Castlevania: The Adventure
Review by Bkstunt_31
"Dracula has spread to the Game Boy!"
There's something to be said for being the first to do something... and Castlevania: The Adventure can surely claim to be the FIRST handheld Castlevania (and there have been a LOT of handheld Castlevania games made as I write this, three each on the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS). Just because its the first doesn't mean its good though, so if you have an itch to play through some Castlevania history and are wondering what THIS game is like, read on!
The game really doesn't have much of a story (or a back-story to be honest). You take on the role of Christopher Belmont (an ancestor of Simon's) and you must face down and destroy Dracula, as is your destiny. Pretty cut and dry. To be fair though, the only real Castlevania to have any sort of back-story at the time was Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse hadn't even been RELEASED yet (this game is OLD, having been released in 1989!).
Ok, so hardly any story... not TOO big of a deal for a Game Boy game, especially one that is over twenty years old. Onto the game play! The game spans FOUR stages, and pretty much features you traveling from screen to screen, fighting your way past Dracula's minions to the end of the stage to fight a boss. You'll be fighting with your trust whip (the Vampire Killer) the whole time, but it can gain and lose strength! Collect a crystal to power it up (up to two levels, the second level granting you a fireball range attack), but if you get hit you'll LOSE a level. Christopher has a health bar to show how much damage you've taken. Speaking of Christopher, he is NOT mobile at all! Expect the stiff movements and horrible jumping abilities that you've come to expect from early Castlevania titles. Heck, Christopher can't even use his whip when he climbs up ropes! And yes, you are going to HATE that fact...
Each stage is timed, so you have to get a move on to beat each stage. As you fight your way past Dracula's minions you'll be earning a score (making this game more of a score-based title than anything else). You'll also come across candles that you can destroy to find items, such as coins (more points), hearts (which restore your health), and 1-UP icons (gives you another life). Speaking of lives, Christopher only has so many lives before he dies (3), but you can continue right in the same stage that you died in (which is nice).
All in all, the game play is REALLY simple. However, Christopher's slowness and lack of mobility is REALLY frustrating, especially considering how PRECISE you need to be to survive in this game. And you NEED to be precise, as the game is brutally difficult. The third stage in particular is VERY unforgiving as spiked walls chase you and kill you with any mistake. Nothing screams "stop playing me!" like constant death.
The graphics in the game are good for their time, with smooth animations and good enemy designs. The stages themselves are pretty bland, but the graphics as a whole are good. The music in the game surprised me with how good it was. That first track ("Battle of the Holy" according to YouTube) is fantastic. The other tracks are quite good as well (not as good as the first one, except maybe "Revenge"), so you're going to want to turn up the sound while you play.
Being only four stages long, you're not going to spend a LOT of time with this game. Assuming you make it past the third stage, that is. The game starts over on stage one when you beat it, and calls it stage five so I think it's safe to assume that they did that to make the game harder. I should also mention that this game was RE-RELEASED on the Nintendo Wii's "Wii ware" service as "Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth". I haven't personally tried it, but it may be looking into!
Castlevania: The Adventure is a fairly average game... mired in poor character mobility and obscene difficulty. It's something that only true Castlevania fans are going to want to play, to be honest, but now you know! Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/12
Game Release: Castlevania: The Adventure (US, December 1989)
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