Review by Psycho Penguin
"Castlevania 2? More like Craplevania 2...."
I hate Simon's Quest.
I really, really hate it.
I can't pick out a defining reason as to why I loathe this game as much as I do, there's just so many reasons that listing them would seem futile. From the riduclous storyline to the awful music to the ''original'' gameplay that never deviates from what started as a cool idea then turns to total crap by the halfway point of the game, I never saw why people like this game so much. It would have been awful enough as a stand alone game, but the fact it is part of the awesome Castlevania series tarnishes the legacy of the series a little bit.
Every series has its one ''weak spot''. The one that deviated from the entire formula and tried an entirely new idea and failed horribly. Sometimes, it is the sequel. In movies, ''Nightmare on Elm Street 2'' totally swerved from the original point of the series, as Freddy went from someone who invaded teenagers' dreams and killed them in their sleep, to someone who is capable of possessing a boy's mind and making him a killer in real life.
No one figured out why Freddy had to possess a boy when he only had powers in the Dream World , and as such, it's widely regarded as the most hated movie in the series. Why? Because it tried something totally different from everything else in the series. I am not saying innovation is a bad thing. Innovation is bad, however, when a series does something for a while, then totally changes the concept for one edition, then goes back to doing the same old thing. A series like Mega Man eventually evolved, but it was a slow evolution and not a ''let's try something TOTALLY DIFFERENT for one game then go back to the same old crap'' idea that a lot of series have done miserably in the past.
This is precisely what makes Simon's Quest such a bad idea to begin with, and it translates quite horribly as a game. It is one of the few ''black sheep'' of a series that would actually be horrible as a stand alone game, however, so it's not like I hate it simply because it's different. Most Castlevania games are side scrolling games that provide you with hours of enjoyment, and are true platform gaming bliss. Simon's Quest is a role playing/adventure game which has you run around a huge area, but there are no stages, although there could have very easily been stages, considering how different each area looks.
I like the basic plot, as you are Simon Belmont, but this time you have a curse running through your body, and in order to get rid of the curse, you need to find five body parts of Dracula. However, I have some basic problems with this. One, they never really explain to you WHY you need to find Dracula's body parts. You end up killing him anyways, so shouldn't killing him be enough to take away the curse? Two, there is no development whatsoever, character or story wise. Every time you find a part, nothing happens. You kill a boss, nothing happens.
There are people in the town during the day, but they don't tell you anything useful. Your character never develops into anything, all he ever really says is ''What a horrible night to have a curse.'' I know it's a horrible night to have a curse, Simon. Please say something else. Please start worrying that you're not going to make it in time. Please give me a reason to care about you! Since I don't have any reason to give a crap if Simon lives or dies, it makes the whole idea of the story seem dumb. The story just goes flat, and is never really explained properly enough to succeed. It's a shame, too, because it was quite original and better than a lot of the other crap Konami thought up of.
Simon's Quest is by far the most BORING Castlevania game to ever be released, EVER. It makes some Barney games seem exciting by comparison sometimes. Here's the deal. Time passes during the game, which is a good concept. When it is daylight, the enemies are simple and the townspeople are normal, but when it is night time, the enemies become tougher and the people turn to zombies!
Geez, why can't we save THEM too while we're on this whole curse thing? And how come they turn into zombies and Simon doesn't? Just more storyline crap Konami didn't bother with. Also, they don't bother to remember that when someone has a curse, it's usually going to kick in sooner or later. Why can I walk around for 2 years without having anything bad happen to me? Why should we have to cure this guy if he isn't being affected by the curse?
The entire game revolves around you walking around various sections of land needing to find body parts. Completely gone is the excitement level, because there are no tricky puzzles or jumps to be made now. Instead of having to walk across winding clocks, you have to use crystals to kneel on the ground to open up new paths. It's so incredibly dumb and boring. There is no way in hell to know where to kneel, or how to open paths, so you'd have to play a guessing game or read Nintendo Power or a guide just to figure out what to do half the time. Wow, that sure beats precision jumping and tough bosses!
Speaking of bosses, why the heck are there so few bosses? Every Castlevania game, even the crappier ones, at least have a decent amount of bosses that look/are tough. Not this one, of course. It's ORIGINAL, you know. It literally takes hours to get to a boss, and once you face one, you'll kill him very quickly. Even Dracula at the end is incredibly easy and makes the whole tedious exercise seem totally pointless.
At least the controls are somewhat decent, which is a little bit of a plus. Controlling Simon is simple enough, as you use the directional buttons to move him around, and you have to control what items you carry via the menu screen by pressing pause. The trouble I always have with climbing stairs is present in this game as well, but I got used to it so it's not that big of a deal. The only thing I have to complain about the controls are that they are good and may fool you into wanting to play the game.
After destroying the gameplay, next on Konami's butchering list was the music, and they succeeded by making one of the worst soundtracks ever found in a Castlevania game. Not only do they not sound scary in the least, they are totally out of place for a Castlevania game. Only some of the music is good, but the rest is so incredibly bad that it makes the decent music seem like Mozart. The sound effects are decent, nothing you wouldn't expect to hear from a Castlevania game by now.
It may not feel like a Castlevania game, it may not sound like a Castlevania game, but by golly, it looks like a Castlevania game! And isn't that really all that counts anyways? All kidding aside, the game does look pretty good, although I prefer the look of the original over this. The game takes place in both the outdoors and in castles, and the outdoor exploration looks great, featuring a variety of enemy designs and background designs that look awesome. I hate how there's only about 8 enemies in the entire game, though. The castles don't look as good as they did in the original, but they're still decent.
You may want to replaySimon's Quest if you enjoy torturing yourself by playing games that claim to be one thing and instead turn out to be something different. This is no Castlevania game, it's not fun and it certainly doesn't feel like a game in a classic series. If you like walking around boring places talking to boring people and fighting boring enemies, this is the game for you. If you enjoy aimlessly wandering around kneeling with a crystal, I advise hunting this game down on eBay right now, because you don't want to miss a second. Those of you that want to enjoy a game should look elsewhere.
This may be the most annoyingly challenging game ever. It's not challenging because you have to face tough bosses or complete tough puzzles. You don't even have to do a decent amount of jumping. It's challenging because the game gives you items and doesn't tell you what you have to do with them. It's up to you to figure out how to open the new paths, and since some of the areas are so large, it literally takes hours to figure out what to do. Amazing how some game companies whine about players using guides, while releasing games like this.
There's absolutely no way Konami will ever be able to explain to the public why they released this filth. I think it would be wise that they re-release the series and pretend this game never came out. I called up Konami's office the other day and asked for a refund, and they replied with ''What's Simon's Quest? We never made a game called that, I think Ultra did or something. *click*'' It's not too often something like this slips through the cracks, so check it out based on that alone. Also, play it just to see how crappy a Castlevania game could be if you give Konami enough crack. Then, return this game to your local worst enemy and pretend it never existed. You'll be all the more better for doing so.
Or to sum it all up...
Simon's Quest: The alternative to sleeping pills.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/02, Updated 07/07/02
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