Pick 5: Favorite Castlevania Games

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In the spirit of the upcoming Hart & Usagi Podcast episode we’ll be doing on the Castlevania series, I figured I’d wet your appetites for that audio goodness by letting you know what my favorites of the Castlevania series currently is. A quick honorable mention goes to Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge on the original Game Boy. It’s the best of the three on the GB and has the kick ass music the series is known for. It’s a must play if you’re in anyway interested in the more forgotten gems of the platformer genre.

CASTLEVANIA: SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT
A very awesome direction for the series to take at the time in 1997. At the outset, after Death strips Alucard of all of his items and weapons, you feel underpowered. It’s the same feeling I also got at the start of the inverted castle. Otherwise the game feels very easy and Alucard overpowered. Traversing the inverted version of the castle also feels clunky. Overall, though, it’s a fun game and definitely worthy of its position as an all-time classic.

**READ MORE ON SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT: Pick 5: Games I Haven’t Played But I Should | What Game Are You Shocked You Own?

SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV
After the third NES entry, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, it seems Konami felt the need to tone down the difficulty with the fourth game. They also played a lot with the new features of the Super Nintendo, namely Mode 7. Whipping in eight directions and the R button being dedicated to the subweapon makes for a fun time even if a bit easier. That is until you arrive at the first of four bosses at the end of the game. Slogra will end you!

**READ MORE ON SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV: Favorite Game Music

CASTLEVANIA II: SIMON’S QUEST
You could almost consider this game the first of the SotN style. It’s has the free roaming element where you can go anywhere you want at any time as long as you have the required items to do so. The problem, however, is that it isn’t nearly as polished as those later games. It’s also very difficult to know what to do or where to go without some kind of outside help. Once you do know it can be quite enjoyable.

**READ MORE ON SIMON’S QUEST: Halloween Gaming Update: Castlevania II | Mastered Month: Simon’s Quest

CASTLEVANIA: PORTRAIT OF RUIN
Of the three DS entries I liked the middle release the best. It didn’t have any of the DS gimmickry from Dawn of Sorrow. It simply used the touch screen as a second, additional screen. How novel! The character switching on-the-fly is a fancy way to have two sets of equipment ready at all times. It’s still cool and does lead to some fun ways to fight the tougher bosses. Even the namesake portraits give some variety to the areas you visit.

**READ MORE ON PORTRAIT OF RUIN: Now Playing: April ’07 | 2006 Game of the Year

CASTLEVANIA: ARIA OF SORROW
This is without a doubt my absolute favorite game in the entire Castlevania series. I have no doubt it’ll never be surpassed in my eyes. Anybody who claims to love Symphony of the Night and hasn’t played Aria of Sorrow is really missing out. So get out there and find yourself a copy of this masterpiece of gaming history. You will not regret it!

**READ MORE ON ARIA OF SORROW: Mastered Month: Aria of Sorrow | Complete In Box Fridays: Castlevania Double Pack

Super Legends

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Over the last couple of days I’ve been playing Super Mario Bros. from the All-Stars game. This is the SNES version for those who somehow thought I’d buy the exact same thing on the Wii after pointing out there wasn’t any reason to do so.

I’m up to world eight and not having an easy time of it. I did use the warps in levels 1-2 and 4-2 and currently having problems passing 8-2.

In collection news, which I realize has been quite frequent lately, I received the final PlayStation 2 game on my wish list. It’s Power Rangers: Super Legends. I played the first level for testing purposes and it was better than I expected. Simple, sure, but still better than previous viewings of gameplay video had me thinking it was.

This same wish list of PS2 games also went from zero to -1 as I also bought Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. I’ve had a growing interest in the game once I called it quits in October of last year from playing its sequel, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness.

While testing this Castlevania game it seems like it was less likely I’d get lost. I also performed an item duplication trick that I saw on the game’s playstation.com page in an old PlayStation Underground video.

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Happy holidays!

Pick 5: Favorite Game Boy Advance Games

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In a follow up of sorts to my list of favorite PlayStation 2 games I give you my favorite Game Boy Advance games. These aren’t necessarily my top five as much as some of my favorite GBA titles. And as such THIS DOESN’T INCLUDE GAMES I HAVEN’T PLAYED and ISN’T LISTED IN ANY SPECIFIC ORDER other than the order in which I thought of them.

ASTRO BOY: OMEGA FACTOR
It’s safe to say that most games based on the Astro Boy license are terrible. However this GBA cartridge breaks the mold. Anybody who’s a fan of 2D beat-’em-ups or shoot-’em-ups will really enjoy this game even if you don’t care or know about the story or characters from the anime. Astro Boy himself controls and animates very well making for the use of his moves (normal, special, or super) extremely satisfying.

BALDUR’S GATE: DARK ALLIANCE
I don’t know what prompted me to buy this game a number of years ago. It may have received good reviews or it was on sale at a cheap price. Either way I don’t usually play many hack-‘n-slash titles. I enjoy them, but I’m not normally drawn to them often. With that said, it was quite an enjoyable experience even if I did get stuck a few times. The graphics are suitable and I felt the difficulty was overall more manageable than the console version.

CASTLEVANIA: ARIA OF SORROW
The GBA library is fairly short on lengthier action platformers and this is where the Castlevania series had been extremely helpful. It’s a joy to play this particular entry in the series. Soma’s unique soul stealing ability may make it a bit bothersome at times to get the subweapon you want from a specific enemy, but fun all the same. With a bunch of unlockables it’s easy to see why this is a top notch Castlevania game…from the future.

METROID FUSION
As one of the first Metroid games I finished, Fusion had many great moments that I liked. What was most memorable about it to me was the different enemies called “X” and the more story driven game which was the introduction of Adam Malkovich, but in name only. Even with these differences to the typical Metroid game it still very much feels and plays like the series is known for.

SUPER STREET FIGHTER II: TURBO REVIVAL
The Game Boy Advance isn’t exactly known for having a lot of fighting games to choose from, but from what it does have most are well made. This entry in the Street Fighter series is one of the best and has several additional modes to have fun with like survival and time attack. If you’ve ever had fun with an SF game, then you’d do yourself well by picking up this fantastic port of the timeless arcade game.

2003 Game of the Year

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Note: You may very well disagree with some of my choices, but that’s why it’s a good list.

NOMINEES
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Double Dragon Advance
Kill Switch
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando

2003 Game of the Year: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Runner-up: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

This was the first one in awhile where I had some trouble choosing not only the nominees, but also the winners.

After thinking about it Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had to be the winner. It’s the only game that I’ve ever known nothing about yet liked it so much that I did three speed runs of the game back-to-back with my best time being just under three hours. The combat is the weakest part of the game which is why it’s good that there’s a ton of awesome platforming action to play. I was pretty disappointed with the newest game in the series to say the least, but I can’t recommend Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time enough.

Out of all of the Symphony of the Night style of Castlevania games, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is my favorite. It was the first of that style that I played on a recommendation from usagi704. I played through it several times. First I had the original release and then soon I bought the Castlevania Double Pack and played it again on that cartridge.

I recommend any of the nominated games as they are all excellent. Want to play the first game to have a cover system? Get yourself some Kill Switch. Maybe you want to show all those NES lovers what a better Double Dragon looks like? Show them the remake of Double Dragon Advance.

Thanks for reading!

Previous entries: 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002

2002 Game of the Year

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Note: You may very well disagree with some of my choices, but that’s why it’s a good list.

NOMINEES
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Medal of Honor: Frontline
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Ratchet & Clank
WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth

2002 Game of the Year: Medal of Honor: Frontline
Runner-up: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

As far as the Medal of Honor series on consoles goes, Frontline was the best at the time and still holds up really well today. The control layout is a little different than in today’s FPS games, but it still works well. It also has a slower pace, but that doesn’t mean it feels sluggish. Shooting is fairly deliberate yet feels right for this game. I would recommend Frontline to anybody looking for a top-notch MoH game!

I consider Harmony of Dissonance a combination of the older Castlevania style (whip attacks/sub-weapons) with the newer Symphony of the Night style (castle exploration). It’s a very solid game in the series that I think only suffers from a bunch of locked doors making for not always knowing where to go. Still worth your time, though.

Previous entries: 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001

21

Alright, back again and this time I show off a total of 21 games and 2 systems that I’ve added to my collection.

In the past some of you have wondered how I get all of this stuff. It’s all thanks to a wizard or if you’d rather a different reason, then we’ll go with Joe Pesci. Thanks Joe! (lol) In the end it’s about what I got not how I get it. So let’s get to the goodies.

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Larger view

First up is two Game Boy Pockets, one blue (eBay) and one green (eStarland.com). I invite you to check out this video I made that shows me testing the unopened green Game Boy Pocket for the first time.

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Now for the games. The picture above is to give a perspective of the many games I bought. Below are more detailed shots via links of smaller groups. Group #2 are actually replacement games as the ones I already owned were working fine, but the label color didn’t match the disc color.

GROUP #1
Fighting Force
Crash Team Racing
Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed
Final Fight 3
The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris

GROUP #2
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Nightfire
Spy Hunter

GROUP #3
Metal Slug 7
Overlord: Raising Hell
Bleach: Dark Souls

GROUP #4
Metal Slug Advance
After Burner: Black Falcon
Tetris DX
Phalanx

GROUP #5
Neo Contra
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
Alone in the Dark: Inferno
CT Special Forces

GROUP #6
Tetris
Pokemon Blue

I was thinking of plans for future blogs/videos and I thought of showing off sections of my collection that were requested by you all. I’m not going to do a multi-part of all my PS2 games or anything really long like that. However, I’m willing to show games that I have from a certain series or something similar like that. Maybe even with some gameplay footage at the end to spice things up a little. So if you’d like to suggest something, please do. Just remember to check out my game collection list to see what I have first.

Like always, I’ll put up another blog here soon. So thanks for reading.

Double Dragon, Battletoads, Super Mario All-Stars, and more!

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Here’s a quick list of games that I most recently bought.

IT’S ABOUT GAMES
Turrican (GB) – game only
Super Mario All-Stars (SNES) – game only
Aladdin in Nasira’s Revenge (PS) – complete
Quake II (PS) – complete
Rainbow Six (PS) – complete
Devil Kings (PS2) – complete
Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2) – complete
Kill Switch (PS2) – complete

STICKMAN’S
Golden Axe II (GEN) – game only
Battletoads & Double Dragon (SNES) – game only
The Italian Job (PS) – complete
Sunset Riders (GEN) – complete
Rise of the Kasai (PS2) – new