Review by WanderingSpirit
"A Journey Through Darkened Splendor"
I have journey far into the realm of Castlevania, ever finding a game that would captivate me as Simon's Quest for NES did. Alas, there was none. I ventured through the Bloodlines of the hunters and through the nights of symphonies sung before. Yet, the great epic adventures still hadn't impressed me as much as Simon's Quest. It was until two years ago when I finally found it, the game that my heart had been longing for. A final Castlevania game that stood out from all the others; and announce, just as SQ had once said, this is a different and original approach! I bought this game, having enjoyed playing Castlevania 64 (which was nothing compared to symphony of the night), hoping it would redeem itself. Many people question why this game was even made, having been considered an expansion pack. I will surely tell you why this game was made...
The best story I have ever heard from a game to bare the name Castlevania. It involves incidents that had happened, relating to the resurrection of Count Dracula. The game spans over a century, through four strangers lives, each with a motive to enter the wretched castle of Dracula. Lets begin with Cornell, a member of a clan of werewolves who are driven to rid the cursed land from Count Dracula, finding his village burnt to the ground and his sister kidnapped, only to leave behind her golden pendant. He is determined to find the reason behind his sister's death, only to find that the clan he was in actually served Dracula, and Dracula needed the soul of a girl to be sacraficed to form his superior self. And in the end, a part of Cornell's character is sacraficed in order to save his sister. One hundred years pass, and the followers gather to resurrect Dracula in an alternate form, that of another person in disguise. In order to successfully make Dracula immortal in the physical, they must capture four children and sacrafice them at his alter. This is when the second guy (i forget his name) comes in. He has seven days to free them before they are sacraficed, otherwise, the world is doomed. The day after the stranger frees the child, the last two people come in. Reinhardt Schnieder and Carrie Fernandez. They have seperate motives as well. Reinhardt is sent to destroy Dracula as being not only a bounty hunter who was paid, but also a cursed descendant of the Belmont clan. Fernendaz is after Dracula out of revenge for an awful event that happened to her in her life. The story goes a bit deeper than that. But the game plays as more of a drama than anything.
This is where the game is at it's best. Each characters are given a few of the same levels to play, say eight each, with four seperate levels for them to explore. The game branches off depending on who the player is, and their bosses (with the exception of Dracula) are different. Cornell plays through all levels and then some. The game serves as not only an action/adventure, but also a quest, and a strategy game. The game also acts as an RPG, enabling the player to buy X amount of items from a demon to aid them during their quest.
The game offers very huge levels spanning with pitfalls, gardens, clocktowers (of course!), and more. It also has a clock that constantly runs (yes! just like Simon's Quest!) That, when at night, creatures do become more powerful. The game also offers different weapons for each character and ways of fighting (no it isn't a huge massive deal where the characters perform combos, its the WAY they do battle). And the depth of the game is pretty deep. I would say it would take about twenty through thirty hours to beat the entire game with all the characters, and then theres alternate endings, costumes, and difficulties. And then the bosses are the best bosses I've seen in any Castlevania game to date.
The control isn't the best in the world, sometimes confusing sometimes understanding. Sometimes your freind and sometimes your enemy. The biggest complaint I have is that when walking on narrow passages over pits, you'd really have to take your time (but that one happens a little less than a handful of times during the whole game.)
The graphics are good. They are solid, hardly have popups. The frame rate isn't too slow, but it isn't very fast either, it's comfortable. The CG's are very good for an N64 game. The game appears to be more colorful than dark, but that's not saying a bad thing.
The sound effects are good in the game, the creatures have their own distinctive sounds, the different types of weapons also have different types of sounds. (no voice acting, except for a few parts)
The music is breathtaking, really fits the theme of 18th century Europe. Sometimes the mood of the songs could put one to sleep from total relaxation, while other times, the music could drive the person into the suspense of the game. The music is the games second best quality.
Replay Value: 8
The game is fun while it lasts, and then even after it lasts. But the game isn't good to play constantly, it will drain a gamer after the second time of completion. Yet, the game is great to play occassionally. It is the second best Castlevania game I have ever played. Just above Symphony and below Simon's Quest (which is the best).
Rent/Buy? BUY IT! Especially if you are a fan of Castlevania games. This game has been looked down by many readers because it seemed to be a clone of Castlevania 64. THIS IS NO CLONE. Konami sent out Castlevania 64 just as a money gimmick. If this version were to be sent out without castlevania 64, then this would be one of the most beloved games of the 64 era. To me, and many people who played this game, it is. Buy this game if you are lucky enough to find it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/06/03, Updated 03/06/03
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