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Talk about a fangtastic adventure! Let's Play Kid Dracula!

Back to Let's Play < 1 2 3 >
  #1  
Old 09-23-2013, 11:57 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Default Talk about a fangtastic adventure! Let's Play Kid Dracula!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the fifth installment of “Let’s Play Beowulf’s Game Boy Youth.” This is going to be a shorter and lighter LP than my last one (I need a break from writing fanfiction for a little while), but will be at least as heavy on the bonus materials and hopefully will be entertaining.


Kid Dracula is a comedic spinoff from the Castlevania series. It’s a side-scrolling action game that was released for the Game Boy in 1993, which was late enough in the system’s life that they were able to do some very nice things with it. While Rolan’s Curse and Gargoyle’s Quest were early and influential games for me, this was just one of my favorite games. It’s long and varied enough to be interesting, but short enough to finish in a single play session; the difficulty generally feels fair and not the result of poor design or programming decisions; and it’s just overall fun to play.

Here’s the story from the manual:


Let’s see how Nintendo Power introduced it:


In Japan, it’s known as Akumajō Supesharu: Boku Dorakyura-kun, or "Demon Castle Special: I'm Kid Dracula". It’s also the second game in the series, as there was a Famicom Kid Dracula game which never made it to the states.


Nintendo Power also gives us a map of the game’s eight stages. (I apologize for the less-than-perfect capture of these magazine bits—I only have access to a black-and-white flatbed scanner, so these are edited photographs.)

The main villain, Garamoth, appears in several other Castlevania games as Galamoth, who we learn little about besides his having differences of opinion with Dracula and some kind of control over space and time. And his willingness to fight with Alucard.

On that topic, despite being a goofy side game, this game actually fits into the Castlevania moderately well, if you take an “unreliable narrator” approach to the actual events and assume that “Kid Dracula” is either Alucard or a previous unseen child of Dracula. I’m not going to be going heavy fanfic this time around, though, as I think the story of the game—with a little help from the manual—speaks for itself.
  #2  
Old 09-24-2013, 07:49 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Default Kid Dracula Stage 1: The Castle














Let’s get this party started!








It is the far future. Dracula is gone, but Alucard Kid Dracula is immortal and Death The Cross-Eyed Creep has stayed on as his servant.








Unfortunately, the long sleep has caused the Kid to forget most of his potent magical powers. All he remembers is how to turn into a bat. It’ll have to do.
  #3  
Old 09-24-2013, 07:50 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The game gives a little tutorial for each power.


And the manual details each of the kid’s powers.










The Cross-Eyed Creep has very little faith in the kid’s abilities.


The manual also gives us a fairly useless intro to each stage. (The writers seemed to have such fun putting this together, though!)


We open just outside of the Kid’s coffin. Kid Dracula has most of the usual platformer powers: He can jump hella high, he can shoot little fireballs, and he can take a couple of hits before dying.


The first thing we encounter are these crushers, which move up and down and test to see if you’ve mastered concepts like “stop” and “go”.


Then there are some Batties hanging out. They’ll hang from the ceiling and swoop down when you pass under them. In general, you can dodge them pretty easily, and either ignore them or hit them with a fireball when they get low enough.
  #4  
Old 09-24-2013, 07:52 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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An important thing to note is that the Kid did not, in fact, forget everything—he also remembers how to do charged shots. In this game, you press Select to choose which magic you want to use (in this case, my options are NOR and BAT), then hold the attack button until the Kid flashes and his mouth at the bottom of the screen opens wide to active it.


The NOR attack shoots a bigger, more powerful fireball. It can kill most enemies in a single shot.


The other important thing is that killing enemies with the NOR fireball causes them to drop a coin. Coins are important, as we’ll see at the end of this stage, and this very first room is actually one of the best places in the game to grind for them. (Within each section of a stage, you can move back and forth to your heart’s desire, and enemies always respawn as soon as their spawn point is off the screen.)


The manual alerts you to this.


You can always tell when you reach the end of a section, as the Kid will swing his cap over himself and give you a smile.


The second section, the Clock Tower, introduces ladders and Knighty-Knights, who walk back and forth and throw their lances at you if they spot you.


If you’ve managed to take hits getting this far (say, if you were grinding for coins), you can turn into a bat and snag this heart, which restores (appropriately) one heart.


There are several other pickups we’ll find eventually, as well.


Note that while they have a “spinning” visual effect, these gears don’t actually move the Kid. You can stand on them as long as you want.


Cape swoosh!


The next segment introduces another new enemy.


This guy is known in the manual as Frankenpunk. He walks back and forth, and takes three hits to kill. He can also get excited and charge toward you. (Which the graphics make it look like, “Kid! You’re awake! Let me hug you right now!!!!”)


At the top of the ladder, you can head left first to find this flashing heart, which refills all of your hearts. Handy!


This hallway also features portraits and chandeliers. Despite the cartoony style, they really put a lot of work into the graphics for this game.


Take out another Frakenpunk, then swoosh!
  #5  
Old 09-24-2013, 07:54 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The next section is the castle roof.


(I’m amused to point this out: When the game is paused, that face on the bottom goes to sleep. It’s adorable!)


The gimmick to the roof are these seesaws, which tip back and forth when you step on them. They’re actually kid of tricky, which seems like a cheap thing to put in the first stage of a platformer game. Except for one thing:


You can fly.

(Note the counter in the speech bubble at the bottom: It counts down from 5, as you have five seconds in bat form before you change back. This is delightfully kind of the designers.)


Once you get past two rows of seesaws, you get a swoosh.


Then we reach the final section of the stage, up in the dramatic moonlight.


The bosses are “The Ghosts of Halloween Past, Present and Future”.


The first one you fight is the little guy, who jumps up high, charges across the screen, and shoots a sequence of two tiny bullets at you.


When you hit him enough, he cries and runs away.


The second ghost is bigger, but follows the same pattern—he jumps higher, moves faster and fires three larger bullets.


He took me down when I forgot the timing of jumping over him and dodging his bullets was different from the smaller guy (and less forgiving).


But we can make him cry, as well.


Finally, granddad comes in. His cane actually acts as a shield, and both fireballs and NOR fireballs will just bounce off of it harmlessly.
  #6  
Old 09-24-2013, 07:56 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Thing is, he never attacks. He just shakes a bit, then falls over. He’s really old, you know, and not up to all this jumpin’ and shootin’ stuff.


The small one drags him away, and we’re through Area 1!

Trivia: In the Japanese version, those fellows are supposed to be Klansmen. I’m certain the change was because of Nintendo’s censorship policies, but in this case, I think it actually was a good one: The tone of the game works better with goofy ghosts, and honestly, I suspect that the Klan comes off as sillier in Japan where no one actually has experience with it.


Nintendo Power didn’t have any maps for this game, but they did give an overview of each stage and some tips, which I scanned for your enjoyment.




















Afterwards, one of those bats we’ve been smacking around comes to plead for mercy. This unlocks the third magic attack, the Bat Attack (ATT).


It summons a bunch of bats that fly forward, up, around and back down, giving you and upward-diagonal attack.


Here’s the manual’s description of it.

Don’t let this post fool you: There are only two other big cutscenes in the entire game. For some reason, the designers saw fit to heavily front-load them.

Next time: Minigames!
  #7  
Old 09-24-2013, 04:20 PM
Kishi Kishi is offline
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It's interesting how this game is so similar to the Famicom version yet expands on it enough not to be a simple port. The first stage and boss fight, for example, are thematically identical; but the stage is fleshed out differently, and the "grandpa" stinger at the end of the boss is all new.

Also good: the bat's puppy dog eyes.
  #8  
Old 09-26-2013, 05:29 AM
MetManMas MetManMas is offline
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Also also good: The last bat wearing glasses.

I wish we had Konami games like this one available on Game Boy Virtual Console instead of just crap like The Castlevania Adventure and that GB Goemon game.
  #9  
Old 09-26-2013, 09:59 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
It's interesting how this game is so similar to the Famicom version yet expands on it enough not to be a simple port. The first stage and boss fight, for example, are thematically identical; but the stage is fleshed out differently, and the "grandpa" stinger at the end of the boss is all new.
I actually have never played the Famicom game (I didn't even know about it until recently), so if you have any other compare/contrast to add, I'd love to hear them.

And seriously, isn't the artwork in this game adorable?
  #10  
Old 09-26-2013, 10:00 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Default Kid Dracula Side-Post: Mini-Games


“Hello Kid Dracula. If you are in trouble these can help you. You’ll need two coins to try for more coins. You’ll need at least 10 coins to try for another Kid Dracula.”


After every stage, you are greeted by this friendly witch who offers you the chance to make good use of your coins. If you didn’t pick up many coins, you can try wagering them to win more.




The setup for that is a modified roulette wheel. I’ve never managed to win much off of it (I prefer to grind my coins the old-fashioned way), but you can get a nice payout if you’re lucky.


The manual goes for the obvious alliteration. (In my memory, the coins are “gold”, as opposed to crimson. I suspect this is like Firebrand being green—my imagination created something and what was written didn’t actually matter.)




When you choose lives, there are actually four games, but you have to get through a selection phase to determine which one you’ll play: The letters disappear off the balls, and the balls are juggled around. They’re actually fairly easy to follow if you just keep your eye on one, so I can usually get the game I want nine times out of ten.


The first game we’ll check out is “Grab Bat.”


Exactly as it says on the tin, you’re trying to grab bats.


You have 30 seconds to snag as many bats as you can by jumping and waving your net at them. The one that you’re directly under when they pop out won’t fly down as far, so there’s a lot of long jumping across the screen involved in this. I’ve personally never gotten 15 bats, but I suspect that it could be done if you were really good at this.




The manual gives it a fancier name, and gives us some cute artwork.
  #11  
Old 09-26-2013, 10:01 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The second game is “Stick ‘Em.”


This is my least favorite of the games, because it’s entirely based on luck and is mostly just nail-biting, not fun.




Pick a random hole! If you pick enough random holes that don’t contain death, you win! If the RNG hates you, you lose! (Also, the rewards aren’t great—Grab Bat will give you the same rewards with some skill involved.)


The manual makes it seem more exciting and interesting than it is.


The third game is “RPS”, Kid Dracula’s version of Rock-Paper-Scissors.


There’s a twist, though: Whether you win or lose the throw determines whether you need to attack or defend, and you get points for successfully attacking (and lose them for failing to defend or for attacking when it isn’t your turn).




Which turns this from a game of luck to a game of skill, and a fun one at that, even if the rewards are so-so for the time you need to invest into it. (The most you can get here is five lives.)


…This is exactly what to expect, actually. Good work, manual writers!
  #12  
Old 09-26-2013, 10:02 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The fourth and final game is “Jump & Pop.” It is unquestionably my favorite.


You have 30 second to bounce up and down and pop as many balloons with your pointy hat as possible. The dark balloons contain “LOSE”, but the light ones can contain 1UP, 2UP or 3UP.




Which means that, even hitting a few dud balloons and trying to take screenshots, I was able to snag more lives than the other games can possibly pay out. After trying everything once, there’s no reason to play any game except Jump & Pop.


But if you need more incentive: FANGSTICK FANDANGO.



And on that note, I think I’m done for the week.
  #13  
Old 09-27-2013, 04:33 AM
Refa Refa is offline
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Wow, basically everything in this game is super adorable which is amazing. I like how the stages take elements from past Castlevania games. I mean, the Castle entrance and the Clock Tower are obvious, but I know I've seen those moving platforms in Castlevania 3 (the ones that tilt depending on where you are on them).

It's a shame there won't be more cutscenes, they were really amusing.

Also is it just me or does Balloon Pop look a lot like Doodle Jump?
  #14  
Old 09-27-2013, 10:08 AM
Mogri Mogri is online now
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It kind of reminds me of that one stage in Bart's Nightmare. I think it's the hat.
  #15  
Old 09-27-2013, 04:07 PM
PrivateJoker PrivateJoker is offline
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Lol, the bloodstream?
  #16  
Old 09-28-2013, 01:35 AM
Kishi Kishi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
I actually have never played the Famicom game (I didn't even know about it until recently), so if you have any other compare/contrast to add, I'd love to hear them.
The Famicom game also has mini-games between stages, but the entire affair feels frustratingly out of your hands. As we've seen, the GB version gives you a little challenge before you can play the game you want, but here, even that's a total crapshoot.




You've probably seen this set-up before: once you've chosen a path, Kid Dracula will slide from the top of the screen to the bottom, taking every lateral path he meets. The path he ends on determines which mini-game you'll play.




That would be simple to deal with, but once you set him in motion, several additional branches are revealed in random places. So there's no way to strategize or predict which game you'll be sent to. Off to a good start...




Course A is "Roulette Pon!" As you can see, it's roughly analogous to the roulette game from the GB version. But this one is played for extra lives like the other mini-games, rather than for coins.




Course B is "Lift-up Can-can," a bizarre endeavor where you guess the color of a trio of can-can dancers' underwear. Different colors net different amounts of lives, but the odds are stacked relative to the rewards. Do you want a relatively safe shot at a 1-up or an infinitesimal shot at a 7-up? Again, it's a simple gamble with no skill involved.




Course C is "Rattling Lottery." You rotate the D-pad to spin the lottery cage. The balls that pop out award different numbers of lives, again depending on color. Again, you're entirely at the mercy of the RNG.





Finally, Course D is "Stabbing Sudden Death," which you may have noticed is just "Stick 'Em"—the least fun, most luck-based game from the Game Boy game. But here, it doesn't even stand out, because they're all like that.

The mini-games are definitely one area where the quasi-sequel vastly improves over the original, adding a crucial element of skill to engage and encourage the player. The Famicom version, on the other hand, is one of the most unpleasant parts of the game. An oppressive cloud of cigarette smoke will seem to fall around your head every time you trudge through another sequence of joyless dice rolls.
  #17  
Old 09-28-2013, 06:06 PM
Kishi Kishi is offline
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You can compare the two versions of the opening stage here:


Famicom

Game Boy


One key thing to notice is that the Famicom stages aren't broken up into discrete sections like the Game Boy ones. Looking at where the transitions are, the reason for their existence seems to be giving the game a chance to switch between horizontal and vertical scrolling. The Famicom game is capable of free-form diagonal scrolling, which was a pretty big deal on that system (it's the reason there's a black bar on the left edge of screenshots). It wasn't impossible on the Game Boy, either, but they apparently didn't want to devote the resources to it for this game. And we got that cute cape animation out of it!

You would probably expect a Game Boy conversion of a console game to have shorter, more condensed stages, but comparing the two directly, the portable version is just as complex, if not expanded over the original. This would be another reason for breaking the stages into sections: to get around the fact that the Game Boy's RAM couldn't load as much level data at once.

You can see the rotating platforms from Castlevania III were replaced by those long, tilting ones (also from Castlevania III). The only significant thing that was lost in translation was the area leading up the boss fight, which in the Famicom version mimicked the classic stairway structure seen throughout the main series.



As a final note, this stage's music in both versions is a cutesy take on "Beginning," the Stage 1 track from Castlevania III (the most recent game in the series at the time of FC Kid Dracula). Give a listen:

Beginning
Castle de Go Go! (FC)
Castle de Go Go! (GB)
  #18  
Old 09-28-2013, 06:26 PM
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Needs more
  #19  
Old 09-29-2013, 12:12 AM
Matto Matto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetManMas View Post
Also also good: The last bat wearing glasses.

I wish we had Konami games like this one available on Game Boy Virtual Console instead of just crap like The Castlevania Adventure and that GB Goemon game.
If only Konami would have the gull to give Nintendo the license for Kid Dracula so we can actually have the game on eShop.

Also GB Castlevania II plz.

I'm totally digging this game's art style. I loved Konami's spoof work, Parodius especially.
  #20  
Old 09-29-2013, 12:14 AM
Balrog Balrog is offline
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This game is gorgeous.
  #21  
Old 09-29-2013, 12:56 AM
Bunk Moreland Bunk Moreland is offline
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Man, this topic is making me want to check the eshop on my JP 3DS to see if either the FC or GB versions are up.
  #22  
Old 09-29-2013, 12:12 PM
Falselogic Falselogic is offline
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yeah! I went looking for the Famicon version on-line last night but couldn't find it.
  #23  
Old 09-29-2013, 12:29 PM
Octopus Prime Octopus Prime is offline
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Originally Posted by Bunk Moreland View Post
Man, this topic is making me want to check the eshop on my JP 3DS to see if either the FC or GB versions are up.
This thread and the Demons Crest one are really making me weep for what is missing from the VC.
  #24  
Old 09-30-2013, 08:03 AM
SpoonyBardOL SpoonyBardOL is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
As a final note, this stage's music in both versions is a cutesy take on "Beginning," the Stage 1 track from Castlevania III (the most recent game in the series at the time of FC Kid Dracula). Give a listen:

Beginning
Castle de Go Go! (FC)
Castle de Go Go! (GB)
I played Gokujyou Parodius long before Kid Dracula, so I always thought his theme from that game was riffing directly on Castlevania III, but I learned later it was riffing on a theme that was riffing on Castlevania III. Layers!
  #25  
Old 10-01-2013, 09:43 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Kishi is now officially the awesomest person ever. If we ever meet in person, I owe him a drink. Dude, anything else you want to add to this thread, go for it. I'm learning all sorts of things I never knew about a game I've been playing for two decades.

Refa: There are two more cutscenes, though they'll be a few updates from now.
  #26  
Old 10-01-2013, 11:41 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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Default Kid Dracula Stage 2: The Forest




The Kid moves along the map at the beginning of each stage, and the speech bubble below tells you what stage you’re going into.


Our first encounter in the forest is these knife-throwing fellows. Sounds like a great opportunity to try out our new Bat Attack! (Note that all charged attacks cause enemies to drop coins, not just NOR.)


The owls will hide in trees and swoop out at you.


These tree faces are invincible, though you can make them scrunch up by attacking them. They’ll try to inhale you—I don’t think they actually can, but being pulled towards them usually means you’re get smacked by the next owl that flies by.


There’s a proper heart container right in our path. This is one of the reasons you want to play straight through rather than using passwords: The life extensions aren’t carried over by passwords. (Though the second one isn’t until late in the game, this extra heart can make a lot of difference.)


Really, the initial climb up the tree is nothing special.


Section two is a cute and gimmicky area: See those flowers? They represent your two chances to get across the wide ravine. You need to shoot them, and each shot pushes them back and extends the vine you’re walking on.


The manual claims they’ll try to eat you, but that’s not really the case. Just don’t hug them.


They’ll spit giant dandelion puffs at you, and those are easy to avoid.


The beetles hanging in the trees are easy pickings with ATT, which is good, because they’re a pain to try to deal with if you actually let them drop: They’re too low for your weapons to hit.
  #27  
Old 10-01-2013, 11:42 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The manual calls them “Percy Pinchaloaf” which…umm…


ANYWAY, the owls here are your big concern. They’ll latch onto the flowers and try to carry them off. You’ll have a couple of seconds to try to kill them before they do, or you can shoot the flowers and have them “dodge” the owls that way. ATT is unquestionably your best weapon here, and a little patience can go a long way. Just don’t let yourself get swarmed and you’ll be fine.


But if you fail, you drop down to the lower level. If that flower gets carried off, you’re toast.


There’s a heart at the end as a reward for getting through the gauntlet.


Cape swoosh! (I had to go through this—and most other areas—multiple times to get all the screenshots. Like with Gargoyle’s Quest, I’m not actually good enough at this to take screencaps and also not die.)


The third section is the falls.


Not that differently-colored log? It’ll fall when stepped on.


Logs will also come over the falls and try to knock you into the water, but they’re easy to avoid.


Trickier are there jumping fish, which will pop up and either land on you or sail over your head, depending on your sense of timing.


The manual refers to those as “the trout that wouldn’t die”, but given that a single shot will kill them, it seems a misnomer. Unless they’re all one zombie fish that keeps coming back?!

Because of the angle they come at you, the Bat Attack is the best way to take out the fish. It gets a real workout in this stage.


The last part of this area has a collapsing long bridge that took me forever to figure out as a kid.


Charge up BAT before you start crossing. Walk without stopping. The first fish will go over your head. Just before the second fish, turn into a bat and you’ll have enough timer to reach the end. If you don’t, the second fish will hit you and the third one will knock you into the abyss.


Swoosh!
  #28  
Old 10-01-2013, 11:44 AM
Beowulf Beowulf is offline
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The final section is the boss fight against Jason. He’s a boss with two phases.


First, he’ll burst out of his house and take a minute to pull out his axe. You can (and should) wail on him during this.


He’ll then run around with the axe trying to hack at you. That’s just a lot of jumping over him and attacking.


When you do it enough, he’ll get frustrated and go inside.


Then he’ll come out with his shotgun. He’ll jump on the roof and either shoot forward or down, though the shots are fairly easy to avoid if you’re careful about your hitbox. He’ll also occasionally come down just long enough to try to ram you.


Hit him enough, and he’ll throw up his arms and flee for good. Victory!


When we beat this stage, Kid Dracula remembers one of his spells. The homing shot fires five bullets, each as powerful as a normal shot. I bet this will be useful in the next stage!


The manual doesn’t have much to offer about the Homing shot.


This is what Nintendo Power had to say about the stage we just finished, incidentally.

Next time: The amusement park of the future?
  #29  
Old 10-01-2013, 12:01 PM
Mogri Mogri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post

The manual refers to those as “the trout that wouldn’t die”, but given that a single shot will kill them, it seems a misnomer. Unless they’re all one zombie fish that keeps coming back?!
First, that is the best name.

Second, maybe it refers to the fact that the fish does not die despite being out of the water.
  #30  
Old 10-01-2013, 12:02 PM
Sven Sven is offline
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Quote:
Then he’ll come out with his shotgun.
Best. Game. Ever.
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