Castlevania (NES) Review and Multi-Comparison


The Main Review

Castlevania (or Akumajou Dracula aka Devil’s Castle Dracula in Japan) is a 1986 action platformer for the NES developed and published by Konami. The plot takes place back in 1691 where Simon must enter Dracula’s castle and eventually defeat him causing its collapse.

 

Title screen is quite nice with the huge logo and the animated bat including the grey parts which is meant to make the screen look like part of a old film strip. Not really a fan of the large Konami logo to be honest but I heard its actually part of anti-piracy which gets triggered if someone tries to change it. Quite strange just how often it shows demo play and what levels its willing to show (including a small bit of stage 12 which is 2/3 through the game).
Nice how it starts with a small cutscene that shows you Simon entering the castle yard with silhouette of said castle in the background.

 

Getting into the game the graphics are alright and the soundtrack is quite memorable but the action does keep you a little distracted from it. The controls were easy to get used to although some people may get put off by how weak your whip looks and especially how it only hits in one direction like most old games (something that got vastly improved throughout the series). Luckily the upgrades are easy to find inside candles which can also hold a variety of other things including subweapons like knives, axes, holy water, stopwatch’s and the awesome boomerang like cross as well as the hearts that power them. You can also find a pendant looking item that clears the screen of enemies (which to my amusement can be hacked to be used as a 5 heart subweapon) as well as the occasional money bags that give you points.
If there was something that people that played this game hated it’d be the knockback, there’s a lot of instant death pits and when you get hit you always seem to gravitate towards them although I personally didn’t find them as annoying as they are portrayed. There seems to be a trick to infinitely respawning enemies like medusa heads which go across the screen but I kinda just lucked out with them.

 

Something that I quite liked is the secrets, not only could you find things in candles but some of the blocks could actually be destroyed too which revealed things like cooked meat which gave you health and these odd numbered items that let you throw more than 1 of your current sub-weapon (up to 3). There’s even secret money bags which aren’t as simple to find, in the case of the 2nd screenshot you need to break the block and then seemingly whip to the left which spawns a 1000 point money bag.
Other than the money bags (which can be useful considering you earn 1up’s starting at 80,000 points) you definitely need health and the ability to throw more subweapons to beat the various bosses which all feel different despite being mostly simplistic, I really liked how said bosses did not have invincibility frames meaning its easy to combo the subweapon (especially the cross) with the whip in order to take them down quickly and feel like a badass. Except Dracula himself of course who like most bosses had a second form and kicked my ass quite a few times before I eventually won which was satisfying. The silly credits using made up names was quite an amusing reward.
Overall its still quite an enjoyable game despite controls, length and variety that pale in comparison to some of the later entries in the series. However the game does start over in a hard mode once you win the first time so hardcore gamers can still get a lot out of the game if they somehow beat Dracula really easily.

 

How do Ports compare?

Ignoring platforms that are literally the same thing (like the Nintendo Vs system) the original Castlevania wasn’t ported to much so I can only compare to Commodore 64 and DOS which were both done by different groups of the same company (USI aka Unlimited Software Inc).
Microsoft DOS

 

Loading up the game the graphics are kinda recognizable but the music was a really annoying rendition that I kinda wish they just didn’t have at all. Sadly it was even worse in the game itself with every thing that got hit completely drowning out the terrible music with an even more annoying and repetitive noise, some of the colors were quite odd as well. Despite seemingly being fully playable it was a chore just to get to and defeat the first boss despite difficulty-wise being quite simple.
The only saving factors of it was that you were so much faster going up steps and the fact that the developers did actually program the secret money bags in (so its not like it was a no effort conversion or anything). Perhaps with some (pointless) modding it’d be alright but it doesn’t stand up to the original.
Commodore 64

 

The Commodore 64 version seemed different in some areas compared to the above one since they’re converted by different people, title had no music but was amused by some random stuff like putting Alan on the gravestone on the black and white picture that pops up (the programmer for this version) and calling the leaderboards Dracula’s Hall of Blame (instead of Fame). As for gameplay it is a surprisingly good conversion in most places despite enemies looking a bit weird (and being seemingly faster while you seem a bit slower) plus the music was quite decent too although it had its obvious flaws.
The biggest flaws was the fact up was now jump as well as climbing stairs making it a bit awkward to start climbing and you also seem to go slower up them. There’s also the fact that the screen clearing pendant is a huge epilepsy risk since the black including the huge border around the game flashing white multiple times was horrible enough to even hurt my eyes. Also kinda sad that they seemingly didn’t program in the secret money bags. Overall a good conversion although not on par with the original, easily the best of the two USI conversions though.

 

Thanks for reading, remember that you can always suggest other games to play but do note stuff like this takes longer than you’d think (other than me being busy with other stuff).

Double Dragon (Arcade) Review and Multi Comparison


The Main Review
Double Dragon is a 1987 beat ’em up video game developed by Technos Japan and published by Technos in Japan while it was published by Taito outside of Japan. It is said to be a spriritual successor to an earlier Technos game known as Renegade outside Japan with Double Dragon adding things such as 2 player and the ability to pick up enemies weapons once dropped. It was converted to many different consoles as well.

Can’t really say there’s much on the title screen on an arcade game but the music was nice and the logo was awesome (although the fact “Double Dragon” covers one of the dragons faces does bug me a little bit). If you leave it there’ll be a little bit of gameplay from the first level as well as a leaderboard. Oddly if you add a coin the music stops and it no longer changes screen although its obvious you’d go straight into the game after doing so.

Getting into gameplay it starts off which is what is essentially a small cutscene where the female character Marian is kidnapped which honestly is all old games needed to set up a story aka “Go beat up bad guys and save [insert here]”. Graphics are alright and its interesting to note that there is blood but its not that noticeable (bloody mouths when getting beaten up for example) and the backgrounds were also nicely put together with plenty of details. Music was also quite a good thing which fit the gameplay and it isn’t drowned out by the continuous action either.
As for controls it was really easy to get used to (even emulated) with a jump, kick and punch as well as different moves by doing combinations plus the fact you’d grab opponents a lot. This included cool things like using kick until you grab and then using punch to throw the opponent. There were 2 controls in particular that seemed a bit odd though, first was that when grabbed to punch out of their grip you had to use jump and the second was that your jump attack was always a flying kick and the attack buttons merely specified the direction.

If you were to play emulated where you effectively have infinite lives you might feel that the game is quite short with only 4 levels aka missions which seamlessly blend into each other but difficulty wise you’d need to try quite a few times if you wanted to win the game with a good score (since it resets to 0 every time you continue). Its mostly not fake difficulty though since enemies could simply do the same as you could which included things like throwing you down bottomless pits as well as simply wieding weapons.
Even some bosses weren’t safe from instant death, for example the 2nd boss is fought near a conveyor belt and by getting him to follow me on it and suiciding he walked down the hole as well winning me that level without actually touching them. The ‘final’ boss however seems to be a good example of a sudden difficulty spike considering he carries an insta-kill machine gun that obviously never gets dropped (because then it’d be easy for the player instead).
However you could say to truly play through the whole game you had to play 2 player, if both complete the game together you actually end up in a 1 on 1 fight between the 2 characters (with life refilled and a single life) with the winner being the one who gets with Marian.
Overall its a great game despite being quite difficult and potentially being quite short. I’d personally recommend playing emulated so you have infinite continues and can make it to the final boss without any frustrations, having a 2nd player is a nice idea as well.
How Do The Ports Compare?

The NES version (developed by Technos Japan) being seemingly the first of the ports had many limitations other than the obvious graphical ones (which are quite alright) and the audio (which I argue is pretty damn awesome). The most notable changes though (other than the complete lack of co-op) is the fact only 2 enemies could be on the screen at a time and both the same plus weapons disappear every screen. On top of that they decided to only give you the basic attacks at first forcing you to unlock them (and I thought I was just pressing the buttons wrong considering jump is A+B).
It does try to be different though, to make up for the lack of 2 player it not only has a 1 on 1 fighting mode featuring 6 characters (which was apparently planned for the original) but they also changed the story slightly. In the revised story Marian is already Billy’s boyfriend and in a surprise twist Jimmy (who is unplayable in the game for obvious reasons) turns out to be the secret boss of the gang instead of a rival for Marians affection. Still quite a fun game to play.

The Master System version (developed by Arc System Works) was created shortly after the NES port. Graphics wise it is closer to the Arcade version than the NES version and far more colorful than both but I felt that the audio wasn’t very good at all (although the game apparently was compatible with some sort of audio adapter perhaps not emulatable). It is also closer to the arcade gameplay wise keeping things like 2 player and 3 enemies on screen as well as stages being closer to the original. It does however still have limitations on weapons only allowing one on the screen at a time.
Interestingly the game actually gives you the ability to have unlimited lives, which usually negates on the final stage but can be kept by performing 10 backwards jump kicks at the start of said stage. Worth playing it if you own it.

For some odd reason Technos Japan also decided to produce a Game Boy version, while portability might of been a selling point back then it definitely did not pass the test of time essentially being a downgrade of a downgrade. Not only is the graphics in black and white and the audio not as good but this version doesn’t even have the fight against Jimmy and 2 player is limited to the 2 Lee brothers. The stages are also completely different with Abobo and Chin even being given new techniques. No reason to try it other than out of curiosity.

As well as the console versions in 1988 versions were also released by Activision for the Atari 2600. Looking back you kind of had to wonder why they’d want to make home PC versions, there wasn’t really much to recognise from the original other than far more repetitive versions of the music. I personally found attacking incredibly difficult considering the game only had a single fire button and couldn’t get very far at all. Definitely doesn’t hold up especially compared to the original. I can’t yet play the Atari 7800 version but I assume it has the same problems.

The Commodore 64 actually got 2 versions with the first converted by Binary design and while the music conversion was surprisingly interesting on the title screen there isn’t any in the game itself which is obviously a bad thing. The graphics were also a little disappointing, while its obvious they tried their best with the backgrounds the player character and some enemies are the same just palette swapped and theres a transparent line cutting the bodies in half above the waist. That wasn’t even including things like ladders that you can’t climb. On top of that the Commodore 64 also only had a single fire button which was insanely difficult although there were plenty of moves to use. It overall looked recognisable to Double Dragon but didn’t feel like it gameplay-wise. At least it had a 2 player mode.

The second version was made by Ocean although I played a more recent cracked version which ported the cartridge version to disc and added various fixes including music and sfx apparently although only one or the other could be chosen (I obviously chose music at the cost of no sound effects) and it didn’t have a 2 player mode. While the graphics were definitely an improvement over the previous C64 version it was awkward to see more effort put into the player sprite and while the music was recognisable it wasn’t that good. In fact while the controls seemed a bit more responsive despite being possibly the same it was still incredibly difficult and I found myself being beat up by normal enemies if I don’t keep running away. Overall its good compared to the other C64 port but still doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

The ZX spectrum version was also created by Binary Design and you had to wonder why it existed, I could remember how the audio was because of how distracting the graphics were with the characters seemingly being ghosts where you could see the background and floor through them. This also made fighting seem very awkward and I personally only beat a few enemies before I had already gotten sick of the game. Not the worst but still not worth trying.

Currently can’t play the Amiga port since while the games are easy to get the kickstart roms are still only sold via a site called Amiga Forever. I also didn’t do the Amstrad CPC version(s) as they are essentially ports of ports. I may do a seperate review at a later date of the Gameboy Advance remake which improves graphics and adds an extra 4 stages which are mixed in with the original ones.

I hope you liked this experimental post, as you guess it took a lot more effort than a simple review would. Not sure how often I’ll do posts like this but I’ll be doing normal reviews more often.

Usagi Yojimbo (Commodore 64) Review


Usagi Yojimbo (full title: Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo) is an 1988 adventure game for the Commodore 64 by a small group known as Firebird being designed and programmed by Doug Palmer, Paul Kidd and Russel Comte while the music was written by Neil Brennan. It was based on the comic book of the same name (likely translating to Rabbit Bodyguard) which followed the adventures of an anthropomorphic samurai rabbit known as Miyamoto Usagi (who in turn was based on the real life Myamoto Musashi).

Interestingly before you get into the game you are given what is essentially a huge written guide on how to play the game as well as the surprisingly complex controls which uses the fire button to change the controls (similar to Assassins Creed but a little stranger) since it also includes things like paying money and bowing. Honestly I was a bit worried that I’d do terrible considering I could barely remember them (I had to eventually take screenshots to sit beside the game while playing it).
The artwork on the title screen was surprisingly nice showing the titular Usagi Yojimbo in a field with many small details like flowers and bugs. Strangely though there wasn’t any music but there was a menu screen afterwards where the music started playing. It was possible that there might only be 1 track for the entire game but considering its a quite well put together tune its easily forgiven (plus they obviously focused on gameplay first).

Getting into the game the graphics were surprisingly decent for its aged and the tune didn’t get tiring despite seemingly being the only one. Controls took a little while to get used to with it being unknown whether you hold a direction or the fire button first sometimes although soon I actually managed to go for a little while. Probably worth mentioning that I couldn’t be bothered to do any gambling as it just seemed like it’d be annoying.
While obvious things like bowing and giving money were easy to do fighting seemed very difficult at first although thankfully the ‘hidden’ enemies were mostly easy to spot (e.g. the ones in trees). It also seemed very unlikely that you’d get a game over by losing all your karma unless you were an idiot (one amusing demo play has your character killed by one of the otherwise friendly buddhists). I did eventually get pretty decent at killing some enemies before they had a chance though with the charge (you can hit them while they’re still in the tree for example).

Honestly should of screenshotted the boss in the cave.

There were some annoying things though, despite the fact that there was multiple paths I found myself going the same way although I guess it was mostly my fault. Essentially I couldn’t work out how to do the really big jumps the enemies seem able to do (despite being a rabbit) and ended up falling down a hole to my immediate death although I later realised I had to take out my sword to do the bigger jumps (which was odd).
There were also bosses and ambushes so the game definitely knew how to be challenging although it honestly didn’t feel like false difficulty but how I’d imagine being a well known samurai would be like (or at least in fiction) with things like bandits. I definitely couldn’t get that far though, it was interesting to note that some Karma actually carried over into future attempts although all that did was make it harder to get an idiotic game over (where you kill yourself out of shame).
Overall while I didn’t get as far as I’d want to I can tell why it was as popular as it was. Considering the popular that the comic apparently still has and the huge scope that was originally planned for the games like multiple endings, more enemy types and a far more complex karma system perhaps one day we’ll see a remake of this but for now this is still worth giving a try.

Pac Mann (Commodore 64) Review


Pac Mann is a Pacman clone created for the Commodore 64 by Rainer Bohme in 1997 seemingly made with something called ‘game workshop’, being one of many C64 titles I can’t find any more info about this game.

The title screen had a chiptune and to try and be a bit cool the logo and the other text kinda bounced towards the screen but it honestly got annoying (especially when trying to pause to get the best screenshot), you have to wait for the game to mention who it was made by, some person that supported them and what might be a site they’re affiliated with or something (not much information at all)

The graphics and music were alright for its time but sometimes the music got a bit annoying and instead of the dots its replaced with 4 dots that turn into weird squares (is unnecessary animations a thing?). Gameplay was exactly as expected with the joystick being used to move around and the fire button being unused. Enemies were surprisingly easy to dodge and the lack of anything special like the power pellet was a little sad to be honest.

Another bad thing is the game is insanely short and this is even considering that whenever you die you have to start the entire level again. But I swear there was only a really tiny amount of levels anyway (around 6 or 7 at most). Not like there was any reason to carry on if there had been more with how easy it was. The only level I found hard was simply because one of the enemies essentially got trapped in a small section if you took too long (which was fixable by just getting those dots first).

Overall I could of said that despite being quite generic its so short you might as well give it a try but with how obscure it is I’d imagine you’d only get it via a full rom pack and that thing is 500mb (despite this game in particular being 21kb) and that’s not worth your time.

P.s. Sorry for being so inactive on this blog, Feel free to suggest other really old games.

I say some random stuff | Golden Axe Genesis Part 4


Unlike most LetPlays parts there wasn’t really any topic at all since I was admittedly just trying to get the part done and not seem lazy. Although I do say random stuff normally either way.

Here is the Vidme version here.

I do briefly mention at the beginning though that I’m not a fan of doing practice runs or trying over and over again since that gives people a false idea of my skill although I have proven a few times I’m not as bad as I thought.

I also mention a comment I got that told me to check out Golden Axe Adventure and Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder but as well as wrongly calling RoDA the 2nd game (there’s another genesis game before it in terms of release) I also go on about if the MAME emulator I could record in 480p (although I believe it should be quite easy to do 640p).

At least I kinda get back on track near the end of the video mentioning the pain of using your magic too early and getting beaten up as well as mentioning (possibly again) about how its surprisingly easier to have enemies directly either side of you as you can quickly switch between them.

P.S. I know these posts are a bit late, I’ve been trying to streamline content creation and get more interaction.

I’m not as bad as I thought | Golden Axe (Genesis) Part 3


I was actually expecting to have to cheat for infinite continues already but I didn’t and while I’m still not very good perhaps saying I’m terrible is a bit of an overstatement afterall.

As always here’s the video on Vid.me too here.

Most noticeable thing when I rewatched this video (to check if it recorded right of course) is that this video is when I go from being a complete noob to actually learning a few tricks that could possibly make everything not as difficult. One of them is even reversing a disadvantage which is pretty neat.

Essentially the mounts (which are apparently called Bizarians) are not that useful as you usually get hit off them especially since mounting them is slow but they can actually be exploited. The trick is the enemies will try to get on to mounts no matter what and since they have the same problems as you its easy to just keep hitting them off until they die.

The other trick has to do with bigger enemies, not only are they just as weak to the charge attack as anyone else but you can even charge them again just before they’ve fully got up meaning its entirely possible to beat them without getting hurt (although I’m not good enough for that).

In fact as you see in the video I make the boss look like nothing by not only taking out the 2 normal enemies immediately with magic but also baiting him to the sides to get 3 hits in without giving them a chance to attack back.

Hope you enjoyed this part and look forward to the next bit 😀

Golden Axe (Sega Genesis) Review


Golden Axe is a 1989 side scrolling beat em up/hack n’ slash for the Sega Genesis developed and published by Sega itself. The game takes place in a medieval fantasy world making your way through stages and retrieving the titular golden axe. There’s also the plot where Gilius Thunderhead (The Dwarf),  Ax Battler (The Barbarian) and Tyris Flare (The Amazoness) are all out for revenge against the evil Death Adder who killed people close to each of the 3 playable characters.

If it were just text alone the title screen might of been a bit boring but as well as a nice simplistic logo there’s also some huge awesome 3D Japanese text in the background which notably seems to have weapons as part of it. The music was also pretty decent too. As for the menu options there is Arcade, Beginner, The Duel and Options.

Arcade is pretty much story mode while Beginner is pretty much practice, The Duel on the other hand is very different. You pick a character and fight in an arena against increasingly stronger enemies with only one (deceptively long) life bar. It would definitely be good practice against tougher enemies although I couldn’t help but wonder if it was only worth playing after you’d already finished Arcade.

As for options you’re given the ability to change your health from the default 3 per life up to 5 which is useful but strangely nothing about continues or actual lives. Secondly there is a controls customisation which lets you switch around which of the 3 buttons you want to be Jump, Attack and Magic which is a life saver even for someone who plays via an emulator and PS3 controller. Last of all there is the sound (and music) test which is what you’d expect although its always a nice thing to have either way.

Yep, I’m lazy enough to re-use screenshots lol.

Getting into the game I noticed everything still seemed quite nice despite its age, the controls were easy to use although a newbie might start to think they don’t work. The reason for that is the game seems to punish those that merely spam the attack button and magic isn’t worth using until boss battles. The reason for this is the enemies seem to have the same (or a slightly longer) reach than you and are completely fine with comboing you to the ground repeatedly if you aren’t careful.

The trick seemed to be to continuously use the charge attack which was not only useful and knocked them over but also really satisfying. Of course it isn’t as easy as merely spamming it since not only can you accidentally run into their attacks but they can charge you too making it a rather amusing challenge overall (against normal enemies).

Can you see how annoying the normal enemies are?

Enemies could also have mounted creatures that you could hit them off of before mounting yourself but it was disappointing just how useless they truly were in terms of usability with their main attack missing quite a lot and a single hit knocking you off. In fact trying to get on one with enemies on screen is insanely difficult because its slow to get on and you almost always get hit immediately when you do. In fact since the normal enemies suffer the same problems and will keep trying to mount them (if you don’t) they’re best used as distractions to get easy kills which is kinda sad.

Each stage also has boss battles and while they are far more powerful they can be lead into the same trap that any other enemy can where you spam the charge attack with it almost seeming easier in a few cases. They’re also accompanied by a few normal enemies which would be annoying but that’s when most people use the magic they built up so that’s easily avoidable. The designs are nice though and you still feel satisfied whenever you beat them so there’s no problem.

Interestingly the home console versions have an extra 2 stages on top of the original 6 the arcade version has, however after playing them I had to wonder if they were really worth it. The big boss was essentially Death Adder again but this time his attacks were essentially cheats and if it weren’t for cheating myself for infinite continues no ordinary person could stand a chance.

Overall the game is pretty decent and worth recommending if you haven’t given it a try, it may have no real strategy to it and the last boss is a bit broken but its still satisfying to play.

This Part Went By Fast | Golden Axe (Genesis) Part 2


Today I got the 2nd part of my Golden Axe letsplay complete and uploaded and as the title suggests I thought it’d last longer than it did. I guess that’s my fault for not doing a test run of the level beforehand.

As always you can watch the video at Vid.me here.

This time I spent a little less worrying if it had recorded terribly and how bad I am at the game and more on what I discovered in the way of tips for anyone else that played as well as the fact I am writing a review for the game (although I can’t publish it until I win the game).

Hopefully as I get more relaxed while making content, as well as making it quicker I’ll be able to talk better in the videos. I also really need to shave the beard but I don’t really have the motivation knowing I could be making or planning content instead of doing it…

Hope you like this part anyway and I hope you like the next part (hopefully I’ll upload tomorrow).

I may finally have my own artstyle!


People that follow me on Twitter might of noticed how I always said how shitty I was at drawing and the doodles I did on paper a lot where even the best ones seemed to fail. Its because no matter what I’m just terrible at doing details so when i got a laptop I was wondering what I’d do and strangely enough I merely wanted to make some lazy changes to a doodle to make it look slightly better and this was the result:

Tails from Tails Adventure on Game Gear

While there’s obviously going to be a lot of people that really don’t like this sort of thing its probably the first drawing I’ve ever truly been proud of and liked the way it turned out. I didn’t use any lines or real shading although I use slightly darker colors for further away segments which I honestly didn’t think would work but in my opinion it did. That’s when it hit me that I could make all of my drawings like this from now on and not only would I at least get slightly better.

Water Boss from Mr Gimmick on NES

Do note that the two in this post are the only two I’ve completed so far but I’m filled with motivation to do more and alongside reviews and the other stuff I have planned my blog should hopefully become just a little bit more interesting. Thanks for reading if you did and feel free to suggest what I should try drawing like this (I still think I’m shitty at drawing though lol).

Lightning Dwarf vs Big Bastards| Golden Axe LetsPlay Part 1


Don’t mind the dumb title lol, as you can see I’ve finally stopped doing test videos and am back doing actual ones. The reason I’m starting with this is because I asked what I should start with and this is what MogAnarchy (Twitter, Blog and YouTube) aka the only reply told me I should do.

You can also watch the above video on Vidme here.

I may not have an intro and an outro yet but I’ve put as much effort into the actual video as you possibly can on a 10 year old laptop (so no editing sadly) but I think its quite nicely scaled and it has a webcam again. Note I always make sure the thumbnail looks nice, its actually quite lazy since all the text can be found on the title screen although I’m happy with the screenshot (I’ll probably use it if I write a review).

I don’t know about scheduling yet though but instead of sharing the YouTube video directly to Twitter I’ve decided to do this and write a post, from now on it’ll be a little more about the actual video though. I’m still not sure what other sites I plan to use yet either. Thanks for watching/reading if you did and I’ll see you with part two.