For many gamers, the Castlevania Series has long outgrown its golden age. Although there are still titles released in the series, it’s hard to deny that they lack the certain something that the older games had. Gone are the fond memories and frustratingly epic challenges that the earlier games delivered to gamers both young and old. Gone are the stellar sound tracks, awesome artwork, replay value and overall fun factor.
In May of 1987 Castlevania was released in cartridge form to in North America. We were a little late to the party as Japan had already gotten Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. However, it’s highly unlikely that anyone knew or even cared at the time. This game, similar to what Super Mario Bros. did, took the platform action adventure genre to a whole new level. It was riddled with bloodthirsty enemies and had challenges that even today are almost impossible to complete. This level of frustration didn’t really hinder the experience and it was still a great time from beginning to end.
Next we see the release of Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, which went the way of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and shook the first games formula up a bit. The series then traveled back to it’s roots with Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. Although these games were fun they shared similar blocky and hard to use controls seen in the first Castlevania. Often you’d find your self unable to make your on screen character do exactly what you wanted it to do.
It wasn’t until December of 1991 and the release of Super Castlevania IV that the series would blow the lid off most gamers expectations. From beginning to end this game was a masterpiece for so many reasons. Gone were the frustrating elements present in older games and in their place were new features that helped aid the player.
Storyline wise this game was pretty much a direct remake. It’s the same story that was told in the first game with an extra level of detail added to it. The intro screen is extremely promising. We are given the back story of the Belmont family, whose destiny is to destroy Dracula every time he rises. It is now up to Simon Belmont, the games main character, to take up the whip, Vampire Killer and fulfill his destiny sending Dracula back to Hell.
The biggest improvements in Castlevania IV are most definitely the controls. The player can move more fluidly than they could in the first few games. To quote a very famous reviewer, “It’s as though you ARE Simon Belmont!” Everything just feels better and you are able to whip in 8 different directions, which helps to fend off the onslaught of enemies you encounter throughout every stage. For the first time in the series you feel as though you are now ready to take on any enemy the game throws at you.
Music is another huge hit with this game, it’s quite epic to say the least. It fits the mood perfectly and you may begin to get a strange sense of heroism as you progress further in the game. Not one track sounds out of place; even when you die it sounds appropriate. This is definitely a soundtrack that I don’t mind popping in my CD player whenever I go for a long drive in the car.
The graphics in the game are amazing for their time. You can tell that the developers put a lot of care and detail into crafting enemies, environments and Simon Belmont himself. You can see a lot of activity going on in the background, this sets the creepy and scary mood the game is shooting for perfectly.
I would have to say that the only drawback to Castlevania IV is that, unlike Castlevania 3, the player is only allowed to play as Simon Belmont and isn’t given the choice to play as other characters as the game progresses. Although this may have turned off many gamers, I didn’t feel that it took very much away from the game.
Overall, whether you want to hunt it down for the Super Nintendo or download it off the Wii Virtual Console, this is a must have, must play game even if you’re not a fan of the Castlevania series. It’s perfect from start to finish and once completed you may even feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, something that is absent most of the time in this new day and age of gaming. To this day I still pop this in my SNES and give it a go every once in awhile.
Incredibly High Replay Value
Confusing as to when it takes place time line wise
You can only use Simon Belmont
Only available for Wii and Super Nintendo
Some of the stages can be a bit overwhelming in challenge
Overall Score: 9/10
Recommendation: Buy It!