Review by Dogg

"Belmont ancestors take on Dracula. Let's give these guys a round of applause."

Castlevania: Bloodlines is a game heavily misinterpreted; it is also the only Castlevania title to have ever graced the Sega Genesis console. Being released near the same time as the exuberant Super Castlevania IV and the mythical Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Bloodlines was a highly unknown title to people who were caught up in the new age of Dracula-slaying gaming. But Bloodlines is just as strong and as remembering as both of those titles and is also one game a huge Castlevania buff shouldn’t be without.

Now I’m going to round down the story into short segments that detail the main characters in this game:

THE GOOD GUYS

John Morris—Proud son of Quincy Morris, a vampire slayer who destroyed the evil Dracula back in 1897. By killing Dracula, Quincy also sacrificed his own life—for the well-being of his son. However, John and his friend, Eric Lecarde, witnessed this event. John saw his dad die just for him to be happy and ever since then good old John has taken pride in being a vampire slayer of his own. He is a master of the whip—can’t swing it in many directions like the legendary Simon Belmont—but he’s still a little bit good with it. With whip in hand and with knowledge that Dracula is said to return thanks to an evil countess, John is ready to defend for his father’s and his own life in anyways possible.

Eric Lecarde—Childhood friend of John’s. Having witnessed the death of Dracula and of Quincy Morris, Eric himself also became a vampire slayer. Instead of going with the 19th century whip, this Spanish man carries the Alcarde Spear, a legendary weapon that Eric uses to his amazing limit. Eric is also joining this suicide mission in order to get back at the evil force of Dracula and the countess because of the primary thought of what happened to his girlfriend, Gwendolyn, who was evilly murdered.

THE DEAD GUYS

Quincy Morris—A valiant Texan who wanted to put a stop to the king of evil, Count Dracula, back in 1887. He also had two partners, Jonathan Harker and Dr. Van Helsing, who also vowed to help out Morris in taking out the evil force of Dracula and his demonic minions. And in the end Morris finally killed Dracula by stabbing him into the heart. However, too many wounds had soon killed this powerful warrior and far into the distance both his son and his son’s friend had witnessed Dracula’s death, and his own. They were both shocked but they knew that Quincy Morris had done the right thing.

THE BAD GUYS

Countess Elizabeth Bartley—A heinous bitch is all I’ll say. Nonetheless, this Countess was killed off early in her life for murdering a man—blood scathing on her lips and teeth, while more was dripped all over the floor. But soon an amateur witch by the name of Drolta Tzuentes, who was practicing black magic, brought her back to life. Then Elizabeth planned on resurrecting her now dead uncle, Dracula. First she had to travel all over Europe, getting help from all the scourging powers of evil. And then, Dracula would have been back. Elizabeth also has more abilities. Like some master vampires, Bartley has the power to change her appearance (any of ya’ll remember Vampire in Brooklyn). At times she can even make it look like there are over four of her, each getting power for her oncoming transformation. Powerful, but she must be beaten from our heroes or else she and Dracula would spread evil throughout the world.

The Evil Spirit, Death—Dracula’s most trusted buddy also plans on taking down our heroes. But he has a deep surprise this time, a card game that tests how strong you truly are. Tempting; sure is.

The king of vampires, Dracula—Being stabbed to the heart in 1887, Dracula’s had some hard times (he was even defeated by his half-vampire, half-human son, Alucard). Now having a chance of being resurrected by his niece, Dracula is taking no hands lying down. Hated by all and loved by none, Dracula is back. And if the heroes of this tale don’t destroy him, then for the first time evil will prevail.

Evil Gets An Upgrade!

Castlevania: Bloodlines as you see has an engaging story, but its gameplay is far better. Like in Castlevania 3 (to some extent) you can pick from which two characters you want to play with. By picking John Morris you will do what you do in many other Castlevania games; slay baddies with a leather whip. And if you pick Eric Lecarde you will take on the army of darkness with a sharp spear; a very powerful one actually that can also strangely build up rage inside old Eric. Which character you pick—that’s up to you. It’s obvious that Eric’s more or less the better one to pick, but John Morris is also pretty good here and there.

As one of these characters you will have to go throughout Europe defeating the evil precursors that Bartley has laid out to you. Some major landmarks are presented in this game. Places like the Atlantis Shrine in Greece are present, not to mention the wobbly towers of Pisa, Italy. There are six levels in this game, and while that does not appear to be a lot—don’t worry each levels depth is amazing, not to mention that each is carefully planned out to the full extent.

While you are probably thinking, ''oh, six levels; I’ll finish this game in no time.'' Wrong Buster-Brown the levels in Castlevania: Bloodlines (while small in numbers) are filled with hardcore difficulty. A misplaced jump can easily lead to your death, or if you lose your balance you will then drown in the deep waters of the Atlantis Shrine or worse fall down to the wasteland in the Munitions Factory. If things get too difficult, there is an alternative. In the Options menu you can select your choice of difficulty (either Easy, Normal, or Hard) and your choice of players (from one through five). And if you die in these levels you can use the password system implemented in this game. The password system, however, keeps track of your remaining lives once you finished a level. So let’s say you beat the first level, the destroyed Dracula castle, but you died a couple of times while playing it. The password system will keep track of that and whenever you enter the password to take you to the next level you will have the same amount of lives as you did the last time you were playing.

To further help you out in your short, but difficult quest are the game’s secondary sub-weapons. Obtained by breaking down rusty candles, these weapons can be used as an alternative to your already powerful weapons. In Bloodlines three of these powerful sub-weapons are available: the boomerang, the axe, and the Holy Water vials.

The control in Bloodlines is spot-on. The D-Pad moves you around right and left, the A button makes you attack, the C button makes you use the secondary sub-weapons, and the B button makes you jump. Simple, right?

Aside from your characters are the enemies. Enemies in this game look great and each one does some sort of a different act. One enemy—a Minotaur—uses his strong energetic power to raise a column from a building and he has no fret on using this column and his own triumphant force against you. Some enemies will even regenerate their now destroyed bodies, while other ones—like the annoying Medusa Heads—will sway around the area hoping in their clouded, dark minds that they will attack you. The bosses and mid-bosses are all an intriguing sight too. The first mid-boss, the Hell Hound (or Cerberus to some), will go off and fire huge amounts of fire against you. If his flames miss, then he’ll use his next best attack: his howl. By howling he will break the windows in the background and their glass will shatter to the floor and if you step on it you will become a bloody son of a gun. Survive this and soon you will go up against the boss of the first level; a walking, spear-toting robot. By hitting it its parts will fall off and once it is completely naked victory is as good as yours.

And as you can see—Presentation is most certainly the name of the game. Backgrounds are vibrant, character designs are colorful, and level designs, furthermore, are exuberant and greatly animated. Hell, I would not be surprised if this was the best-looking Sega Genesis game yet.

The audio is also surprisingly good. Most of it is very melancholy and glum; and yes that is a good thing—to me at least. There is also a strident and heroic inspirational rendition to the Simon Belmont theme (You know who Simon is, right?). My favorite little music theme is when you beat the level and you hear a quick melodic tune that gives you a smile in your face that you actually beat that level. Another favorite of mine is the “Requiem for the Nameless Souls” theme that plays in the end credits. There are also ‘hidden’ themes once you get special-power-ups and these themes, the Vampire Killer and Bloody Tears, are bloody damn good. This is most definitely the most imposing music I’ve ever heard in a Castlevania game.

Overall, Bloodlines may not very well be the best Castlevania game in existence, but it is still one of the better ones. With an excellent story line, superb gameplay, responsive controls, great graphics, and masterful music, Bloodlines can easily be the best Genesis game to date. It’s far from perfect, though. Some small difficulty woes, lack of sub-weapons and their use, and short length are all things that bring this game down. Nonetheless, though, you owe it to yourself to go give Bloodlines a try. You won’t be let down, I promise.

Final Score: 9


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/02, Updated 09/03/02


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