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Dracula

Posts: 52,928
(He/His)
Every post-SOTN handheld vania is both the best of the series and the black sheep of the series.

The doppelgangers are shape-shifting demons whose true form is unknown to us, and are therefore worth 0 Dracula Points.
 

Mr. Sensible

Pitch and Putt Duffer
I definitely also remember much gnashing of teeth over the Giant Enemy Crab boss in Ecclesia, which seemed to be many folks' breaking point for that particular CV entry (well, maybe that AND needing to juggle weapons to compensate for enemy resistance to certain types of damage). If you can manage to crack that crab open with hammers, then I feel like clearing the rest of Ecclesia is quite doable, but it has to be the toughest CV since the 8-bit entries.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
PoS is pretty cool I think. OoE is one of my favorites ever and I find DoS to the least engaging of all the handheld metrovans. In summery, Castlevania opinions is a land of contrasts.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
DoS is an excellent video game that has the misfortune of coming hot on the heels of a Best in Genre game.

And also a fairly unnecessary, yet mandatory, new mechanic that hindered enjoyment
 

Kishi

Little Waves
(They/Them)
Staff member
Moderator
Dawn I tried to convince myself I liked—like, with written arguments—until I had to admit it's just not good. Portrait I prayed to be good, poring over every pre-release screenshot and latching on to every detail that seemed the least bit promising, and it turned out so relentlessly bad that it taught me never to hope again. Order is maybe less awful, but it was probably for the best that the series ended there.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Both Dawn and Portrait have grinding mechanics that are 100% satisfying to me, so on that aspect alone I got enjoyment out of them, but I also liked them well enough for other reasons. It's been quite the number of years since I last played any of the handheld games though.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
I like portrait partly for its kitchen-sink approach to character playstyles but largely because it's the only one of the metroidvanias where a whip in story mode really feels right to use even if it's not the only option.

I think Ecclesia probably is the best of the DS games but there's enough different about it that it feels much less like a Castlevania to me and just a good game with a gothic vibe.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
The pithy, reductive assessments on the DSvanias go as such:

Dawn: boring.
Portrait: bad.
Ecclesia: good!

In this metric and dynamic Dawn is actually the most wounding one, and the one I least like to think about.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
Portrait had Nation of Fools, which may be my single favourite Castlevania level based on premise alone
It's good but it's the follow-up area -- Burnt Paradise -- that is just narrowly edged-out by the Ecclesia training area for best platforming in the post-SOTN series.
 

Dracula

Posts: 52,928
(He/His)
Y'all could have killed at least one Dracula in the span of time it took us to relitigate the DS Castlevanias for the 1 millionth time!
 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
My opinions on these...

Dawn: It's basically Aria again but with a stupider plot, a few DS gimmicks, and an endless grind to craft weapons that you would've found for free in the previous game and to see if souls you got are just crap or only crap until you get more. It's the only one I haven't replayed, mainly 'cuz I'd rather just replay Aria instead even if it doesn't look and sound as nice as this one.

Portrait: I really want to like this one more than I do. It's got male and female co-protagonists and the Super Mario 64 painting concept is a solid one. But the level designs are pretty bland and the enemies are largely phoned in and Charlotte's spells that need to be charged feel largely situational next to Jonathan's more typical Metroidvania protagonist moveset and gear load.

Also while all the DSvanias reused enemy sprites this is the one that reused bosses too. Not really sold on SotN Legion/Granfaloon with less impressive special effects.

Order: It's a difficult game but I really like the setting and it had some pretty cool set pieces and platforming challenges. Shanoa's moveset feels a bit dialed back compared to Soma, but I'm okay with that. Didn't care much for the castle though.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Olrox is a special case, given that he is based on Count Orlock, who himself was based directly on Count Dracula, but redesigned and renamed in a way intended to (unsuccessfully) avoid copyright infringement on the Stoker estate. Because of this direct blood lineage to Vlad, I easily determine that a defeat of Count Olrox, or any vampire taking the name or format of the count from the film Nosferatu, is worth a Bonus Dracula.
Then put one more Bonus Drac on the board, because me, my Shield Rod and my Medusa Shield made short work of the imposter count.
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
In celebration of Castloween I picked up my save of Bloodstained again and am making my way through it. I stalled out a few months back sometime after getting the Reflector Ray largely due to being distracted by other things and the performance on the Switch being irritating. Mostly the loading times.

Has there been a significant change since? Because either the loading times are better or they just weren't as bad as I remember them. That initial load is still a bit of a pain, as is the delay when entering the subscreen for the first time, but beyond that it feels way better than I remember.

As for the DS Igavanias:

Dawn: Retreads Aria's ground, isn't as good at it. It also started the low-budget anime look which was amplified in the next entry, and I don't think anything more needs to be said about the touch control stuff. But it was an absurdly pretty 2D game, and I remember liking a lot of the soundtrack, and the bonus mode that called back to Castlevania III was great.

Portrait: In a lot of ways the lesser of the three. I really didn't care for the overall character designs (Jonathan is about as Blandy McBlanderson as it gets), I felt the character switching to be more cumbersome than fun (though it did have its moments) and the game has one of the most boring incarnations of Dracula in the series. Though to his credit he does merge with Death, and a final battle against a Vampire Reaper was certainly a cool idea. Some of the portrait areas were cool as well, especially the two variations on the city/circus with one on an outer loop and the other on an inner loop. And its bonus mode was a much better exploration of touch controls than the tacked-on ones in the previous game.

Order: I... really wanted to like this one. I really did. It's probably the best game of the bunch but so much about it didn't click with me. It was definitely a step harder than the other two, which would normally be fine, but it was just a touch too far for me. Plus, I'll be honest, I hated the system of weaknesses to different weapon types and how it was tuned to such an extreme. Instead of getting bonus damage when hitting a monster with something they're weak against, you're penalized with wimpy damage whenever you DON'T do that. The need for constant switching and also the really punishing boss fights (god that early fight against the crab climbing the tower, awesome in concept and design, but I died so much to it....). But I can recognize the good that the game has and I'd like to go back to it some day.
 

Kishi

Little Waves
(They/Them)
Staff member
Moderator
Dawn:

But it was an absurdly pretty 2D game,
The first area received a lot of polish—the elegant polygonal backdrop, the finely detailed and differentiated house interiors, that tunnel that shifts perspective as you walk through it, etc.—but subsequent areas get into stuff like foreground that's just a color gradient or that sludgey, indistinct, 256-color aesthetic that clashes with the sprites and doesn't even look good on its own and of course sticks around for the following games.

When I saw the first screenshots and the proportion of the sprites and all, I thought, "Oh, now that portable technology's caught up, we can get another game that looks like Symphony!" but that turned out to be only one piece of a puzzle that would never get put back together.


Has there been a significant change since? Because either the loading times are better or they just weren't as bad as I remember them. That initial load is still a bit of a pain, as is the delay when entering the subscreen for the first time, but beyond that it feels way better than I remember.
People keep saying it's got a lot better recently, and Tomm keeps tellin' 'em they haven't done anything to the performance since January.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
OMG

Harmony gives you a "Good" message if you beat a boss without taking damage.

I never knew this.

This changes everything.
 

Dracula

Posts: 52,928
(He/His)
OMG

Harmony gives you a "Good" message if you beat a boss without taking damage.

I never knew this.

This changes everything.
It does indeed.

INTRODUCING THE PERFECT DRACULA BONUS CHALLENGE:

In games such as Harmony of Dissonance, where a boss defeated with no damage rewards the player with a special message or item, a Dracula defeated in this way is worth 2 Dracula Points.

Examples of eligible games:

  • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance ("Good" message gained when defeating Dracula)
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (No-damage Medal awarded from defeating Dracula)
  • Castlevania: Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (1-Up gained from defeating Dracula)

Note that some games may not display the item or message upon clearing the Dracula item, but it still counts as long as the player received no damage.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I believe the congratulatory messages when grabbing the boss orbs aren't tied to remaining health after the battle--instead they codify the informal and communal player tendencies to stylishly grab the orbs in the older games in order to manifest a satisfying freeze frame. Thus, a high jump nets a "Good!", a jump while whipping a "Cool!!" and most of all, a fully-extended whip lash at the apex of a jump the coveted "Excellent!!!" rating.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
Oh really? I got the good with just a regular double jump nab in air.

Dang!
 

Dracula

Posts: 52,928
(He/His)
Oh yeah, I forgot that it's tied to the whip-jumps.

We'll modify it a bit for Harmony, then: the Dracula Wraith battle does yield an orb, so if you can net an "Excellent!!!" from grabbing it, you'll still get 2 Dracula Points.
 

muteKi

say "fish don't exist" to my face, motherfucker
My tip for every Ecclesia boss is to use the slow-down item (r. eye of devil?), the curse ring (or whatever it is that gives you effective 1HP but massive stat boost to attack), and the laser-axe glyph combo. Except crabula.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
INTRODUCING THE PERFECT DRACULA BONUS CHALLENGE:
Does this extend to Bonus Draculas*? And so it would make a perfect win (which is celebrated by the game in some way) against one of them worth 1 full Dracula Point?

*THE PERFECT BONUS DRACULA BONUS CHALLENGE BONUS (Or PBDBCB, if you prefer.)
 

Dr. Nerd

(He/Him)


I beat Castlevania for the first time! I had to use save states on the Anniversary Collection, since Dracula and Death are jerks
 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
You don't even need the Alucard Shield, the Shield Rod+Iron Shield combo can be done as soon as you get the rod and is quite efficient at slaughtering nigh anything that moves.
 

Dracula

Posts: 52,928
(He/His)
You really don't "need" anything past a certain point in Symphony. It's all about how much satisfaction you get from certain item combinations. When I first played the game, I abused the Alucard Shield Rod combo and the Crissaegrim, and I actually felt kind of guilty about it, lol. (What I really should have felt guilty about was using guides to learn about the game before experiencing it blind.)
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
You don't even need the Alucard Shield, the Shield Rod+Iron Shield combo can be done as soon as you get the rod and is quite efficient at slaughtering nigh anything that moves.
The Iron Shield is pretty sick, but it is eventually less effective than the Alucard Shield, which is just "hold down the button and do 255 damage on like every other frame." Against, say, Galamoth, the Iron Shield is way less useful.
 
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