IGA's transitional mindset from Castlevania to Bloodstained? May 3, 2019 18:32:06 GMT -6 roguedragon05 likes this
Post by RichterB on May 3, 2019 18:32:06 GMT -6
[Note: This is a continuation of a ShoutBox conversation with Pure Miriam and Brainiac that purifyweirdshard suggested I move to its own thread, which may be interesting for the community at large. If it belongs in another forum, please move it accordingly...]
First off, I am basing these impressions based on past IGA interviews and my personal experience either playing or viewing his games in the Castlevania series. But the conversation is basically the relationship between Castlevania during IGA's tenure and his subsequent launch of Bloodstained, and where that might go. It was suggested by Pure Miriam that Bloodstained offers IGA a lot more freedom than Castlevania, and he'll be able to create all kinds of history-bending conflicts and lore with it and make more of a "fantasy" genre series:
I would love to see something different on Bloodstained. Demons showed up, wreak havoc, and they showed again in 1783, massacred a whole village, a demonic castle emerged and a powerful, politically and magically, entity (the Alchemy Guild) was extinct...The franchise could use that as an excuse to make the world quite different from ours. Demons showing up being something more common, people being aware of such creatures, the information slowly spreading...anyways, the world being less and less like ours...That's something i would like to see. Bloodstained world becoming more "fantasy" than "akin to real world" as Castlevania was. That surely would be a way to distance it from Castlevania...Imagine the possibilities of that: from Demon's strongolds being formed all around the world, from tyranical leaders using their own powers / holy magic to control people in exchange for protection, to alchemists trying to get back on their feet...Bloodstained can still be a castlevania sucessor, it doesn't need to follow human history like Castlevania did. It can step away form that, reshape the world as something more weird / bizarre / demonic / fantasy and keep the same elements. Just an idea...
I don't doubt that possibility, but I wanted to respond that IGA's mindset was already seemingly leaning in that direction, from my observations.
By 2008, I think IGA was already well on his way to Bloodstained, philosophically. We know that he felt a desire to create a stable timeline and eliminate things like the N64 games and Circle of the Moon. We also know that he felt a pressure to keep to that timeline once he set it, and found that the limited wiggle room wasn't very much to his liking. Still, he made it work by focusing on unexplored territory, like Devil Forgemasters, a reincarnated teenage hero exchange-student Dracula, and a new order of vampire/monster hunters created to fill in for the absentee Belmonts. I would be curious to know if this is what fostered the gameplay experimentation with things like Hector's Innocent Devils, Soma's TSS, and Shanoa's Glyphs, or if he had a desire to create these kinds of RPG systems and the stories were just good fits to implement them. (A chicken or the egg question.) IIRC, in the "Sword vs. Whip" debate, IGA was more on the Team Sword side, and the Bloodstained game so far has not shown much advantage to the whip side of things, suggesting a further desire to move away from Castlevania staples, even when not restricted by a timeline. (Though, ironically, the whip was part of his PR persona in public.) You look at the original games he made, and only HoD, PoR, and LoI had a whip main, and in the case of PoR, that main character's status was shared with a primary magic-user. So in some combination of desire and necessity, AoS, CoD, DoS, & OoE in particular showed how he wanted to branch out the franchise. Alucard-led SotN was one thing, as an occasional alternate look at the franchise, but in the IGA-led follow-ups, monster, characters, and magic-wise, CV became more of the fantasy-based series Pure Miriam suggested even before Bloodstained.
This is from the outside looking in, mind you, but with all due respect, the timeline problem was something he put upon himself. I actually think that Castlevania can exist without a stable timeline, like Zelda had for many years (and basically still does). The story of Belmont vs. Dracula/vampires can be presented in a lot of different ways and with different gameplay approaches, both in 2D and 3D.
To me, Super Castlevania IV works fine, even if it exists as nothing more than a stand-alone retcon. Similarly, Reinhardt, Carrie, and Cornell's quests, with their emotional interludes with characters like Rosa, work well, even if excised from the timeline. Circle of the Moon is the same sort of thing, all in all...
I was talking again to an older fan of the franchise, trying to convince him to take a look at Bloodstained. He is way more specific than me about what he expects from Castlevania (or even a game theoretically taking its place), and he told me that at minimum, he needs these things: a whip that powers up, subweapons (specifically dagger, cross, holy water, stopwatch, axe), and double/triple shot items. And on the face of it, that sounds harsh. But when I think about it, when you play a Zelda game, you can at least count on Link having a sword and shield, and you can also count on Mega Man having his Mega Buster, or Mario having the ability to jump on top of enemies to defeat them. But with Castlevania, it got to be that you couldn't count on anything except atmosphere and exploration. AoS, CoD, DoS, and OoE didn't have any of the concepts I talked about baked into them as major staples of the base gameplay. There were substitutes, but they functioned very differently, so that some people picking up the game might not be able to identify it as anything other than a magic-centric Metroidvania with Gothic trappings--something a new franchise like Bloodstained has in its advantage.
Again, whether because of the timeline or gameplay concepts he wanted to experiment with, IGA seemed to feel limited by the bread-and-butter concepts of Castlevania, wanting to make it more of a Darkstalkers or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure-type thing, where the characters essentially had superpowers and anything you could imagine could find its way into Castlevania. (Judgment's bizarro plot with Aeon is another example.) The confusion in the mainstream adds credence to this alternate approach, as just the other day I saw a post related to Bloodstained that said IGA was the creator of the Castlevania franchise itself. To IGA's credit, a lot of very interesting things came of that looser interpretation. Don't get me wrong on that.
But even enjoying many of these things in the moment, by about 2005, I also felt like it started to become too amorphous and we started to lose some of the "limitations/staples" that made the Castlevania series more grounded and iconically recognizable. Characters could learn to jump so high they could fly straight off the screen, for instance. And following up Leon's 3D adventure with Hector's (with a forced connection to Dracula's Curse to sort of legitimize it) was, by and large, more of a soft-rebooted lateral move than an concentrated attempt to build on and refine things started in Lament of Innocence. (From a branding and 3D design-development perspective, that probably wasn't the wisest move overall, and I don't think Konami told him to approach Curse of Darkness that way.) But just a quick example of how this sky-is-the-limit approach has bled into Bloodstained's franchise through Inti Creates: Compare Alfred's ice spell with Sypha's. It's got that Shonen anime-overpowered feel to it...There's a little less sense of finesse and consequences in the design philosophies. And this will serve Bloodstained well, allowing for crazy things like turning the screen upside down at will and transforming into a laser, but it also continues to move it away from the everyman/everywoman feel of Castlevania's traditional heroes: i.e. "Courage, don't leave me."
I don't have any problem with this in Bloodstained, but if it had continued to be the main conversation of Castlevania, I likely would have a big problem with it (personally), and I think comparing Bloodstained's excesses to Castlevania further distorts Castelvania's own branding (whatever's left of it right now). In essence, I think Castlevania was becoming more of the new franchise that is Bloodstained under IGA, and not just because of the whole Metroidvania/Classicvania concept. The mindset about what characters can exist in that world and how powerful and versatile they can be continued to expand. So, if Bloodstained moves further in that direction, I won't be surprised. If there is a Bloodstained 2, I wouldn't be surprised to see it take the globetrotting approach IGA originally suggested it have when he approached companies prior to going to Kickstarter. In other words, if Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is SotN 2.0, I think Bloodstained 2 will be PoR/OoE 2.0. But from there...?
Media-wise, can the series be financially separated from Castlevania any more than Castlevania can be separated from it? If Bloodstained tries to branch out into other genres or formats, will it be called "not Bloodstained" in the way that Castlevania has been called out when it's "not SotN"? As someone who wouldn't mind seeing both franchises flourish, like say how Castlevania and Ghouls N Ghosts used to live side by side, I do have some concerns about a mutually assured destruction in the long term. There's a danger that internet culture won't allow Castlevania to be reborn in anything but Bloodstained's image after Bloodstained launches (i.e. 2.5D Metroidvanias only), and Bloodstained may be forced to stay in its lane as the presumed "2.5D Gothic Metroidvania we all love and don't want to see change." Curse of the Moon might suggest otherwise...but then, it was sort of a retro-nostalgia title that had pull from other sources outside of its own inherent merits as a spinoff game.
All that said, though, I expect the series to take off more and more Castlevania-legacy limitations as it goes on, as it should. I'm not sure how that will make me feel, as Inti Creates doing things like Azure Striker Gunvolt and Dragon Marked for Death really haven't appealed to me, despite being a big Mega Man/Mega Man X fan (and a more casual Mega Man Zero/ZX fan). However, I don't get the impression that as a franchise, Bloodstained will branch out into a full 3D adventure. Conceptually, LoI and CoD give me the impression that that is an area of expertise that is not IGA's specialty, no offense. (Though I have to say that, overall, the Mercury Steam era didn't approach it any better, IMO.) And beyond that, once (and if) the market frames Bloodstained as Castlevania's full-on successor, they likely won't accept the idea of it becoming 3D, because they've (illogically) rejected the ambition of Castlevania turning 3D because, whatever it is, it can't live up to the 2D SotN.
I have some thoughts on how this might be avoided, but that's for another, much later time. Phew, this is already longer than I expected. Anyways, thoughts on where Castlevania had been headed versus where Bloodstained is, where both might go, and what the consequences of that might be for either?