Part 5: Stage 5
This stage is a mess on almost every level, conceptually, challenge-wise, structurally and especially in its level design. It should by all rights be two stages with the Minotaur as the proper boss, but it's not; you have to do all of this shit in one sitting, unless they stealthily give you a new password after one half, which I doubt.
I'll spoil a bit for the next video: there is indeed an entrace to the ~Secret Stage~ just hidden in this level, after the minitaurboss, so they probably depended on the player finding that, as I'm moderately sure it will give you a new password (has an extra map screen, even). On the other hand, while the Secret Stage is short, it's a full level, and it boots you to right after the Minotaur fight, so...you still have to do the equivalent of two stages before reaching Drac! Infuriating! If this piece of shit didn't basically obsolete its own extra life system, this game would be complete torture to complete instead of just unimaginably tedious.
As should be obvious from my struggles, the Minotaur is probably the hardest boss in the game, though I don't know how hard Alucard would be if he didn't fall the the easiest loop in the world. There's just no good way to dodge him and his movements are totally random. Fortunately, you can probably just Burning up, but then you don't get a Whip upgrade because I'm pretty sure Burning is 100% required to get it without taking damage. You can get yourself hit into it, but the engine is so bad, that sometimes enemies knock you forward instead of back, apparently. There's quite a lot of these tiny moments of annoyance and complete dumbshittery in this level that make it somehow worse than the rest of the game, like they had given up on trying to actually design levels even more.
Also, as I don't fail to mention at the start, having the final level be "a cave" for most of its duration (because the final stretch up to Dracula is actually laughably easy) is nonsensical if you want to follow any sane idea of escalation of concepts. It almost makes sense if you consider Sonia to be literally dumped by Alucard's idiotic decision to just lie down for a while, but...that doesn't make sense in the first place. So whatever! Fuck the cave!
I'd also like to note that the map screen doesn't actually show anything BUT the cave, and as we'll see from the next level's map screen, the tiny stretch of path between the last dots is actually meant to encompass both the cave and the cathedral, as the secret stage entrance is smack-dab in the middle of it. Maybe we fight Dracula in an overdesigned garden shed where he spends Dad Time because Alucard is hogging the master bedroom. Come to think of it, did he go to sleep way up there? Have fun crumbling down with the rest of the castle, dipshit.
Then there is Dracula himself, and I'm super happy that the game opts for "pushover" instead of "nightmare" like Revenge did. It's actually not that easy and with its two stages, reasonable but not excessive health pool and small things like his projectiles blocking yours a step up from most of the other dross we had to wade through. The little touch that you can (and should) get exactly 20 hearts in the lead-up to the fight is honestly brilliant and the one piece of actual thoughtful design in the entire game, so kudos for that. Together with Sonia's non-stop barrage of merciless putdowns, this is the singular high point of the game and my one and only argument for "needn't have been that bad" and the potential of the main character herself.
A shame, innit.
Stay tuned for the Secret Stage and a true ending that will completely stomp out and crush the tiny spark of goodwill I just let fly!
Underground Watercourse (Stage 5)
Dracula Castle Cathedral (also Stage 5 I guess)
Count Dracula Battle
Vampire Killer (Final Battle)