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Retro Games: Underrated or Overrated: Castlevania 64 edition!

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Is Castlevania 64 Underrated or Overrated?

Overrated! What were thos... 1 9.09%
 
Underrated, it gets unwar... 2 18.18%
 
Justly rated in 1999, gre... 7 63.64%
 
Fine like wine! The game ... 0 0.00%
 
The game is pedestrian, y... 1 9.09%
 
Total:11

Welcome friends, to my third edition of the Retro Games: Overrated/Underrated Voting poll. In our first two editions/threads we looked at Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Shadows of the Empire (Both being N64 games).

Today we won't break tradition and as such the game in question is none other than the often maligned and yet fondly remembered (by some) 1999's Castlevania 64.

Where to start? Well I didn't play Castlevania 64 right at launch (January 1999) instead I got a copy of the game a few months later in May. In those early days of the internet I approached the game only with the knowledge of Gamepro and EGM's reviews (As I was subscribed to the magazines) which were both extremely positive.

Gamepro I believed had given the game a 4.5/5.0 and the usually strict EGM had given the title scores of 9.0, 9.0, 9.0, 8.0. In other words ...say what you will about Castlevania 64, and its special Edition titled 'Legacy of Darkness' (released at the latter part of that year) at least back in in January/February 1999 professional reviewers were impressed by the game.

Now, context is important in many things in life, and in gaming it is no different. In January 1999 the gaming world was just a few months removed from the release of Ocarina of Time (the holy grail of video games) so the fact that Castlevania 64 was viewed in a positive light back then, so close to the shadow of the much greater game in Ocarina is telling.

Quite frankly right from the title screen the music captivated me, and the imagery of the castle was epic and foreboding. The first level was very atmospheric, and the graphic quality while a step below Nintendo's ultimate masterpiece, was still about as good as console 3-D games got in the late 90's before the american arrival of the Dreamcast. I was immersed in the game from the get go. It was an eerie, satisfying adventure, full of mystery and in addition it featured a decent storyline for both protagonists Reinhardt and Carrie.

Perhaps the most enduring memory for me, was the many times I died by the hand (Or should I say mechanical wood cutting saw) held by the Frankenstein like creature that along with two terrifying hounds chased me through a garden maze. The anxiety and genuine frustration of that particular level really stuck with me. The bad endings, and the good endings, the fact that with out a guide or foreword it would take multiple play throughs to see everything there was to see in the game made sure I spent the whole summer holed up playing, and enjoying every second of it.

Back to the visuals, the character models in the game at that point in time were pretty fantastic, aside from Zelda OoT, I can't really recall a game during that era that had models that were so satisfying to the eye. The environments captured the mood perfectly and the artwork was flawless. The day and night cycle while not as jaw dropping as OoT's ( though to be honest C64 joins pretty much every other game ever made after OoT in that regard) looked fantastic and actually affected certain goals and NPCs routines. I had such fond memories of the game, that later during the mid 00's I got a hold of a Legacy of Darkness copy and played the game again to the end credits. Legacy of Darkness added a few character quest lines and Hi-Res support provided you had the 4mb ram pack (Tip: Avoid Hi-Res mode at all costs it will kill the frame rate).

Both games of course also shared the same flaws. The precision, and fast gameplay of its 2-D predecessors was replaced by clunky 3rdperson action combat and even clunkier platforming sections which turned long time fans of the series off. Even in comparison to other 3-D games of the era like OoT, Castlevania 64's controls just felt sluggish and they lacked the precision that the series was known for in 2-D. Poor Controls in both battle and platforming were the game's major drawbacks in my opinion and perhaps it is the reason why some of you might feel that game was a disappointment.

I understand that as an early 3-D game Castlevania 64 has aged poorly in most eyes, but I like to rate games for what they bring to the table at their respective release dates ( I believe it is the only way you can properly and justly rate retro games ) and Castlevania 64 while not necessarily a great game back in 1999, was for the most part a great experience and a very good game. I think it was justly rated by EGM Magazine ( a 9.0 was the score I would have given the game then) and I think in retrospective the game has been underrated because of how poorly it aged ( in most circles) and just the general dislike that most fans of the series have for the 3D iterations of the game series.

What are your thoughts? I look forward to reading your memories of the game!

Turok Dinosaur Hunter thread: http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=239463&page=1

Shadows of the Empire thread: http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=237839&page=1

Last edited by SammyGiireal - 3 days ago

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At the time it wasn't as bad as people said. Still pretty playable with a good atmosphere and music. It still had some serious issues then that only show even more now. So at the time...mediocre with some good aspects. Now esp since games have come a long way. It's bad. That said. Lament and Curse of Darkness are way overlooked. Those are still pretty fun. Esp Lament while CoD has a better OST.



Bite my shiny metal Cockpit!

Leynos said:
At the time it wasn't as bad as people said. Still pretty playable with a good atmosphere and music. It still had some serious issues then that only show even more now. So at the time...mediocre with some good aspects. Now esp since games have come a long way. It's bad. That said. Lament and Curse of Darkness are way overlooked. Those are still pretty fun. Esp Lament while CoD has a better OST.

I have a copy of Lament somewhere for the OG Xbox (not sure if it was Lament or Darkness) but I got the copy fairly late in the 00's and my Xbox broke down so I have never been able to play the game. It is unfortunate indeed.



Underrated. Not a perfect game by any means, but a good first 3-D effort for Castlevania, and Legacy of Darkness helped flesh the base game out still further. Of course, it was also one of the small handful of third party N64 games that was anything resembling decent.



I enjoyed it at the time, but it's quite tough to go back to today.



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SanAndreasX said:

Underrated. Not a perfect game by any means, but a good first 3-D effort for Castlevania, and Legacy of Darkness helped flesh the base game out still further. Of course, it was also one of the small handful of third party N64 games that was anything resembling decent.

I agree, it might not have aged in stellar fashion, but in 1999 it was a very good adventure. I also agree, that in a sea of mediocre 3rd party efforts Castlevania 64 was a legitimate AAA game from Konami on the system, and as such I was thankful. To be fair for Goemon Mystical Ninja was also a pretty darn good game from Konami for the system.



drbunnig said:
I enjoyed it at the time, but it's quite tough to go back to today.

I still find joy in the game today, but your take seems to be the prevailing opinion towards the title. It was truly an enjoyable ride back in 1999.



I couldnt get into the original game because I absolutely loathed the controls and camera, but I did finish Legacy of Darkness even tho it fixes none of those issues. I did enjoy it quite a bit back then, but I do think its aged really badly.



SammyGiireal said:
SanAndreasX said:

Underrated. Not a perfect game by any means, but a good first 3-D effort for Castlevania, and Legacy of Darkness helped flesh the base game out still further. Of course, it was also one of the small handful of third party N64 games that was anything resembling decent.

I agree, it might not have aged in stellar fashion, but in 1999 it was a very good adventure. I also agree, that in a sea of mediocre 3rd party efforts Castlevania 64 was a legitimate AAA game from Konami on the system, and as such I was thankful. To be fair for Goemon Mystical Ninja was also a pretty darn good game from Konami for the system.

Goemon was a legit good title that I wish were available today. I liked it better than any other N64 title that wasn't made by Nintendo of Japan, and yes, that includes Rare's games.



SanAndreasX said:
SammyGiireal said:

I agree, it might not have aged in stellar fashion, but in 1999 it was a very good adventure. I also agree, that in a sea of mediocre 3rd party efforts Castlevania 64 was a legitimate AAA game from Konami on the system, and as such I was thankful. To be fair for Goemon Mystical Ninja was also a pretty darn good game from Konami for the system.

Goemon was a legit good title that I wish were available today. I liked it better than any other N64 title that wasn't made by Nintendo of Japan, and yes, that includes Rare's games.

Perhaps in a future iteration of this voting poll threads, I will feature Goemon...it was actually in the list of games I was thinking in using for this edition. Heck of a game, with beautiful visuals, and fun gameplay mechanics. It was also very distinct from pretty much any other game around that period of time. It is usually one of the forgotten games when talking about great N64 games and should definitely be included in the conversation.