Count of Groundsoaking Blood

        So last time I mentioned the Boktai series. It never really got as popular as Battle Network, due to its special gimmick, but I did love the one game that I did get my hands on. Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hand is certainly an odd game- one part stealth, one part action. There are a lot of times you’ll be forced into combat, but it can be avoided quite a bit by moving quietly. Enemies can also be lured into favorable positions by tapping on walls and the like. However, what makes it really special is the aforementioned gimmick- the game comes with a sensor that can detect if it is in sunlight.
        You play as Django, a fledgling vampire hunter seeking to avenge his father’s death. The world itself is on the verge of being controlled entirely by the Immortals, but it is this that personally gets Django involved. His weapon of choice is the Gun Del Sol, a gun that literally weaponizes sunlight in the form of ‘bullets’ and spread bursts. For obvious reasons, this is especially useful against vampires and their ilk. However, it can only hold so much sunlight, forcing Django to recharge it by holding up in a sunny spot. Your game’s sensor detects how much sun is falling on it and that determines how much there is in-game, and thus how fast it recharges.
        This has other effects too- too little sunlight, and shafts of light will not appear in dungeons, which are what lets you recharge and helps obstruct the undead enemies. If there is a lot of light, however, it will be so bright that the undead will be burnt by it, even indoors. In any case, this is partly the reason the series was not very successful- the summer, the best time for this sort of game, is usually not the best time to be out for long periods, especially in countries like Japan that have harsh summers. Summer isn’t great here either, but I persevered anyway. I was determined.
        The sensor aside, today we’re talking about he first boss of the game, and the most important one for Django personally. The Count of Groundsoaking Blood, or just The Count to those who hate long names. He is the Immortal who slew Django’s father, and it is his death that Django seeks.
        The game begins with Django meeting Otenko, a sun spirit to aid him, who leads him to Fog Castle, where the Count is holed up to recover him his fight with Django’s father, and is slumbering in his coffin. Even an inexperienced hunter like Django would have no trouble getting rid of him in that state, and so we’re put into the first dungeon of the game, getting used to the basics. When we find the coffin, we learn how this works- Otenko will summon a mighty weapon called a Piledriver to destroy the Immortal, but it has to be done in the sunlight, and in a space large enough to summon it.
        Thus, the coffin must be dragged back to the Piledriver to begin the purification. This obviously slows the player down a bit, and can provide no end of problems, but what else would you expect? Anyway, once the coffin is dragged back, the Pildriver starts up as Django sends energy to it by calling down light with his gun.
        The device fires out two giant rays of light at the coffin, forcing it open as a black spirit surges forth, trying to fight off the lasers with black energy of its own. Django’s job is to feed the Piledriver’s panels more energy as needed from his Gun Del Sol via spread shots, allowing to overpower the Immortal’s energy and damage it further. If it succeeds in overpowering the panels, then it will shut them down and retreat into the coffin, forcing you to start over.
        However, all this is done, and it turns out this coffin was a decoy- the real Count had recovered elsewhere, and was now in perfect condition. Still, this of course explains the mechanics of the game to the player, allowing them to carry on and face the real thing when they reach him in Bloodrust Mansion.
        In fact, they have to, because The Count has placed a seal that prevents Django from walking anywhere past his abode. I suppose he wants this fight too. The mansion, aside from having spiders and undead to contend with, is also rife with puzzles, most involving movable blocks and pressure switches.
        One in particular caught my eye as odd- it was a clock-themed puzzle where you had to read the Count’s journal for clues. It basically describes his usual day. “Woke on the seventh hour of the bell. Had a relaxing dinner and left the house two hours later. Took an hour-long stroll to the library and read a few books. The new day came- ate a snack an hour later. Played with the pigeons for two hours in the park. Returned, cleaned for two hours, broke my fast with blood for three hours, then, at last, to coffin. Same old diet… same old routine…”
        It makes the Count sound like he is especially bored with his life, in a way. I suppose when one lives forever, it is hard to find new amusements after a while. However, he certainly sounds eager, excited, when he speaks to Django, which makes it seem that he seeks a battle to ‘brighten up’ the monotony. He likely assumes that no vampire hunter can defeat him, which makes said hunters less a threat, and more of something to amuse him, quite like Walter from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.
        In any case, when the time finally does come that Django reaches the Count in his chamber, he is stopped when he hears a conversation happening within. This mysterious person talks of the plan the Immortals are enacting, and the Count says he will handle Django, that he is only a boy. As soon as his accomplice leaves, he mutters about how this ‘little boy’ is acting without the Queen’s approval, making it clear he doesn’t like this person.
        Mysteries aside, Django runs in. The Count wastes little time with banter- he reveals a girl he plans to sacrifice for their plan, whatever it may be, and laments that this won’t be much of a fight, but that he certainly won’t pass up on a meal. As the battle begins, the Count levitates about slowly. If there is any sun hitting the game, then there will be two skylights if you need to recharge your gun.
        Two of his attacks are indirect. Rather than get close, he can summon up a giant spike from the ground, though this has some forewarning via red smoke appearing to let you know. He will also summon a line of them heading in your direction, though this isn’t a very quick attack. He can also summon blades around him which may block your attacks and will occasionally fling themselves at you. If they do, you can use your gun to fire them away, or even at the Count. Doing so will actually destroy his cape if he has low health, which will net you a rare item. This is also the fastest way to damage him.
        His most dangerous attack is to charge at you and grab you to drink your blood and recover his health. If you are standing on the skylight, however, he will run into it and burn himself. He can also turn into a swarm of bats, but the skylight will keep you safe from those as well.
        Eventually of course, he will be beaten, forcing him back into his coffin. Django must then drag it back out of the mansion to be purified by the Piledriver. The girl is also rescued, and soon awakens. She thanks them for their help and leaves to tend to her Solar Tree, which comes in handy later on to get useful items. Otenko wonders if she’ll be alright, but judging from the screams of undead, she doesn’t need help.
        Back to the coffin, as he is being purified it is much as it was with the decoy- except the real thing is of course stronger, and can summon up more spikes from the ground to hinder your efforts. Further, there are now four devices for you to keep track of, presumably because two just doesn’t do with a fully powered Immortal. But as you might expect, the purifying is a bit easier than the fight itself, and the Count is roasted.
        However, that isn’t the end of him, oh no. In fine Capcom tradition, the final area has you face all of the bosses you defeated in the game, the Count included. New seals have appeared in the Immortal stronghold, which must be broken by destroy their respective boss. Where before he saw Django as a boy, Count now has respect for his abilities- after all, not only did he defeat him, but also made it farther than the Count would ever expect. He calls Django by name, and while he applauds the hunter’s skill, he points out that no one can escape inevitability. He is immortal, and Django is only human.
        With that said, he begins the battle with relish. His movements are much the same as before, but now he attacks more frequently, will call up spikes in a circle around him to keep you at a distance, and can summon spider minions to give you more trouble. Further, he has wised up a bit- he will not run into the skylights, but rather nimbly maneuver around them. However, you will be stronger too- in fact, if the Gun Del Sol is powered up enough you can even destroy the swords he summons.
        In a way, it’s a struggle between brawn and brains- he has learned some new attacks and figured out how to avoid the issues that plagued him last time, but you are simply stronger than before. Will that be enough to win the day? Probably so, but he certainly won‘t go do without a fight.

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