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Mercurio on Castlevania

May 29th, 2011 by

Owing to the fact that this is a column that goes up on a website named after the sort of men who go through a ‘crisis’ whenever they look at a calendar, I can’t imagine it will be too controversial when I say that I am sick of Twilight. In fact, if you are currently sat at your terminal, calling me a pillock and a fool, I urge you to seek psychological help immediately.

I do not wish to go into detail about my hatred of Stephenie Meyer and her dangerously obsessive female characters – but then if the woman can’t even spell Stephanie properly, there really is no hope for her. Her worst offence, however, is what she has done to the noble art of vampire hunting.

Long ago, when Europe consisted of architecture designed by men who were fond of pointy things, vampire hunting was a necessity. Take a gander at the Castlevania games, for example, and you see a world where, left unchecked vampires can do really unpleasant things to the landscape. Consider, for just one moment, how unpleasant the world would be if every house had a mirrored version underneath it. Imagine if, on one fateful country holiday with your wife and kids, Pendennis Castle teleported itself to Japan. There would be no morning sun to vanquish those horrible nights, and the arguments that would follow.

While Castlevania is largely fictitious – although not as much as you would think, as I will detail below – they do display an image of what the world would be like if that Meyer woman had been born a century or so earlier. Vampire hunting is no longer seen as a noble goal, the destruction of undead predators en masse, but the equivalent of a man who tells an off colour joke at a funeral. Vampires are brooding teenagers now, their blood-lust a mere addiction that can be overcome with enough willpower and frown-faced, submissive, slave girls to absorb all the misery.

Last week, I received a copy of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow from my good friend Jonas Goodhill. He was concerned that people were exploiting his family name to make a quick buck and, knowing Jonas as I do, he could really use with a quick buck. I am no lawyer, but considering I was present at the events he believed the game to have been retelling, I was less disinclined than usual to explore his complaints.

When I was a young man, I dabbled in vampire hunting. It was a surprisingly simple profession to get involved in, so long as you were well versed in English and had a powerful speaking voice. A name with a certain gravitas was a bonus too, of course, and by that point I was already quite well-known among the people who mattered. It was one of these people, a man named Gabriel Belmont, that lured me into the events depicted in Lords of Shadow.

Now, first and foremost, it is important that I make this abundantly clear: Lords of Shadow is not, at all, based on fact. It is, in fact, based on a fiction that myself and the very inebriated Gabriel Belmont concocted in a Welsh bar just prior to last orders. In truth, the majority of the story was Gabriel’s concoction, a natural storyteller if ever I’ve met one, my contribution being to take his story and translate it into legible English.

Gabriel was not a very good vampire hunter, but he still managed to make a living off of it, something some of the best hunters had never managed to achieve. The key was to not let it go to your head, as some of the more professional hunters did, keep your professional pride well out of the way so that you could milk it for all it was worth. I did a similar thing, having never encountered an actual vampire in all my years of practising, yet still garnering a healthy wage by merely being present. The oldest con in the book, you don’t see any vampires because I am here.

The Lords of Shadow tale was one of Gabriel’s best. After the first night, he spun the same yarn at a thousand different pubs, acquiring free booze at all of them. Eventually, however, something nasty caught up with him and ripped his brain out through his anus, but that is the danger you face when you spin a tale so magnificent. You have to show some restraint.

I advised Jonas, then, that the game in question was probably denying him some coin owed to him by right. The story was similar, although legally distinct, but it was the tone that was so clearly obtained without license. The grandiose gestures, the absurd architecture, and oh dear lord the hair. So much of it was so similar to what Gabriel had reeled off that night in the bar that it was eerie.

There were differences, as I have stated. The worst of these, in retrospect, was how my role in the story was handled. My hair was not nearly so grey, and though my distrust of desks is well documented, I never once put my sword through one. That’s no way to treat a skilfully crafted blade.

What amount to boss fights in the game were drawn, somewhat embarrassingly, from confrontations myself and Gabriel had with bartenders who were not amenable to fiction as a form of currency. Though the resulting fights were more brawls than the heavily scripted whip-fests shown in the game, there was at least one barkeep who got a taste of the whip.

We went back to that establishment again.

But I believe I am digressing. The important part of all this is that, at the end of it all, Meyer and her sparkly emo vampires are making it impossible for people like my younger self to tell these grandiose and entertaining stories. When was the last time you went into a bar on your one evening away from the wife and the all-devouring maw of that creature you call a child, sank into a cracked leather chair, and eavesdropped on the local drunk telling the tallest of tales? People do not do this anymore, and that is because there is no longer a culture for such things.

In the pre-Meyer days, a man could make a living from the qualities of his stories, and the only way to be in a position to tell them without physical harm was to be a vampire hunter. You were majestic, mysterious and just a little bit dangerous, and that would bamboozle the locals into listening to you for just long enough that the story could get its hooks in.

That is no more, and it’s all that woman’s fault.

You owe me some beer, Meyer. Don’t make the mistake of assuming I am not willing to collect.

Mercurio Silver is a grumpy misanthropic immortal with bold statements and a narcissistic need to force them on others. With his sharp tongue he shares his most recent realisations and thoughts right here on Midlife Gamer every Sunday.

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One Response to “Mercurio on Castlevania”
  1. avatar Jurassic Prinny says:

    You had to go and point out that she doesn’t even spell her name properly, didn’t you? Now my poor old eyes, hitherto happily accustomed to glazing over at the sight of her name and everything that followed it, will be interminably drawn to the graphological horror before them.
    Damn you, Mercurio. Damn you.

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