Review by Raiden

"A gaming 'riddle'--when should you review the game?"

I'd like to start this review with a riddle: how long should you wait to review a game? Should you try to review a game after playing through the whole thing, or should you only review the game, based on the parts of the game that you HAVE played and thus been able to beat, while not being able to comment on the rest? If you were too bored or frustrated with the parts of the game you COULD get through, is that enough information to tell gamers it's not worth it to try to play the whole game even if it could get more fun toward the end?

These are but a few of the likely questions wracking my brain as I write this review for Castlevania: The Adventure. (This is NOT really a riddle, btw, because a riddle usually has a definite answer once it's figured out or only 2 contrasting answers/opinions, but if I called it a gaming puzzle, you might think I meant a puzzle game like Tetris, or if I called it a gaming ISSUE, you might think I meant an issue of Gamepro or some other gamer's magazine :-P
But this question is an issue that can be debated, as I am even debating with myself still as I write this...)

I ask myself these questions, you see, because my problem is, I would RATHER review the whole game, but I never made it that far, and I doubt I'll get much further through it in the future, if at all...:(

Plot (4): I don't think a plot is that important in most games, except games like RPGs, which I'm still too chicken to try! This means I don't really include this as part of the score, but I wanted to rate it, for anyone who's curious what I think (and since many other reviewers feel like they have to rate it).

The plot is very typical: following every 100 years of rest, Dracula is able to re-emerge powerful (powerfully?) enough to rise from his grave and wreak havoc throughout Translyvania (and perhaps beyond that land), and a member of the Belmont family always manages to step up to the challenge of defeating him and sending him back to his grave for another century. I gave the plot a 4 instead of an average score of 5 because the plot is NOT explained in this game, itself, but rather, I relied upon the somewhat common knowledge of the Castlevania games to explain what's happening. This plot is also very typical for this game series, although I think it's a pretty good, all-encompassing explanation for having so many sequels and variations of each game on each different system.

Graphics (7): I got SO sick of the old Gameboy white-and-creamed-spinach-colored graphics that I started to HATE Gameboy, and esp. after having picked up the AWESOME Nomad, a.k.a., the portable Genesis, many years later. On the other hand, I enjoyed the Gameboy a lot overall, and I seem to be one of the FEW people who admired Gameboy's graphics, despite its 'pixel' and color limitations.

I personally think Chris (or whoever) Belmont looks pretty cool, and his stance never bothered me (or Simon's, in C IV on snes). He seems rather large. The enemies look decent to me and I kept in mind not to expect too much from a Gameboy game, and that helped me like the graphics :) I thought the backgrounds were pretty cool and contributed to a nice, dark mood, although I admit I often forget to consider the backgrounds because I usually just focus on the characters, which I think matters more anyway, and because I usually just look at the backgrounds if I'm at a point in the game in which I'm not distracted by a challenge, or if I'm looking to the backgrounds for a sign of my progress with my journey (i.e., if the scenery changes, I've probably completed a sublevel and will now face a new/different challenge).

The only REAL problem for me was being able to sort out the dark enemies from the background, such as the black bats, as some of my fellow reviewers have dually noted. It was all too easy to step on one of them after it perches on a nearby ledge, cliff, etc., and that means taking damage I CANNOT afford to lose...

Music/Sound (8): Since I didn't get far into the game, I can only comment on what I heard from presumably HALF of the game's music. The music was very well done in levels 1 and 2, although they can get repetitive after a bit...

The sound seemed decent but not memorable (which is rapidly becoming my favorite adjective for my reviews of games from systems that are below the 16-bit level).

Control (6): I want to point out something ironic here, imo: it's not that the controls are BAD, in terms of Christopher Belmont not responding properly when you tell him to jump, attack, etc., but that the controls are nearly WORTHLESS. It's true that you often have to press B in advance when trying to attack an opponent, which feels unnatural, but the main gripe I've got with this game is that this particular Belmont is so PATHETIC, he might as well NOT be responding to your controller commands! He's so much slower than many of his enemies and such a poor jumper that he makes an EASY target for his proverbial predators, as well as for traps and 'pits' that he must avoid by jumping or dodging. Even if he had an easier time literally whipping his enemies to defeat them (and defend himself), it wouldn't matter, because he's such a weakling and no match for most of his enemies. Let's face it but this guy might as well put a bright-red bulls-eye on his shirt or armor or whatever. Too bad a CROSS couldn't work against a vamp this powerful...

Getting used to the controls can help, and it takes skill to navigate the various levels and defeat their respective residents, but it's just SO easy to screw up, because the sense of timing required for jumping and attacking is VERY tight...so it's not a lack of responsiveness but rather the bizarre controls and limited abilities of C. Belmont HIMSELF that makes this game so frustrating!

Gameplay (6): This game may seem fun at first, but you'll notice it can get very repetitive. It's a very HARD and unforgiving game, as you get 3 lives total and must search like the dickens to find extra lives, which usually aren't worth the risk of taking more damage from enemies. I think you get a continue, but when you realize that you have to start a level ALL over again and put up with taking damage from enemies left and right that you're too damn slow to dodge, such as by bumping into the often-invisible bats, continues will seem utterly useless...couldn't the Belmont family find someone ELSE to whom to bestow the honor of cracking the mighty whip; that vanquisher of evil and punisher of the goth lifestyle (jk)? Finally, you don't really get any weapons except whip power-ups....joy...good luck keeping that flame whip since your whip gets downgraded once, each time you take an inevitable hit!

Replay Value (6): This category usually depends on your skill: beat it too easily (this game? yeah right!) and you'll be bored with the 4 short levels that the game presumably offers, or (more likely), try to get past even HALF of the game without ripping your hair out, pondering why Chris Belmont thought he stood a change against the Prince of Darkness (that's Drac's nickname and not Jack Nicholson or someone else's, right?!). Well, I still have all of my hair, but...I was TEMPted!

Overall (6): Whoa! I just made a funny typo and wrote (60) for this section! :Þ I hope my scoring adds up to this 6, because that's what I feel the game deserves. I'd recommend buying this game if you can find it for less than $7 plus tax, which I paid, if you're tired of playing games that wind up offering little challenge, but ESP. if you're a dire-hard Castlevania fan. I've only played 2 Castlevania games, and I enjoyed Super Castlevania on SNES a lot more, even though I decided that 99% (meaning except for one enemy or 1 section of a sub-level) was too easy to master once you learned all the tricks of the trade.

In conclusion, I'd like to address the 'riddle' I mentioned at the start of this review and compare it to another supposed, well-known riddle: if a tree fell down in the woods and no one heard it fall, did it make a sound? My answer to both questions is 'yes' (i.e., use scientific equipment to prove evidence of soundwaves emitted from the tree's destruction or something), but I may always question whether I made the right choice. ~Raiden/Nick


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/03, Updated 01/06/03


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