Review by Phediuk
"I don't think Konami was really trying with this one."
In the early days of the Game Boy, it was common for companies to take a popular NES series was the hot item of the day and release a really crappy, watered-down Game Boy version of it. This syndrome unfortunately affected such prestigious series as Mario, Mega Man and Metroid. Hell, with the Kirby series, it happened in reverse. And in an even rarer exception, Zelda: Link's Awakening even managed to nearly match its console counterpart.
Unfortunately, Castlevania Adventure is not one of those rare exceptions.
In 1989, the Game Boy had just been released, and the NES was in its prime. Castlevania was one of the most well-known series around at the time, having a grand total of two-and a bit later, three-NES installments. So what's a Konami to do? Why, release a crappy, watered-down Castlevania game on the new system, of course.
Castlevania Adventure opens with an explosive, exciting introduction-the Konami logo followed by a title screen saying "The Castlevania Adventure". I don't know why the game calls itself "The Castlevania Adventure" while everyone else calls it "Castlevania: The Adventure", but it probably has something to do with my massive manhood.
Since the game gives you about as much storyline as having no storyline can give you, I decided to refer to the instruction booklet. After explaining to me how to turn my Game Boy on, I encountered this text:
"Now you're in the misty midst of Dracula's less than welcoming lair. Theres
no place to hide. No place to run. the only direction you can go is "dead"
ahead into the darkness that is CastleVania."
Notice that pun with the word "dead" there. See, there's a dual meaning. They're referring to the phrase "dead ahead" as meaning "straight ahead", but the use of quotation marks around the word "dead" suggests that they are in fact referring to the literal definition of "not living". Or...wait! It could mean both! You notice something new every time you read it! Man, that is clever. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, the booklet never really elaborates on the plot, and instead decides to throw hilarious puns at you while delivering a thinly-veiled walkthrough of the game.
In Castlevania Adventure, you take control of Christopher Belmont, the grandfather of Simon "I Can't Jump On Stairs" Belmont. But you'd never know this by reading the instruction booklet or by playing the game. Amazingly, Christopher didn't even receive a name until the sequel to Castlevania Adventure, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge. In fact, neither the booklet nor the game ever even acknowledge that your character is a Belmont. But since this game was made back in the day when Konami didn't really care about keeping the intricate Castlevania timeline intact, I'm willing to overlook the plot deficiencies.
Besides, it's not like you care about the plot in a Castlevania game. All you know is that you're in a whippy mood, and a bunch of monsters are in your way.
In fact, you'd better be in a really whippy mood, because that's all you do in Castlevania Adventure. That's right: there are no subweapons, magic, item crashes, or any forms of attack besides whipping in this game. Does it sound repetitive? It's not. It's mind-numbingly dull. I can't believe that Konami would have such a whip-heavy game and not let me use my huge wang as a substitute. But you can't win 'em all, I suppose.
Unfortunately, the fact that you only have one form of attack is only one of the game's major problems. The other is its speed. That is to say, its lack of it. Christopher moves with all the agility of a quadriplegic snail with cerebral palsy. This is, without a doubt, the slowest platformer I have ever played. It seriously takes 15 seconds to walk the length of the Game Boy screen. I understand that the reason for Konami doing this likely had to do with reducing motion blur, which is common in Game Boy games, and to cut down on slowdown.
The problem is, the developers failed miserably on both counts. This is one of the blurriest Game Boy games I've ever played; every time you move, it's like somone smeared Vaseline all over the screen. You're virtually blind. Granted, this isn't a problem when you're playing on an emulator, since you have a high-res monitor in front of you instead of the pea-soup GB schlock, but then Konami doesn't have a very good excuse for making the game so dreadfully slow, now does it, wise-ass?
Aside from that, the game suffers from slowdown. Badly. Really badly. Whenever there's more than one enemy on screen, the game slows to half its normal speed-which is difficult to comprehend, given how pokey it is to begin with.
Given how sluggishly you move, it would seem sensible that Konami cut down on the previous games' platforming elements, since there's nothing more annoying than falling to your death because your character is a total lardass. The bad news is that Konami didn't do that. Instead, there are far more death-defying leaps in Castlevania Adventure than in any of the NES games.
In other platformer reviews, you may have read about having to make "pixel-perfect jumps". I'm glad to inform you that this phrase is an exaggeration for every game except Castlevania Adventure. Indeed, this is the only game I've ever played where platforms are placed absolutely as far away as possible-down to the pixel-from each other on a regular basis. Granted, the distance between them is only about three widths of Christopher's body.
The bad part?
That's exactly how far Christopher jumps. It seems like you're back on the ground before you've even left it when you jump in Castlevania Adventure. This will lead to many, many deaths until you get the hang of jumping at the very last pixel. In case you haven't inferred from the last few paragraphs, the level design in Castlevania Adventure is not stellar.
Even worse than the game's platforming from hell is its collision detection, which should really be named "thin air is deadly" for Castlevania Adventure. You will die many times because the game decides that you're "close enough" to an enemy and damages you, making you run out of health and/or fall into a bottomless pit. This is especially noticeable during the game's whopping four boss battles, when your enemy seems to be able to hurt you by virtue of you being on the same screen as it.
Luckily, Castlevania Adventure is mercifully short, with only a meager four levels standing between the title screen and the wholly unsatisfying ending (and, by the way, I counted only seven different names during the credits, not including the special thanks-understaffed much, developers?)
Unfortunately, due to the game's multitude of gameplay issues and cheap deaths, playing all the way through Castlevania Adventure on cartridge would be tantamount to drilling a nail through your head.
Perhaps the climax of Castlevania Adventure's crappiness is in Stage 3, in which you're chased by a wall of spikes throughout almost the whole level. Christopher is only barely capable of outrunning them, and touching them at all means instant death and doing it all over again. At one point, the spikes even chase you up a long vertical shaft (no, not my willy, but thanks for the compliment), during which time you must:
1. Make many of the aforementioned pixel-perfect jumps I mentioned earlier, some on platforms that collapse as soon as you step on them.
2. Take out all the enemies on the way up, because they're all conveniently right in your path. If you're hit by one of them, you're very likely to fall down, hit the spikes, and die.
3. Progress fast enough to outrun the spikes. In order to do this, you must execute this part perfectly. Screw up one jump, and you're almost certain to be killed by the spikes.
4. You must do this all while dealing with unbelievably poor controls and collision detection.
...You get the point, right? Just thinking about Stage 3 makes me glad I have a suicide note in my back pocket.
Let's move onto non-gameplay fronts for now. This may not be a huge shock to you after finding out that the game is a complete piece of crap, but Castlevania Adventure is one of the worst-looking Game Boy games out there. Christopher has two frames of animation for walking, one for jumping, one for ducking, and another two for whipping. That's it. Slap on some sparse backgrounds, generic monster designs (even Dracula himself looks bored), and horrendous slowdown, and it looks like the graphics designers just said "screw it" and blew chunks on the screen.
There is one good thing I can say about Castlevania Adventure: the music is good. Quite good. Aside from the annoying and repetitive Stage 2 theme, everything here is very catchy and memorable. It's good to see that at least one Castlevania trademark is still intact here. In fact, given their quality, I'm surprised that none of these songs have ever been remixed in another Castlevania. *hint, hint, Konami*
But alas, a good soundtrack does not a good game make, and Castlevania Adventure is otherwise one of the worst games I have ever played. If you want that classic, tight combat with smart level design and a cool gothic theme, stay the hell away from Castlevania Adventure, and go play Symphony of the Night already. Either that, or marvel at my enormous wang. *pelvic thrust*
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/05
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