Updates Wednesdays

Comic 542 - That which can not be said

Posted on Wednesday, the 23rd of November at 12:00 AM, 2022 in 2022

Author Notes:

DanVzare Wed, 23. Nov 12:00 AM, 2022 edit delete
So I've heard many great things about Castlevania Symphony of the Night, so naturally I had to play it. It's one of the forefathers of Metroidvanias, and despite not really being interested in that genre, I do remember enjoying Super Metroid. And let's face it, Symphony of the Night has some absolutely gorgeous pixel art.

So I got the game and put it onto my Pi so I could play the NTSC version on a television and get the best experience. (The PAL versions of most games from that time, are objectively worse.)
And it started off good. Nice music, brilliant presentation. Very interesting.

Then came the Alucard section, the main chunk of the game. "Good" I thought. Then came the movement animation, which annoyed me to no end. Alucard does this really annoying float for a full second before he starts running whenever you turn. It doesn't affect his movement, but it completely messes up the cues in my brain that tell me that he's moving. It's no biggie, but it was very annoying and surprising that no one ever brought it up in the time I've heard people talk this game up.

Then I got further, lost my equipment and was pretty much left to explore this huge castle. "Ok, this is fine. Just follow my nose, I'll figure out where to go eventually."
And I did, I got to a boss, which after a bit of trial and error, I finally won. And then it was back to the wandering. And after going along a ridiculously long... dining room I think? I ended up on the other end of the castle, climbing up, and just having no idea where to go or what to do.
I'm all for no hand holding, but this honestly felt like padding. Not only that, but the game was just so very boring and dull!
So after a few hours of playing, I just gave up on it.

And it wasn't because of the Metroidvania style either. I finished Rogue Legacy from beginning to end, using a Trainer that gave me infinite life (because screw roguelites and their reliance on dying to grind), and I absolutely enjoyed every second of that game. This on the other hand was just so very utterly and completely devoid of life.

It was well made, don't get me wrong. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. But damn is it boring.
The thing is, I've played They're Here! for the PS1, more commonly known as Iru!, a low budget walking simulator horror game, where you're given no hints on where to go next. So you just end up wandering around the highschool, entering every single room systematically, in the vain hope of finding the correct area to further the plot. And you know what, I enjoyed THAT game from beginning to end. Don't get me wrong, it got tedious at times, but I enjoyed it.

So I clearly don't mind wandering aimlessly. I also don't mind a game having no challenge or even too much challenge (as said on a previous comic, I recently finished Saints Row 2 on hard mode). I also clearly have a high tolerance to boring gameplay. Not only that, but I think it's safe to say that I also enjoy Metroidvanias, despite never actually seeking them out.
So why didn't I like Castlevania Symphony of the Night?
Well, my only answer is because it truly is a game that is boring beyond compare for anyone who hasn't played it before.

I recently made a comic about how people typically gaslight others into believing that old games aren't as good as we think they are. But having played plenty of old games I've never played before, I can say that's completely untrue.
That being said, there are definitely some games that people think are good, only because they played them as kids. Not because of nostalgia, but because there's an initial hurdle that you have to overcome to find that enjoyment.
I think the classic Sonic games are a brilliant example. People constantly point to them as being perfect, but let's face it, Sonic 1 sucks and there's no reason to collect the chaos emeralds, Sonic 2 should've had a password system, Sonic CD has terrible level design, Sonic 3 is too short, and Sonic and Knuckles is only good when connected with Sonic 3 otherwise it's nearly as bad as Sonic 1.
But you'll find that people who grew up with those games, speak highly of them. But the way they speak about them, I don't think it's nostalgia that's blinding them to the faults. But rather their experience and skill. Like a veteran Dwarf Fortress player becoming blind to the terrible UI, they've become blind to the faults of those games.
Once you've memorized the levels and mastered the momentum based physics, those classic Sonic games do actually all become fun games. It just takes about a hundred hours worth of playing (I actually watched a Youtuber where this ended up happening, and his opinion on these games switched as a result). This is time that most people would easily invest when they're children who can't play anything else. But nowadays, why bother.
And even though I had access to these games as a kid, I also had plenty of other things that I not only could play, but I also chose TO play because they were better right off the bat. Which would explain why I still think the classic Sonic games are incredibly flawed.

But I digress. I think my dislike of Castlevania Symphony of the Night comes from something similar. Where it's only fun, if you already know how to play it from beginning to end.