Review by RageBot
"Fun, yet unacceptably easy."
This is the first jump of Castlevania into 16-bit graphics. Konami surely didn't take their time, as Simon got his new look before even Link in A Link to the Past. Also, the SNES holds some games that would easily fit into my "Thirty best games of all times" list, such as A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy 6 and Super Mario World! So how can this not be as good as them? Let's find out.
There is, yet again, not much to the story. You are again Simon Belmont, and you enter Castlevania to kill the Count. Just like Dracula's Curse, you walk through all the areas surrounding the castle, before actually entering it. This time, you spend half og your times inside the castle, and half inside of it.
The main improvement is in the gameplay. For the first and only time, you can whip your whip in eight different directions, however, you can only whip downward while in the air. This makes the game much less unfair, as you can whip medusa heads while they are above you, as well as any enemies that are hard to reach and you have to hit them before they hit you. Also for the first time, you can get unto stairways from midair, making the game much more forgiving for mistakes. Fun fact: If you start walking after jumping unto a stairway, you can moonwalk! Also, if a stairway is located at the end of a ledge, you don't need to press up or down, unless there is a junction between a stairway and a ledge, or two stairways at the end of the same ledge.
You would expect Konami to crack up the challenges, as Simon is now more able than his 8-bit self, but unfortunately, that is not the case. You'll sometimes have a pathetically easy time whipping and dodging enemies from all angles. And, unlike in Symphony of the Night, you'll have a hard time restricting yourself, as the lack of challenge lies not in an abundance of abilities, but in the fact that enemies are just too easy to hit and take too much damage. To redeem this loss of challenge, spikes kill you instantly. The final gauntlet of bosses is very hard (even though you can find food between each boss), and so are Death and finally Dracula.
Another obvious improvement lies in the presentation. This game takes the SNES to the limit, as enemies are larger and more detailed, and so are the backgrounds. In the first area, there are bats coming out from the eyeholes of a giant skull. Mode 7 graphics are here as well, particularly in one level where the background spins like in a haunted house, giving it a 3D visual.
Speaking of the devil, there is much difference between the Japanese and American versions, because of Nintendo's claw of censorship upon American releases. Tombs and caskets in the Japanese version have crosses embedded on them, the slimy tomb becomes a bloody torture chamber, and statues in the entrance hall are naked. I think blood fits the torture chamber better, but slime, or even more likely, acid, explains better why Simon takes damage because of drops of liquid.
This game is another must for all gamers, but don't expect to have a challenge or spend more than two hours on it.
Final grade: 8.5/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/21/11
Game Release: Super Castlevania IV (US, 12/31/91)
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