I actually wrote a big long thing about Pokemon Unite - the game I've been playing a lot of this week - but somehow I lost that post. Ugh. I don't feel like re-typing everything again. So I'll get to that one later. But moving on...
Castlevania 64 has always been a divisive one, no doubt. In fact, it's not even titled "64," it's just called "Castlevania" but that's dumb. The same way that every reboot movie now just retains the original title. Sometimes multiple times.
So let's get a few things out of the way here. For one thing, I'm a huge Castlevania fan. Like that's one of my all time favorite series - and this dates way back to the late 80's when I got hooked on the original trilogy on NES. So I suppose it's safe to say that I'm a bit forgiving on the series.
Another thing I need to remind you of is that I was NOT really a fan of the N64 until just a couple years ago. And I mean, I've done a legit 180 on this one. After owning and loving a NES, GB, and SNES back in the day, the N64 was the first Nintendo console I straight up skipped. My buddy Garrett had one, and exposed me to some big hitters, but Mario Kart 64 was the only one I really enjoyed.
That said, I missed MANY games on that platform, and a prime one was Castlevania 64 (along with its psuedo-sequel/expansion, Legacy Of Darkness). This meant that when I finally picked up a N64, Castlevania was one of the first games I grabbed for it. Yet, for some reason it's taken me a couple of years to actually pop the damn cart in and check it out. Huh.
So here we are. I'm FINALLY checking out this divisive game. A game that SOME Castlevania fans despise, while others claim is a hidden gem that's unfairly derided. And so what do I think? I guess I think it's somewhere between those two extremes. Or a little bit of both.
Look, these early 3D games are always going to be clunky if you're experiencing for the first time now. The camera sucks. The z-targetting feels weird. Doing simple things like lining up a ranged attack or platforming is a crap shoot. It is what it is.
Also, Castlevania as a series has never done that well in 3D in my mind. I did play one of those PS2/Xbox era games and, meh. I also played one of the Lords Of Shadow games, and while it was better, it wasn't a great CASTLEVANIA game. So I don't know.
Castlevania 64 has some good stuff going for it. It does have a pretty good atmosphere to it actually. Like, it retains a very quality gothic feel. In that way, it works as a decent throwback to the NES games. Granted, it's kind of ugly for a 1999 N64 game. I wish it had taken advantage of the expansion pak - which I don't think it does. Wait, I'm gonna actually google that cuz I actually care enough to know for sure. Hang on... NOPE. Turns out that Legacy Of Darkness DOES use it to up the resolution, but at the expense of the framerate. So eh.
Anyway, I tried playing as both characters. Reinhardt is your basic BELMONT. He's got a whip. He's fine. Carrie on the other hand is way cooler. She has a homing ranged attack, and cool razor hoop thingy melee attack. I like her. Though, of course, she feels less classic-vania.
The controls ARE clunky, though. And part of that is probably due to my lack of N64 nostalgia. I've been using a classic stock wired controller, and it feels rough on this one. I need to pick up one of those Brawler 64 pads, I think. I feel like that would help modernize the feel of N64 games for me. I do have a Hyperkin wireless pad, but I don't know. It feels a bit cheap/light, and it's always in need of a recharge.
I'm so so rambling here. But it's probably because I can't figure out quite how I feel on this one. I played for like two hours and... well, I was impressed at certain things. The tone of the game is good. And I like that it uses actual levels - again a bit of a classic NES throwback. But my big issue here is that the game heavily relies on platforming and N64 3D platforming is just not great for me. It feels very much like this game is a failure for me, as a gamer. And yet, I WANT to like it and see the good things in it. I'm just dying so much because of stupid platforming issues and it's frustrating me and making it hard for me to push on.
So that's where I'm at. I kind of don't like it enough to keep going. Yet, as a Castlevania fan there's things here that I like and feel like I want to hang on to the cart. I guess I'd put it in the sort of mediocre tier of CV games. For whatever that's worth, because I still think a just-okay CV game is better than something else. Or whatever.