Castlevania: Bloodlines – 1994 Developer Interview

Castlevania: Bloodlines – 1994 Developer Interview

This short interview with three of the lead members of the Castlevania Bloodlines (aka Vampire Killer) development team was originally featured in BEEP! Megadrive magazine in 1994. It was conducted in the middle of the development (following a delay), and while slightly promotional in nature, does contain a few nice comments on design. Notably, it is the only developer interview I’ve ever seen for this excellent game.

Toshiki Yamamura – Programmer/Scenario
Teisaku Seki – Main Designer (graphics)
Michiru Yamane – Composer

—How is the development of Vampire Killer going? Why did you have to delay it’s release?

Yamamura: The gameplay systems are almost finished, but we’re doing our best now to give it some extra polish so players will be satisfied.

Yamane: Yeah, everyone on the team wants to release something that makes players think, “I sure am glad I bought this!” We also don’t want to hurt the Megadrive market by releasing a half-hearted effort.

Yamamura: Our concept for this game was a straight-ahead, no-nonsense “Megadrive Castlevania”. The reason we didn’t use the traditional Akumajo Dracula title is that we wanted to challenge ourselves to present a new style and flavor to the series: speedy and action-packed, while still retaining the strategic aspect of the earlier Castlevania games. Also, the previous games all were limited to the environments inside or around Dracula’s castle, which meant there were many things we just couldn’t do. I can’t go into details now, but we’ve prepared a lot of things that will surprise you. The map is also designed with multiple routes, and each character has their own playstyle.

Teisaku: 8M isn’t a lot of space to work with, but we were able to create big animated objects, and lots of other setpieces that should make you go “wow.” The color palette was another challenge to work with, but we were able to use it to craft a unique atmosphere. Be sure to check it out.

Yamane: The music carries on the style of the past games in the series. I personally love FM synthesis, so it was an easy development for me. (laughs)

Yamamura: The songs are really great.

The Vampire Killer team of Michiru Yamane, Toshiki Yamamura, and Teisaku Seki.

—I understand there are two player characters this time, John Morris and Eric Lecarde?

Yamamura: The whip is of course inseparable from the Castlevania series, but we wanted to do something unique for the Megadrive, so we added a character who wields a spear. If you master Eric’s spear move, the fights should be easy. Collecting all the weapon power-ups should make it that much easier too. However, if you find Vampire Killer too easy for you, be sure to check out the overseas version, Castlevania Bloodlines. It’s like the “tabasco” version of Vampire Killer, in terms of difficulty.

As you can probably gather from the fact that Vampire Killer is set in a different era from the previous games, the scenario is unique to the Megadrive, and is my personal conception of the Dracula series. In my mind there is a trilogy or tri-partite structure to the Dracula saga, and this game takes the place of the second act. Of course, I’m a big fan of the previous Castlevania games too, so I wanted continuity in terms of style and image. I’d like players to see Vampire Killer as my personal interpretation to the canon. I was pretty influenced by Hideyuki Kikuchi’s work.

Teisaku: Yeah, and that kind of world necessitated enemies with a lot of detail. We used up a ton of memory, but we were able to achieve some very intricate animations.

—To close, please share some of the other challenges you’ve faced so far.

Yamamura: To be honest, until recently our misfortunates have been so numerous, we’ve honestly wondered if we ourselves are not cursed… It all started with this evil tapestry we hung in the development room for atmosphere. Everyone said to take it down, but I refused, and instead affixed some ofuda to ward off the evil. I’ll have to put some more up after this. (laughs)

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