the mood, Castlevania is heavily populated with enemies like skeletons, werewolves, two-headed dogs, vampires, and more. To aid you in your ghoulish crusade, a number of helpful items from past Casdevania games are littered throughout, like crosses, axes, and Holy Water vials.
And you'll need all the help you can get Castlevania is an extremely challenging adventure that gets progressively harder. Factoring in all the difficult falls, leaps of faith, and power-draining mini-bosses, Castlevania is probably one of the toughest thumb-busters available for the N64--the gameplay is demanding even when set on Easy.
All You Need Is Blood
Graphically, Castlevania is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it throws out some stunningly huge bosses and some excellently designed undead characters. On the other hand, the exterior environments around the casde are shrouded in a mood-inducing fog--whether its daytime or nighttime--that quickly becomes an eyesore.
The sounds play a minimal part in Castlevania. Most of the time, the stages are sonically bereft, but you will get a crescendo of music when battling bosses or when a new gameplay element appears. Fortunately, the lack of music doesn't hurt the game--after you hear a wolf howl, you'll realize sound effects are quite enough.
Casdevania's control set is so basic, a werewolf cub could handle it: You use one button to whip your enemies, one button to alternate between weapons, one button to jump, and one button to change your camera angle. However, Castlevania could've used a few maps for its bigger levels, and its targeting system should've been more finely tuned like The Legend of Zelda's.
No Hassle Castle
Is Castlevania fun? It depends on what kind of game you're looking for and how much energy you want to spend playing it. Fans of the old Castlevania will marvel at this version's familiar sites and environments and will appreciate the dedicated tack of the game-play. Novices will be chilled to the bone at the thought of replaying a huge level after an untimely fall (fortunately, there are numerous save points). Castlevanias a 3D platform spectacle that definitely warrants a good look from N64 owners everywhere--you won't find better hauntings than this one.
- Just before the castle entrance, jump up to the invisible block near the torch. Now whip the torch for a health power-up.
- Don't be hasty to Jump, unless the floor is falling. Offscreen enemies like bats and floating gorgon heads will impair your lump, causing you to fall.
- If you fight the vampire in the first room of the castle, you'd better finish him or find a purifying crystal. If he hits you, you'll become a vampire and lose the ability to use your whip and any health power-ups.
- Take your time in the early levels so you can find valuable power-ups to increase your whip or fireball power. Attacking enemies while you're powered up goes much faster and is ultimately less deadly for you.
Although Casdevanias fog is pervasive, the character design and some of the bosses look incredible. Its not as visually intense as Zelda, but Casdevania's horrors are still apparent in its graphics.
The basic controls are simple. Yet, the leaps of faith will drive you batty, the offscreen dangers (like bats and flying heads) will make you howl, and the game's difficulty level will make you feel like you've been bitten in the neck.
Not a lot of excitement for the ears, but Castlevanias good tension-building mood music and blood-curdling howls will make you sit up and pay attention. Some moaning, screaming, or even eerie whispering would've helped, though.
Regardless of how you feel about the controls, you'll still love the game's rich story line and bewitching gameplay. Castlevania provides a hot time in the N64s dead town tonight!
Castlevania goes 3D with Castlevania 64. In addition to the traditional Belmont character, you can choose from three others, including a werewolf.
Down for the Count
Castlevania 64 lets you play as four characters: Schneider Belmont, the traditional whip-toting Castlevania hero; Cornel, who can transform into a wolf during the night hours; Carrie, a 12-year-old sorceress; and Coller, a burly bruiser who also happens to be Frankenstein's monster. Each character has their own varying special techniques and abilities, in addition to their own unique story lines and game endings.
The characters in Castlevania 64 have more moves and skills than those in any other entry in the series. For example, in addition to jumping and snapping a mean whip, Schneider can dangle and scale along ledges. The game also retains some "classic" abilities, including using the whip to swing across chasms and dangerous areas. Other familiar elements include collectible weapons and items such as throwing knives, holy water, and boomerangs. One of C64's most striking features involves monsters that are more plentiful and stronger during the night than during the day (Castlevania vets will remember that Castlevania II: Simon's Quest had a similar gameplay feature).
Striking and Stalking
Although Castlevania is finally going 3D, 2D purists shouldn't worry: It looks like the vampire-killer series is making a smooth transition into the third dimension. Even though the action on the early version was slow, some of the playable stages featured nightmarish visuals, including a stage filled with bloodstained traps that's suspended over a giant pit of fire. If game development keeps at this pace, Castle vania 64 could be one of the most innovative and striking entries in the classic series.