Review by RedSox1981

"This game is pretty good, but it still has some minor warts."

I remember getting this game way back when I was youngster. I got into it pretty quickly, and my spinach-green Game Boy screen would be filled with the adventures of another member of the Belmont family on a quest to smite the evil Prince of Darkness, Count Dracula. I liked it back then, and playing it nowadays as an adult male at the age of 23, I still like it.

In this edition, you assume the role of Christopher Belmont. Having successfully vanquished Dracula fifteen years prior, our old friend Vlad has decided to up the ante by swiping Christopher's son Soleiyu. Our hero Christopher must now go out and save his son AND deal with the Count once again.

Those familiar with the Castlevania series will automatically know the style of gameplay. Jump from platform to platform, whip your enemies to bits, and whip candles for some handy powerups. One major deviation from this standard for this game, however, is that you can choose to start at any level at any time ( a la Mega Man). There are four themed stages at the beginning the game (Crystal, Rock, Plant, and Cloud). You can tackle these stages in any order you wish. There's no benefit or penalty for picking one order of stages over the other. There are three other stages that MUST be completed in order once you defeat the first four, however.

Your powerups are fairly limited. For your subweapons, you're stuck with either an axe or holy water. Yep, just those two. Your whip as three power levels, though. First you have a normal whip. Once you get a powerup, your whip becomes longer. A second powerup allows you to shoot a fireball from the end of your whip. Keep in mind, there are certain enemies out there that can decrease the power of your whip. Other than that, though, your whip stays the way it is until you lose a life.

And lose lives you will. For those familiar with the older games of the Castlevania series, you know exactly what I mean. Controlling your hero can be an exercise in frustration. The controls respond fine, but your hero is stiff and slooooooow. You can only jump at a certain height, and you can only move forward a certain distance when you jump. If you get injured, you may find yourself flying backwards into a pit and losing a life. You get used to this over time, but it can be quite maddening even after you adjust to it.

Graphically, this game is pretty good for an old-school Game Boy. The backgrounds are fairly detailed, as are the enemy sprites. The animation, though, leaves much to be desired. Christopher's walk is exactly two frames. Using a whip takes up three frames. I know the Game Boy is pretty limited in its power, but I still feel they could have done a little bit of a better job with the animations.

Soundwise, Konami once again does a great job with what they are given. The Gameboy's sound chip isn't all that great, but the music is actually quite good. The standard sound effects of using your whip and hitting a candle are there, too. For a Gameboy title, the sound and music on this game are excellent.

As far as replay value goes...well, there isn't any. There aren't any secrets to uncover nor are there any bonuses to unveil. Plus, the last three bosses can be teeth-grindingly difficult (especially Drac himself, and fighting him brought back evil flashbacks of trying to fight him in the original NES Castlevania). So, after you do complete this game, you might not want to pick it up ever again. That's not to say it's not worth playing, because it is a pretty good game. I just don't feel it's good enough to want to play it twice.

This game is worth buying if you can find it because I can't imagine it being worth anymore than three dollars. Keep in mind that if you're not a Castlevania fan, this game might not be for you. But if you ARE interested in trying a Castlevania title for the Gameboy out of curiousity, this is definitely the one you should pick.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/17/05

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