Review by RageBot
Only one Castlevania game ever made it out of Nintendo's fierce grip in the early days, when Nintendo and Sega held strong on the console market and Sony still hadn't joined the fray. That is Castlevania Bloodlines for the Sega Genesis. Back then, Nintendo kept a strong censorship about religion, swears and gore, because games were thought to be only children's play. This is the only old-school common Castlevania game to be free of this claw of censorship.
This is the first Caslevania game ever to feature no Belmonts. Instead, you have the choice of two new characters - John Morris wields a whip, and he is the son of Quincy Morris, directly from Bram Stoker's novel. Nice way to tie the novel into the franchise. As the plot of Konami's games continues to twist and tangle, it is now official that John's whip is indeed the Vampire Killer. His friend is Eric Lecarde, and he wields a spear called Alcarde's Spear. This is a mistranslation of Alucard's Spear, which raises a lot of questions about the connection between the newfound spearman and Dracula's son.
It is also the first game not to take place in the distant past, as well as the first game to feature a lesser vampire that seeks the revival of the Count. This game takes place in 1917, during World War I. Countess Elizabeth Bartley, based on a real woman who lived back then, sets out to conjure darkness, in order to revive the Dark Lord. In this way, this game also ties in nicely with the history of the real world, blaming the real Bartley with the assassination that led directly to the great war. In order to hunt Bartley down, you travel all over Europe, yet another Castlevania first. Strange how both this game and its pseudo-sequel, Portrait of Ruin, are the only games to take you outside of Romania, however one's lesser vampire is on Dracula's side, and the other's lesser vampire opposes him.
This classic side-scroller has only six stages, like the original Castlevania on the NES, and they include several famous locations, such as the Versailles Palace in France, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, the Temple of Athena in Greece, and of course, the original Castle Dracula, which plays out exactly like the first stage in just about every other game. The levels are the most ingenious yet in a Castlevania game, featuring split paths where John must whip his way across the ceiling, while Eric must jump to higher ground, in order to continue. However, those areas are too few in my opinion.
Every stage but the last contains both a mid-boss and an end-boss. The end-bosses are all new faces, such as a robotic knight, a mechanical monstrosity of wheels and gears, and a giant moth that buzzes around. In the last stage, you fight three bosses consecutively. Death features a boss gauntlet, forcing you to fight three end-bosses from previous stages, before fighting you himself. Then you have a fast and furious battle with Bartley. and finally, you must face three forms of the Count, one by one.
The presentation sets the game to a whole new level. This is the first Castlevania game to feature blood, free from Nintendo's strict censorship. In one stage, a big fountain turns its water into blood, and blood-soaked skeletons, a Castlevania famous enemy, start chasing you around. Other stages feature torn-up bodies, puddles of blood, and other forms of gore that would not be approved on the SNES. When Eric dies, he throws his spear upwards, and his spear comes back down and impales his corpse. Also, this game has some great tracks that were remade time and time again in future Castlevania games. Unfortunately, this game suffers from a poor sound quality, almost as bad as Harmony of Dissonance, but this time, it's because of system limitations; The Sega Genesis in known for bad sound quality.
All in all, this is decent enough a game, but it is not a reason enough to buy a Sega Genesis. However, if you already own such a console, or want to play other Genesis games, go ahead and get this game.
Final grade: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/14/11, Updated 10/03/11
Game Release: Castlevania: Bloodlines (US, 03/17/94)
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