Dark Castle (Genesis) review
"E.A thought that they were too good for Sega. When they made a game on their system not only did they create horrible flipside manuals and a defiant box design with the horrible Electronic Arts logo but they had really ugly carts. These carts were twice the size as normal Mega Drive carts and had an awful yellow bit sticking out. The reasons why E.A had to be so stubborn are unknown but they seemed to be so busy being different that they actually forgot to put the quality into the games they w..."
E.A thought that they were too good for Sega. When they made a game on their system not only did they create horrible flipside manuals and a defiant box design with the horrible Electronic Arts logo but they had really ugly carts. These carts were twice the size as normal Mega Drive carts and had an awful yellow bit sticking out. The reasons why E.A had to be so stubborn are unknown but they seemed to be so busy being different that they actually forgot to put the quality into the games they were making. Itís true! Dark Castle is the best example of E.Aís laziness in the 16-bit years.
Dark Castle isnít just the worst E.A game but I believe it to be the worst Genesis game. Based on a cheesy medieval story involving a Black Knight hanging around inside his castle, which is dark. You play the role of a blonde-haired, scrawny peasant, who sounds like a perfect candidate to go and fight the forces of evil. Armed with a sack filled with rocks he goes forth to destroy the forces of evil. Our hero will have to find keys lying around the Dark Castles to access new areas and avoid countless beasts.
Your quest begins in the hallway of the Dark Castle and you can pick a door to go through. Each is an entry way to a phenomenally hard level where you will have to ďcontrolĒ (baha) the wimp through. This is a challenge in itself, because after playing the game for a minute youíll notice how poor the controls are. Firstly when want to attack an incoming enemy, like a bat that swoops down from the rafters youíll have to throw a rock at it. This is easy but you have to use the D-pad to slowly raise your arm in the right direction in order to aim. This isnít so easy, mainly because the guy takes such a long time when he raises his arm which allows himself way open to attacks for faster enemies.
It gets a lot worse. The Black Knight has nothing to worry about because the hero is more of a threat to himself. Firstly, youíll notice that the room has stairs so it seems logical enough to take the guy up them. After a few steps there is an eighty percent chance that the guy will just keel over and roll down the stairs. Youíll be scanning the screen for the bat that probably flew down or the rat that hit your leg but youíll find nothing. The guy will fall down the stairs by himself and take a life. Some areas of the floor are uneven but are only like a centimetre lower then before. A normal man would stride over it with no problem but this guy falls down. Then he begins to see stars and starts crying ďoh, oh, ohĒ, for like a minute.
Our man will eventually manage to conquer the terrifying obstacles of the stairs and the floor and go on to something more daring. Some rooms have large gaps in them and to cross these gaps you have to grab the swinging ropes. Most heroes could manage this in a snap but not this guy. First of all when you try to jump youíll end up grabbing onto the rope (or so it seems) but falling to you death anyway.
These will be the words in your mind as you try to overcome the inanimate objects in Dark Castle. First of all the most common moving hazards will be rats and bats. Rats lurk on the ground and are impossible to hit because of the up-down control thing that EA brilliantly cooked up. Bats are even worse as they can fly right over you, just as when youíve managed to aim your hand at the bat itíll attack you from behind. Usually on the overhead rafters, these eyeball creatures with little arms and legs hop around going ďnenenenenneĒ and they donít shut up. It takes ages to kill them and when you get to them the mixture of your stress and the rusty controls will throw your life away. Also you only have a one hit kill so if an enemy even strokes you then youíll die instantaneously and you will have to start form the beginning of the room again.
Everything is small, really small and all of the sprites move like rusty robots. First of all, our hero is just a set of coloured squares which somewhat looks like a human and when he moves the animation is as choppy as a hungry shark. Enemies follow this trend of looking very choppy and are so poorly drawn that they look like sprites from an SG-1000 game. Smaller enemies are a nightmare, rats are basically little brown balls and bats are black balls with wings. Itís a disgrace as you can fairly say that Iíve seen Master System games with better graphics than this. The backgrounds are just grey outlines of the castle walls and a few outside levels have a few green and black colours that create a spooky feeling outside but the lack of detail and bland design is pitiful.
Youíll probably be astounded to discover that Dark Castle has poor sound as well. It has one song which is put on loop for the entire game. Itís something that everyone has heard, the familiar organ music that made Dracula famous. It does sound okay the first time you hear it but after the third time itís gone by it gets really irritating.
Dark Castle isnít just a bad game, it is THE bad game. As a collector, I bought it because I knew that was doing to suck and I wanted to experience it firsthand. The game play could have been something fun if EA had decided to work on the game instead of the cartridge as the concept was reasonably sound. The controls are pathetic and the fact that you control a complete muppet who can barely walk up steps is just ridiculous. This game is great as a paperweight, a doorstop or something to prop up a broken table leg but as a game itís the poorest of the poor.
Community review by goldenvortex (October 09, 2004)
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