"An outstanding Castlevania game, and the only one ever to be released on the Sega Genesis"

Castlevania: Bloodlines was released for the Sega Genesis in 1994, and it was the only Castlevania game that made it on Genesis. Even though it was highly unnoticed at its time, it proves to be a worthy addition the other amazing games from the series and one of the best action/adventure games on the Genesis. It was also one of the first of the series to be uncensored in its US release. Although Konami had to deal with many limitations that the Genesis had that some other consoles from that time, such as the SNES, did not deal with, they were still able to deliver a very solid game. Throughout this review, you will learn about all of the things that make this game so awesome.

Story:

This game takes place in the early 1900's, a couple of years after Dracula was slain by a man known as Quincy Morris (who was from Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, and is apparently a Belmont by blood), who also died afterwards. Elizabeth Bartley, a niece of Dracula who was killed off for having a relation to him hundreds of years prior to the event of this game, was resurrected recently, and now plans to exact vengeance on humanity by resurrecting the Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula. However, instead of traditionally creating large forces to fight off the heroes from one castle alone, she has requested aid from evil forces from all over Europe, in places like Greece, Italy, France, and Germany, to stop anyone who decides to wreck her plans. John Morris, a descendant of Quincy Morris, and Eric Lecarde, another vampire hunter who witnessed the death of Quincy, have decided to take action against this, and plan to travel all around Europe, to famous sights such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and even to the old ruins of the castle we all know and love, Castlevania. You play as these two characters in the game, and their in-game characteristics will be further discussed in the gameplay evaluation. All in all, Castlevania: Bloodline's story is quite good, but nothing too breath-taking.
Story's Score: 7/10

Gameplay:

This is definitely the game's strongest point. Castlevania: Bloodlines plays like most other Castlevania games; you fight against enemies with a weapon, which you can upgrade by getting certain items in the game, along with other items that can be used to deal damage against enemies. In this game, you are able to upgrade you weapon into a fourth level instead of the usual 3, which greatly improves the power of your weapon, but it only lasts until you get hit. Also, unlike the previous Castlevania games before it, Castlvania: Bloodlines allows you to select between two completely different characters (who were mentioned in the "Story" section) to play throughout the game. First, you have John Morris, who uses the traditional Vampire Killer whip as his main weapon, and then there is Eric Lecarde, who possesses the Alcarde Spear as his primary weapon. Both of these characters have different traits that give them an advantage over the other character. I have made a comparison between these two characters in the next two sections of this category.

John Morris: His Vampire Killer is a lot stronger than Eric's Alcarde Spear, and it can attack a little faster (unless you upgraded the whip to its special state, which makes it more powerful but a lot slower), but it cannot deliver damage to as much area as the spear (in other words, if you were to attack a pile of bone pillars with John while ducking, he will only damage one of them, while if you attacked them with Eric while ducking, he can damage two of them). He is able to attack in 5 directions while in the air (forward, downward, diagonally upward, and the exact same when facing the other direction), which is quite useful for attacking enemies that are quite high up in the air, but he can only attack in two directions on ground. He has a whip-swinging skill similar to that of Simon Belmont's in Super Castlevania 4, but instead of just grabbing onto rings, John can grab onto any ceiling, which enable him to jump to horizontally far areas if the chance becomes available. Unfortunately, you don't have as much control over how he swings as you do over how Simon swings in Super Castlevania 4, for he can only swing forward once his whip hits a ceiling, but that is not much of a problem.

Eric Lecarde: His Alcarde Spear seems a little weaker and attacks a lot slower than the Vampire Killer, but it can perform more maneuvers than the Vampire Killer can. First of all, on the ground, Eric can attack in 5 different directions (forward, diagonally upwards, upwards, and the same when facing the other way), as well as spin his spear around him to attack nearby enemies (which is not as useful as it sounds), and attack in 3 directions in the air (forward, downward, and forward in the other direction). Also, as stated in John's section, Eric's Spear can deliver damage to more area than the Vampire Killer, even though it is not that much, but it can be useful for some points, such as destroying the piles of bone pillars that appear throughout the game. Finally, to rival John's whip swing, Eric can use his spear to spring himself into the air a lot higher than he could jump by making him duck and pressing the jump button in that position, allowing him to access areas that John could never reach.

For both characters, you still have your traditional items you could pick up for weapons, such as the axe, the boomerang (which replaced the cross), and the holy water, along with a couple of items taken out, such as the stopwatch (which wasn't very useful, anyway), and the knife. Along with that, you can get two new special items that can only be received when you upgrade your weapon to the fourth level. The special item you can get for John is some sort of electrical beam that travels along the screen, aiming for enemies, while the special item you can get for Eric is a wave of green, circular orbs that travel throughout the area to harm any enemies on screen.

It seems a lot easier to play the whole game with Eric Lecarde than it is to play with John Morris, so I'd suggest that you play as Eric if you are new to the game or if this is your first Castlevania you've played. However, people who prefer the traditional Vampire Killer may prefer John, who does make certain parts of the game easier, such as when you battle against certain aerial enemies.

There are only 6 levels in total within this game, which may sound very short, but they are quite big and slightly longer than most levels in the other Castlevania games, so it evens things out a little.

Basically, the gameplay is extremely good in this game.
Score: 10/10

Graphics:

Castlevania: Bloodlines does very well in the graphics department for a Genesis game, and since the Genesis was able to run games a lot faster than systems like the SNES at the time, the game plays a lot faster and seems to animate a lot smoother than the other Castlevania games from that time. You could tell Konami put a lot of work in this area to appeal to gamers, as they have implemented techniques that made it look like the Mode 7 effect from the SNES was applied in certain areas of the game (like the top of the Tower of Pisa). However, because the Genesis could only support a very limited amount of colours, some things will look a lot stranger than they should, such as Eric's hair being green in his game sprite when his hair should be blonde, like it was displayed in the intro. This game was also the first of the Castlevania series to be uncensored in outside of Japan, which means that you will actually see some of your enemies bleed as they are defeated or, in the case of the spear-wielding bird creatures from the Tower of Pisa level, when you strike a blow to a certain part of them. The level designs sometimes make little to no sense, especially in the level with the Tower of Pisa (sometimes, the tower is leaning, and sometimes, it suddenly becomes straight), which is not too much of a problem, but you may find it odd, sometimes. However, there are some cool designs implemented into the levels in the game, such as the first few parts of the first level, which has the same design as the level design of the first level from the original Castlevania, sending a slight feeling of nostalgia towards old-school Castlevania fans. This game offers great graphics for a Genesis game, but don't expect something like Super Castlevania 4.
Score: 9/10

Sound:

Due to the Genesis' poor sound capabilities, you will hear a bunch of cheesy sound effects coming out from this game. Examples of such cheesy sounds include the quacking crows, beeping chain whips from the Vampire Killer (even the NES games had a more realistic sound for them), and that strange quacking to cowbell ringing noise that is made whe you use Eric's level 4 spear. There are some very good sound effects coming from certain parts of the game, such as the scream that Elizabeth Bartley makes when you defeat her. However, due to the fact that a lot of the sound effects don't make much sense, this game certainly lacks in this department.
Score: 6/10

Music:

Even with the low sound capabilities of the Sega Genesis, Konami shows that it can produce games with great music like they always do. Some classic tunes, like "Vampire Killer", "Bloody Tears", and "Beginning", make a return (they can be accessed by a code that should be listed on the Codes and Secrets section of Castlevania: Bloodlines on this site), along with a set of brand new tunes that are equally as good. Some good ones, in particular, include the "Sinking Old Sanctuary" (level 2) and "Calling from the Heavens" (level 6), and they fit very well with their respective levels, as they set a very clear mood for each of them, whether they are intended to sound Gothic or heroic. Unfortunately, since the sound capabilities are rather poor on the Genesis, the tunes can sometimes sound strange on certain parts.
Score: 9/10

Replay:

The only replaying you would most likely do is probably to play as the character that you didn't originally select to beat the game or to play in a harder difficulty than the last time you went through the game (unless you started off with expert mode). Afterwards, there isn't much of a point to play the game again unless you really just enjoy playing it through, like me.
Score 6/10

In conclusion, if you are able to find this game for sale anywhere (which is not very likely), I would recommend that you buy it, for it is a really solid game and an awesome addition to an already awesome series.

Overall Score: 9/10 (not an average)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/05, Updated 06/29/05


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