One of the things about the modern internet, the part of it we tend to use most in our day-to-day lives, is that it's now a very curated space. There's more information and hashtag content out there than ever before, but the vast majority of it will never be seen by more than a few people, and what breaks the surface is a total crapshoot.
In the last few days a tweet went viral, featuring a short gameplay clip from a GZDoom mod called Simon's Destiny. This is a full remake of the first-ever Castlevania title on NES, and as you can see captures the look of the series perfectly.
This fan made game is so cool! Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny looks LIT! pic.twitter.com/01fMrJm8pvAugust 27, 2022
The more impressive aspects of Simon's Destiny are how it recreates the verticality of the 2D Castlevania games, with plenty of staircases and platform-hopping, and how well it translates the basic whip-cracking, holy water-chucking action into a snappy 3D combat system. All the iconic upgrades and castle elements are included, and it's just a great love letter to one classic series bound-up in another one. IT's also pretty tough!
Developer Batandy says the game "aims to reinvent the very first NES title of the franchise with a nostalgic yet brand new first person gameplay. All the levels from the classic NES era game have been reimagined like never before, experience the tale of Simon's fight against Dracula and his army of the night!"
It's hard to know how many people have come across Simon's Destiny since its release, though the itch.io page suggests it's always had a dribble of players coming though. I was blown away at having somehow missed this for years, particularly when you consider how desperate Castlevania fans are for some news, any news, and a future for the series beyond anime (albeit great anime) and NFTs. I'm still bitter that Lords of Shadow 2 screwed the pooch so badly.
Batandy's other work includes his own Nintendo-style Doom series, Golden Souls, and a full remake of P.T. in GZ Doom. Jeez, Konami should hire this guy.
When I first got online in the late 90s, part of my fascination was just how big it was, how I could just keep searching and keep finding more of anything I wanted: I'd follow connections from one thing to another and never reach an ending. Now we live in walled gardens so big we can't even see the walls but, every so often, you're reminded of just how much brilliance exists beyond your imaginings. Axe knights and fleamen and vampires: oh my.