Gaming is literally chocked full of awesome weapons, sweet gadgets and general bits and bobs designed to streamline your killing experience. But only the greatest weapons become iconic; synonymous with the game itself; two peas in a disk/cartridge/downloadable-doodad shaped pod.
In this series, we look at these legendary gizmos from across gaming’s glorious past, and with the recent re-release of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow on the Nintendo E-Shop it is only fitting that we take a look at:
The Vampire Killer
Castlevania is one of the oldest series’ in gaming, and stands tall next to Metal Gear as one of Konami’s greatest achievements. In 1986 Castlevania bursted onto the scene, giving the world one of its first glimpses into the survival horror genre. Utilizing monsters from both myth and classic horror films, fused with clunky controls in a dark-fantasy setting, Konami pushed the NES to its breaking point. What made Castlevania so iconic however (soul crushing difficulty notwithstanding), was its weapon of choice: The Vampire Killer.
Unlike most weapons in gaming, then and now, the Vampire Killer is not a sword or a gun, it’s a whip. Being a whip gave the player surprising range when engaging enemies, although the trade was a whip that was heavy, cumbersome and hard to control. You could not move whilst attacking, so every swing had to mean something, as you rarely got a second chance. Nothing in gaming was, or has been, as satisfying to use. You cannot beat the sound of the Vampire Killers deadly crack as it connects with its enemies.
The Vampire Killer is typically depicted as a leather whip crafted by the alchemist Rinaldo Gandolfi, reaching 5-10ft in length, however seeing as it was made by alchemy, it has also taken on the form of a metal chain, as well as a morning star. Though bound to the Belmont family (a bond that can literally kill those not from the clan), each Belmont has been able to utilize the Vampire Killer in different ways. Richter could literally ignite the whip creating an inferno of extendable metal death, whilst John was able to imbue it with lightning. Other Belmont’s have been able to channel magic energies through the whip, unleashing fireballs and earthquakes. Some have used it in conjunction with their incredible upper-body strength to pull off unimaginable acrobatics.
Whilst it bears the name Vampire Killer and designed to kill Count Dracula, the whip is blessed with the power to destroy all darkness, whether that be undead, demon or alchemical. In fact, such is the Vampire Killers power, it has slain Death himself on numerous occasions and even banished Satan. Finally, the Vampire Killer, despite being a whip, can crush brick and mortar, enchanted or not, with ease. Its most interesting ability is that it can literally conjure food out of rubble to rejuvenate its bearer.
With the 3D overhaul Castlevania got with the Lords of Shadow series, the Vampire Killer took on a new lease of life. No longer a whip, the Vampire Killer became a Combat Cross, and although it was still designed by Rinaldo Gandolfi, it was also replicated meaning countless lesser Crosses exist. What is even more surprising is that it was not designed to slay Dracula, and was actually given its name by the village of Wygol after a vampire attack was thwarted.
This iteration of the Vampire Killer is a crucifix. The base of the cross is sharpened into a stake to allow for the quick disposal of vampires, whilst the main weapon is a blessed chain covered in spikes that ends with a hooked tip. Whilst not actually a whip, it is used much like a one, and similar to the old Vampire Killer, it can slay anything from lycanthropes to alchemical colossus. Additionally, the Combat Cross can also be infused with magic, allowing the bearer to drain the life from his enemies and, similar to the original, burst into flames. Finally, the Combat Cross’s greatest strength is its ability to permanently kill an immortal.
Unlike the Vampire Killer of old however, it is not passed down through the generations, and is in fact destroyed, reforged, and wielded by Dracula, making it the least effective Dracula killing Vampire Killer of all time.
The Hunter Whip
Whilst the Vampire Killer is the premiere tool when it comes to the slaying of dark minions, there are other, lesser whips in the series that have been used to banish Dracula and his minions. One such whip is aptly named the Hunter Whip. Unlike the Vampire Killer, the Hunter Whip is made entirely of leather, although this does not seem to hinder the bearer too much. What makes the Hunter Whip so interesting however is its ability to be infused with power of gods and mythical creatures, allowing the bearer to change the properties of the weapon, and even morph it into other weapons such as a sword or gun.
Whilst many people view whips as a tool used primarily within the realm of rugged, fedora wearing, temple delving explorers like Indiana Jones, we gamers see it as one of the coolest weapons ever conceived. Now if you excuse me, I have some more Dracula killing to do. WHOOPAH!