Behind the Castle Walls

Author: Dean Austin & IGN Staff

Date: 18 November 1999 (Updated 18 June 2012)

Source: IGN

IGN64 chats with Castlevania 64: Legacy of Darkness' designers about the game, industry & vampires.

Konami's semi-sequel to Castlevania 64 is just about finished. The game, called Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, can be described as a much more polished version of the original title, equipped with all new characters and a familiar, but original quest. Here Director Yuji Shibata and Game Designer Takeo Yakushiji talk about the ins and outs of the new game and their influences.

IGN64: How did you get into the industry and what were the first titles you worked on?

Yuji Shibata: I liked programming to begin with; creating algorithms, modules, tools, etc. It was just an extension of this to go into the game industry. The first project that I worked on was a game that was just published in Japan. It was an action puzzle game for the Famicon (Japanese NES) called "Mowai-kun". I programmed the entire game as well as making 20 different puzzle maps.

Takeo Yakushiji: In university, I was interested in majoring in visual arts. I was very interested in the potential that video games had to offer. While I was still a student, I worked part-time at a video game production company. During the time, I learned about creating a game, and finally joined Konami to really focus on game creation. The first game that I worked on was "Ganbare Goemon Rescue of the Winter Princess" for the Super Famicon (Super NES).

IGN64: What was your most satisfying product to work on and why?

TS, TY: (In unison) : Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness of course. (laughs)

TY: In the previous version, we learned how to use 3D. With the knowledge that we learned, we could take this version and refine the look as well as increasing what we did with the visual look and the feel of the game. With this, what we have especially made an emphasis on is creating stages that had a lot of action elements in fully detailed rich 3D environment.

IGN64: Please tell us the story for Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness.

TY: This game takes eight years prior to the original N64 Castlevania. It focuses on the werewolf, Cornell and his quest to save his younger sister from the clutches of Dracula's minions. Many of the loose ends are introduced and explained so that the player can know what circumstances led to the battle eight years hence.

IGN64: How many levels and/or missions are in the game and what are the differences between the same levels that appear in both Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness?

TY: In Cornell's chapter, there are 14 stages to play through. In each stage, there are several maps that must be navigated. In total, there are over 40 maps that must be played through. There are some levels that reappear in the game, however even these stages have undergone refinement to the gameplay. There have been some stages that have only undergone a cosmetic change to the texture mapping, however there are stages, that have changed in the map layout, texture mapping, traps, and size.

IGN64: What did you learn from your experience of making Castlevania 64?

YS: How to program in 3D and make a 3D action game.

TY: When production first started, I looked upon it as a challenge to go from creating a 2D game to a 3D game. My past experience was all 2D, so working with a 3D world environment was a challenge, but was exciting. It was like being asked to make my own amusement park.

IGN64: Why no multiplayer mode?

TY: Castlevania was always designed to be a one player game. We stuck with a one player game model, since this is what the game style has always been in the Castlevania series. There may be multiple characters to choose from, but in all of the games, it has always been a single character on the quest.

IGN64: How many different characters can you play and who are they?

TY: There is the new character Cornell, plus the two original characters, Carrie and Reinhardt. There is also another hidden character, but we don't want to give away all the surprises. So a total of four different characters overall. Cornell is a martial artist type character who can transform into a werewolf once magic jewels are collected. Reinhardt is of the famous whip toting Belmont clan. Carrie has a mysterious power that has been inherent in all the descendants of the Fernandez line, and finally the hidden character, that is the only hero character that makes an appearance in both time frames.

IGN64: How will the quests of the characters be different?

TY: Cornell's mission is to find and rescue his younger sister. The other two main characters' mission is to defeat Dracula. The hidden character has a completely different mission.

IGN64: Has the graphic look changed significantly from Castlevania 64 to Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness?

YS: All the effects have been re-tooled to look much more vibrant than before, especially the players' attacks.

TY: In conjunction with the Memory Expansion Pak, we have utilized high-resolution graphics, so there is a significant improvement in the sharpness of the overall graphic look.

IGN64: As a designer, what strategic and/or product decisions do you take into consideration when continuing the Castlevania line?

TY: The Castlevania series has always had a theme of horror behind it. This does not mean bloody scenes or chilling torture, but a mood of darkness and absence of light, that still has cool beauty and elegance to it. Retaining this theme has been what I have been careful with while designing the game. In regards to the character design, I have tried to bring the former enemies to life in 3D and retaining their atmosphere, while keeping them appropriate and looking cool for this generation of game system.

IGN64: How does the technology of the N64 impact your design decisions?

YS: The limitation on the number of polygons that could be on screen and in the enemies. Also, with the lack of memory space, the number of enemies that could be running around on screen at one time.

TY: The anti-aliasing technology worked very well in this project. Even with a limitation of color, we were able to create stunning visuals, even in Hi-res mode. Also, with putting different shading on the texture giving the illusion of depth and distance, it was easier to create compelling levels.

IGN64: Switching gears, what's the most overlooked title you've ever seen in the game industry and why?

TY: Hmm, if I had to pick one, I would say Tokimeki Memorial. The reason for this is that taking a difficult thing, a romance, and being the first to make it into a game that works. It was a game that could be played over and over, with a different result. So many different ideas went into this game, that created a whole new genre as well as creating further possibilities for other games.

IGN64: What usually causes the most lost sleep during a project?

YS: Getting everyone on the same page. Creating the design docs.

TY: When talking about my part of the project, creating the maps, flowchart, scenario, some of the frame work for the basic design... did I leave anything out? Oh and trying to make sure that the game is fun and not too difficult, by playing the game over and over and refining many elements in the game. When this happens, until I am satisfied, some things cannot be solidified, and then others have to wait, slowing them down. I suppose that's what worries me the most.

IGN64: What's the weirdest thing that happened during the making of Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness?

TY: This is something that happened while we were making the former game. We wanted to get information on Dracula, so we went to an event that was celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's Dracula. What ended up happening was that we were put into a small theatre with no bathroom, and got stuck watching eight hours of minor Dracula movies that were not even sub-titled. Suffice to say, we didn't learn a whole lot from that process.

IGN64: What media outside of games influence you the most?

TY: Movies, novels, photo albums... we get influences from so many different media sources, that it is hard to say that there is any single influence. Though if I did have to single some thing out, I would have to say all the comics and animation that I saw as a kid. I do see influences of that in what I do.

YS: Um, what he said. [Laughs]

IGN64: And lastly, who do you respect most in the industry and why?

TY: I don't have any single person that I respect above all others. I respect all developers that have made excellent games in the past and that will make superb games in the future. There are game creators out there that have much less experience in this industry than myself, that have created great games. I feel that I must continue to learn from them as well as learning from the past.

YS: I would have to pick John Carmack from Id Software. I feel he is the one responsible for making 3D action games and network play what it is today. His vision and driving force. That is what I respect.