Castlevania whips up a double helping of frustration and animation

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Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1992)

When I heard that they were going to do a Castlevania series on Netflix, I was pleasantly surprised, in spite of myself. It wasn’t the kind of surprise I would have expected from Netflix because, and you can lambast me all you want for saying it, but there’s an awful lot of guff on Netflix.

It’s really little wonder you don’t see TV or film reviews on there anymore. Some of the film choices are appalling – only the female Ghostbusters is on there in my region, leaving the original version out entirely. I know Netflix is more about TV series and boxsets, but they’re not always winners either.

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The difference between this game and its brothers… it’s like day and night

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Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (1990)

So here we are then, back to the shortest day of the year, and that means we’re still only at the midway point of a dark and depressing winter. It’s worse than a month of depressing Sundays, this, especially when you’re a worker drone.

Go to work when it’s dark and blustery, alongside your fellow lemmings. Stare out at the tantalising daylight if you’re lucky enough to have access to a window. Then it’s already dark by the time you leave, even if you bunk off early. Your whole leisure time is dominated by that lurid mixture of black emptiness and orange streetlight.

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You won’t get a bloody bath with Belmont in this one

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Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994)

It happened one night. No, I don’t mean that twee 1930s film that swept the Oscars, although the leading lady in that picture was a lot friendlier than the one I saw that particular evening. I don’t watch much telly, but I was having an old scroll through the channels and I chanced upon a film called Hostel 2. From my perspective it wasted no time – a naked lady with a plump Middle Ages figure and Renaissance era cans, red lips, the lot, walks in and plonks herself down in a bathtub. Is that a great start or what?

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It’s another trip to Dracula’s castle, where the grass isn’t even slightly greener

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Castlevania: Dracula X (1995)

It’s a desperate situation that we’ve all found ourselves in, perhaps with a beautiful lady to impress as well, which only makes the stakes even higher. The scene is dinner at your local ‘kid-friendly’, ‘family-oriented’ restaurant which, loosely translated, means they’ll let any scum under the sun in.

Oh well, no matter, you’re busy making your heavily rehearsed order, staying well away from potentially embarrassing choices: the steak that you’d end up asking to be cooked well-done, or those very messy chicken wings. Or that fish fingers meal that looks right up your street but is only available on the kid’s menu. Is that ageism or what?

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Glancing blows and racing certainties with the Belmont in blue

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Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (1993)

It’s the worst feeling in the world for a man. No, I’m not talking about a Mitre Mouldmaster football, taken full force into the ghoulies on a bitterly cold day, which is heartbreaking enough. I’m not even talking about that very same scenario except this time the football just gives you a glancing blow, which is somehow even more painful. No, I’m talking about being emasculated.

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The castle costs a fortune but the Succubus comes free

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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

I always said that if I won the lotto I wouldn’t be overly extravagant about it. Don’t get me wrong, I hate when there’s a massive Euromillions win, €190 million squids and the winners aren’t virile, attractive young man like me (yes, me). No, it’s always Mary (73) and Joe (75) and they say it won’t change them and they’ll still work every day on the farm and all that rubbish.

What?! Joe, this is your big chance, and your heart hasn’t got much pump left. Get out there to Vegas and throw thousands of dollars on every spin of the roulette table. Keep the drinks and drugs coming, and even if you blow through a hundred thousand in a night, you’ve zillions left in reserve. That’ll have the “dancing girls” round your hotel room quick as well.

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Nobody dresses up like Frankenstein’s Monster anymore

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Castlevania (1988)

So what’s happened to all the good horror films, then? I wasn’t around for the 1970s, which is probably just as well because I’d have slipping in my own stools at some of the films. If it wasn’t Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it was The Exorcist. Actually, I watched The Exorcist at a far too young age, since me and my pals had heard it was the scariest movie ever made – but honestly, it’s fine.

It’s dated really, the effects and all. I won’t pretend our dungarees didn’t crumple a bit at the scene where she legs it down the stairs crab-style and makes this horrendous sound, blood going everywhere. But honestly, we’d all blown away something just like it in Resident Evil 2 that very day. We handled The Exorcist better than my mother and her pal who snuck into the cinema to watch it, anyway – the moment Tubular Bells started up, they screamed to high heaven and ran out the door.

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Halloween is the time of year when the adults run and hide from the kids

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Super Castlevania IV (1992)

Yourself and myself most probably have a rather different idea of what Halloween is all about. You may see it as an opportunity to have fun in fancy dress, maybe admire other people’s costumes, sit inside watching Hocus Pocus and a few more Halloween films besides… You can even score a whole shopping bag of sweets for your child, or more accurately yourself, having hit fifty different houses that night and sometimes twice each (parents, I’m on to you).

For me however, Halloween signifies booze, dodging thrown fireworks and doing one’s very best to avoid getting stuck answering the door to all manner of infernal children. And in between all of this, you may or may not even get the time to work on your own costume.

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