Super Castlevania IV
Review by ZFS
"Who knew stairs could be the bane of vampire hunter's existence?"
Quick! Grab your whip, get your armor, and head for the creepy castle that is in the distance! And be very, very quiet... we're going vampire hunting! So beings the illustrious adventure known as Castlevania. Super Castlevania IV puts you in the role of the young stud, Simon Belmont. He seems he is the great grandson of Christopher Belmont -- a former vampire hunter; it's amazing how they all just take the occupation of the previous one, as though it were destiny! -- And is the only one who is capable of taking out the evil Count Dracula, who has risen again for his usual century of torment on the poor villagers of Transylvania.
As the masculine, sexy Simon Belmont, you must travel across a variety of lands, seas, and cultures to get to the great Count's Castle! Actually, that's not the case at all. What Mr. Belmont does have to do is go through what is much like a giant obstacle course -- that Dracula, he so clever! Watch in awe as he pounces through undead corpses from Hell, one after another. That whip, which is called the Vampire Killer -- Oh! That's not original or anything -- will serve him well as he trounces enemy after enemy, foe after foe. Throughout much of Super Castlevania IV you'll be constant making that whip extend to smack those hard, old skulls right in the face! Nothing could possibly bring one more satisfaction than nailing some dead corpse in the face with a whip called the VAMPIRE KILLER, right?! Well, it is surprisingly fun. While SCIV isn't exactly the most technical masterpiece around, it does serve to give you something that many games of the 16-bit genre delivered: fun.
While having all this fun, Simon -- we're on a first name basis with each other, all that bonding through our travels into Dracula's Castle -- will be slaying some pretty nice enemies, I must say. What, with his iron bangles on his wrists or his newly detailed chest place, he's obviously looking fantastic. Oh, and we cannot forget the bandana on his head! But it doesn't stop there; the environments he'll travel through are something vicious. He will occasionally run into iron fences that shoot up out of the ground with dirt still falling off of them. The dead corpses around him will rise up from the dirt, while still having some of the pieces on their head! Their actual garments are just as impressive. Gone are the days of one-colored garbs that do nothing but hide their hideous inside! Now, they are sporting some exceptionally nice looking multicolored potato sack with a newly sewn hood. We aren't done yet, however, as the small, yet lively, books will forever haunt your mind once you visit the Haunted Library! Fear its flapping pages and its shiny outer coat -- because we all know that Dracula needs to read new material every century, gotta keep up with the latest -- while it goes flying across the rooms trying to attack you! It's something to witness, in all its wondrous 16-bit glory. You cannot ask for more!
But, you must be wondering, Simon Belmont sounds like the greatest guy ever! He's got the look, he's got the whip, what does he lack?! Well, sadly, he lacks the ability to change the direction of his jumps. That's right, the only thing stopping Belmont from completely tearing those shifty zombies a new one is that once he is in mid air, he cannot change his direction. Sure, bring up that physics won't all you to change your direction anyway, but this is a video game; we need our daily dose of physic defying abilities. Now, I know you don't want to me to say anything more about our lovable Simon, but he has one other glaring flaw that I will never understand to me dying day. Simon Belmont, a member of the illustrious Belmont Clan of vampire hunters cannot, I repeat, cannot jump when he is on a staircase. Shocking? Yes, it should be. Once you hit those stairs, you best be not trying to jump off of them. Why is it like this? I have no idea; maybe Konami thought it'd be funny to build the Belmont's up to be so big and yet have their one flaw be that they become stones once a staircase is around. Which brings up a whole new series of questions, why is it that Dracula doesn't just have one big continuous staircase leading up to his room? Why doesn't he make it so that the only place to stand when fighting him is on a set of stairs? You ponder on those questions while you read this rest of this review.
So, we have established that the coolest character ever, Simon Belmont, is not capable of changing his direction mid-jump and becomes the heaviest stone in the world when he is on staircases. But what we haven't discussed is what kind of music the man likes to listen to while he's after Dracula. Let me tell you, the music is some interesting stuff. It would seem that he enjoys a mixture of techno beats with some instrument that I cannot for the life of me put my finger on what it is. At any rate, if you're going on a mission to slay a vampire, this is the type of music you'll want to be hearing. At the beginning, it starts off nice and slow, spooky, giving you the idea that something, something is going to happen. Then, as you progress, the music gets louder, but not as dramatic. It's more suited toward... slaying demons from Hell, actually. The tracks no doubt fit the environment that Mr. Belmont is going through and only adds to the feeling of the game. It works so well that you just have to wonder where Simon is buying his CDs. Seriously, he's got a brilliant track for every part of his adventure. Clever guy, I must say.
When it all comes down to it, Super Castlevania IV is the best example of a nice, solid 16-bit Castlevania adventure. It doesn't particularly excel in any one character -- save for the awesomeness known as Simon Belmont -- but it does provide you with pure fun and enjoyment. There are some issues, such as his inability to jump on stairs (I still cannot understand that one) and the control can feel awkward at first, but nothing that prevents the game from being enjoyable. If you're looking for a 16-bit masterpiece, you aren't going to find it here; Super Castlevania IV is more of that game you play for some quick, short fun. The game isn't long, it isn't outstanding in any area, but manages to bring everything together like a good game should. But if you're looking for the superior 16-bit Castlevania experience, you'll want to check out Castlevania: Bloodlines on the Sega Genesis -- Oh, Sega, we know you only got one Castlevania and it was the best one, no need to rub it in!
Oh, and to answer those questions earlier in the review: It's because Dracula is stupid... and 42, because 42 is the answer to everything.
Final Score: 7/10
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/05, Updated 09/04/07
Game Release: Super Castlevania IV (US, December 1991)
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