Netflix's Castlevania

Netflix’s Castlevania Is A Bloody Good Time!

It is hard to believe but Netflix’s Castlevania animated series has been unleashed. I can at the very least tell you, without giving away the entire plot of the series, that it stays true to the spirit of Konami’s video game series. As well as successfully adapting the Gothic and dark story line touched upon by the games for a most assuredly adult audience. Netflix’s Castlevania is delightfully gory and doesn’t shy from it’s horror roots.
Netflix's Castlevania

I should probably mention that this first season of Netflix’s Castlevania is a mere four episodes. In all honesty I found that to be rather shocking. However I have found information that Adi Shankar, the producer, has said in all there will be two seasons. With the second and of course presumably longer season landing in 2018.

As I mentioned when sharing that awesome NES inspired teaser trailer just back in May. The series has been penned by none other than Warren Ellis. A writer I hold in very high regard as his Planetary comic series is hands down one of my favorite books. Ever.
Netflix's Castlevania

The story itself while taking elements from the Castlevania game series, mostly seems focused on the cast of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1990.
Netflix's Castlevania

Netflix’s Castlevania does something rather different indeed. Right off the bat we are shown a very different version of Dracula. Furthermore one quite different from the character we’ve become accustomed to in Konami’s games. Yes, this Vlad Dracula Tepes is still very much a vampire and dangerous. But he is also in fact reasonable and is convinced by a young woman to rejoin mankind.
Netflix's Castlevania

I mention this, friends, as you will actually side with Dracula a bit. I say side because thanks to a religious zealot, tragedy turns Vlad into a terror of the night. His retribution however threatens the lives of every man, woman, and child. No one will be spared from his wrath.
Netflix's Castlevania

It certainly looks like an undead tide of horror will sweep across the lands. Thankfully there is one man who will take up the challenge of halting Dracula’s bloody reign. Trevor Belmont, the last surviving Son of the Belmont clan.
Netflix's Castlevania

Wait. Hold up a second. While Trevor is certainly an inspiring and dashing figure. The very last thing he wants to do is be a hero. His goal is pretty much to stay drunk as much as possible and keep his belly full. Now, I should add that through the four episodes we totally understand why Trevor is behaving this way. His family too has been subject to the whims of religious zealots.

Trevor crosses paths with a group of Speakers. One of which, Sypha Belnades, happens to be a magic-user. Her desire to protect mankind contrasts sharply with Trevor’s pragmatic nature.
Netflix's Castlevania

While four episodes are short and to be honest, you will be left on something of a cliffhanger. The writing is top notch and the animation style as I have already mentioned is satisfyingly dark. The voice talent is also where Castlevania should be praised. Playing Trevor is Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) plays the Bishop. In addition Graham McTavish (Preacher) lends his voice to the role of Dracula, with Alejandra Reynoso (G.I. Joe: Renegades) as Sypha. Rounding out the cast is Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis, Tony Amendola, as well as Emily Swallow (Supernatural).

Last but certainly not least is Trevor Morris’ powerful and haunting score. You don’t have to take my word on that though as you can in fact listen to the theme below!

[Via] Sariel Dracool

Now if you are ready for a dark and bloody good time. You can binge watch Netflix’s Castlevania animated series right this minute!

Castlevania: Vengeance

Netflix Unleashes Castlevania: Vengeance Teaser!

Holy Cow! When Neflix announced plans for Castlevania: Vengeance back in February. I think we can certainly say it took us fans of Konami’s Castlevania series by surprise. Beyond the announcement of Castlevania: Vengeance however there was very little to go on. Then again we at the very least knew this was going to be animated.
Castlevania: Vengeance - Belmont

I have been a huge fan of the Castlevania series. All the way back to 1987, with the original offering on the NES in fact. I also seem to be in the minority in regards to its 1988 sequel Castlevania: Simon’s Quest. Likewise while I enjoyed the platforming elements of Castlevania it was the RPG elements of it’s sequel that made me a fan of the Belmont clan as well.

To say nothing of of the incredible score that Kenichi Matsubara, Satoe Terashima, and Kouji Murata delivered.

[Via] GBelair

Of course we started to hear further rumblings on Castlevania: Vengeance. None other than Warren Ellis was tapped to be the writer for the animated series. While Ellis might be best known for his work on Transmetropolitan comic book series. I am an absolute fan of his Wildstorm series entitled Planetary – in fact every New Years Eve I reread the entire series.

So what I am getting at of course is that I feel that Castlevania: Vengeance is in good hands. Then just a couple of hours ago Netflix unleashed the trailer for the upcoming animated series.

Kind of hard to not have a grin slowly creep across your face when you watch the teaser announcement. Everything from the awesome looking red hued Castlvania cart to the humorous nostalgic touches. Netflix knocked it out of the park.
Castlevania: Vengeance - Netflix

Castlevania: Vengeance - Select Screen

Castlevania: Vengeance - Synopsis
I beg you not to take my word on it however but watch the trailer yourself and decide!

Furthermore, the press release that Netflix provided sheds some light on the story of Castlevania: Vengeance:
“Inspired by the classic video game series, Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy following the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hand of Vlad Dracula Tepe himself. The animated series written by best-selling author and comic book icon Warren Ellis and executive produced by Warren Ellis, Kevin Kolde, Fred Seibert and Adi Shankar.”

Let us hope that on July 7th Castlevania: Vengeance treats this Belmont a little better than Captain N: The Game Master did!


Sunset Riders

Diary Of An Arcade Employee Podcast 025 (Sunset Riders)

Sunset Riders
With November having passed the month long hiatus is over. To celebrate the return of the podcast, for this go around I am discussing 1991’s Sunset Riders. Released to arcades by Konami – this is the first 4 player arcade title on the show.

In addition, on this episode I am joined by a very special guest. Quite possibly the youngest fan we have in fact. William Burton. Who just happens to also be a big Sunset Riders fan as well.
Sunset Riders
If you have any suggestions for future games to cover or comments on the show itself you may email them to me at VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also contact me on TTwitter and of course on Facebook. You can also keep up to date on what is going down at the Arkadia Retrocade by making sure to “Like” their Facebook Page. If you need a daily fix you can check out the Official Diary of an Arcade Employee Facebook Page!

Our ending theme entitled “River Raid” was graciously provided by the talented Tony Longworth. Furthermore you can listen to more of his work on SoundCloud!

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To the sunset…Sunset Riders!


Shoot the Core with maps of Gradius

Where I find that maps of the Konami classic ‘Gradius’ help you to discover hidden levels!

I’ve written many times before about my love for the Gradius shoot-em-up series from Konami (see here, here, here, here and here). You would therefore assume that I’m something of an expert at “shooting the core”. This is very true, I think I am, and especially so for the version that introduced me to the Vic Viper: Gradius on the MSX.

I was recently reading on online post about bonus levels. This article touched upon the four bonus levels that can be reached whilst playing Gradius. “FOUR?”, I thought. That’s odd, I only remember three. The MSX bonus levels in Gradius can be reached by flying your ship to specific points in specific levels. You can fly through the mountain in stage 1, manoeuvre between two Moai heads in stage 3 and fly through two more mountains in stage 4. How can I reach the fourth bonus stage?

gradius stage1 msx

Turning to the internet, I went in search of new knowledge, and found answers over at MSX Solutions. Here I discovered that stage 7 has one final access point to the fourth bonus stage. Better yet, they have a brilliant map which tells you where to fly, and provides the full layout for all of the stages, including the four bonus levels.

I never imagined that a simple 80’s shoot-em-up was in need of a level map. However, now that I’ve seen it, I want more! These images are works of art and I think they would make excellent room decoration. Just imagine having a wallpaper border wrapped around a room depicting the entire epic journey of the Vic Viper. Bliss!

Art from this post is taken from the Nemesis (Gradius) map by Fabio Albergaria, 2005. Original artwork is of course from the Konami game “Nemesis” on the MSX, 1986.

Press “M” to Power Up: A tale of Gradius on the MSX

How many buttons does a PS4 controller have? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know it’s a lot more than I had on the Quickshot joystick that was connected to my Toshiba MSX computer in the mid-80’s. Back in those days, you could survive with a single button, and most games performed well using this very simple control setup.

But what happens when a single button just isn’t enough? I found out the hard way when I started to play Konami shoot-em-up Gradius.

Gradius is known for its “power up” system, a mechanic that allows you to choose which weapons to upgrade whilst playing the game. It’s a brilliant system to use but it is fatally flawed when using a single button controller as that one button can only ever be used to do one thing – fire at the bad guys!

After my first play of the game, I remember looking at the manual to work out how to increase my firepower. Imagine my dismay to learn that I needed to press “M” on the MSX keyboard, whilst simultaneously flying my ship (one hand on the joystick) and firing at baddies (the other hand on the fire button), and all the while I needed to be looking at the TV to avoid collisions with bullets, baddies and the landscape. This needed a third hand.

Gradius MSX

Fortunately, I found that extra hand, attached to the arm of my next door neighbour. For countless hours, we played 2-player Gradius, each taking it in turns to be the others “power up buddy”. As I flew around the screen collecting power-up orbs, my buddy would have his finger hovering over the “M” key, waiting for me to shout “POWER UP!” at a moments notice. This worked a treat and allowed us to reach the end titles on more than one occasion.

A few years later, I had an idea that my 3-button Sega Megadrive (Genesis) controller might work on the MSX. I was overjoyed to learn that it did, and that my days of pressing “M” were behind me. Sadly, a gamepad was no substitute for a proper joystick when flying the Vic Viper, and having power-ups to hand simply wasn’t enough to make the switch permanent.

New gamers today have little idea how lucky they are to be sat on their couch, staring at 40″ screens, playing games without wires and with enough buttons to do anything the developer desires of them. Back in those days you had to hire help to power up!