Super Nintendo, NES & GameBoy tomfoolery;

(back to article list)

Up from (Super) Obscurity

Bram Stoker's Dracula, the subject of seven weeks of wacky nitpicking here at GameWTFs. But at the beginning of all this, I mentioned how I'm oddly fond of the goofy game, despite Harker's weird head, horrible design decisions, weak ending, etc.
This week I'm going to try to explain the unexplainable -- this game's certain je ne sais Bram Stoker's Dracula quoi, which makes it somehow more amusing than the sum of its parts (at least, for me).
First, let's talk about some of its actual good points:
Snazzy graphics
It's certainly a pretty game, with lots of different-looking levels that are heavy on atmosphere (and often seen through rolling semi-translucent layers of fog):
Left: the dragon statuary.   Right: Carfax Abbey, in all its torch-wielding nun glory!
Left: Castle Liberace.   Right: Tim Burton Cottage.
Acceptable tunes - with nifty extras!
The game's music has a certain classical creepiness to it, too. But the most noteworthy thing about the music is that it has periodic "level-appropriate background noises" built in to it:
Some of the wolf-heavy levels have far-off howls,
levels with Predator-cloaked Ghosts have an airy "boooooo" sound that rings out occasionally,
and the creepy Asylum level, with its "padded room"-style walls, features distant screams and shouts.
So there's some eye-candy and some ear-candy, but for me, it's the intangibles.
I think Bram Stoker's Dracula is kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich: after you spend a little time learning how to do it, there's only a few tricky parts, there's some enjoyable parts, and it's going to come out basically the same way every time.
What's it like to play this game, after you get the hang of it? Well,
There's ridiculous things to laugh at,
but there's more than a few secrets or branching paths along the way.
There's definitely some tricky parts,
and worse, some places can dish out cheap hit after cheap hit if you're unlucky.
But most of the big challenges (for example, almost all the bosses) have cheap ways to let you "cheat" back at the game.
Moreover, almost everything you need to know about the game you learn in the first level:
Walk slowly and constantly swing your sword,
and use platforms to avoid enemies whenever possible.
So that's why I say Bram Stoker's Dracula is comfort food:
Like a grilled cheese sandwich, if you develop a taste for it, you can whip it up in a moment's notice without much trouble, and you know what to expect.
...and I know what you might be thinking:
"couldn't you say that about ANY platformer?"
Au contraire! For a counterexample, let's talk about a certain NES game...ALSO called Bram Stoker's Dracula:
Or perhaps it's called "Bram Stoker's * DRACUiA"
A quick side-note: I know as a "retro gamer", I'm not supposed to care about graphics...but once you've seen Psygnosis owl-ball logo as a 16-bit graphic:
it's hard to go back to 8-bit owl-ball logos:
Rather than the 16-bit and/or 8-bit games being "ports" of one game, they're completely unrelated platformers.
And while I've called the SNES's version a grilled cheese sandwich,
...the NES is more like twice-reheated leftovers.
Even worse, unless you love memorizing where hidden enemies pop up,
stuff like THIS happens with disturbing regularity.
But that's another story for another day!
I hope you've enjoyed my eight-part study* of the SNES's Bram Stoker's Dracula as much as I've enjoyed writing it!
And be sure to tune in next week, when I'll almost certainly be talking about something else (and not two months a moment too soon).
*: and if you managed to read all eight parts, give yourself a hand! Or, just let the NES version give you one:
...a hand OF DEATH, that is.
— carlmarksguy, 2014-04-25
(back to article list)

more me!

latest comments

6/26/23: Get Legendary, get lucky...and go to the DANGER ZONE! by CarlMarksGuy
6/23/23: Get Legendary, get lucky...and go to the DANGER ZONE! by Marla Singer
12/2/22: By the Programming of Grey Skull! by CarlMarksGuy
12/2/22: Faux American BADA$$ by CarlMarksGuy


Super Nintendo


Up from (Super) Obscurity (87)
NES Obscurity Quicky! (49)
Smorgasbored! (30)
Cover Art Theatre (24)
Boy in Gray (24)
killer Vaniller filler (14)
Four Reflections for Filler (7)

Short + Sweet
New Ancient Wisdom (383)
Shenanigans &/or Shinola (33)
Picture-in-Picture (22)
Miscquoted (21)
Pointless Point Pointers (11)
Made Up Facts! (6)


Bats/Cats/Rats/Gnats (33)
Beat-em-ups (44)
Bees Will End You (11)
Button Zone Defense (7)
CarlMarksGiger (5)
Censors on Maximum! (6)
Character DeCreation (7)
CHOPPAH (get to da) (8)
Cover Art...yeah. (9)
CRAZYGRAMPS-Approved (10)
Cross Hairs (14)
CTRL-ALT-Sports (39)
Cut the Cut Scenes! (50)
Delicious Power-Ups! (19)
Digitized Photos=Bad (34)
Dojo Mojo (15)
e-Pistolary Whipped (2)
Faces in the Crowd (8)
Fighty-Fight-Fight (39)
Foreground Peekaboo (3)
Form of: Plat! (86)
Fun with Cybernetics (28)
Glitched Pictures (12)
Go for the Gold! (19)
GOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (4)
Grappling Hook-y (5)
Gritty Urbs & Spices (37)
Haberdasher Galaxy (19)
Haiku You! (11)
Hellish Moppet (24)
Hi, Explosives! (16)
High Fashion (43)
I Give Up! (59)
I have bad taste (18)
Ice is Nice (14)
Informative Info! (46)
It's a Holiday! (12)
Jumpy-Stabby (43)
Keep on Truckin' (12)
Kids today! :P (15)
Laser-Powered Fist (10)
LevHELL Select (14)
Melting Flooring (6)
Mini(scule) Games (12)
Mission: Implausible (26)
Moto-cross/-cycle (14)
Movie Cash-In! (59)
Muscles n' Mullets (20)
no pants (19)
Not the BOSS of me! (21)
Oh, Aliens did it. (25)
Paid Celeb Spokesman (31)
Pigging Out (8)
Pirates &/or Ninjas (47)
Player 2 I <3 You (17)
Port-a-Porty (29)
Prehistoria Euphoria (18)
Puzzling, yes? (27)
Racing a La Mode 7 (11)
Random Spotlight! (15)
Rasslin'!!! (7)
Recursive Recursion (7)
Rushing Beat-ings (8)
Scan Th Funny Manual (3)
Scoot or Die (7)
Shabby Olive Drabby (20)
Shoot-em-U/D/L/R (62)
Shpiiidah! (10)
Snap th Game's a Job (13)
Spiky Apocalypse! (22)
Stupor Heroes! (16)
Sum-Sum-Summertime! (9)
Swords, Elves, Etc (32)
THAT'S how you win? (3)
The Grating Outdoors (24)
The InterNOT (2)
The Name Game! (18)
The Time Warp Excuse (18)
Toon In! (31)
Top 10 or so! (23)
U Stink But I <3 U (9)
Un-licensed to kill (22)
Uneven Challenge (18)
Unwieldly Projectile (33)
Warp Door Mazes (5)
Weird Animals (67)
What a scoop! (10)
What's the Password? (20)
Wheels + Feet = Go (7)
Whirled Tour! (13)
Woebegotten Sequels (21)
X marks the XTREME! (9)


elsewhere on the web...
Flying Omelette
Rage Quitter 87
Random Hoo Haas