Monday, 29 September 2014

Martin and Darran play games, properly! Week 1.

After becoming increasingly disinterested in the path modern games are taking, myself and Darran Jones of Retro Gamer magazine decided to make a concious effort to play more games together from days gone by.
Our main interest in recent times lie with the golden 16 bit era. Darran has a growing Mega Drive collection containing some superb shooters and arcade games and I have a NTSC SNES collection with almost 100 CIB classics.

Our first game night accidentally consisted of a full playthrough of Akumajou Dracula on the Super Famicom, aka, Super Castlevania IV.

Originally, I took over a selection of action games for us to play together but I threw this on while Darran was thumbing through his latest bird pictures on his PC. It was only meant to be a quick go but a combination of the pin sharp image on the Sony CRT, and the immense soundtrack pumped through the Sony stereo I bought for Darran on his 40th birthday kept us hooked.

As many know, Super Castlevania is a classic so I wont bore you with the details and 'review' the game. However I will highlight the importance of having the right set-up to really enhance your gaming.
With a game like Super Castlevania IV, you are really missing out if you play it using only a TV for sound. The stereo takes the game onto another level as the soundtrack is perhaps one of the best of all time. It still sounds amazing, even today.
The sound designers used a huge range of sampled instruments and the depth of the soundtrack astounding, especially when you factor the machine only has 8 sound channels.
The bass is enhanced tenfold too, when hooked to a decent sound system, it really shakes the room on some levels.

The next component may not seem too obvious, playing with a friend, or in this case, a cousin, and enjoying a game together! Even with a game like this which isn't multiplayer, we still had a blast. As many gamers have gotten older, either time has become harder to come by or many have migrated to online gaming. However I urge people to arrange nights like this.

Once the game kicked off and the amazing atmosphere dragged us in , we played with the classic one life each system. I cannot remember the last time I played a game like that, many many years ago.
As the game progressed we delighted in the little details of the caverns in level 3. Marvelled at the incredible rotating room of level 4 and held our breath as we approached the castle at the end of the short but gripping level 5.

By the time we reached the midpoint of level 6, the swinging chandeliers, we were completely high on nostalgia and lost control of ourselves.


By this point, we realised we hadn't had as this much fun in a long time.
We started to find a pattern in our gaming abilities. Darran was clearly better at tackling bosses and I could negotiate the trickier platform sections, especially the vanishing platforms in the 8th level, the cellar.
Another handy aspect of playing alternatively is we could spot patterns and tactics when in tough situations, it really did help.

We ploughed on and managed to complete the game after about 3 hours play time. That Dracula fight remains an outstanding moment in gaming, truly cinematic despite only being 2D. Truly one of the best games of all time.

Stay tuned for more gaming including Thunderforce III, Pieces and Contra Spirits!


  1. Nice write up. Will be good to do a Mega Drive game next.

  2. I particularly enjoyed the Kastlevaniaoke(TM)...!