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Akumajou Dracula X: Gallery of Q&A
  April 5th, 2013

04/05- 7:00PM EST

What is a Q&A? A miserable pile of questions!

...well with that terrible joke out of the way let's jump right into the questions, where we'll talk a lot about Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Monster Hunter, and Castlevania!





The Letters
Dark Files

@AskWheels Dark Souls mega-mule save file. Discuss.


Wheels

Mega-mule what?

@AskWheels Search YouTube for "Dark Souls mega mule"

@CofLSilk


Wheels


This is ...unfortunate. I'm not really a big fan of this kind of thing. I don't know how many people are actually using this, but this surely can't be helping the PVP scene much. I guess it all depends on if this is being used strictly for high-end PVP and not for invading people playing the game normally, in which case I would say they should start banning anyone that uses it. I'm surprised it even works given that Dark Souls has one of those locked saves that you can't copy to a USB device. Very strange!

Monster Hunting Snake Cthulhu

@AskWheels Topics:  Loss of David Hayter as Snake, 


Wheels

This is unfortunate and I don't really get the point. Didn't they keep his Japanese voice actor? I can't imagine that a voice acting gig pays a ton even for the well known actors so I can't see saving money as being the reason behind it. Given that again, the Japanese voice actor is the same, that seems to role out any story reason for doing it. So at the end of the day there seems to be no good explanation for it and the only thing it's likely to accomplish is to rile up fans.

MH3U as an entry for newcomers to series,


Wheels

I thought Monster Hunter Tri was a decent entry point for newcomers to the series but the improvements in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate make it, dare I say, the ultimate entry point for newcomers. The single player experience has been rebalanced with a defensive boost to make the single player campaign easier (note: this does not make it not challenging), and with an additional companion to take into battle farther into single player it makes it even friendlier.

The series can be pretty daunting to get into, so this more balanced approach should help ease more people into the great experience, that being the multiplayer. Of course all the multiplayer content is available to play in single player mode, but playing with others is a tremendous experience. What I think is especially cool here is aside from the online multiplayer on Wii U, that version can also play locally with the 3DS version, which in some regard recaptures the local multiplayer fun of Crystal Chronicles. I'll have more to say about the game in my review, but as I really commend Capcom for refining the single player aspects to make the game a more complete experience. I look forward to seeing what they do with Monster Hunter 4!

and what you would like to see in CSH by Zeboyd?

@MHRelias


Wheels

Mostly I'd like to just see them evolve their gameplay style further from the cool additions I've seen in Penny Arcade Adventures 4. More good humor is a must of course, so perhaps I'd like to see a crazy new setting? We shall see what they come up with! For now, we have the pending release of PAA4 to look forward to.

The Grand-Duke Mega Emperor of Content

Mr. Wheels in Motion!  The inbox reminds you of a desert wasteland lately?  Okay then, let's fix it!


Wheels

Excellent! It almost seems like complaining about a lack of content in my inbox is becoming a secret Bat Signal to you. This is a good thing!

Castlevania, huh? I'll bite. I'll spout off on all the games in the series I've played, which also happen to be most of the ones we cover. You can talk about Simon's Quest if you want to. I never played it, or any of the NES and SNES ones, so I can't say much. I might have played Bloodlines given my Genesis ownership, but its price has never fallen and I've never felt like sinking the cash in to obtain that one. So I have to start with Nocturne in the Moonlight, which is Symphony of the Night for PlayStation purposes. I call it Nocturne in the Moonlight because that's how I played it, on the Saturn. That means I've only experienced the legendarily lackluster voice acting secondhand, and it means I had the option of choosing Richter at the beginning of the game - along with Maria. She's got a rather useful triple jump and a couple other unique moves, though it's like playing Richter in that the story sequences are axed completely. Also, I skipped around and made it to Dracula with her, only to die in two hits because I didn't have enough protection from his massive death machine.


Wheels

You've never played any of the NES or SNES ones? Well, I can talk about them for a minute. I'm not a huge fan of Simon's Quest other than the fact it introduced an open structure to the series. The other games including Bloodlines were obviously much more linear affairs but contained fantastic action, level design, and bosses so I encourage you to give them a try at some point. That said, there's nothing wrong with starting with Symphony of the Night because that game is damn brilliant. The thing is, it contains lots of references to the older games (especially Rondo of Blood given it is the direct sequel to that game) so you miss out a bit on some classic references. I've heard the Saturn version isn't as good as the PS1 version for some reason or another but don't know more than that. I suppose a mediocre version of one of the best games of all time would still be amazing anyway.

There are two extra areas in Nocturne, along with reverse versions, making the map total go up to an odd 216% if you fill the whole thing. Also, in order to get to the reverse castle, Maria fights Alucard. She's a tough cookie and killed me the first time I played it. Apparently the load times didn't exist on PS1, but they're hardly egregious and I don't mind them on Saturn. Damn good game, says I.


Wheels

You won't find any disagreement here. One of my favorite games of all time and one I can go back to at any time. I've always wanted to give the Saturn version a try, but its hard to justify it when the other versions available are much cheaper. It's a shame Konami didn't make more games like it on disc based systems as I always felt the Metroidvania games that followed it suffered a lot in the audio/visual department. The lack of that same audio/visual punch is what prevented me from getting into the games that followed it until recently. Lords of Shadow managed to reinvigorate my interest in the series enough to get over my issues with the GBA/DS games. Have you guys done a Castlevania backtrack yet?

Circle of the Moon was actually my first Castlevania, acquired back when I had a new GBA and was looking for titles to keep it busy. Remember those original GBAs and their lack of a backlight? Well, this game really is dark. On that original GBA I was constantly searching for a light source. One boss in particular (Camilla, not that it means anything to have a name) uses dark purple projectiles that are really hard to see without good lighting.


Wheels

Heck, the game is still way too dark even on the original back-lit SP! I've had to play it on my old DS. I'm not sure what they were thinking with the visuals. Didn't they playtests the game on actual GBAs? Anyway, Circle of the Moon has the odd distinction of being largely disliked by a lot of the Castlevania fanbase and yet one of the best selling games in the series. Odd that they mispelt Carmilla as Camilla in Circle of the Moon. Here's what she looks like in Lords of Shadow:

Carmilla from LoS

Divorced of that distraction, the game is pretty fun. Sure there are levels and an interesting magic system, but you can ignore that magic system most of the time and just play a really good side scroller that demands good reaction time. I played through this thing five times - I did - because passwords after winning give you access to different methods. First is the basic one. Second is Magician. See, the 20 cards that give you access to spells, they aren't just GIVEN to you. Nope, gotta get them from enemies with low drop rates. Except in Magician mode, which lowers your other stats but gives all the cards to you at the beginning, many with really powerful spells. Then there's Warrior mode, which dumps magic entirely and just makes a towering hulk with amazing physical stats. The last two modes enhance your sub-weapon power and usefulness, and then give you massive luck so that enemies drop tons of items. I definitely got my money's worth from it.


Wheels

Yeah I enjoy the game quite a lot actually, though I haven't played it as much as you. I'm not sure why it's so derided by many in the fanbase. It's not a perfect game by any stretch, but given the abhorrent history of portable Castlvanias, the game is actually quite impressive.

Harmony of Dissonance was an unmemorable experience that I've mostly forgotten. Had I played Symphony first it would have felt even more like a rehash of that game, instead it just did nothing to interest me. Only seek it out if you absolutely must try all of them.

Aria of Sorrow
was pretty good though. The Soul mechanic of gaining abilities from slain enemies if they feel like bequeathing their essence in death is pretty useful, and I spent plenty of time on the thing getting every last Soul. Oddly the music still didn't sound as good as Circle of the Moon's, that GBA hardware was hard to make promising sound emerge from.


Wheels

I've got the Castlevania Double Pack so I'm sure I'll try it at some point.

Aria of Sorrow is a really good game. I liked that they took the timeline to the future, though maybe a bit more could have been done with that aspect. I found the music to be better in Aria, though maybe that just comes down to taste. I can say that both Circle of the Moon and Aria of Sorrow have far better soundtracks than what I've heard of Harmony of Dissonance's. Aria was certainly a great way to cap the trio of games on the GBA, it's too bad it didn't sell as well as Circle.

Dawn of Sorrow is very much the sequel to Aria, and pretty absorbing too. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it unless you're prepared for that horror of the times, though: the mandatory touch screen use. Every boss requires that a symbol be drawn quickly on the touch screen. Mess up and it regains HP so that the fight goes into extra innings. Fun, huh? No. Not really.


Wheels

Yeah this actually initially turned me off from the game. I'm getting over it though, because everything outside of the mandatory touchscreen stuff is fantastic. It may stick a bit too close to what was established in Aria, but on the whole it's certainly one of the best games in the series. I'd love to see a "director's cut" version for 3DS or something with the touchscreen stuff removed.

Portrait of Ruin is actually my favorite of all the handheld Metroidvania games. The system of having certain enemies be weak to Jonathan and others weak to Charlotte, who can be switched between at any time, is nifty. I loved going through the levels, the challenge was just right, and enough bizarre new creatures were around to make me have an absolute blast all the time playing it. Awesome music, but that's par for the course.


Wheels

Unfortuneyly I tried Portrait of Ruin when I just wasn't in the mood for a Metroidvania, and I knew it, yet tried it and judged it unfairly anyway. I'm going to go back to it after I finish Order of Ecclesia, as the character switching mechanic is a nice throwback to Castlevania III. Plus it even references the often forgotten Castlevania Bloodlines. Ask me in a few months for my second take on Portrait of Ruin.

Then there's Order of Ecclesia. I stuck through it and enjoyed once Dracula's castle showed up for the second half. The levels outside the castle didn't work as well for me though, mostly because they were pretty straight lines with very little chance to go anywhere else, making the map of the game world feel needless. Definitely required me to bring my A-game for boss pattern recognition, since those bastards took a long time to down and hit really hard.


Wheels

I wasn't a huge fan of the "straight line" levels, but everything else was just awesome for me. I loved the system of collecting enemy attacks and being able to mix and match different sets to provide lots of versatility. I haven't gotten to the second half yet, but I'm sure I'll love Dracula's castle after the long journey to get there. I love the difficult bosses, and I think that's something some other Castlevania games (including Symphony of the Night at times) really dropped the ball on. Challenging bosses were a staple of the early games after all! Anyway, this game has some great ideas, though as the "straight line" levels show they weren't all fully cooked.

There we go, tons of Castlevania content! Comments?


Wheels

Our opinions of the Metroidvania Castlevanias seem to be about on par, so at this point I'd encourage you to go back and check out some of the action oriented ones. They just released the original Castlevania on the 3DS Virtual Console so that would be a good place to start! This is a series I grew up with and loved, so I always enjoy talking about it. The future of the series past Lords of Shadow 2 may be a big question mark, but to this point (aside from a few really bad N64 games) the series has been a blast. Since you have a 3DS, you may be interested in my thoughts on the recently released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate.

Gosh, I better get back on track.  Put Olivia de Havilland in an RPG!  She's still alive so be nice, too.

...TO BE CONTINUED

-JuMeSyn


Wheels

Well naturally we'll put her in an RPG based on that Robin Hood film she starred in. We'd convert the plot to somehow make the game a classic JRPG with turn based combat, and insert the original audio from the movie in at various points. I haven't actually seen that film that I can recall, so I hope it has enough combat opportunities for such a game to work!

(We'll continue the rest of JuMeSyn's letter next week)

Dark Souls Is Better

(in response to the question "what is the best Castlevania?")

@AskWheels Dust: An Elysian Tail is the best (also Aliens Infestation DS and Blackthorne GBA) - I know,  but I've never finished a Castlevania.


Wheels

You've never finished a Castlevania? Madness! I noticed you mentioned all Metroidvania style games, but you do know the series also contains some pure linear action games right? Anyway I've played everything you've mentioned except Elysian Tail, which I'm now curious about. Aliens Infestation leans much more to the Metroid side of the scale but is good fun while it lasts. Blackthrone I always forget exists, and I think a lot of people do. People should check that game out if they get the chance, a very interesting action platformer (from Blizzard I think!). You should play some more Castlevania! You seem to enjoy the formula many of them follow. I prescribe Dawn of Sorry and Symphony of the Night.

(in response to the question "is Monster Hunter an RPG?"

@AskWheels if Zelda and Diablo are RPGs , MH can be.


Wheels

I'm incredibly curious at your implication that Diablo is somehow not an RPG in some way but we'll save that for another time.

Short answer: I agree

Long answer: Genre definitions are sometimes quite difficult, and also sometimes completely and utterly useless. For example, does it really matter if Zelda is or isn't an RPG when it's pretty darn close and many RPGs draw inspiration from the series?

That's not a fun answer so how about a technical one. Before we get to Monster Hunter we'll break down the base ideas of RPGs and Action games and show what an Action RPG should be. RPGs typically are games were skill of actions is replaced by dice rolls and stats. Action games are where action is controlled by skill. Therefore, an Action RPG should be some kind of combination of the two. In this case, Monster Hunter is primarily action given the speed of the action in the game. That said, even though the player doesn't gain any levels, there is a giant plethora of weapon and armor types to make. Each of these can have different skills to help the player, so the right gear can greatly supplement player skill. So this is where the RPG half of the equation comes in for Monster Hunter.

(in response to the question "Dark or Demon's Souls?"

@AskWheels and Demon's. It's comparative linear design = better pacing and story

@emechau


Wheels

I certainly respect your preference even if I strongly disagree. By its very nature a linear game is going to have better pacing than something like Dark Souls. Still I much prefer the level design in Dark Souls not to mention the vast number of improvements in combat and item management. Dark fixed some of my major gripes with the first game. An unlimited inventory fixes the annoying weight system of the first, instead only applying weight for what is equipped. Also I much prefer a certain number of charges for magic instead of constantly having to buy MP refilling items. There's also the bosses, many of which were lackluster in Demon's Soul. Finally the number of weapon options in Dark is just far superior. They're both great games, but I think the improvements far outweigh any of the negatives caused by moving to a Metroidvania style exploration structure.

Did you not like Dark Souls?
IN CLOSING

See you next week!

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