Note 1: This game was played on the Collectorvision Phoenix console. It was connected to a 40-inch HD-tv via HDMI.
Genre: Action-RPG, 1-Player
Brief History: Children of the Night was released in 2017 for the ColecoVision; there’s some great info on teampixelboy.com on the people who developed this game – Thank you for your hard work! This game requires the SGM expansion in order to be played on an original ColecoVision; the Collectorvision Phoenix includes this built-in feature. The SGM allows the game to have enhanced graphics and music over standard ColecoVision games.
Story: You play the role of Drakul, the Master of Vampires. You have been awakened forty years after being willingly defeated by Van Helsing, and you set out to uncover the reason for your re-awakening and the truth behind a new dark power that is arising. You’ll soon discover that you must collect 6 Relics to beat the ‘god’ who is coming to cover the world in darkness.
Control: I’ve been playing the game using an NTT Data Super Famicom controller because the Collectorvision Phoenix has a Super Famicom port, and frankly, this is the most comfortable and convenient way to play the game. The numeric keypad can be used to input the 20-digit password you’ll receive to save your progress (you can select the numbers the old-fashioned way, but entering the code with the numbered buttons is much faster). The B button fires Drakul’s projectile, the A button runs or flies, once you have acquired the appropriate item, and the *asterix button pauses the game and brings up your Spirit menu.
Music: There is some truly amazing music in this game! Based on new areas you uncover, the tunes often change from creepy, to suspenseful, to surprisingly light-hearted.
Gameplay: As Drakul, you’ll awaken in your castle, get a brief tutorial on how to advance in the game as a means of escaping your castle, and you’ll soon be off in the Overworld. In the Overworld, you’ll collect items, visit towns and talk to residents, and explore ruins/graveyards/palaces. You’ll have to solve (usually simple) riddles to open new areas. All the while, you’ll be battling monsters, ghosts, and Nazis(!) non-stop!
Saving: You will save your progress in the ‘Nexus,’ a space-age looking area designed by Van Helsing that exists, to paraphrase here, ‘Somewhere between Heaven and Hell.’ To access the Nexus, you’ll find blue staircases (often that appear once you defeat a certain enemy on screen) that lead there, and the red computer screen, Athraia, will give you the password. Passwords save your current level, how many Relics you’ve collected, and what Spirt powers you’ve obtained!
Leveling Up: To increase Drakul’s life bar (pictured as red ‘hearts’) and increase his Spirit points (stars), simply fight, fight, fight! Every enemy you defeat gives you an experience point or two, and they constantly re-spawn (not in an annoying way, fortunately, as they’re typically easy to kill). You can see how many points you need to obtain your next level, and gaining a level always refills several hearts. You can also regain Drakul’s life by standing still – slowly, but it comes in handy if you can find a safe, out-of-the-way spot.
Spirit Points: As you advance in the game, you’ll uncover new items that can be ‘equipped,’ assuming you have enough Spirt points. It works like this – the first Spirit you obtain is the Wolf Paws. You can equip it if you at least one Star available, which you will at the beginning of the game. As you advance in the game, and you level up (slowly gaining more stars/Spirit points), when you acquire new Spirits, you’ll be able to equip some of them as well. Here’s a short list of some of the Spirits you’ll obtain in the first half of the game, and what they do:
Wolf Paws – Drakul moves faster if you hold button A (his life slowly decreases though)
Wolf Fang – Drakul can cross bridges
Bone Ripper – Moves Columns
Far Shot – Drakul shoots his projectile further if it’s equipped
Shu Shot – Drakul can shoot his projectile through obstacles
Ogre Shot – Drakul fires a more powerful projectile, but walks slower
Bat Wing – Drakul can fly if you press the A button
Bat Fang – Drakul can shoot while flying if you equip this
Difficulty: As I was playing Children of the Night, I couldn’t help but think of the original Legend of Zelda for the NES. This game has a similar look to it of course, but also the linear-ish yet still open-world feel of the game was Zelda-like, but with one big difference – this game was easier to figure out! There are enough clues to keep you generally pointed in the right direction. Mind, a lot of backtracking is necessary at times, as you’ll be asked to obtain a particular item in one area and then return with it, but with enough patience and general memorization of the game’s map (there is no actual map in game, which would have been cool), the challenge is just right. While you will need to grind to keep Drakul’s power growing, you will find yourself doing this as you explore the game naturally, as enemies are abundant. The entrances to Nexus for game-saving are plentiful enough, although it’s important to note you can’t just up and save on a whim, so make discovering the entrances a priority as you play.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: I pre-ordered the Collectorvision Phoenix back in June of 2019 for one reason – to play Root Beer Tapper in high definition. After pre-ordering, I really began exploring the ColecoVision homebrew scene and was delighted to find this gem, and have been amazed at its quality, from graphics, to music, to the story (which is surprisingly in-depth and grammatically perfect with fun nods to Star Wars, The Walking Dead, and Blade Runner) to excellent gameplay. The only downside I found to the game was the lack of boss fights, but I didn’t find myself missing them too much as the game was so generally enjoyable. The game also has a “good” ending and a “bad” ending based on your accomplishing certain objectives and having the right items equipped. This is easily a 10+ hour RPG adventure, and a must-have for the (fairly) recently revived ColecoVision scene! A+
*Bonus – Here’s a little Children of the Night walkthrough to get you started – these were just some notes I wrote down while playing.
- Drakul’s Castle – get Fenrir’s Paw before you leave
- Get Fenrir’s Fang from the chest to the right of Drakul’s castle
- Go west to Bran Village and talk to Van Helsing to get Dark Control
- Go south to Lich Graveyard – then west to Hershell and Michonne’s for the Bone Ripper
- Go immediately back east in Lich’s Graveyard – a rock will be gone that was blocking your way, and you can obtain the Far Shot from the chest
- Now head north from Drakul’s castle. Go north and east until you reach a sign that tells you you’re being timed to get to the entrance of the Shu Ruins. Walk back west, south, then east to the three columns – the Bone Ripper will move them – head north and west to get to the entrance to Shu’s Ruins
- In the Ruins, in the first room with the ‘Release my soul’ line, kill enemies until the soul releases and a stairway appears. Descend to obtain the Shu Shot, which you should immediately equip to advance in the Ruins