Review by matt91486

"This was my first experience with Castlevania...and to this day it remains my best"

OPENING STATEMENT
While delving through my extensive collection of Super Nintendo games, I came across Super Castlevania 4. I recalled that it was one of my favorite games for an extensive period of time, so I popped it into my trusty Super Nintendo to see if it was as good as I remembered it. I am happy to say it is better than I remembered it.

GAMEPLAY--7
Super Castlevania 4 is one of the most straightforward action games ever created. I am at a loss wondering how Konami weaseled Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which basically is a straightforward adventure game out of this action game.

Although is a very straight forward action game, that hardly means it is mindless. Actually, Super Castlevania 4 is one of the only side scrolling action games that you really need to constantly think in. If there is an enemy that you cannot defeat, try another weapon besides your whip. Sometimes that kind of thinking can get you past a very frustrating spot in Super Castlevania 4

Speaking of other weapons besides your whip, which is upgradeable, an excellent feature, there are many. And you will find these other weapons quite frequently throughout Super Castlevania 4. The downside of all of these weapons is that you can only carry one at a time, and if you pick up another one when you have a secondary weapon, Super Castlevania 4 will automatically make your character discard the first weapon. The secondary weapon always involve throwing. Some of the secondary weapons that I have come across are throwing knives, throwing axes, and a kind of a boomerang that seems to be made out of a Chinese star.

GRAPHICS--4
The graphics, which Konami usually does so well, are just average. The graphics really do have their strong points and weak points. On the weak side, Simon Belmont, your main character, thank you for that tidbit Runinruder, does not really look like a character. At times she looks, and moves, like an oddly colored statuette. The enemies, however, look quite good. They are basically enemies from the night and Halloween. Unfortunately their animation is just as bad as the main character’s animation.

On a lighter and happier note, the environments look excellent, something that always seems to be true in Konami’s Super Nintendo games. The castles look highly detailed, as do the gardens, especially the gardens in the first stage. What I did not fully understand about the graphics, though, is why there are little torch-like candles absolutely everywhere, even outdoors in the gardens. Other than that odd little bit, I thought the environments in Super Castlevania 4 were spectacular.

MUSIC--10
SOUND--6

This music is breathtaking. Everything that Konami needed to learn for the spectacular score in Suikoden is evident, and they have been practicing those spectacular sounds here. The sounds are nearly perfect, orchestral, depressing and gloomy songs that heighten Super Castlevania 4’s atmosphere great deals. The songs seem to be very low in the sound pyramid as well, which does an excellent job of making the songs more and more depressing.

The sound effects are also improved from previous Konami outings. They really do pale in comparison to the music though. The noises for the weapons, especially those for the whip, are the best in Super Castlevania 4. The weapon noises really enhance the medieval feel, and really make me feel like I am there. The other sound effects, especially those that involve interaction with the environments need some work. Many of them sound like a wooden spoon striking a frying pan.

CONTROL--6
I have perhaps more problems with the controller configuration in Super Castlevania 4 than in any other games. Someone please tell me why ‘A’ and ‘X’ are doing nothing, while ‘R’ is being the secondary weapon. ‘L’ does nothing either so it really does not make all that much sense. Other than the weird placement of the secondary weapon, the controls are not all that bad. ‘Y’ uses the primary weapon, like it does in so many action games, and ‘B’ causes Simon to jump. Simon responds well to all of your commands, except climbing stairs. Simon is a little bit temperamental when it comes to those stairs, and moving up stairs in Super Castlevania 4 is confusing enough as it is. You move up stairs by holding ‘Up’ and the direction that the stairs would have you travel in.

FUN--8
Even though, unfortunately, there are no multiplayer capabilities in Super Castlevania 4, the game is still very fun nonetheless. It is easy to alternate through the levels and stages with a friend or family member if you are bound and determined to have play with two players.

Why is Super Castlevania 4 so fun, even without multiplayer capabilities? The answer lies in it’s unique hack and slash formula with some strategy thrown in, like some lemon zest in a piece of pie. The lemon zest is hardly required, but it makes it taste better. The elements of strategy in Super Castlevania 4 make the game taste better, and a lot more fun.

CHALLENGE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
The fact that you need strategy in Super Castlevania 4 makes the game much more difficult as well as more fun. You will have no problem succeeding in Super Castlevania 4 if you are not afraid to try new things, and different weapons, to progress through Carrie’s quest. If you try to stay with the hack and slash mold, and try to only use your whip, chances are your success, if you have any at all, will be fleeting.

REPLAY VALUE--LOW TO MEDIUM
After playing through Super Castlevania 4 once or twice you will never play it alone again, even with Super Castlevania 4’s lack of multiplayer capabilities. After beating it alone, Super Castlevania 4 becomes more of a novelty game, a game that you only bring out for short periods of time, to impress friends and acquaintances. The low replay value is Super Castlevania 4’s greatest downfall.

PROS
*Absolutely amazing music.
*Not a mindless hack and slash game.
*Environments create an unbeatable atmosphere.

CONS
*Odd controller configuration.
*No multiplayer capabilities.
*After playing through, becomes only a novelty game.

CLOSING STATEMENT
Even with its lack of replay value and multiplayer capabilities, the lure of Super Castlevania 4 for playing still is strong enough to warrant a purchase if you cannot rent it first. If you can find someplace that rents out Super Nintendo games still, rent it before you make a purchase, so you can decide if the lack of multiplayer capabilities lessens your wish for a purchase. If you cannot rent it, a purchase would hardly be a waste of money.

OVERALL--8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/11/00, Updated 07/18/01


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