Forgotten Old Games – Master of Darkness

Hi everyone! I’m new at Game Comments and I will share the “Forgotten Old Games” section with Danilo. I hope you enjoy it and please leave a comment at the end. Any feedback will be helpful.

In my first post I will talk about one of the best games for the Master System console, called Master of Darkness. As you can see by the pictures and videos it looks very similar to the Castlevania game series. That’s not a coincidence. At 1992, release year of the game, NES was the leader of the american and the japanese videogame market, obtaining 90% of participation in the entire world videogame industry. At this age, the most game developer companies were developing exclusively for Nintendo. That forced Sega to develop most of the Master System game library by itself, which by the way was a very well done work, at least most of the times.

The similarities between Castlevania and Master of Darkness aren’t restricted to gameplay. Even the story has much in common. The player controls Dr. Ferdinand Social (I know, a bad name), a paranormal psychiatrist investigating several deaths of women that occur at night. Not just that, their bodies are found completely drained of blood. It’s not very hard to conclude that vampires are behind that. Most precisely, Count Dracula. Even the villain of this game is the same as the Castlevania series.

Let’s focus in the game itself and not just in the story. The first level goes into the Thames River on England, were some murders happened. As you can see, the graphics are very well made for a Master System game. Some things deserve to be mentioned, like the trees and posters shaking due to the wind. But in my opinion some others could be improved, like the moon at the second and third part of the first stage. But the overall graphics are very good for its time.

The gameplay is the best aspect of the game, even better than the original Castlevania. Dr. Social can use a wide variety of weapons, instead of just a whip. I personally recommend the hammer. There are melee weapons and distance weapons, and you can simultaneously carry one of each. The variety of weapons was a good advance in this game genre, specially considering that this feature was only implemented in the Castlevania series when Symphony of the Night for the PS1 was released. It was already ahead of its time.

The moves and jumps are very easy to control and it’s possible to do a crouch walk. However, the gameplay can be frustrating sometimes. Remember the stairs of the Castlevania games? Beware with the stairs in this game. It’s difficult to flee or attack enemies while climbing the stairs. Also, you’re pushed back whenever you touch an enemy. Be careful when enemies attack you near to the hole edges.

The level design is great and never repetitive. Several locations are part of your journey such as cemeteries, laboratories, castles and a house of wax dolls. Every stage is unique with a full new set of platforms, blocks, enemies and items. Different from Castlevania, in which you attack candles to acquire random items, in this game you attack floating masks. A little bizarre for me, but that’s okay.

The difficulty of the game increases as you progress. The first stage is very easy, considering that your life bar is huge and you will often find health potions. Even the stage boss is a joke. Poor Jack the Ripper. Never thought that you would be so weak. But the following levels are much harder. Some enemies can be pretty annoying, like a floating knife that is very fast and small to attack and the killer flying furniture. An important tip: get the hammer and never change your weapon. The others are much worse compared to it.

Finally, let’s talk about the sound. The sound effects are very simple, nothing special about it. Unlike the sound effects, the music is very good. I liked the first stage music, although it’s very repetitive. The cutscene song is well done, but the best music of this game is the third level song. You can hear it below. This music is one of the best features of this game.

That concludes our first post and I hope you enjoyed it. Please comment with suggestions, observations, claims, insults… You can suggest a game or a genre, like platform, adventure, RPG, action among others or a game from a specific system. See you next time!