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Castlevania Advance Collection


layten
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I finished circle of the moon this week. It was so much fun than I remembered. Easy and straightforward without too much grinding... until I got to the end game. I probably spent half my total playtime at the endgame farming items and experience to get through the battle arena and Dracula. Balance was a bit crap I think.

But it was nice to revisit the first castlevania I really played, and this time being able to see what was happening without sitting in direct sunlight or with a bright desklamp burning my hands.

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9 hours ago, chris on the moon said:

I finished circle of the moon this week. It was so much fun than I remembered. Easy and straightforward without too much grinding... until I got to the end game. I probably spent half my total playtime at the endgame farming items and experience to get through the battle arena and Dracula. Balance was a bit crap I think.

But it was nice to revisit the first castlevania I really played, and this time being able to see what was happening without sitting in direct sunlight or with a bright desklamp burning my hands.

The battle arena is crazy.  I've long believed the drops in the game are bugged and by the time you get to the end you should have way more meats and potions than it gives you.  You can complete the game and only ever receive a handful of DSS cards.

 

The GBA version has a patch that swaps the DSS cards for meat and it transforms the game. The DSS cards become pickups that you can find as you explore and by the end of the game you have way more cards than you would normally have, and lots of energy restoring potions etc.  It transforms the game.  I've never made it more than halfway through the battle area on the original.

 

One little bug you can use in Battle Arena is to use mind restore to fill your magic meter then immediately use DSS card combos before it drains.  

 

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I should add, I've been playing COTM for years via emulation over progressively bigger telly's and it never looks bad.  I remember playing it on a 15" CRT monitor and thinking, this is going to be crap.  But it looks great and has continued to, right up to a 55" so far.  

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Battle Arena is more of a post-game than anything you need to bother with, but Dracula's final form is all but impossible without high levels, serious attrition or the Summon card. You're just not manoeuvrable enough to get past the bats cleanly. Everything up to that should be no problem without particularly seeking out DSS and item drops.

 

Finishing the three Advance games for the umpteenth time each has me daydreaming of the surely-inevitable DS collection. "I don't need to get Order of Ecclesia", I thought. "I'll just get it later when I have more time", I convinced myself.

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@Alex W. Agree totally, but I think that comes down to (what I think is the) faulty item drops.  You should have all or most of the DSS cards by the time you get there and usually you just don't, you probably have less than a quarter of what there is.  They surely wouldnt have intended that...  One of the DSS cards drops from an enemy 1% of the time, in one room only. Surely that's not right.  Dracula only seems doable with the cards.

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I really think it's deliberate. Giving you like 95% of the game in one run and then encouraging you to just keep revisiting and grinding stuff before you do the last 5% feels like an apt choice for a handheld game which might be someone's only GBA cartridge, and of a piece with the vexing gameplay puzzle offered by the alternative classes you unlock after the credits. At least, that's how I played it at the time!

 

(Really, all you need to beat Dracula is to be level 45+ and have the Summon verb. You don't need to 100% the cards to get him. One of the rarest cards is just a selection of rejected gameplay gimmicks.)

 

Edit - I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me sooner but it’s a 1990s JRPG endgame idiom. FF7 and its battle arena and obscure summon quests, or the style’s apotheosis in FF8 (fucking Doom Train), a game the developers would’ve been playing while they worked on CotM. 
 

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I've finished harmony of dissonance now. The game looks absolutely brilliant, except for the player character who looks like a bizzarre little santa blob. It's a shame as that's what you're looking at a lot of the time. He looks like he's going to shake hands when he jumps.

The feeling of movement is great.

The map design is absolutely awful. It's all straight corridors and annoying zig zag staircases that remind me of those nuisance rooms in Metroid prime that were cramped crooked little labyrinths designed to slow you down and give the game time to load. It's really difficult to find out where you're going next. At one point I went around the entire accessible map three or four times before I found the right room. A lot of the exploration is really annoying because there's three different kinds of doors that are just "locked" which is really unsatisfying in this kind of game. Much better to see an obstacle and then get an ability that lets you overcome that obstacle. And it's really easy to miss the save rooms when you're exploring for the first time.

The luminous caverns music is probably the worst piece of music I've heard in a castlevania.

The bosses look really great. Except most of them are really easy. They seem really familiar to me, I'm  not sure if some of them were re-used in/from other games or I just played a lot of boss rush mode 20 years ago when this came out.

The magic looks cool but is totally overpowered. Most of the game was a pushover because I was surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of spinny crucifixes.  I mean I could have used my own self control to not constantly use magic, but it's there in the game, and it's not behind any kind of cheat wall so of course I'm going to do it even if it spoils it for me.

 

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