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Sunday, November 23, 2014

PlayStation TV On Sale! $79.99 stand alone, $99.99 for bundle

Looking to get a Vita but you don't want to spend the full $250? Well then chances are you may be interested in the $129.99 PlayStation TV. It's a lot cheaper, and some of you may prefer playing the games on a large screen so it may be our Vita model of choice. If so, I have good news for you!

Over at Amazon the PlayStation TV is currently on sale for $79.99 for the standard version, and $99.99 for the bundle. Basically the bundle is being sold at the price of the stand alone Vita TV (which doesn't come with a controller), and the stand alone is 20 bucks cheaper. So, if you're wanting to get one, you may not want to miss out on this.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Destiny - Review

Over the years Bungie has become one of the most recognizable names in gaming. What once began as a small group of people releasing games for the Mac, one day joined forces with Microsoft and revolutionized console first person shooters with a little game called "Halo." Since the release of the original Halo, Bungie has been known world wide, and a large fan base has formed following them every step of the way. Halo continued to establish itself as one of the leading console shooters with each release, and this success continued on into the 7th generation on the Xbox 360.

After releasing Halo 3, things began to change at Bungie. Rather than being a part of Microsoft, the company once again broke off on its own. While they were no longer tied down by Microsoft, they continued making Halo games up until the release of Halo Reach. At this point development for future Halo titles was passed onto the newly formed  343 Industries, and Bungie moved on to their next project; a game we now know as Destiny.

This time, teaming up with Activision (who originally had interest in buying Bungie before Microsoft picked them up) Bungie set out to create a new original series using their past experiences to their advantage. The end result is a space first person shooter MMO called "Destiny," which Bungie plans on keeping around for at least 10 years. Destiny had a lot of hype surrounding its release, but just how good is the game really? Is it the best game ever? Is it better than Halo? Or was all of the hype just that--hype? Well after playing for many (many) hours, and seeing just about all of its current content, we are ready to give our verdict (for now).

Now before reading we want you to keep in mind that this game is part MMO. Bungie has said many times that they plan on keeping it around for at least 10 years, and they also made it very clear that this is just a starting point. At the time of this review the game has only been out for a week, and more expansions and updates are on the way. Bungie is also taking recommendations for features, so outside of the expansions there will most likely be smaller updates which will fix issues and add requested content. If this is the case, this review will be updated. So now with that being said, let's get on with the review.

The Story:

One of the things Bungie pushed before the game's release was Destiny's story. According to them it is a massive universe with tons of history, and epic events (maybe them weren't quite their words, but it is close enough). They stated that they wanted to give players something on par with "Lord of the Rings," and that got a lot of people excited. Well, if you were one of them people hoping for some grand adventure, you may be let down when you read this.

Destiny takes place far in the future after, well, a lot happens. The game begins with this little robot thing called a Ghost reviving your dead body (which has been dead for a LONG time apparently), and then proceeds to call you a "Guardian." From the get go the Ghost lets you know that you'll be seeing a lot of things you won't understand, and it then directs you to basically run for your life towards a door leading into a massive wall. Inside this wall the Ghost then helps you find a weapon, and you begin fighting aliens called "The Fallen." As you make your way through the area, you kill just about everything in your way, and finally make it to a ship; a ship you get to keep. Once again following the Ghost's orders you fly to the last stronghold on Earth, a place called "The Tower."

Once you arrive at the tower, things start to make a little more sense. Apparently at one point in time this giant planet thing called "the Traveler" came to Earth and brought the galaxy to its "Golden Age." Then, the darkness came. Aliens from other planets began invading destroying all of the light the Traveler brought with it, so in its last attempt to save itself and the galaxy it released the Ghosts to find those who are worthy of becoming Guardians to fight back. And that, is what you must do.

The rest of the game's story really isn't much. You follow your Ghost, kill things because you are told to, collect data because you are told to, and complete side quests to help the Tower just because you are told to. At one point something happens, and you race to stop one race of aliens from destroying a planet, but it never feels like a major event. It is more along the lines of a small stepping stone in a much larger story that is yet to come, and even the game's ending makes that VERY clear. Without going into spoilers all we can really say is that the game tells you itself that it isn't over, or rather, it is just the beginning.

Although the main storyline may feel a bit lacking, there is actually a lot of history to this universe. As you play through the game and complete different goals you'll unlock special cards which can be read on the website, and a lot of the game's overall story is actually told here. You can read the background of each enemy, weapon, and location. You can learn about all of the different factions within each alien race, and you can even learn about other Guardian's experiences and what they've gone through while you were still dead. There is actually a lot going on, and it gives the story much more depth, but once again this can only be accessed form the website so it is easy for players to miss. Still even with all of this background, the game's main plot is pretty basic. Only a handful of cutscenes, and side quests which you'll soon forget about make up the entirety of it. Even so, the story really isn't the main focus; Destiny is more about the gameplay than anything else.

The Gameplay:

Destiny is, well, a Bungie game, and it shows. I personally hate describing games by using others, but in this case I'll make an exception (somewhat). The thing about Destiny is that it is sort of a spiritual successor to Halo, and as such it plays and feels a lot like it. Sure it is it's own game, don't get me wrong, but for any long time Bungie fans, you'll feel right at home with this. You'll pick up the controller, and instantly know what to do, and what to expect. Everything from the enemies, to the level design, to the art style will bring you back to the early days of Halo, and that isn't a bad thing. Still, although it is a lot like Halo, it is also vastly different in quite a few ways.

The General Gameplay -

For those of you who have never played Halo, let me explain. Destiny is a first person shooter at it's core. You'll move the camera with the right analog stick, you'll use the triggers to aim and shoot, throw bombs, melee attack, and use special skills. You can also get into vehicles (many of which are basically re-skinned vehicles from Halo which play and control the same), mount turrets, jump (and possibly glide) through the air, and preform other basic actions you might come to expect from a game in this genre; however, with all of the standard features comes a lot of new ones as well.

While Destiny is a shooter, it is also half MMO. Before you start you are asked to create your own character, and choose between one of three starting classes. One is called a Titan, another is the Hunter, and finally there is the Warlock. Each class has their own unique skills and abilities to unlock and use, and they also have an extra sub class you can branch off and go down. For example the Hunter is a faster class and sort of a balance between the Titan (which has a lot of armor) and Warlock (which has low armor but fast armor/health regeneration), and it can either go down a melee or gun based path. With the default gun path the Hunter can pull out a golden gun which does massive damage, and with the sword based class they can enter a special state where they can slash things to bits. On top of these special moves other abilities are unlocked with them which allow you to change their properties as well. For example the golden gun can be changed to one with better accuracy, or it can be changed into one that causes enemies that are killed by it to explode (which causes damage to the enemies around it). This is how all classes in the game work, and each one has their own advantages. It all comes down to your personal play style, and it helps make your character feel more like your own rather than just some generic shooter guy.

On top of the class skills, there are also skills and abilities which come along with the equipment you collect. Rather than giving you basic items to use, Destiny is all about finding loot and upgrading it to make your character stronger. Some pieces of equipment you find will simply offer more defense, but some will come with added abilities which will allow your character to do different things. For example an arm part may have an ability which allows you to throw your grenade farther (which each class has three unique ones they can switch between), or you might find a sniper which can be upgraded to shoot explosive ammo. There are also sometimes stat bonuses attached to each piece of equipment as well, which will decrease your wait time between each use of your special moves, so if you would rather focus more on say your melee special attack rather than your grenade, you can. Overall there's just a lot of different options for you when it comes to customizing your character, and there's also plenty of weapon types as well. With each hunter holding a primary, secondary, and a heavy weapon, you can make your character diverse as you want. Still, this is only scratching the surface.

One feature which really makes Destiny's inventory stand out is the fact that you can freely change equipment ANYWHERE in the game. You can hold nine pieces of equipment in most slots, and you can freely switch out your equip items on the fly. Have your secondary set to a sniper, but you need something heavy for close range? Just open up the menu and switch over to your shotgun, it is that easy. This works in the story mode, in versus mode, and in every other gameplay mode Bungie may release in the future, and it is great. You can also summon a fast traveling vehicle from just about anywhere as well, with only some restrictions set in "dungeon" like areas, and in some smaller versus mode maps.

The not so single, Single Player -

As you're building your character, upgrading items, etc, Destiny offers a lot of gameplay modes for you to play through; with the main one being the "single player" story.

In the single player Guardians make their way through different stages as they complete different goals, and sometimes even fight bosses; however unlike in most shooters, the single player mode isn't quite a single player experience. While the game only features four locations for you to visit, each location is a massive open map with mini "levels" within them. As you're sent to one of the many different locations on the map to complete whatever goal it is you need to finish, other players will also be on the map doing the same thing. While you may be going through the second story mission, you will be seeing others who may be either doing the same one, or possibly a later one. Everyone just sort of does their own thing on the map, but once you enter one of the restricted areas (stages) you'll be alone once again and you'll be able to play through said area like in a standard shooter. Typically these areas are linear (with some paths which may lead to other sections of the overall map), and are free from intruding players. Of course you can team up with up to two other people to take these ares on in co-op, but you don't have to if you don't want to.

Along with the story missions, random public events can occur as well. When these happen every player in the area is free to join in for a chance to receive special rewards based on the group's ranking. Those who complete public events fast and efficiently will find themselves with better rewards than ones who just squeak by, or only complete a handful of the requested goals. These events can be quite rare, but if you're in the right place at the right time, they are well worth doing.

Outside of the story missions, each area of the game also has what is called a "patrol" mission. With these missions your only real goal is to explore the world (which worlds have collectibles for you to find, as expected from a Bungie title), and complete optional side quests found from beacons scattered throughout the map. These side quests typically ask you to kill enemies, or find specific items in the area, but they do give you rewards for completing them.

On top of the patrol mission side quests, there are also "bounties" which can be accepted in the Tower (the game's main hub). These bounty missions ask you to complete goals either in the story or in the versus mode, and will give you reputation depending on the type of bounty it is. Vanguard missions will send you to the planets and rank up your Vanguard ranking, while Crucible missions will send you to the Crucible (the versus mode area) to increase your rank there instead. By bringing your ranking up for either one, you'll earn the ability to buy special equipment sets later on in the game, and in return will make you much stronger. While bounties are not the only way to increase your rep, it is a faster way to do so.

The Strikes -

Strikes are another gameplay mode, and once again they play out like your standard shooter. Just as in the story missions you'll be dropped on one of the planets and be told to go somewhere, but rather than going alone you must be on a team; in fact, there's an entire matchmaking playlist just for this specific mode. As you get later in the game, different difficulty Strikes open up, and each one gives different rewards. While there's a lower level playlist for newer players, there's level 20 for max level players, and level 22 plus playlists for those who want even more of a challenge for better rewards. The Strikes themselves do typically take you to different locations from the ones found during the main story, and they feature new bosses as well; many of which are actually challenging, and take much longer to kill. Strikes also gain you Vanguard points, and become a very important part of post game. (Unless you'd rather ignore them and focus on versus instead.)

The Raids -

Along with Strikes, Raids are another form of co-op missions where you complete specific goals in hopes of getting rare drops and better equipment as rewards. While the concept is still the same, Raids take Strikes to a whole new level, and serve as special events released by Bungie. Rather than simply letting players take them on at anytime, they are only open during specific times, they require a full six member party, and there is no match making so you must team up with a group of friends before you even attempt to enter a Raid. Once you are in a Raid however, things become even more complex.

While Strikes are basically Point A to Point B missions with bosses and mini bosses, the goals in Raids are set by Bungie, and require you to preform a wide verity of tasks. The first Raid for example, requires you to split your team up into smaller teams, defend points against very strong enemies, take on extremely challenging bosses, and even make your way through a stealth section where the goal is to not be seen. Although this may sound easy to some, the difficulty is much higher than the main game, and it requires all members of your party to work as a team if you want to survive. Raids are also much longer than Raids (the smaller sections can actually take hours to complete), but Bungie does provide those who take it on with checkpoints, so even if you get stuck or don't have all day free to complete it, you can always come back later; as long as it is within the Raid's event period.

Of course, all of this may not always be the case. Once again Raids are up to Bungie, and that means it is always possible that they will release lower level/easier Raids in the future.

The Crucible -

For anyone who is a huge fan of Player vs Player modes, then the Crucible gameplay mode may be enough of a reason for you to buy Destiny. In the Crucible players take their characters to the battle arena where they can compete with others from around the world. Although you do get to use your own custom character, and you have access to your entire inventory (meaning you can change equipment on the fly), the game modes are balanced out so that higher level players do not truly have an advantage over newcomers. While skills and abilities gained from leveling up and form equipment can still be used, weapon and armor stats do not matter at all. Everyone is equal when it comes to health and armor, and weapons are balanced in a way you would expect a shooter to be. While there is a mode where stats carry over, it (just like Raids) is a special event mode Bungie is in control of.

The versus mode itself actually feels a lot like Bungie's other titles (mainly Halo). Most of the maps are smaller as they are built for 12 players, only a few maps contain vehicles you can drive and turrets you can mount, and most of the stages have more than one layer to them. Rather than being in open areas on a single plain, typically there are tunnels under structures, buildings with more than one floor, and other high up areas which are easy to access thanks to the different forms of double jump you unlock early on. Although most maps are either some outside area with ruins or inside a building, they are all different enough to keep things from getting old.

When it comes to Destiny's versus game modes, thing's are a bit different--or rather, a bit more limiting. While the maps feel like something right out of Halo, long time Bungie fans may be disappointing to see only a handful of modes to challenge yourself in. At this time there are only five gameplay modes, and all are what one might call "ranked." The game does not have any private player match system, and match making is limited to finding a random group of people to play with. While you can form a party and join a game together with friends, you're still forced to play with at least some people you don't know in official matches. As for the game modes, currently you can only take part in a capture mode (where you must stand next to flags to capture bases), a standard 6v6 mode, a 12 player free for all mode, and a smaller 3v3 versus mode where you can revive fallen teammates for extra points. The final mode is called "salvage" and is yet another one of Bungie's special event modes. In this one two teams of three race to targets they must capture, and then defend until time runs out.

Overall these modes are a lot of fun, and do offer a nice verity, but it can be a bit of a let down considering how much Bungie has done in the past. Currently there is no standard capture the flag mode, there's no 3v3v3v3 mode (or other small team mode where there is more than one team), and there are no unique gameplay modes such as "zombie" where killing someone brings them over to your team and it is your job to be the last survivor. Modes such as these really helped Bungie's multiplayer games in the past, and it's just a bit disappointing Destiny doesn't have something similar (yet). Even so, Destiny's versus mode is a lot of fun, and it is also a great way to get rare equipment. It also has its own reputation system, and bounties for you to take on.

The Good and the Bad:

Destiny, well, isn't an easy game to rate. For what it is at the moment, it is a very solid game. It's pros come from its solid gameplay, nice graphics, great soundtrack, character customization, online co-op, large open areas, challenging Raids, the Strikes, and form its really addicting versus mode. Although you can finish the game's main story in just hours (depending on how fast you rush through it), there's a lot to keep you coming back for more. Strangely, the game becomes addicting, and even running the same Strike over and over again can be fun. From a gameplay standpoint, Destiny is everything it should be--a great first person shooter mixed with an MMO; one that manages to stay true to Bungie's style, but also different enough to become its own game. In general there's nothing wrong with it, and it is just as fun to play on a next gen console as it is on a last gen. Still, it feels a little bit... Incomplete...

(How the heck did we get here?)
Although Bungie stated that they wanted this game to last for ten years, the way the game launched feels a bit lacking. The game's story mode was short and basically tells you (the player) that it was all just an intro for what's to come, there are only four locations in the game which you can actually visit (other than the small hub town), there's only a handful of maps and gameplay modes in the versus mode, each area only has one or two Strikes associated with them, and the game is missing basic features such as the ability to use text chat (although there is an emote option), and it even limits voice chat to only those in your party/fire team (although this has sense been updated). On top of that, stats and story information unlocked from the cards can only be seen on the website, so players are forced to log in if they want the full Destiny experience. The website itself is also is missing basic features, and is filled with missed opportunities... Sure, you can view a map of the hub town and see what shops are currently selling that hour (yes, the items NPCs carry change over time), but there's no option to actually buy items from the site nor the app. If you see an item you want but you're stuck at work on your lunch break, then that's just too bad. You can look at it until it is gone (which would be by the time you get home).

Really though, none of this makes Destiny a bad game. It feels unfinished (because it is), but Bungie promises us that there is a lot still to come. Two full expansions have already been announced, and Bungie will continue to patch the game and release new features as the months, and even years, roll by. The game is promising, and already a lot of fun on its own, but only the future will tell just how good this one truly becomes.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The first round Mario Kart 8 DLC is really good

Mario Kart 8's first DLC pack released early this morning with eight new tracks and other miscellaneous content, including lots of Zelda fanservice and even a playable Link!

All of the new karts are great. Link's bike, the Master Cycle, is easily the best bike in the game now as it's both an inside turner and faster than all the others with an original stat spread. The Blue Falcon and Tanooki Kart also have original stat spreads, with the Blue Falcon being satisfyingly fast (but not on par with the top tier speed karts) and the Tanooki Kart being mellower and more balanced but still satisfying. Link also got a set of Triforce Tires and a Hylian Glider, the the tires are a reskin of my favorite tires, the Slim tires, and the glider is one of the lighter varieties. Needless to say I'm very excited to use all of the new karts and parts as Daisy. Except for one.

The B Dasher is, just as i expected, a clone of the overpowered speed karts (Gold Standard, Sports Coupe, Circuit Special), so Red Monster B Dasher is back and that makes me nauseous. I used to love B Dasher in DS too but since 7 it's been ruined for me.

Playing as Link is just as satisfying as I expected. It's just fun to be the hero of courage with a big smile on his face racing around a track. Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach are also very adorable #notallclones.
In fact neither of them are even clones. Both of them are slightly lighter and have more acceleration than their nonsuited originals. They essentially created two new weight classes just below their originals' weight classes. Tanooki Mario also has at least two memorable voice clips from past games, one from Superstar Saga and the other which I can't remember its origin. One thing that bothered me, though, is that Tanooki Mario only very rarely turns into a statue for a trick. It hardly happens at all and I wish it was more frequent.

The new tracks are as a whole very good. The Excitebike track is really interesting and replayable but suffers from having too many item boxes for such a small track. It's kind of like Baby Park but nowhere near as bad (although it was hilarious in Double Dash). Dragon Driftway, however, is one of the worst in the game so far. It's full of drift turns that are outright abusing to players who prefer speed over handling, to the point where the camera most of the time won't show the road at all. It also has one segment where the sun's brightness in the background makes the road hard to see.

Mute City is beautiful. A very faithful track that borrows a bit from both SNES F-Zero and N64's F-Zero X, with elements from tracks other than Mute City. It's a lot of fun and has really creative usage of both boosters and Coins and where is F-Zero U I'm getting really impatient. Ice Ice Outpost is a really original track for the series. While somewhat visually bland it features two roads intertwined throughout most of the track. You can drive off one onto the other and you need to use this to make sure you're always taking the tightest turns possible.

Hyrule Circuit is easily the coolest thing in the entire series, however. It's a beautiful representation of the Zelda series that plays well and every turn feels just right. It's full of Zelda edits to the Mario Kart norm and, because of the (really cool) distinction of replacing all instances of Coins with Rupees, Mario Kart 8 is now the game to feature the most beautiful looking Rupees in the Zelda series. One complaint I do have is with the shortcut within the castle. It's a REALLY cool secret that represents the series well but it's near impossible to trigger without slowing down immensely. Other than that I think this track is nearly perfect with a representation of medieval fantasy that appeals to me more than any Zelda game to date.

Disappointingly though the returning tracks are some of my personal least favorites, however they all look nice. Yoshi Circuit I've always found incredibly boring, but here it doesn't even make use of any of Mario Kart 7/8's gimmicks. Wario's Gold Mine I've always sort of detested, but it's been updated with a very neat antigravity segment and more detail, and I find the track relatively fun now. SNES Rainbow Road is not only one of my most hated tracks in the series, but it was also already in the last game. However in 8 it's MUCH more beautiful looking and the music was also very well done this time. However I feel like the track could give someone a seizure more easily than any of the other Rainbow Roads. It's very hard on the eyes.

All in all the most significant part of this for me is the sad realization that, this will probably either be the beginning of a beautiful new Nintendo kart racing crossover series, or Mario Kart 8 will forever be known as 'the one with Link and Isabelle in it'. I love all the new content, but I want it to stay. And I want more of it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - Coming Next Year

Well it is official! After a year or so of fans asking, Nintendo is finally going to deliver. Just as the N64 classic "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" was touched up and released for the Nintendo 3DS, its follow up Majora's Mask will receive the same treatment... Which actually makes the already dark game a bit freakier. Check out the trailer below for more!(Special thanks goes to GameXplain for capturing the trailer)

While the game hasn't undergone any major changes from its original release (apart from rounding out some of the jagged edges in the character models and what not), the game is still a great classic worth checking out. Not only is it one of the darkest Zelda games to date, it is one that challenges the player, and it offers a few good "scares" from time to time. It is a twisted world, but a great one with great gameplay and a unique time based mechanic.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ben's Gaming Memories: Returning to a Series After 20 Years (Castlevania)

I'm going to be very blunt. Halloween, monsters, etc, it has never been my thing and I don't really care about any of it. As a kid I liked dressing up as a Power Ranger, Batman Beyond, or other heroes, but I didn't actually like Halloween. I'd dress up, have fun being a dumb kid pretending to be my favorite character, and I'd go out and get some candy. Most of the time though I was just happy being able to dress up at school for our Halloween party, and then do nothing afterwords. I didn't care about seeing horror movies, I didn't care about monsters, witches, ghosts, and zombies, and I always hated it when we would have to watch movies like Nightmare Before Christmas at school. This sort of thing just isn't my cup of tea, and it only got worse when I was older. By the time I was 9, I was done with it all together.

It wasn't just Halloween. Although now days I like games like Resident Evil (and others with horror elements), growing up I avoided it all. Was it because it scared me? Sure, that was a part of it, but actually the real reason was because I simply didn't like what I saw--or rather, didn't feel right about it. Bloody monsters, demons, zombies, it all went against how I was raised and what I believed in, and even as a kid it bothered me. I felt like I shouldn't be watching movies or playing games with these sort of things in them, and because of that I avoided them. Halloween was just one day of the year where all of this came out, and because of that I couldn't (avoid it that is). Although, despite hating monsters and what not, I did make one exception to my own rule. There was one game I would play from time to time, but even that sometimes evokes a mixtures of good and bad memories for me.

Castlevania--it was one of the first video games I had ever played, and it is one that went against everything. The first time I played this game I was around one and a half years old, but I don't really remember playing it much until I was three or so. From what I can tell, it is a game my family kept from me, and because of that I couldn't always play it. Still to this day I'm really not sure what drew me to the game. I actually still hate vampires (with some exceptions), and I still don't like the whole Dracula thing, but for whatever reason Castlevania was a game I wanted to play. As a kid I would see Dracula on the cover, and I'd get excited when I set foot in his castle and started killing ghosts. Maybe it's because it was the only game like that I owned, or maybe it was because it was like an adventure, but whatever the case I did like it... Sort of.

Although I was young, I could play through most of the games I owned. I'd run through Super Mario Bros almost every day, I'd get pretty far in Punch Out each time I played, I was pretty good at standing across the room and shooting ducks in Duck Hunt, I played a lot of Gotcha, I could pretty easily make it to the end of Super Mario Bros 3, and I'd spend hours playing Rampage until I beat it. From the get go I was pretty good (at least for a three year old) at everything I played, but I could never land that darn plane in Top Gun. It was the only game that gave me much trouble, up until Castlevania.

Although I had fun killing ghosts, Castlevania was a nightmare for me, and not because of the monsters. The character moved slow, his whip was sometimes tricky to use, when you jumped there seemed to be a lack of control, some platforms required pixel perfect timing, and then there's the whole getting hit thing. For anyone who hadn't played an entry in the series before, well, it works something like this. Basically, when you get hit by an enemy, you go flying backwards, and if you're standing next to a pit (which you almost always are), you die. End of story. This games the game extremely challenging, and the crazy enemy attack patterns don't help. Most of the time you would try to hit some flying bat thing after you lost control of your character from jumping, and most of the time it would turn out badly. You'd either miss with your whip, land and get hit, or you'd get hit in mid air and most likely fall down a cliff--it never failed. Because of this, I never made it too far in the game. Maybe level two or three, but never any farther. This is how things went until the game was taken away from me.

When I was around four years old, my uncle took the game away from me. You see I suffered from extreme nightmares as a kid. Each night I was close my eyes and wake up in what you might call hell. These dreams would occur night after night, and were frightening that I still remember them to this day. How could a little kid think of such twisted things? I really don't know, but the dreams just kept getting worse and worse as time went on. As time went on it became a huge problem for me, and my parents had to make up lies to get me to go to sleep. "Oh don't worry, your bad dreams are captured so they will never return!" Lies such as these got me to sleep, but of course they didn't actually change what I saw. I still remember to this day I would lay there thinking over an over to myself the words "have a good dream, have a good dream, have a good dream, have a good dream" as if to trick my brain into not scaring me, but even that didn't help. So, what did my uncle do? He took away Castlevania.

I'm not sure what brought him to the conclusion that this game may have been behind my nightmares, but one day he came over and just took it, and hid it somewhere at our grandparent's house. He told me that the game was filled with evil creatures and that it was what was causing me to have nightmares (although, monsters never actually showed up in them). Yeah, he was wrong. The game isn't what caused my nightmares, in fact, I don't know what caused them. I still have them to this day, and taking away that game from me changed absolutely nothing.

Although I did get the game back when I was 5 or so, it wasn't something I cared to play anymore. I would put it in, die, turn it off and call it quits. I just didn't care about the thing, and I never did go back for the others. New Castlevania game is coming out? Guess what? I didn't care! I'd see things about the series, and hear kids talk about it still, but it wasn't something I was interested in. Like I said, I never did care for the whole monster thing, and after struggling to beat the original, I had lost all will to even attempt another. Until now.

Roughly 20 years after I first really got into the original Castlevania, I finally picked up another title--one which many consider to be one of the greatest games of all time: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Even though I have never played SotN, or any other Castlevania after the original, that doesn't mean I don't know anything about the series. In reality I've followed a lot of the game's releases, friends of mine have shown me the games before, and I know a lot about the series' history. The release SotN is generally regarded as one of the biggest moments in gaming history, and it is also the game which really set the standards for future installment. It is a game filled with secrets (one so great no one discovered it for YEARS), it introduced true RPG element into the series, and many games still to this day look at it for inspiration. It is a game which perfected the "Metroidvania" style of play, and that is something I can respect. Now, here I am, finally playing it for myself.

So, what do I think about it? Well I'm not going to get too much into that. The point of all of this was to discuss my memories of Castlevania, but I can say that I am enjoying SotN. Still not a huge fan of monsters (I prefer monsters you see in your standard JRPG or something), but that doesn't mean the game isn't fun. In some ways the game brings back a lot of memories, but it is also so very different (and refined) that it seems nothing like what I remember. Now Rondo of Blood (which came with this) is Castlevania as I remember, and I'm not a huge fan of it, but SotN is shaping up to be quite the enjoyable experience for me. Now I'm kind of regretting avoiding it for all these years, but maybe it was for the best.