The Slow and Circular March of Time

I’ve got this quirk. Call it a trait, if you’re feeling generous. I really like to finish the games I start. In these modern times of fast downloads and cavernous storage devices, a person like me can amass a pretty staggering library of games to play and enjoy. Only problem is, I’m a picky guy: I know which upcoming games I really wanna play, and I plan my game time according to my preferences.

For example, Majora’s Mask 3D will be released on Friday. Now, I’m a longtime Zelda fan and Majora’s Mask was one of my favorite games when it was first released – hell, I’d say it’s still my favorite Zelda game but Link’s Awakening scowls at me when I say that (yeah, I’m one of those weird folks who enjoys the “alternative” Zelda games. No Hyrule? No problem). Anyway, with only a few days until the 3DS version of Majora’s Mask is released, I need to find some way to fill the time without committing myself to a crazy long game (since that could possibly split my game time between Majora’s Mask and another substantial game). Luckily, I ended up getting 100% in Devil Survivor Overclocked over the weekend, which means I’ve got no big games to distract me from my Zelda love. So what do I do with no big games to play?

I jump back to all the smaller games I put by the wayside. There was that time in October when I said I’d beat Super Castlevania IV and maybe even Dracula X, but I ended up putting ’em both down. Now I’ve got time to vanquish Dracula again and again – I beat Super Castlevania IV earlier today and now I’m trudging through Dracula X. It’s not a great example of a Castlevania game, but it’s not too bad once you get used to its sluggish pace. Bosses are also friggin’ tough, which adds to the challenge of it. I think it may end up growing on me – the gameplay is slow, sure, but the challenge makes up for that. The only thing that really bugs me so far is the haphazard color palette and strange progression of rooms – from a bright yellow and purple hall to a grimy green-bricked dungeon back to another colorful hall to a mysterious underground waterway? What in the blazing fuck is going on at Chateau de Dracul?

So, yeah, I’ve got this weakness for games. I always want to finish ’em, and I keep adding more to the pile. The beautiful curse of Nintendo’s Virtual Console is that I can play all these sweet games I didn’t play as a kid, but I can also re-purchase games I played a few years ago on a different system. It’s like, I already own the Super Nintendo DKC trilogy – why did I download it? I’ll tell you why: convenience. I can have a great collection of games readily available for my enjoyment all with a few button presses. What if I get tired of jumping through the jungle as Donkey Kong? I can go to the Home menu, pick a different game, and start whipping the fear of God, er, Belmont into demons and skeletons.

Tonight, I’ll lash my way through Dracula’s castle until the Count lies in a pile of bloody ashes at my feet. Tomorrow, I could leave my spaceship to shoot energy beams at Metroids. On Friday, I’ll definitely freak the fuck out as I find myself in a land that’s eerily similar but still different from Hyrule and HOLY CRAP the moon is approaching and it looks PISSED.

It’s awesome having so many adventures from which to choose. Keep on gaming, folks.


Update us, man!

Yeah, I haven’t devoted much time to any Castlevania games over the past few days, and I’m sorry about that since I said I’d do my best to complete Rondo of Blood before the end of the month. I have to admit, it’s just a damn tough game, and I’m throwing my spare minutes at so many different games it’s ridiculous: I’ve been building up my bell reserves in Animal Crossing, leveling up my team of adventurers in Etrian Odyssey IV, fighting matches here and there in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, and, y’know, learning over at the university.

That brings me to my next point: I’ve got a ton of homework to do over the course of the next week. I’ve got to read essays and articles for one of my English classes, read the last part of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for another English class, prepare a presentation, and write a big ol’ paper (okay, I guess seven pages isn’t so bad compared to some assignments, but this is my first university level research paper; gimme a break). I’m afraid, good readers, that I may not have time to finish Rondo of Blood.

Which brings me to this little picture:

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

I’ve got a backup plan in case Rondo of Blood can’t be completed (Rondo of Blood is on my Wii Virtual Console, remember): I’ll play Super Castlevania IV instead. See, Dracula X is cool and all, but within its own family it’s kind of a black sheep. It’s the kid who couldn’t hold down a job or get good grades. As a game, I’d say Dracula X is good, but as a Castlevania game it’s lacking. It doesn’t control very well and the difficulty curve is all kinds of insane. I’ve only reached the second level and I’m already lumbering across a crumbling bridge as mermen jump up to impede my progress and send me plummeting to a watery grave; that’s usually a second-to-last or last-level Castlevania rage-inducer. In short, I’m not having Dracula X, at least not now. So I jumped back to Rondo of Blood.

However, as I pointed out earlier, Rondo of Blood is also challenging; it’s more polished than Dracula X and it feels very smooth in comparison, but it’s still frustrating and I just don’t think I’ll have the time or the dedication to finish it by the time the ghosts ‘n’ goblins pack it in for next Halloween (sweet name drop, eh?). Hence, my purchase of Super Castlevania IV: see, I’ve finished Super Castlevania IV twice in my life, on the old family Wii. Last Halloween I almost played through it in a single sitting before I went to work; I came back and beat it when my shift was over, but this year, I’ll have nothing in the way of me and my whip. I swear, I’ll beat Super Castlevania IV in one sitting. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to beat some sort of Castlevania game before October is over.

So, there you have ’em: my half-assed excuses for failing to complete Dracula X or Rondo of Blood, and my glorious decision to play Super Castlevania IV on Halloween instead. See how crafty and neurotic I am? I must beat a Castlevania game, but I must also do my homework, therefore I pick the Castlevania game I can beat in a day and delay my conquest. I’m taking out two crows with one ax, if you will.

I’ll update you as I trudge along, whipping skeletons and giant bats with weary arms and wondering when I’ll see the orange glow of a tavern’s lantern again – I dunno, I assume the Belmonts stop at the local places for food and drink every now and then. Oh, I’ll also be getting way too stoked about upcoming games and wishing I had way more money as I read this little number:

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

All right, into the night I go. Happy gaming/reading/whatever you like to do, folks.


Midway Through the Murk

As I sit at my computer wondering how exactly I’ll update this blog, an image is frozen on my tv, paused by me so I could write down my thoughts. I’ll throw that image at you now.

That's Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it's probably small. Damn.

That’s Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it’s probably small. Damn.

Remember how I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood? Well, that was only a half-truth: see, when a gamer says “I’ve played that game,” that typically means the game was finished. You know, beaten, completed, conquered, vanquished – done in some way. I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood, but the tough truth of the matter is that I never played through Rondo of Blood to the end. This may be chalked up to two reasons: one, Rondo of Blood is fairly difficult, as far as Castlevania games go. I have this thing about Castlevania games where I suck at them (in a non-vampiric way, mind you) for a while and by the end I’m pretty competent. A lot of gamers will say this about older games: the difficulty curves were pretty crazy. Anyway, along with that difficulty comes the real reason I never finished Rondo of Blood: my girlfriend’s Wii is missing a few cables.

I mentioned before that I have a Wii U. Well, the beauty of going from a Wii to a Wii U is the possibility to transfer one’s Wii Virtual Console games to the Wii U’s Wii Channel (yeah, the Wii U has a whole channel that transforms it into a Wii on the side. It’s like, two consoles merged in one. Or maybe, like, ten consoles. I’m not sure how many consoles are covered by the Virtual Console service). My half-jokes aside (a lotta half-this and half-that tonight, sorry), I really like the idea of using just one machine to play a buncha different games, so I was all ready to move my Wii data to the Wii U. Then the case of the missing cables cropped up. Dreams? Shattered.

Along with the difficulty I have in mastering Castlevania games, I also have this unfortunate way of taking a long time to solve simple problems. I live at home and there’s a family Wii that I played long before my girlfriend let me borrow her Wii indefinitely; the family Wii is sitting out in the living room with its cables all fine and dandy. I’d been wondering where I could have stashed my girlfriend’s Wii’s cables for a week or two when I had an epiphany: use the other Wii’s cables, you dolt. A few swapped out cables later and I was in business.

The process of transferring the various games and save data took about half an hour, and once it was over I felt an abundance of joy. Now I don’t just have awesome Wii U games and Wii U Virtual Console stuff to enjoy, I also have access to all the games I bought years ago on the Wii. I can finally try to finish Rondo of Blood and prove my worth as a Castlevania player; as far as the grand list of Castlevania games goes, I can only think of three in my possession that I haven’t finished: Rondo of Blood, the newly acquired Dracula X, and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. That game is probably the hardest one in the series. Memories of it haunt me, which is awesome for October but really shitty for my self-esteem as a gamer.

Anyway, Rondo of Blood is calling me. Maybe Dracula is using some sort of dark power to beckon me toward him. We shall clash in the night as lightning splits the sky, and the moon will look on with a dour expression as I send the Prince of Darkness back to the dirt from whence he came. It’s October, it’s windy, and the night is dark and full of terrors. Whoops, that’s from A Song of Ice and Fire … happy gaming, folks!