Review by Tenshi No Shi
"Konami whips their portable development team into shape with this sequel."
After the disappointment of Castlevania Adventure, I had little faith that a sequel, released as it was two years after the first, would actually right the wrongs of its predecessor. Still, I bought it, willing to give the portable series another chance after enjoying all three NES Castlevanias, the arcade outing known as Haunted Castle and the incredible Super Castlevania IV.
Once again you assume the role of Christopher Belmont, this time on a quest to rescue his son, Solieyu, from Dracula who plans to use him in a ritual to reincarnate himself. Certainly a more interesting plot than the last Gameboy game, but it still boils down to hunt down Dracula and kill him before he becomes too much of a nuisance.
Graphically, Belmont's Revenge is a step up from Adventure in nearly all categories. Animation is improved (though the game still chugs along at a snail's pace), backgrounds have a little more detail to them and the enemies have received a little more definition. There is a lot more variety to be found here as well- with several themed castles to choose from you never get bored with the environment. Overall it was a step in the right direction but a little more zip to Christopher's walk would've been welcome.
It isn't all that surprising that the audio for this second portable Castlevania has that polished feel to it since good sound was about all the first game had going for it. You'll hear some familiar tunes, remixed naturally, as you quest which is the real treat since they are fairly well orchestrated MIDIs. The associated sound effects aren't all that bad but won't exactly win any awards since you can only do so much with an 8-bit portable system.
This time around, controls are a little tighter and a tad more refined. Quite honestly, these tweaks make a world of difference, especially when you factor in a couple of the design revisions that were made to the stages. Unfortunately, Christopher is still as slow moving as ever, which can only lead one to believe that he is afraid to face the Count. Or he's a gimp, whichever you prefer.
Seeing that Castlevania Adventure was a failure (for a number of reasons), Konami wisely went back to the drawing boards for the sequel and implemented a few new features while trimming away most of the design flaws that plagued the original game. Chief among these changes are the selectable multiple themed castles and a distinct lack of the ropes-o-death in many areas of the game. The addition of two sub-weapons, holy water and the axe (or the boomerang if you import), are a welcome return to the series as well.
Unfortunately, for such a good portable action/adventure game, Konami forgot to add any note-worthy extras to really round out the package. There's a hidden sound test (easily accessed with a simple password) and that about it.
This is a game actually worth trying to track down even more than a decade after it's release. Sure the Gameboy Advance Castlevanias give you more bang for your buck, but this is still a worthy addition to your classics collection should you have one. If you don't, this is the perfect title to get you started.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/07/09
Game Release: Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (US, 08/31/91)
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