Castlevania's 64-Bit Comeback

Castlevania 64 hits stores beginning Tuesday. We get the absolute latest on the series from a reliable source at Konami.

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Konami's Castlevania 64 begins shipping Tuesday, and some will be happy that the series has made the leap to 3D. According to Konami this is the 12th version of the game made for consoles, and certainly it won't be the last.

Mike Whalen, publisher of OtakuBoy Online, checked in with Konami's director of marketing, Jon Sloan, to see just how Castlevania 64 fits into the series. Whalen filed this interview for GameSpot News. And look for our review and tons of screenshots on Wednesday.

GameSpot News: Does Konami feel this new Castlevania advances the franchise? I'm speaking primarily of storyline.Jon Sloan: ***SPOILER ALERT-YOU'VE BEEN WARNED*** Apart from trying to maintain some kind of chronological consistency with the series, this title does introduce a few new aspects into the series. For example, the introduction of the reborn Dracula as a young boy who has to grow into maturity during the game. This makes him somewhat more "human" and allows the player an element of empathy with him. In previous games the Dracula character was much less rounded and simply served as a two dimensional villain. These days story telling is a much more important part of a product. Even Castlevania, which is at its core a platform game series, now addresses the element of strong story telling.

GSN: Without getting into calling one console machine "better" than another, what was Konami most impressed with as far as programming a 3D game such as this for the Nintendo 64? Were there any particular problems during the process? Things you wished had gone better?JS: As always, making the transition from 2D to 3D is a difficult process. With a game like Castlevania, that transition is made even harder because of its strong heritage. There are elements in the Castlevania series that players have come to expect, and delivering them in 3D is no easy feat. For example, the whip, which is the biggest icon in the game, was tough to do. We had to build it with enough polygons so it had a good deal of flexibility but without slowing the action down. Then there's targeting. When you have enemies approaching from multiple directions we had to find a way to let the player easily lock onto the enemies. We achieved it with a simple button lock, which targets the enemies closest to the player. And then there's the camera - that was very tough!!

GSN: At first report, Castlevania 64 was a much larger project - intricate and crisscrossing storylines, many more characters, a larger world, etc. Indeed, the game seems to have gotten shorter. Why did this happen?JS: We felt it was important to deliver a product that was as tightly polished as possible. Castlevania is such an important part of this company's history and future that we wanted to get it absolutely right. Besides, we wanted to leave enough room for a direct sequel!

GSN: Shigeru Miyamoto has spoken recently about all the things he wished he could have done with Zelda now that the game has been released. Are there any similar feelings about Castlevania 64? Things Konami wishes it could have done?JS: With any game there is always something one wishes could have been done better. Hindsight is such a powerful thing. Tweak this, change that, whatever. However, Castlevania is a strong game and will add to the already fine stable of games in the series.

GSN: Right now, the Net is abuzz about the possibility of Castlevania on the Dreamcast. Indeed, reports are circulating today that a "source" at Konami has hinted at a DC Castlevania. Can you comment at all on this?JS: At the moment, any rumors about a DC Castlevania will have to remain just that - rumors. Castlevania is such a well-known brand that it will appear on other formats in the future. What those formats are we cannot confirm now.

GSN: What do you see as the most likely candidate for the next Castlevania title? And what would you most like to do in it? Multiplayer?JS: We will look at the market carefully before deciding on content of any new Castlevania games. I cannot reveal more now - you know Konami is very sensitive to development information being revealed too early.

GSN: Can you provide some final stats on the game? How big is the cart?JS: It's a 96-megabit cart and will be available on January 26.

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