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Forums > Submission Feedback > zippdementia's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSN) review

This thread is in response to a review for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the PlayStation 3. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: kingcrappy
Posted: January 20, 2010 (06:17 PM)
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I think people who boast about how they want their games to be more difficult, because a lack of difficulty is a turn off for them, are people who are just trying to cover up their real life insecurities. You want to look cool to a bunch of internet strangers by boasting how you beat a tough as hell game that took dozens or hundreds of hours of trying, dying, and retrying because that's the only kind of accomplishment you can achieve. That's because in real life you're a loser that sits on his ass watching Youtube and contributing nothing to society but a higher national debt through government welfare payments. So in your mind, you're self-justifying your uselessness by advertising your hardcore gamer-ness. Stupid.

"You" means anyone who does this in general, not anyone per se in this topic (except maybe for the angry Cheetos).


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Author: True
Posted: January 20, 2010 (06:20 PM)
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You want a real challenge? Try playing the Saturn Import version where everything is in Japanese--even your stats and equipment--so you have no idea what the items are, what they do or whether or not they improve you. Not to mention the dialogue, so you have no idea what to do next.

Now that's a challenge.

As for ReachBeyond: We may not always agree on here, get along and we (I) do stupid things like challenging others to "Retirement Death Matches". That being said, there's one thing we don't do: Insult other writers for no good reason (except Emp). We're a community here and though we may disagree with a review, we handle it constructively. Calling one of our most talented and prominent reviewer names is not going to do anything aside from pissing off the other regulars.

Just some friendly advice.


If I Offended You, You Needed It.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 20, 2010 (06:40 PM)
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He's looking for a fight and you guys are giving it to him. Just sayin'.

Anyway.

Yeah, challenge is nice, but it's rare for me to feel that a game is too easy. I'd rather plow through a game with very little trouble than be frustrated consistently, to the point that gaming loses its ability to help me unwind. I play games to relax, you know. And so I'm playing Demon's Souls right now? Honestly wondering if this game is more trouble than it's worth.

I do hate it when a game is so piss easy that I feel insulted by playing it. BioShock is my classic example -- you literally couldn't die, which took away any need to be afraid, careful or conservative in your playing approach. Completely destroyed the experience.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 20, 2010 (07:05 PM)
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BioShock's difficulty level didn't harm the game in the slightest, let alone totally ruin in. That's another example of a game where challenge is the last thing anyone should be worrying about while playing it because it had so many other things going right for it and serving as the true focus. Plus you didn't have to use the vita chambers if you didn't want to. The game was designed so that players who chose not to use them found a truly difficult game. Pretty brilliant, actually.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: randxian
Posted: January 20, 2010 (07:09 PM)
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I'm sorry, but this review is intellecutally dishonest. You mention this all powerful move you have access to at the outset of the game.

That's only a partial truth. Yes, you do technically speaking have access to it, but you have to not only pull off the button combination, you would have to actually know it. The game never tells you how to do any of these moves unless you purchase them from the library. Sure, you'll uncover a few here and there by sheer chance, but what are the odds of discovering all of them? I've never actually discovered the one that Zipp is reprimanding in the review. Did you discover it by accident? Or did you look it up on a FAQ? If the latter, then that's a terrible way to go about reviewing. You could conceivably argue any game is too easy if you look up everything in a FAQ/guide. Hell, a lot of older games that were considered hard had codes to skip levels and whatnot. Does that make them too easy all of a sudden? This whole thing is just a ridiculous argument against the game and I'm completely flabbergasted.

It's one thing to say SOTN is too easy. It's something else entirely to be completely shifty writing about it. What are you doing? Preparing for a career as a used car salesman?

If I ask for the Carfax I don't want to see car flaps.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: January 20, 2010 (07:51 PM)
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I think that raises an interesting question:

How much, if any, should a game be criticized for "lacking challenge" if a FAQ had to be consulted to remove that challenge?

Discovering the 'soul steal' move by accident would be virtually impossible (it's pulled off similar to an SNK desperation special by the way), especially for a first-time player who doesn't even realize that such special moves exist. Even if someone did it by accident once, they wouldn't be able to intentionally repeat it. The game is full of ridiculous secrets, like the entire shield rod arsenal, that only become apparent after repeated play. Going into SOTN with foreknowledge of how to do these things ruins the experience. SOTN is a game about discovery.

That being said, I thought SOTN was pretty easy to blaze through (even to get the best ending), and I played it without a FAQ. So I'm not saying Zipp's wrong to criticize the game for lacking challenge... but I agree with Randxian that bringing up the 'soul steal' move is really reaching. It sounds like a good example to people who don't know any better, but it's actually quite flimsy and borderline deceptive. There had to be better ways to illustrate the lack of challenge, ways that might actually mirror a new player's experience.

EDIT: Just fired up SOTN, and you can't actually do the soul steal move at the beginning because you don't have enough magic points yet. You need 50, and only start with 20.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: randxian
Posted: January 20, 2010 (08:57 PM)
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Exactly. People who fire up the game for the first time would have no idea the move exists, let alone how to actually pull it off.

It could also be argued most games are much easier if you've played through them and know all the secrets, tricks, and all the angles.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: January 20, 2010 (09:27 PM)
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1. You know, I hadn't thought of this before Rand and Zig mentioned it, but yeah...I have no clue what this special move referenced in the review is. I'm not exactly skilled at fighting games, so those combination moves....I rarely attempted them. I'm sure I hit it once or twice to see what it looked like, but it never was a staple of my offense.

2. The game was still easy enough that such stuff is unnecessary overkill. I'd say I'm more likely to get killed by the first Doppleganger (second boss after the Slogra/Gaibon connection) than anything else in the game now, since I know not to dive into the Clock Tower region the instant I can access it.

3. The one thing about your point, Jason, that I'd disagree with is your stance about how this game can be too easy because of how the player can break it and how the game shouldn't be punished for what a player can do to break it. A lucky person can get something like the Crissaegrim by simply killing the right enemy and getting it as a drop. Something like that game-breaker should be given as a replay reward for getting all 200+ percent or something...not as a random drop. I think it's silly to tell a player to not use something if they naturally obtain it.

4. Still, this is one of my favorite games. I only gave it a 9 instead of a 10 (PS version....although this year, I shall review the XLA version) because of the lack of challenge. But I can see someone else being critical of it. It might be one of those games with great nostalgic value for people who played it when it was new, but doesn't tempt the fancy of a gamer who is now experiencing it for the first time.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 21, 2010 (12:47 AM)
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Hold up there, Jackson (read: Randxian and Zig).

I DID discover the move totally by accident. I knew NOTHING about Castlevania: SOTN before playing it, except that it was heralded as one of the Castlevania greats. I looked at no faqs and the first time I pulled off a special move, I had no idea what had happened and didn't know until I checked out my menu screen.

I discovered the move while trying to break free from a stoning about half an hour into the game. It's not hard to figure it out. Or maybe I'm just spastic.

Overdrive's comments are pretty spot on to how I feel about the game and I think my review makes its points accordingly. For me, this was a game that felt dumbed down and didn't give me the fulfillment of passing any sort of challenge. For me, the fun of a sidescroller is in the challenge. I think much of what people like about C:SOTN is for nostalgia value. Nostalgia is a powerful thing.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: randxian
Posted: January 21, 2010 (04:06 AM)
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If you think the game is trash, so be it. My problem is using examples that are extremely unlikely to happen.

I've played through the game probably at least 2-3 times start to finish and never found this secret move, nor have I ever had an enemy drop this Crissagem or whatever it is. I've heard of the sword, but never actually found it.

Reprimanding a game based on something that's about as likely to happen as winning the lottery is completely absurd.

My main problem is someone who has never played the game previously would have the wrong notion after reading that portion. Zig even pointed out you don't even have enough MP at the start.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: sashanan
Posted: January 21, 2010 (06:17 AM)
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Funny that the question of FAQs came into this. I have argued about SotN in the past that somebody without the aid of a guide or at least word-of-mouth from other gamers could conceivably get the bad ending halfway and think he finished the game. I mean, by the time I got to SotN, I knew that Castlevania loves that trick, but based on the dialogue you get? Without any foreknowledge I don't think I would have recognized it as not being the true ending. I'd just have been disappointed by the short game length. (Precisely this happened to me for real when I first finished Aria of Sorrow.)


''Yes, yes...but apart from all that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?''


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Author: Ben
Posted: January 21, 2010 (08:09 AM)
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I discovered the move while trying to break free from a stoning about half an hour into the game. It's not hard to figure it out. Or maybe I'm just spastic.

Alright, I just read the review, and I've never heard of the soul stealing move before until after consulting an FAQ once I finished the game. You seem to imply that it was luck that made you discover the move, "trying to break free from a stoning", but then you follow it up with "It's not hard to figure it out". It seems slightly contradictory.

I'm not saying what you said in the review is wrong, because it does sound like this move makes your character even more powerful, but you put a lot of emphasis on this one move that you only found out by chance and is perhaps a slightly unfair criticism.

EDIT: Then again, the review is meant to be based on your own experience with the game, which I guess in some ways does make the criticism about the special move valid.


...


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 21, 2010 (10:59 AM)
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Regardless of the soul sucking move, I give other examples of how the game's challenge was not there for me. Also, I never call the game crap, Rand. That is exactly the kind of knee jerk reaction people have when you say you didn't like the game they happen to love. If you read the review again you'll find that I actually use very fair language with the game and say that I like much of what Igarashi changed about the series. But the lack of challenge, I say, takes away from what would make the game a Castlevania game for me.

I buy a Castlevania game looking for a challenge, just like i would buy a Mario game looking for platforming. If that wasn't there, I'd probably be just as unhappy with the experience (Mario Tennis notwithstanding) as I was with SOTN.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: January 21, 2010 (11:49 AM)
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Okay, fair enough on the FAQ bit... it sounds like you just had an unfortunate experience with SOTN. Your explanation makes sense.

The problem is that you're still wrong. The 'soul steal' move is not available right from the start, even though your review makes a big deal out of its fictional immediate availability. Since I've read several of your reviews, I'm assuming this is an honest mistake (before writing, I figure you didn't test to see if the move was actually available or not). However, despite innocent intentions, it's still an exaggeration/falsehood. People who don't know better will be misled, and people who do know better will disregard all your points.

For example, you later bring up the boss that you leapt behind and she couldn't turn around. Normally, that would be a great example to support your point about lack of challenge. But since you exaggerated earlier in the review about the 'soul steal' bit, I found myself wondering:

"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"

So my point is that when you feature an example prominently, it's important to get the facts right. It's one thing if you miss a small detail (ie: the soul steal is not performed like Chun Li's hurricane kick) but when you get the big things wrong, it's hard to shake.

It's like when my first draft proclaimed Ys 6 as Falcom's triumphant return to the action-RPG genre. Someone pointed out that Falcom had already released Zwei a couple years earlier. Ignoring that fact would make me look uneducated and/or prone to fanboyish exaggeration. So I fixed the review.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 21, 2010 (11:57 AM)
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That's all well and good, Zipp, but the way that you make the soul sucking move sound in your review doesn't even match the personal experience that you've related in response to questions raised about your review. That's a problem. You're welcome to your opinion that 6/10 is the appropriate score for this game. No one begrudges you that (at least no one who is fair-minded). However, you're not using genuine justification to get there.

So what if technically that move is available at the start of the game? It's certainly not available in the sense that you imply! You wouldn't have had it without stumbling across it by pure luck, a circumstance that rarely if ever has happened to any of the millions of other people who played and love the game. And it requires more MP than you have at the start of the game, as others noted. So really, your whole tirade against that particular move, which takes up enough of your review that it's one of the main things people will remember, is built on a false premise. That's a huge misimpression that your review leaves on the reader, one that you should be fixing instead of defending.

You've noted in this topic that platformers aren't worth it for you if they don't provide challenge, and hinted that one way this game could have pleased you is if it provided challenging jumping sequences. That's actually a lot more relevant than your discussion of the soul sucking move. You could spend less time focusing on that move and more time telling gamers where the game actually failed for you. Your impressions would be more reliable, too, because people could then read your review and get a feel for how the game would realistically work for them and they can decide whether they would miss tough jump sequences or not. Your whole piece would be that much more useful.

You clearly don't have to drop discussion of the soul sucking move, either. If I sucked at the game and found that move right near the start, I'll admit that I probably would have abused it whenever an enemy routinely kicked my ass, rather than facing the challenge that comes from fighting fairly. Maybe I would have even gone into some boss encounters the first time and used it right away. I like to think that I wouldn't have, as that's obviously going to cheapen the experience, but I can't say for sure that I would have refrained (especially if the rest of the experience wasn't pleasing me enough to make me feel like putting any effort into things). Readers simply need a better idea of the context in which the move is provided.

Despite the eloquent writing here, the review ultimately feels like it was written before you'd really thought out just why you didn't like the game as much as most people. Your discussion in this topic makes me believe that you know now, but it doesn't seem like you really did when you started writing. There remain some enormous question marks, too. How in the world did you figure out that the second castle even exists (let alone find it and the items necessary to unlock it) without a FAQ? No one that I know of did so back in the day. Your review doesn't make mention of a second castle, but you talk about it comfortably in this topic before dismissing it and playable Richter as unimportant details (though for many, few things could possibly be more important). Did you play around with the familiars at all? How much of the massive map did you clear (you touch on the castle's size in your review, but the way you describe it made it sound like a feature that you didn't even explore until you stated otherwise in this topic)? Not all of that stuff needs to be answered in your review, but your review left me wondering about those specific points and I'd like to know. So would most others who have played the game at length, I'm sure, which is ultimately where this review doesn't work as well as it could have. People who have played the game are confused by your reactions and omissions, which don't seem to factor in much of anything that even makes the game worth playing for people who wind up liking it. People who haven't played the game aren't being presented the information in a way that actually outlines the game as it is likely to play for them, either. Who is your true intended audience? Figure that out, tailor your writing to them and don't conveniently omit important information for the apparent purpose of matching a score. You'll find yourself with a much stronger--and very likely still eloquent--review, one that fits in more comfortably with your library of excellent reviews produced in the past.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: January 21, 2010 (12:32 PM)
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Zig and I must be on at the same time. He touched on something that I was thinking but didn't put into words as well as he did. Credibility just so happens to be the most important thing that you can get right (or wrong) when writing a review.

When you make one omission and it's important enough, your entire review takes a huge hit. You want a foundation made of concrete and suddenly your readers are left wondering if your argument isn't built on swiss cheese. They start rooting against you instead of considering your points. If you have a backlog of excellent reviews to support you, that's a blow you can recover from. However, most readers won't be familiar with that backlog unless they know you, and therefore are likely to disregard even the valid points that you make throughout the rest of your review.

Or they'll start questioning things that they wouldn't otherwise. Most of my questions that I had after reading the review came because key components of the experience you described seemed factually off-base to me. I wouldn't have even stopped to think about some of the other stuff if not for that.

Zig and I have both been in a similar place. He mentioned his and I'll mention mine: Nightshade. When I first reviewed it, I didn't even know about most of the magic moves because I never had reason to use any of them outside of the tutorial. I took--and still take--occasional ribbing from some of the people who read that original review. Even though magic actually is mostly useless in that game, it does serve a purpose and is required to beat one of the final bosses. People wondered what else I might have missed if I didn't figure out how to use all of the different spells. They were right to wonder. I made the appropriate changes to the review and it's better because of it. My other points were spot-on and now no one has any reason to question them after reading my text.

This is your chance to fix some things in this particular review, and to grow as a writer so that you don't run into a similar situation in the future. I imagine that most of the prolific writers on this site and others have come to a similar crossroads. The ones who learned from the situation are writing today and producing some of their best stuff ever. The ones who didn't want to learn usually quit reviewing because "no one gets them" or because they weren't up to the task. I've seen enough of your writing to believe that you're one of the ones who can learn, adapt and thrive, but only you know for sure.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: January 21, 2010 (02:09 PM)
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I heavily disagree with Zipp on SoTN, but I don't get all this shitstorm over a game review. Maybe it is a jump for him to say the Soul Sucker/whatever move can be gotten off the bat, but I don't doubt that he did learn it and he was able to abuse it. His review presents a unique (quasi-)negative perspective on the game based on his unique experience with it. I think it should stand as it is. Otherwise, it'll just read like every other negative SoTN review. ("Too easy, overpowered, etc. etc.")

P.S. Someone should write a review from the perspective of someone who never found the second castle.

EDIT:
"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"

All it takes is one outlier to make someone fed up with a game.


Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 21, 2010 (02:19 PM)
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I'll have to think on everything that's been said here. I can tell you that the soul sucking move was available for 95% of my playthrough. Thus, to me, it represents a pretty prominent part of the playthrough and my review.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: January 21, 2010 (04:57 PM)
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I mostly agree with what Spaceworlder said, just not the "as is" part. It's absolutely an interesting viewpoint (especially now that I know Zipp did find the move by accident) and worth expressing. I am not suggesting that the 'soul steal' example should be removed.

My advice is just to say it correctly... otherwise people will jump to the wrong conclusions about Zipp's motives. SOTN is a game of discovery. I would normally consider that a huge strength, but Zipp's experience shows that discovering the wrong thing at the wrong time can really weaken the rest of the game.

Basically, by firming up the facts, this is an opportunity to turn a questionable example into a really cool point that people will be hard-pressed to debunk.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: randxian
Posted: January 21, 2010 (06:27 PM)
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For example, you later bring up the boss that you leapt behind and she couldn't turn around. Normally, that would be a great example to support your point about lack of challenge. But since you exaggerated earlier in the review about the 'soul steal' bit, I found myself wondering:

"Are the other bosses really that easy, or is he picking on an outlier to support his case?"


I was going to let this slide, but since you brought it up, the boss section of the review is yet another example of Zipp lining up straw men to knock down.

To be honest, none of the bosses are so taxing that you'll curse excessively and chuck your controller at the wall, but very few are complete pushovers. As a matter of fact, I remember a few that can be at least moderately challenging. That's not to mention how some bosses are so well designed and take up most of the screen. As a matter of fact, one optional boss stands at about 50 feet tall and is quite intimidating when you first step into the ring with it. Again, you just pick on a couple of extreme examples when the game sports dozens and dozens of bosses to topple.

I think Jason summed it up perfectly above. Exactly who is your intended audience here. Veterans of the game know some of the facts are misleading. Newbies will be mislead the way it's presented. Therefore the review really accomplishes nothing.

If you think it's just average, fine. If you were disappointed by the lack of challenge, fine. My "knee jerk reaction" is a result of your misleading facts, not the score. All I ask if you present accurate information.

I actually liked the intro to a certain degree. You seem to hint you feel the backtracking is an artificial way to make the game longer and more in depth. Okay, fair enough. I don't personally agree with it, but I can at least understand your point of view here. More stuff like that would make for a better review.

But it's all good in the neighborhood. I just got Dracula X Chronicles for the PSX which includes the game in question. Time to crank up the ol PSP, play through both games, and churn out a review. Justice will be served. :D


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: Masters (Mod)
Posted: January 21, 2010 (11:10 PM)
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Chronicles fucking owns.


I don't have to prove I'm refined - that's what makes me refined!


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 21, 2010 (11:33 PM)
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But Randxian, you're doing the exact same thing that you're claiming I've done, only from the other side of the table! You're showcasing a couple bosses you thought were cool. In my review I used two examples because I didn't want to list six or seven bosses that I thought were lame, including the hippogriff, the dumb werewolf minotaur combo (which was a sweet idea poorly executed), the crappy demon who just kept summoning skeletons over and over while I wailed ass on him...

... the list goes on.

EDIT: Here's the thing. I'm totally in agreement with what everyone has been saying about accurate reviewing and I will be going in to rework some of the wording and emphasis in my review to make it more accurate. But the difference between accuracy and opinion is a slight one. I wrote the review based off my experience with the game, which was not a manufactured or imagined experience. How is that not accurate, then?

Again, there has been some mention of specific phrases or words that could change in my review, but asking me to say that the bosses were cool because you thought they were cool, Rand, is not an "accurate" depiction. You're telling me to give them their due. I've felt like I have. Obviously our opinion on this matter differs, but that doesn't mean my review is FALSE.

That's all I'm trying to make clear, here.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: randxian
Posted: January 22, 2010 (06:49 AM)
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Okay, I'll concede my point on the bosses. Perhaps I am more or less doing the same thing. Most of the bosses probably are average in terms of coolness. However, very few are absolute pushovers like the one mentioned in the review.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 22, 2010 (10:01 AM)
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I respect the opinions of (almost) everyone who has posted on this topic and appreciate the time and attention that was given to this review. It is one of those cases that is hard because I had an experience that went so much against the majority opinion. I would be curious to know if anyone goes back and tries this game out again to hear what their more recent experience with it is like. Sometimes nostalgia makes games better than they are.

On the other hand, it may be the fact that I came to this game so late. The things that would've overwhelmingly impressed me when it first came out, like the graphics or the Super Metroid approach, now just seem cool but not mindblowing and what I'm looking for out of a Castlevania game may have shifted after having played four DS games that play like clones of SOTN.

In any case, I will be going back in to adjust things. No, Aschultz, don't wait for me. Go ahead and do your ROTW as planned!


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: sashanan
Posted: January 22, 2010 (12:27 PM)
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On the other hand, it may be the fact that I came to this game so late. The things that would've overwhelmingly impressed me when it first came out, like the graphics or the Super Metroid approach, now just seem cool but not mindblowing and what I'm looking for out of a Castlevania game may have shifted after having played four DS games that play like clones of SOTN.

You may be on to something. I only got to SotN after the GBA Castlevanias myself and only finished it after playing the first two DS ones too (Ecclesia wasn't out yet). When you visit it at that point and the whole milestone in Castlevania history it represented is something you've only heard about, not seen at the time, you just go into it differently.

I think my opinions on quite a few of the classics have been influenced by that effect. I do tend to run behind the facts.


''Yes, yes...but apart from all that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?''


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