Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-0A to 6-0D

The alternate route’s sixth Block stands out as one of the most memorable stages in a game crammed with them, because of a neat throwaway gimmick. Sure, it basically boils down to a case of stunt programming, but damn if it didn’t impress back in 1990 — and it’s one of the reasons I became […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 5-0A to 5-0C

Every game eventually reaches a point at which it stops teaches and expects you to function on your own steam: To take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them, or fail. Even games like Final Fantasy XIII and modern Zeldas do this, although in those cases it may not come until the very end. Castlevania […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 4-0A to 4-0E

Dracula’s Curse splits midway through Block 3, giving you two completely different paths through the game. We’ll be following the path we saw a portion of yesterday to its conclusion before exploring the alternate route. This puts us in Sypha territory, which (based on the stage numeration) represents the alternate path to the castle. I […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 3-00 to 3-04

Ambitious as Block 1 of Castlevania III was, Block 3 might actually top it. At the very least, it demonstrates the fact that the designers didn’t tip their hands at the very start. You know how you play a lot of games these days with a crazy, amazing, introductory set piece… and then the rest […]

Anatomy of a Game: Zelda X

“We are getting very near what is known as the end, if you see what I mean.” I refuted the surprisingly popular theorizing that Zelda’s levels are scrambled and run out of intended proper sequence in my write-up of Level-7, because it actually does feel like a logical follow-up to dungeons 5 and -6. But […]

Anatomy of a Game: Zelda VIII

I would like to put forth two possibilities for the design of The Legend of Zelda Level-07, Demon. Either it is meant to be a sorbet of sorts — a palate-cleanser — in the wake of two extraordinarily difficult dungeons, or else someone got their numeration wrong and this was supposed to come much earlier […]

Anatomy of a Game: Zelda VI

I can’t believe it’s been a full month since I posted the last of these. My apologies. I was out of town for two-thirds of that time and basically just set the site to auto-publish GameSpite Journal 12 content (aside from the occasional pointless observations about Evangelion). Let us now regroup and return to the […]

Anatomy of a Game: Zelda IV

On to Zelda‘s third dungeon, assuming you’re going in the order God intended and not sequence-breaking. Which you can totally do up until this point. Not that sequence-breaking is necessarily a good idea for the third dungeon, Manji, given that it’s specifically designed around two weapons: The White Sword and the Bombs. The level nudges […]

Anatomy of a Game: Legend of Zelda III

The Legend of Zelda‘s second dungeon ups the stakes a bit. There’s only one room with foes that, objectively speaking, are more dangerous and powerful than any that appear in the first dungeon. On the whole, though, the difficulty level climbs here as you face off against foes that appear in larger numbers and observe […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: I

Konami tried something bold with Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Where the original Castlevania hailed from classic arcade roots, escalating the form with its sensible construction design, beautifully realized sense of space, and logical architectural progression, Simon’s Quest pushed for something more akin to a role-playing game. This approach wasn’t without antecedent! Around the same time […]

2D: Castlevania Stages 16-18

This is the end, my friend. Funnily enough, the last level of Castlevania turn out to be less difficult than you’d expect — certainly much less difficult than it would seem on paper. Or maybe these stages just seem that way, since you only have to make it through two stages, and the boss doesn’t […]

2D: Castlevania Stages 13-15

After the unevenness of the fourth area, Castlevania‘s fifth set of stages picks up the pace with a challenging level trio that make use of all the skills a player has acquired to date and tells a concrete visual narrative in the process. After having re-entered the castle through the catacombs (or whatever) and defeating […]