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Dracula 3D from Konami magazine late 1997
Topic Started: Apr 19 2018, 10:57 PM (229 Views)
Tyree_Cooper
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Just wanted to share some Dracula 3D stuff I found in a Konami magazine from late 1997 (yes I know all of this can be found on the googles already). That's more than a full year before the game release, January 1999.

No screenshots at all which means in November 1997 they were either still working on concepts, or the game was so early that nothing could be shown.

Some concept arts and some early 3D art included. I like the early face of Reinhardt, which was still called Schneider Belmont back then. He looked a lot more muscular and anime style. I also really like that "Dracula 3D" title in light gold color, just below Schneider and Cornell. Notice the Japanese title on the 2nd page already reads "Akumajo Dracula 3D", not "Dracula 3D", which was only used in English, for cosmetic/practical reasons (and maybe other reasons). The cart code is "D3" though, certainly short for Dracula 3D.

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Bonus, the magazine also covers Castlevania Legends (which was going to be released a few weeks later, so it was finished), and the Saturn port of Symphony of the Night, which was released somewhere in 1998, so they were probably right in the middle of development.

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Edited by Tyree_Cooper, Apr 19 2018, 11:02 PM.
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Shellshocker18
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Thanks for posting Tyree. I haven't done any huge research on the Castlevania 64 titles yet, but I've beaten both several times and liked them okay despite their faults. I'll come back to these pages eventually
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Tyree_Cooper
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CV64 is my all-time favourite game (yeah I've said it before), so I'm always interested in anything related to it.

I think the main reason why "many" (whatever that means) people dislike it, is because they've heard someone say it's bad. It has great depth and originality... for a Castlevania title, but at the same time it remains very close to the source material and the older episodes. It has a great ambience/atmospheric soundtrack that is very different from the previous super-catchy tunes of the series. It has some interesting level design with a few differences depending on the character used.

I particularly enjoy the joke about the elevator in the castle centre, that is referred to as some kind of device from the future powered by Dracula's magic.
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Shellshocker18
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Interesting favorite game, I like it too but not much. I won't talk about it too much, but just looking at reviews from the time, a lot of major publications and gamers rated Castlevania 64 highly. This is undeniable

http://www.metacritic.com/game/nintendo-64/castlevania/critic-reviews
http://www.nintendo64ever.com/Tests-Nintendo-64-Game,53,Castlevania,1.html

I've beaten both games several times and enjoyed them. I won't go into much detail, but review scores aren't everything and I think the games were slightly overrated back then. Obviosly some people hate it now, it happens with a lot of games where people who have never played them start weighing in, especially with a popular series like Castlevania. But I think in the grand scheme of N64, they are only average or just slightly above average quality wise, which for many people is enough to say they are bad, and they wouldn't be unjustified in that feeling. Unfortunatly it's graphics and general build quality are C level. Konami just didn't put in the programming skill/budget to make good sight lines and better detail on anything or make complicated enemies or bosses. Shadow Man came out the same year and fared much better in atmosphere, graphics, full voices, etc. Shadow Man felt like an actual triple A production, though that game has an entirely different structure and tone, I think they are very similar style games.

I think the Castlevania's are okay 3D action adventure games but they have some truly mind numbing puzzles and the action isn't as difficult or directly engaging because of the wide open spaces. The focus I guess is more on adventuring but a lot of areas are very visually dull and also completely linear so it's not like there is much to explore and get soaked into. The music isn't really "kickass" like some of the original games either, but I strangely enjoy it as well, and I'm not typically someone who values "atmosphere" personally. Anyway I'm rambling.
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Tyree_Cooper
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Yes that's the other point with this game: If you start comparing it with other similar games on the same console or rival consoles, then it becomes easier to criticise.

I prefer to judge it by looking at previous episodes of the same series (and also future episodes, ehr, let's talk about LoI and CoD lol), to see what it has done, what/how it took things from the past and what/how it added many things yet unseen in any Castlevania game. It was also the very first 3D Castlevania so just by saying this, you have something like 50% of the "fans" who are going to bash it because Castlevania is 2D, and SotN is amazing, and so on.

I tend not to care much for graphics, and I find the atmosphere rather spot on for the story, and the soundtrack adds a lot to this. When you arrive at the garden in front of the villa, there is no music, just your footsteps, then in the villa there is a slightly creepy piano melody. Then again when you're climbing up the stairs to Dracula's chamber, there is only wind and footsteps. This is clearly not Castlevania as it was known up to that point, so I understand why people may not like it. In the end, it's all very personal.

I'm glad there is no "kickass" music because it would be zero match with the game, and same for the puzzles, they are clearly excuses to make you go here and there and trigger the script. As for linearity, well, seems like you're unconsciously comparing it with SotN? :lol: Super Castlevania IV was strictly linear too, I don't think it was a problem, and it's not really a problem with this game either. The castle centre has some non-linear exploration and to me it's the most annoying part of the game, so I'm glad for linearity in this game.
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Shellshocker18
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Never played Symphony of the Night so I'm definitely not comparing the 2, though I know Symphony is held in much higher regard and determined the style of basically every mainline Castlevania that came after it. I don't compare other games to gauge quality especially not to gauge my personal judgement. I can say Fighters Destiny is easy to criticize if you compare it to Tekken 3, but nothing about Tekken 3 stops me from loving Fighters Destiny. Castlevania on the other hand I still don't think is very far above average from any standpoint.

Linearity also isn't the word I'm looking for. Like at the end when you have those long stairs going up to Dracula, you are surrounded by a sea of grey fog. No cool torches or statues, not even a skybox which wouldn't have been hard to add. Just grey. The game has a bad art direction which wasn't the consoles fault, I think it was Konami not putting in more budget or programming better, though I know the game started development early 1997. Alot of rooms have almost no decoration or theme, just brown room with table and some candles, or large room with many platforms and some swinging axes. It doesn't have much environmental storytelling which in a 3D game where the environment is more important would be something I value. I would just like 3D games to have nice unique rooms and I remember so little of either Castlevania. It doesn't matter again, I actually like the games okay. The jumping and climbing are actually very nice feeling. I just wish combat was retooled, it's way too easy because of the weak enemies, the 3D dodging (which is fun as well), and being able to carry around health items. If Castlevania is a straight forward 3D platformer with noticeably bland environments and the combat isn't intense like the 2D Castlevania's then I don't know what I'm left with to call good. Not the story that's for sure, Castlevania has never been about the story. But again I still see this game as at least average.

You wouldn't like Shadow Man because it sure as hell is not linear, ironically it's actually closer to Symphony of the Night, or "Metroidvania" in its layout, Again I'm not directly comparing, but Shadow Man has what I would say is genuinely awful combat, way worse than Castlevania. But it's music, level design, voice acting, and environmental detail/graphics are head and shoulders above Castlevania. It at least has those parts it excels in and I think they all create a much more compelling atmosphere, along with the story which is more detailed though I didn't pay much attention to it. I wish aspects of both games were somehow combined to form one really great game, but alas they are separate.

This would be a lot faster if we were actually talking. I'll spend like an hour writing one of these tirades, then I don't want to waste it so I post it. But later I'm like "that's not what I think at all, why did I type that." My opinions on Castlevania 64 are too complicated for mere forum posts, not enough room to iterate or bounce off each other.
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Tyree_Cooper
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It's OK, you don't have to agree that it's a good game, it's just my opinion. :yeah: I've been playing LoI and CoD lately, and I go back and forth playing different Castlevania games from time to time. Castlevania 64 still stands out as the least-botched attempt at making a Castlevania game with a movie-like storyline and some sort of depth. It's the one that feels more real, more sad and a bit depressing and I think it fits well. This game was obviously not made to be cool, in fact it was made by Konami Kobe, who also made CotM, and it shows. They're both rigid, old-school, traditional and very serious compared to the ridiculous plots and characters, silly and shallow jokes that IGA-produced games soak in, like rubber duckies and special attacks inspired by other Japanese cartoons.

Yes it is clear that the game needed more time (I think money wasn't the problem), and this is why Konami released Legacy of Darkness the year after, although it didn't add "much" and I was really surprised it was approved and released at all. You can tell they wanted to polish it more, but it seems development lasted more or less a year (end 1997 to end 1998), which isn't a whole lot of time.

Yes I found Shadow Man's non-linearity extremely annoying and the main reason why I gave up playing it. :D SotN managed to make back-tracking sort of fun and "fast", similar to Zelda 3 (which was the main inspiration for SotN according to IGA).

Thanks for your time, it's nice to discuss Castlevania 64, I haven't done this much in my whole life. :yeah:
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buddy1983
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I've never played a Castlevania game, maybe I should pick one of these up and start with a fresh take on it.
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