Friday 29 September 2023

The Sega Saturn 2 - Castlevania - Dead Before Dreamcast

As a pregame to the Saturn Month of SPEEEEWWWKIES!!!!! 2023, we come to talk about a game that never made it to an official release. Castlevania Resurrection was meant for a Dreamcast release and for one reason or another, it never happened. Then, for some strange reason, out of nowhere, the developer comes out and gives everyone the game files that were actually complete. We were given a few levels to play through and I'm here to tell you, if you don't mind some jank gameplay with some terrible glitches, this is actually a pretty fun ride. 

Pretty much, imagine playing Legacy of Kain, a nice fantasy third person. Sonia Belmont has had a game of her own once in Castlevania Legends for the Gameboy, and this was supposed to be her advent to the 3D world. Well, it's nice to know we got to see her journey there in some form, even if it's not the way it was planned. Pretty much, these are unfinished levels and they can easily be burned onto a Dreamcast CD. Is there any real point to them? No, but is it entertaining? Very much!

The worst thing that happens in this game is you get to the end of one the levels and you accidentally fall through the wall or the floor. It happens on occasion. Obviously, there was no QA testing and they made these levels as solid as they could before someone pulled the plug. It's kind of amazing the stuff that did get done, though. Some of these levels are fairly well detailed. 

These mages are probably the worst enemy they have, aside from the random bat that pelts you at the beginning of a level. These guys will fly around you and continuously bombard you with energy orbs. You can only fight one of them at a time and they take forever to kill! Seriously, then one of them will randomly inflate into a giant size. 

Why does he do this? I don't know, but then he stops moving. I think these guys were given some sort of growth transformation and it just never took full form? If that's the case, that's probably the strangest use of an enemy I've ever seen. It's bad enough that they attack you in such a coordinated fashion, but then transforming like that just seems a bit excessive. 

You remember the skull stacks, right? Well, they're here too, and they are used quite a bit. They're a great callback, but there's also a portion of a level (the START of a level) where there's three of these stacks guarding an entrance like prison bars. BIT excessive!

Next, we move onto this one temple level with some of the worst level design I've seen in a very long time. I say that because the entire thing seemed to be custom built to make the player very angry. You start off by unleashing this big huge three headed snake. Well, obviously, it's unfinished, so you can go back and push it back into its passage. So long as you don't mind getting pelted a few times by the snake heads, you can manage to push it all the way back.

Well, that's all well and good, but then, when you run away from the snake thing, it's toward the camera. So you're running blind, much like the Crash Bandicoot rolling boulders of old. This is bad enough, but then they had to put HANDS in the floor to grab you and slow you down while also hurting you. Seriously? What? Obstacles are one thing, but grabbing the ankle? It's bad enough when you have to duck and jump. Well, the good thing is that the snake isn't very fast. But either way, the level seems deeply flawed on a design perspective. It really seemed like the weakest of the bunch.

Now, do I think this game had promise? Absolutely! There are some very good 3rd person platformer/hack and slash games out there. Castlevania could have made a very good 3D platformer before the whole Lord of Shadow business. Do I think this would have been an award winning Game of the Year? It was possible, but that's a bit of a stretch. There would definitely need to be some QA on some of the concepts they attempt in this game. They could have introduced a story in there, but it really doesn't look like there's a place for that.  It all starts in front of a castle's plaza and enemies are all around you from the very beginning.

The game has its promise, but it also looks like it could have gone very wrong very quickly. There are questionable elements aside from the three-headed snake that warrant a little attention. One of them being the enemies, namely the final boss battle. The gorgan (it could be Medusa, I don't know) is a decent boss battle, but not for a FINAL boss. The only reason I give this credit is because this level could very easily be just another level. Just because there is a boss, does not mean she is the final one. If she is only one of a few bosses, this could definitely have worked. 

It's just that she has one form, then a head form and then you kill it and she dies, turning into an orb. There's really not much else to it. You need to open her chamber by whipping the candles around the cathedral and that's the level. It was funny this time around because I fell into the lava and it didn't kill me. It was still a little annoying because there was no way out and wraiths kept coming down and attacking me relentlessly. Still, I could live down in lava and that's pretty cool.

Do I wish this game was made? Yes, but I also would not get my hopes up. Castlevania had its flaws from the beginning, as anyone who has played the lineup will tell you. I simply love the fact that someone who made this game came out and gave it to the public as a show of good faith. Castlevania Ressurection honestly could have done with a bit more creative enemies though. There's only so many ways you can work in "Acolyte of Darkness" and make it work so many times. 

With a bigger lineup of enemies and a few more levels, this could have been a good, even great game if they worked out the bugs and polished it up. It didn't NEED Dracula, but it could have done with a few lesser vampire enemies. There were ghosts and skeletons, and they're always nice. There isn't much of a chance that this was going to be better than Symphony of the Night, but it definitely could have been a contender for the best of the 3D Castlevanias. There's really not a whole lot of strong contenders there, unless you count Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Even then, that's more 2.5D. Still, what we have is a nice little snack at no extra charge. If you want this, you're welcome to find it and download it at your own leisure. It's free. Thrown a Virtua Bone.