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MFG38

Calling Castlevania experts of Doomworld

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I'm going to confess something: I've never played a single Castlevania game. And as someone who loves Metroidvania, I sort of hate to admit that. That said, I have been meaning to get into the Castlevania series, in particular the Metroidvania-style titles.

 

Now, the exact question is as follows: out of the GBA and DS Castlevanias, which one would you people say is the best entry point into the series? Why only the GBA and DS games, that's because I don't own a lot of consoles, and those two platforms are pretty much the only choices I have. I don't want to emulate the games either, mostly because I prefer to play console games on the actual hardware (unless less favorable circumstances force me to emulate them), but also because I have concerns about the legality of emulating games I don't own physical copies of.

 

I do have a PS1 as well, but Symphony of the Night is not an option for the reasons stated above, as well as the utterly ludicrous prices it commands on the second-hand market.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Can only speak for GBA 'Vanias:

  • Aria of Sorrow is the best one of the bunch, and is still considered among the best in the series, highly recommended
  • Circle of the Moon was the first Castlevania on the system with gameplay akin to Classicvanias, toughest out of the three. Has some interesting ideas, but might not click with everyone
  • Lastly, Harmony of Dissonance. It just is. There's nothing too special about it, the graphics are weirdly saturated and thus quite unpleasant, but it's a passable option if you just want some more Metroidvania

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Posted (edited)

Aria of Sorrow is the best GBA Castlevania game, though none of them have as good music or graphics as SOTN.

 

The Xbox360 version of SOTN is okay, though I think at least the life max up effect looks and sounds better on PS1, it's almost like they designed it with the slowdown in mind (the PS1 version starts running slow sometimes when there are a lot of sprites or certain effects on screen, doesn't happen on X360). I don't remember how good the graphics scaling looked, I don't have it on X360 myself (or even a functioning X360 right now...) so it's been a while since I've seen that version.

 

Checked eBay and seems that the regular PAL version has went for about 250 euros twice now in an auction format listing, LOL :D

Really glad I got the PAL limited edition (w/ audio CD and artbook) for less years ago... wish I would've bought some other stuff back then too, impossible to get now unless I suddenly become rich somehow.

 

If you don't mind modding your console (or getting a premodded console and assuming you don't have a modded console already), the American NTSC version and especially the Greatest Hits release should be a bit cheaper (still expensive for an old PS1 game, but it's possible to get it under 100 euros, maybe around 70 or even less if you're not in a hurry?). It's just as legit as playing the PAL version and you don't have to suffer 50Hz and a squished picture, though trying to resell it sucks (especially from here where the cost of mailing anything with tracking to outside the borders of the country is just ridiculous...).

 

Mednafen should be able to do pretty accurate PS1 emulation (not the easiest to use emulator though unless you like the command line and editing textfiles by hand, I'm sure there are frontends that use the same emulation core though). With ePSXe the accuracy depends on plugins and plugin config, I couldn't get the default software GPU plugin (which otherwise should be the most accurate choice) to do scaling that looks the same as the NTSC version of the game running on real hardware on a SDTV CRT video monitor (picture was always too wide or too thin, the wide look was quite similar to the PAL version though).

 

edit: Oh yeah I forgot, there's also Dracula X Chronicles for PSP which includes ports of SOTN and Rondo of Blood and isn't very expensive. These versions are pretty accurate to the originals (though IIRC once again there's no slowdown in SOTN in many places where there would be originally) and at least SOTN comes with some little extra features. The scaling looks really, really bad though due to the PSPs limited screen resolution, and you have to unlock the original 2D games by playing a remake of Rondo of Blood with crappy 3D graphics unless you can put a save file downloaded from the Internet to your PSP or PSVita somehow.

 

edit2: Well I just checked and the PAL version on real hardware is even slightly more squished vertically than NTSC in ePSXe with stretch-to-4:3 scaling, which actually looks about the same as the Xbox360 version:

(minus the terrible upscaling filter that person is using which I sure hope can be disabled from the Xbox version's settings)

 

This is how the NTSC version looks on real hardware:

jpg

 

edit3: apparently the Xbox360 version also has some audio compression issues... I guess it's still a not too terrible option if you insist on not acquiring the PS1 version by not strictly legit means. One solution (if you can accept using an emulator or a modded console) could be to buy the Japanese PS1 version and use the unofficial translation patch. I just checked Yahoo auctions and the re-release prices seem sane (search 悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲), perhaps once in a while somebody will pop up to sell one on eBay with similar prices. The translation itself is original, not ripped from the official English version.

 

edit4: You can most likely also purchase it on PSN if you happen to have a PS3 or PS4. On PS3 it is just going to be the PS1 version running in Sony's software PS1 emulator (including a crappy PAL "conversion" if you get it from European PSN). I am not sure how well it fares there, I cannot test with my original discs because I don't have a working PS3 right now and the downloaded games don't run on the exact the same version of the emulator as disc-based games anyway. The PS4 version I know nothing about.

 

...you can probably guess I really like this game and wish you'd play it first instead of any of the handheld games :)

Edited by xttl

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Everyone who says Aria Of Sorrow is a person of good taste and you should heed their recommendation.

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No love for Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness????

 

I really like both games regarding the 3D Castlevanias and one of them is pretty important just for the lore because it shows the origins of the Belmont clan and the start of the "night hunting". Both games have a fine replayability with a nice music.

 

Now, for the 2D Castlevanias, obviously the most famous is SOTN, but the others are pretty nice with tons of fun and secrets to discover. I played Circle of the Moon, Aria of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin the most. And people say that Order of Ecclesia (this is one of few that I didn't played) is also great.

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All of the GBA Castlevanias are incredible, but Aria of Sorrow is easily the best. 

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Order of Ecclesia on DS is one of my favorite Metroidvania titles.
Don't pass this one up, particularly if you like a good challenge.

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It's on the PS2, but Castlevania: Lament Of Innocence is better than Symphony Of The Night as far as fun factor goes. 

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Aria of Sorrow. I never liked Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance feels oddly incomplete or hackish at times. Aria of Sorrow benefits greatly from lots of refinement.

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Aria is the most liked by players among the GBA titles. If you are looking for the "Harder" gameplay people usually associate with casltevania games I'd start with Circle of the Moon since it is the only one among those three with anything resembling challenge. Aria has a lot of cool stuff to do and Harmony is either terrible or amazing, depending on if you like the weird graphic style and all the exploration it needs. Then again both circle and harmony have really stupid stuff you can find that make them extremely easy, but that's the case with every single castlevania game so holding it against Aria is kinda goofy. (Infact some would argue Circle suddenly becomes the easiest of the three if you know what to exploit)

 

Personally I'd say play the first level of the three (Until the first save point -Well in circle this will end your run in like 2 minutes lol- or the first boss) and see which one holds your interest the most first.

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Of the GBA/DS games I think I enjoy Dawn of Sorrow the most, but I'm not sure if that's for purely nostalgic reasons or what. Aria of Sorrow is also great but unfortunately I never had that game growing up so it wasn't until several years later that I finally had a chance to play it.

 

Unrelated side note: I unironically think Castlevania 64 is a good game. Please direct all hate messages to my inbox. :)

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4 hours ago, Sporku said:

Unrelated side note: I unironically think Castlevania 64 is a good game. Please direct all hate messages to my inbox. :)

 

I mentioned this in the unpopular retro opinions thread. I've never played the original, but I have played through the director's cut, and I had a good time with it.

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I'd start with Symphony of the Night on PS4, official port on current hardware, bundled with Rondo of Blood, and features a third playable character. 

 

After that you've got three GBA and three DS games iirc. The GBA stuff SHOULD still be available on the Wii U's virtual console. 

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6 hours ago, Devalaous said:

I'd start with Symphony of the Night on PS4, official port on current hardware, bundled with Rondo of Blood, and features a third playable character. 

 

That would be an option...

 

...if I had a PS4.

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Super Castlevania IV. It is as much the pinnacle of platforming as SotN is to Metroidvania. Fun fact: the lead developers were actually asked by Konami to use pseudonyms in the credits because the game was so good, they were afraid they'd get poached by rivals.

 

Legally, you can play it in Konami's Castlevania anniversary collection for the major consoles. Otherwise, I think it's fairly affordable second hand. 

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