Virtually Overlooked: Castlevania Bloodlines (Genesis)

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Virtually Overlooked: Castlevania Bloodlines (Genesis)
The latest character to be added to the roster of Konami's questionable Castlevania: Judgment is Eric Lecarde, who appears in IGA's 3D fighter/brawler/potential abomination in the form of a little girl -- at least, that's what seems to be the intention with Takeshi Obata's character design. Eric has made few appearances in Castlevania, especially compared to his Judgment cohorts Simon, Alucard, and, of course, Dracula. He appeared in Portrait of Ruin as a gruff ghost who helped the vampire hunters by standing in one room and doling out quests.

To Judgment players, he may just be some guy with a spear, but his history of being just some guy with a spear dates back to 1994, when he appeared as the spear guy in the Genesis exclusive Castlevania: Bloodlines.

Lecarde was one of two playable characters in the game, along with John Morris, an attempt to shoehorn Bram Stoker's Dracula universe into the horror melange that was pre-goth Castlevania. Morris was the traditional whipster, with the Super Castlevania IV-style ability to swing from objects with his whip. Eric could super-jump with his spear, pole-vault style.

Bloodlines diverges from other Castlevanias in ways other than character choice, system, and literary allusions. It features a strangely realistic, detailed visual style not seen in the other games. The sprites were redrawn and everything! The enemies, even staple enemies like Bone Pillars, look totally different and kind of grotesque, perhaps as a result of blast processing.

Bloodlines also takes the vampire killin' outside of the castle and into, uh, Vania -- or, rather, famous locations around Europe. Instead of stone walls and opulent parlors, we're treated to lovely sunset views as we impale fish monsters. To contrast with the scenery, Bloodlines is bloody like never before. Maybe the Genesis was considered to have a more mature audience than the SNES or NES. Or it could be a result of the Mortal Kombat-era cifference in attitude toward game violence on the parts of Sega and Nintendo -- Sega doing what Nintendidn't. Or maybe this is also somehow attributable to blast processing.

Despite the different look and the borrowed history, Bloodlines is still completely classic Castlevania -- one of the last ones before Symphony of the Night slashed and burned the series of old, resurrecting it as Super Metroid in a cloak. I would never suggest that the current variety of Castlevania is in any way bad, but the only negative effect it had was that it signaled the end of a series of extremely difficult linear action games.

Bloodlines may have been overlooked by a lot of people who would have liked it due to platform loyalty. Due in part to the cost of owning multiple systems, as well as the aforementioned PR-fueled rivalry between Sega and Nintendo, many of the people who love Castlevania the most went Nintendo-only in the 16-bit generation, missing the jump to the Sega platform.
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