The Anatomy of Mega Man | 3 | Color my world

Why, hello! Let’s talk some more about Mega Man. And its weapons. Ice Slasher Easily the most misleading weapon name in the game, the Ice Slasher does not in fact slash. Unless you use it against Fire Man, who is weak to its icy stylings, the Ice Slasher inflicts no damage whatsoever on foes. Instead, […]

The Anatomy of The Goonies | 2 | Do you boys like tongue?

The Goonies doesn’t waste any time upping the stakes for you. After the simple, straightforward first level, which contains all the basics you need to know to play the game at a fundamental state, the second stage becomes considerably more complex. As in the first stage, your goal – the locked door – appears directly […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: II. Shafted

Once you make your way beyond Metroid‘s very clever, very brilliantly designed introductory moments, the game wastes no time in becoming promptly, well, weird. Beyond the low-hanging wall that blocks the opening area from the remainder of the game, the first vertically oriented room of the game (or at least the first that you can […]

The Anatomy of Zelda II - VI. Pixie Dust

With the Hammer in hand, the road to the third palace is anything but straightforward. On the other hand, neither is it overwhelming. The Hammer effectively makes you lord and master of the western half of Zelda II‘s overworld; you can travel anywhere you like on the western continent with ease. However, reaching the next […]

Anatomy of a Game: Castlevania Trilogy Afterthoughts

The NES Castlevania remains a high point in my entirely too lengthy history of gaming, and I know many others feel that way. With luck, this series has provided some small amount of clarity on the qualities that have made this trio of titles so enduring. On a macro scale, the NES Castlevania titles feature […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 9-01 to 9-04

After having worked your way up through the castle entrance and the adjacent dungeon, you reach the second of three blocks of Castlevania only to find yourself… outside? With a forest in the background? Block 9 of Dracula’s Curse is a strange one in terms of aesthetics. Although the level design corresponds neatly to the […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 8-01 to 8-03

Regardless of which route you selected to take through the core of Castlevania III, all roads eventually converge at the beginning of Block 8: Castlevania itself. And the scenery should look very familiar indeed.      Yes, it’s Stage 1 of the original game, reproduced in wonderfully faithful form — all the way down to the […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 7-01 to 7-07

Here we are at last, at the end of Alucard’s route — and, by tragic happenstance, the worst stage in the game. Block 7 on the “main” route has the unfortunate distinction of being a genuinely poor piece of game design, entirely reliant on tedious waiting, extended pattern memorization, and flawless traversal of gimmicky stage […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-01 to 6-05 ~ Ruins Route

If you elected to take the lower route after recruiting (or not) Alucard, you’ll skip entirely over Block 5-07 and the castle foundations, instead traveling a roundabout course that takes you through a series of partially submerged Roman-era ruins at the outskirts of the castle. The idea of crumbling ruins outside of and predating Dracula’s […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-01 to 6-02 ~ Castle Route

Beyond the upgraded Skeleton Knight on the upper spur of the catacombs route, Trevor and pal enter Castlevania proper: The lowest foundations of the castle, a cavernous space over a subterranean lake. Since this is the path that sends you through the greatest amount of castle territory possible, we can consider this the “prime” route […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: The Gang’s All Here

Now that we’ve collected the whole Pokémon assortment of companion characters in Dracula’s Curse, we can take a moment to look at them — compare strengths, weaknesses, flaws, that sort of thing. Some of have more or one or the other than the rest.        Trevor Belmont: Not surprisingly, Trevor is ultimately the best and best-rounded […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 5-01 to 5-06

The fifth block of Castlevania III‘s “true” route is one of the most unusual stages in the game. It does several very interesting (and sometimes very surprising) things as it sends you deep beneath the lake through a series of crumbling catacombs that ultimately lead to the castle’s lowest foundations. It’s possibly the longest stage […]