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  #61  
Old 04-18-2010, 04:21 PM
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I'm finding some of the content to be grindy padding (sub-level mastery, the side-quests for super-rare drops, etc), but on the whole I'm quite enjoying Portrait of Ruin. What don't you like about it?

And having played all three, I'd say they're all worth getting, that Harmony is the most SotN-like and probably the one you'll enjoy most, while Ecclesia does the most interesting things mechanically. Portrait is good, but not outstanding.
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  #62  
Old 04-18-2010, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Belmont View Post
  • Empty rectangular rooms filled to the brim with boring monsters that don't serve any challenge. Practically every enemy in that game has the same AI behavior, and there are maybe only like 5 enemy types in the entire game. And yet, the monster encyclopedia has hundreds of monsters. There is an emphasis on the quantity of assets rather than the quality of how those assets function.
  • Abilities are underutilized and undercooked. How many times did you have to use the partner jump ability? How long was it after you got that you were given the double jump? How many times did was the partner mechanic utilized in interesting ways?
  • Combat is extremely loose and the game has an absurd amount of unnecessary filler. Dozens upon dozens of weapons and items that only serve to bolster artificial statistics and are quickly replaced with new ones you find laying on the ground, along with a plethora of sub-weapons and magical attacks. Don't you dare tell me that all those other abilities and weapons and sub-weapons are "options" because that's fucking lazy design. Every cog needs to serve a purpose--and Portrait of Ruin is filled to the brim with options that do absolutely nothing to change the dynamic of gameplay. It's absolutely littered with fluff. It's the Kingdom Hearts of Castlevania.
  • Everything is old, is new again. You know that dungeon you went through a while ago? Well, we're gonna have you go through it again but with some enemies of a different color palette and the rooms with be rearranged a little bit--but don't worry--you're still be going through those same empty corridors and empty large rectangles you love so much.
  • The game can't even fucking spell Charlotte or Richter's name properly in the Status Screen.
Belmont speaks truth, people. PoR was no good. By the time I got back to the stupid carnival level filled with empty, stupid rooms with the same palette-swapped enemies, I tired of it and put it away forever.
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  #63  
Old 04-18-2010, 04:57 PM
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I'll agree that Portrait of Ruin was padded out and boring and has way too many sub-weapons you have to grind up and blah blah blah, but I'd kill for a future Castlevania to implement a homing whip like the Nebula. Jonathan's whips (and by extension, Nathan's DSS whips) are the kinda stuff I wish Juste had instead of some worthless Gameboy Castlevania Adventure fireball that stops working when you take damage or some (internal) elemental damage change or some metal ball duct taped to the end of his whip.
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  #64  
Old 04-18-2010, 05:29 PM
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Much of what Belmont said about Portrait has become endemic of the whole series. Castlevania desperately needs a change, and Lords of Shadow is the best chance we'll get at a new paradigm shift for the series.
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  #65  
Old 04-18-2010, 05:33 PM
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I know I've played PoR but I don't remember a singular second of it.
Not like rocking half of Aria with the mystletain (it's like the Alucart sword born again), or finding any of it's optional weapons. Or all those times I messed around in CotM trying to find the right trajectory (or just a practical application) for some of the dss combos.
Juste really did have a crummy whip selection, but I felt it was made up for by the sonic punch magic and the whip attachment that let you charge it up. I almost never took the crushing stone off, which is probably more telling of the absence of alternatives than the virtue of the item.

Circle of the Moon is unique even among the metroidvanias for its dss system, which is why anybody who is fond of the games would hesitate to recommend against it. It does have it's flaws, which have been mentioned, which is fine for a game that is otherwise good quality. It strikes an interesting balance between the skill-based gameplay of the first games and the "metroid" half of a metroidvania.

The only thing I really like more about it than Aria is the extra game modes after you beat it. THIEF and MAGICIAN, and the like.


EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by R.R. Bigman View Post
Much of what Belmont said about Portrait has become endemic of the whole series. Castlevania desperately needs a change, and Lords of Shadow is the best chance we'll get at a new paradigm shift for the series.
What he said.
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  #66  
Old 04-18-2010, 06:04 PM
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Portrait of Ruin is definitely a shitty game. It has no idea what it's trying to be: the partner mechanic is half-baked and almost never used; the "emphasis on level design" that IGA promised turned out to mean "different backgrounds that take place outside the castle," even though they all play the same and the four main levels are palette-swapped to make the game twice as long; the game tries to be a "sequel" to Bloodlines but has absolutely no understanding of what made Bloodlines tick (hint: varied level design), and instead just sticks Iron Blue Intention in a random level where it doesn't serve any real purpose; the abilities you get are totally worthless.

Also, "Charotte" and "Richiter." Seriously?
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  #67  
Old 04-18-2010, 06:36 PM
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Honestly, Dawn of Sorrow should have been the last Metroidvania, at least for awhile. Even if the ones that followed had been great...instead of 'shoddy' and 'pretty good', respectively...I simply don't see the formula beating what they accomplished with Dawn of Souls, warts and all, and trying over and over when they clearly had no real intention of, or strategy for, besting it was just irritating. "Portrait of Ruin" and "Order of E-word" both shared the same good idea...trying to reconcile the Metroid-style with also featuring non-castle areas and levels more comparable to pre-SotN ones...but neither game was a success in that, and PoR was just an embarrassment that OoE wasn't good enough to redeem.

But, damn. Now that I got the griping out of my system, I'm just reflecting on how great Dawn of Sorrow was.

"HEY DEPTFORD, HOW GOOD WAS IT"

Better than Symphony of the Night.

Last edited by Deptford; 04-18-2010 at 07:04 PM. Reason: HAHAH, NOTHING, NO STUPID MISTAKES HERE, NO SIR
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  #68  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:00 PM
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"HEY DEPTFORD, HOW GOOD WAS IT"

Better than Symphony of the Night.
I refuse to believe this.
Actually, it's just that I don't have a DS so I'll never get to play this game.
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  #69  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:03 PM
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Why talk about Dawn when there's Aria?
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  #70  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:06 PM
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I really did like Ecclesia. It's still got the a lot of the usual issues (useless abilities, bloated inventory, tons of filler), but it manages to put some genuinely good content in there- level design which is more varied than boxy corridors everywhere, bosses with interesting mechanics, etc.
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  #71  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:14 PM
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While we're talking about DS Castlevanias here, I have to say I wish they'd stop recycling the same old visual aspects from Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night* for a change. SotN's made sense with reusing some of RoB's aspects in the context that it's a direct sequel, give or take that lame SNES Dracula X. In Dawn of Sorrow's case, it was a good way to show what kinda 2D the Nintendo DS could handle. Reusing 'em again in Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia just reeks of laziness akin to N64 era Pokémon models being repackaged in Gamecube and Wii titles. I know they do have some original visual aspects of their own, but it's easier to notice what's old than what's new. Not to mention the visual inconsistency; I'm definitely noticing the recycling upon replaying Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth now.

Heck, seeing all the stuff in its original context in Rondo of Blood now that it's on Virtual Console is kinda freaky now. "Okay, so those skull spiders were in OoE, this Dullahan and that point-eared kicking lady were in PoR, and hey! It's the purple spearmem and skull-spitting flower! I've seen you guys a lot!"

*Technically it reused aspects from Super Castlevania IV as well (Slogra and Gaibon being the most famous examples), but least it fit them into SotN style.
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  #72  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:24 PM
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I liked using Charlotte's magic, and I remember it being pretty darn useful throughout the game. I think partner swapping had some uses, since the other person's weapon might have a different element or attack range. Wasn't the best way to beat Death to alternate partners? You never need to level up more than 1 sub weapon sure, but that never really detracted from my enjoyment. Pick one or two favorites and go.

I probably wouldn't put the game near the my top 3 of the 6 games though. I'm agreeing with whoever said that even the worst games of the bunch are merely okay. Harmony is the only one I don't want to replay.

I don't think there's a good way to approach the issue of loving SoTN and wanting to get into the GBA/DS games. You might prefer the direction the Nintendo offspring went or you might feel they don't live up to the granddaddy PS game. SoTN has a huge castle, lavish artwork, and wide set of abilities (both innate and acquired), tons of random and quirky things to find, rare loot you won't come across every game, and you become pretty much a God after a certain point. Imagine all those things being untrue - that's pretty much the difference.
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  #73  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Belmont View Post
Why talk about Dawn when there's Aria?
Why play "Aria", when there's "Aria, But Better"?

Or, to delve into it a bit deeper (what, that first sentence wasn't a robust enough case to make for myself), I find that Dawn fleshed out everything that Aria brought to the table. Aria was the more surprising game...and was amazing...but Dawn just hit everything out of the park, with the possible exception of irritating touch-screen nonsense, which didn't bother me personally, but bothered plenty of others...and I can get why. But simply put, no setting in any of the Metroidvanias felt as varied, or robust, or as atmospheric as Dawn's to me. I realize it may seem absurd to call it more atmospheric than Symphony, but honestly, Symphony's atmosphere was one-note, and despite its reputation, that atmosphere wasn't profound enough to sustain the whole game. Each of Dawn's jurisdictions had its own sense of character and mood (including a fun callback to the original Castlevania, while not neglecting to build plenty of worthy, fascinating new areas), and right off the bat, I'm a sucker for snowy, wintery settings, which charmed me immediately...and is a change from the series' traditional 'moody nighttime, possibly raining' climate. Plus, great bosses, great level design, a better final boss fight than Aria or Symphony (I loved how, at first, it seemed like you were just fighting an evil, organic room, like the final battle of Aria, but then, nope...it's a giant monster leaning over you, who then stands up)...

Also: Julius Mode. To date, the only instance of a Metroidvania having a worthwhile alternate character mode.
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  #74  
Old 04-18-2010, 07:51 PM
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I toughed out Portrait of Ruin, although I'll admit it was an extremely annoying process. Still, I think it wore me out on these games, because I still haven't finished Ecclesia. However, a lot of that is the weird difficulty. I don't mind it being "hard", but there's a difference between "hard" and "takes an insane number of hits to win". I know there's usually a trick for beating each boss, but it feels like a Mega Man game without a Mega Buster as a solid fallback option. You need to pick the right weapon/subweapon or an list of a billion possible ones so you can win without having to whack away that an enemy 400 times.

So yeah, I think this particular sort of design peaked with Dawn of Sorrow, and I'd much rather play the new console one than another DS Something of Something title.
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  #75  
Old 04-18-2010, 08:13 PM
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I do like Dawn of Sorrow a bit more than Aria because it fleshed out the elements from its predecessor and showed what could be done on the DS's hardware (not to mention having the most awesome extra mode), but Aria never made me sacrifice my souls and weapons to get better weapons. I liked the special toys a lot more when they were tossed in some musty corner of the castle instead of having to grind-kill a foe in a musty corner of the castle and sacrife his hard-earned soul to get that next new toy. =/
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  #76  
Old 04-18-2010, 08:22 PM
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So, on Ecclesia, after beating the final form of Albus, I am put in a lose/lose situation where But Thou Must essentially commit suicide if I haven't rescued all the villagers. So something everyone would expect to be a sidequest turns out to be a requirement to see the full game, and there's no warning, and it comes after defeating a boss and having no chance to save.

Fuck this game.
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  #77  
Old 04-18-2010, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deptford View Post
Why play "Aria", when there's "Aria, But Better"?

Or, to delve into it a bit deeper (what, that first sentence wasn't a robust enough case to make for myself), I find that Dawn fleshed out everything that Aria brought to the table. Aria was the more surprising game...and was amazing...but Dawn just hit everything out of the park, with the possible exception of irritating touch-screen nonsense, which didn't bother me personally, but bothered plenty of others...and I can get why. But simply put, no setting in any of the Metroidvanias felt as varied, or robust, or as atmospheric as Dawn's to me. I realize it may seem absurd to call it more atmospheric than Symphony, but honestly, Symphony's atmosphere was one-note, and despite its reputation, that atmosphere wasn't profound enough to sustain the whole game. Each of Dawn's jurisdictions had its own sense of character and mood (including a fun callback to the original Castlevania, while not neglecting to build plenty of worthy, fascinating new areas), and right off the bat, I'm a sucker for snowy, wintery settings, which charmed me immediately...and is a change from the series' traditional 'moody nighttime, possibly raining' climate. Plus, great bosses, great level design, a better final boss fight than Aria or Symphony (I loved how, at first, it seemed like you were just fighting an evil, organic room, like the final battle of Aria, but then, nope...it's a giant monster leaning over you, who then stands up)...

Also: Julius Mode. To date, the only instance of a Metroidvania having a worthwhile alternate character mode.

Oh man, the entire last area(The Abyss) in Dawn was amazing. It starts off as the regular fire and brimstone, then mutates into a quasi-Egyptian theme with sand pouring from ears, changing even further with pulsating flesh surroundings, giant bloody knives and insect like trappings. My favorite part is the single room where you fight Abaddon, mysteriously outside at dusk with a lone tree blown by nonexistent gale-force winds.

There's more creativity in that one level than in Portrait or Ecclesia.


I much prefer Dawn's version of Abaddon to SMT's fairly boring design.
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  #78  
Old 04-18-2010, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Deptford View Post
Why play "Aria", when there's "Aria, But Better"?
I fell under that camp for a while actually. Something about Dawn though... can't quite place my finger on it because it's been a while, but there is something about it that rings hollow. The boss fights and combat overall felt much tighter and it had most of the same features as Aria but it's empty rooms design seemed a lot more obvious and the newly added features felt tacked on. Once more, but without as much feeling I guess. I need to look into this a little bit more, but when trying to replay them both a few months back Aria captivated me right off the bat while Dawn was struggling to keep my attention.

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Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
So, on Ecclesia, after beating the final form of Albus, I am put in a lose/lose situation where But Thou Must essentially commit suicide if I haven't rescued all the villagers. So something everyone would expect to be a sidequest turns out to be a requirement to see the full game, and there's no warning, and it comes after defeating a boss and having no chance to save.

Fuck this game.
In its defense, the villagers *are* really easy to find. I had found them all way before I ever even got to that point and never really went out of my way. I don't see how this is any different than the fake-out endings from SOTN and Aria of Sorrow whose demands were much more obtuse.

Last edited by Belmont; 04-19-2010 at 07:23 PM.
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  #79  
Old 04-18-2010, 09:37 PM
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I'm finding some of the content to be grindy padding (sub-level mastery, the side-quests for super-rare drops, etc), but on the whole I'm quite enjoying Portrait of Ruin. What don't you like about it?

And having played all three, I'd say they're all worth getting, that Harmony is the most SotN-like and probably the one you'll enjoy most, while Ecclesia does the most interesting things mechanically. Portrait is good, but not outstanding.
Harmony has Symphony's worst aspects: size for the sake of size coupled with meandering corridors/shafts and relative lack of warp points, resulting in a backtrack-fest, with none of the original's good design choices. So naturally it's the worst Metroidvania, barring perhaps Circle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dosboot
I don't think there's a good way to approach the issue of loving SoTN and wanting to get into the GBA/DS games. You might prefer the direction the Nintendo offspring went or you might feel they don't live up to the granddaddy PS game. SoTN has a huge castle, lavish artwork, and wide set of abilities (both innate and acquired), tons of random and quirky things to find, rare loot you won't come across every game, and you become pretty much a God after a certain point. Imagine all those things being untrue - that's pretty much the difference.
I thought the castle was too huge for its own good.

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If you go with Rondo, play as Maria. That's essentially the game's easy mode, and is loads of fun and very accessible to a newcomer. I would give SCIV a slight edge over Rondo on the strength of the music and the flicky-whip, though.
The whip made SCIV too easy for its own good, given most enemies weren't able to counter it.

While Dawn of Sorrow was too grindy compared to Aria, it was far more balanced in terms of souls and weapons. I especially liked how they differentiated weapon types in terms of attack motion, speed and range.

Akumajo Densetsu/Dracula's Curse was the best of the pre-Rondo games in my book, as it was the first in the series with multiple paths and characters. The difficulty was actually the most ideal, barring Rondo, and it was only the US version that got shafted in that department. A VC release of the Japanese version (not to mention other VRC enhanced Famicom Konami games) would be tight, if unlikely in a million years.

Simon's Quest was, in a sense, the easiest game in the series. If you know what to do, it is stupidly easy, as the enemies don't even put up a fight, due to the fact that they stop dead in their tracks for almost a second whenever you hit them, giving you ample opportunity to strike them to death with little fuss.

Last edited by cartman414; 04-18-2010 at 09:50 PM.
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  #80  
Old 04-18-2010, 10:20 PM
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Trading souls for upgraded weapons is one of those things I blissfully ignore*. Luckily, this happens to be a perfectly acceptable thing to do because they clearly designed it so you find decent weapons anyway. A soul is always useful but weapons tend to go obsolete, and you probably won't "naturally" have enough souls when you want the weapon - it's very strange design all around.

*seriously, this is the golden rule for everything in the CV games that feels grindy, except maybe the cards in COTM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
So, on Ecclesia, after beating the final form of Albus, I am put in a lose/lose situation where But Thou Must essentially commit suicide if I haven't rescued all the villagers. So something everyone would expect to be a sidequest turns out to be a requirement to see the full game, and there's no warning, and it comes after defeating a boss and having no chance to save.

Fuck this game.
It's not that bad, the save point is right at his door and there's not a big level to go through to reach him. If you are upset because you just beat him by the skin of your teeth then it'll be much more satisfying to fully master his patterns the next time around

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Originally Posted by cartman414 View Post
I thought the castle was too huge for its own good.
I'm with you here. SoTN is some people's cup of tea but give me a more directed metroidvania like the Sorrow games or a straight up brawler like OoE.
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  #81  
Old 04-18-2010, 11:02 PM
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PoR was the first of the Metroidvania-style of the series that I really sat down and played all the way through. And quite frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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  #82  
Old 04-18-2010, 11:02 PM
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Trading souls for upgraded weapons is one of those things I blissfully ignore*. Luckily, this happens to be a perfectly acceptable thing to do because they clearly designed it so you find decent weapons anyway. A soul is always useful but weapons tend to go obsolete, and you probably won't "naturally" have enough souls when you want the weapon - it's very strange design all around.
That kind of depends. The Joyeuse increases the all-important for grinding LUCK stat, and various other weapons have elemental/status attributes, as usual. It depends on what you're looking for, and how you use it.

And really, the majority of weapons are available exclusively through soul fusion.

What grinds my gears most of all though are the souls that need to be maxed out at 9, and are incredibly rare, the most glaring case being the Giant Axe Armor soul, which, by the way, is needed for one of the most powerful axe weapons. On top of that, as a soul it only levels up once you get the full 9. It's a triple whammy.

Quote:
It's not that bad, the save point is right at his door and there's not a big level to go through to reach him. If you are upset because you just beat him by the skin of your teeth then it'll be much more satisfying to fully master his patterns the next time around
Yep. Just don't forget his glyph.

Quote:
I'm with you here. SoTN is some people's cup of tea but give me a more directed metroidvania like the Sorrow games or a straight up brawler like OoE.
It's not so much that it's directionless as it is segregated in its goalposts between tasks, which necessitates crazy backtracking.
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  #83  
Old 04-18-2010, 11:26 PM
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Someone should mock up maps of all the metroidvanias with the normal route through the games and highlight areas you travel through more than once, especially more than once in each direction.
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  #84  
Old 04-18-2010, 11:51 PM
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Someone should mock up maps of all the metroidvanias with the normal route through the games and highlight areas you travel through more than once, especially more than once in each direction.
Hahaha that's a terrible idea. I still can't get all those 8-bit beeps from that treasury/tower theme that plays when transversing through Harmony of Dissonance's most used area, which also has that useless decorating room with much more awful music. Must've passed through that area like a billion times.
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  #85  
Old 04-19-2010, 07:52 AM
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I remember wanting to like PoR, but I petered out not even 1/4 of the way through the game and never picked it up again.

On the other hand, I really like Ecclesia, which I won't go into here because it's already well documented in my GameSpite article (which admittedly may have been a little bit gushing, but oh well).

I do still need to play Aria and/or Dawn, though - they came out when I still didn't own a Nintendo handheld. I just need to decide whether to skip straight to Dawn or do Aria first, on which decision opinion seems to be mixed around here. (Of course, I also need a hole in my backlog schedule...)
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  #86  
Old 04-19-2010, 11:11 AM
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Well this thread inspired me to check out another Castlevania game post-Symphony (again, my favorite game ever so far). So Aria of Sorrow shipped today. Looking forward to that.

I don't think I'm nearly as hardcore about the series as the lot of you though. I AM considering Rondo of Blood though on the Virtual Console. Worth the 9 bucks? If I had to pick between that and Super Castlevania IV, which would it be? I'm leaning towards Rondo. Maybe just because it's a Turbo Grafx game that never made it to the states, and I have a soft spot for Turbo Grafx.
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  #87  
Old 04-19-2010, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
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Well this thread inspired me to check out another Castlevania game post-Symphony (again, my favorite game ever so far). So Aria of Sorrow shipped today. Looking forward to that.

I don't think I'm nearly as hardcore about the series as the lot of you though. I AM considering Rondo of Blood though on the Virtual Console. Worth the 9 bucks? If I had to pick between that and Super Castlevania IV, which would it be? I'm leaning towards Rondo. Maybe just because it's a Turbo Grafx game that never made it to the states, and I have a soft spot for Turbo Grafx.
I recommend Rondo over Super. Rondo has alternate paths whereas Super is much more straightforward. Super is good, but Rondo is better and it's only a dollar more than Super on VC.
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  #88  
Old 04-19-2010, 11:32 AM
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Yeah the alternate paths appeals to me. I might go with that then.
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  #89  
Old 04-19-2010, 11:35 AM
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Oscar Oscar is offline
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Originally Posted by Sir Sly Ry View Post
Yeah the alternate paths appeals to me. I might go with that then.
You should! I was in a very similar situation, a few days ago. I went for Rondo, and... it's fantastic. You won't regret it!
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:39 AM
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Sir Sly Ry Sir Sly Ry is offline
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That's good to know, I may get that very soon then. I mean I know it won't be comparable to SotN (but what is?) but I'll try it out.
Maybe that's one reason I like Simon's Quest so much, it has that Metroidvania feel going on.
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