Review by EOrizzonte

"The Castle has never been so small - and yet so cruel"

There were two ways for developers to look at the original Game Boy. There were those who believed that, in spite of hardware limitations and a non-existing color palette, the machine possessed the raw power required to run a great game. Among these stand Nintendo and Capcom, the latter managing to port no less than Street Fighter II to the world's best-selling handheld gaming console.
Then, there were those who regarded the Game Boy as an inferior console, and believed that it deserved inferior games - even if they were able to do good games on the NES. Among these stands Konami, and their first portable Castlevania game more than reflects this state of mind.

First, it's a common belief that a portable game has to be shorter than one that is to be played at home. This is true, as long as the game cartridge has no battery back-up, because it must be possible for players to complete the game in one sitting. However, early Game Boy games were so terribly short in term of game extension, programmers had to pump up longevity somehow. Konami chose the wrong way - that is, extreme difficulty.

It's not that the game is so difficult, actually. Or, it wouldn't be so hard, if it had good, responsive controls. But the vampire killer onscreen moves at a terrifyingly low pace, and whenever you want him to jump or whip, you have to input the move in advance. If your timing isn't perfect, you'll get hit, or miss your target. And, as usually happens in such situations, your opponents move at an ideal speed, which is considerably faster than yours.

Not only the game is so horribly slow it takes forever just to cross the screen, but it also features bad collision detection. And I do mean bad. If you miss an enemy by a mere pixel, you miss it. That's all right. But why, then, the foes and - most of all - their projectiles score a hit even when they so clearly miss you by more than a pixel? And why, oh why, do you have to get to the very edge of a platform to make a vital jump which, if failed, will see you falling to your doom? And why do you have to stay a mile afar from deadly spikes if you don't want their ''invisible extensions'' to hit you? Add to this the unresponsive controls, and you'll understand why it takes so long and so hard to complete this four-level game. And that's not even the whole story. You can upgrade your weapon from a leather whip to a fire-throwing chain whip. The latter is an absolute must if you want to hit some out-of-reach candles, each hiding a much-needed extra life. The problem is, every time you're hit, your whip is downgraded. Since you get hit a whole lot throughout the game, it's quite unlikely that you'll manage to keep the flame whip long enough to hit one of those candles, not to mention take out your enemies fast enough to avoid further hits.

As for the game's structure, you get four levels, each with its own peculiar boss fight. While many players will manage to get past the first two stages in spite of the game's sluggishness, level three may be just too much for the majority of them. The second half of the game contains too many spikes and bouncing projectiles to be conquered without knowing their entire layout by heart. And even if you do get to the final confrontation without breaking your Game Boy to pieces first, you'll probably have to restart a few more times, since the final battle sees you against a rather fast Dracula - and continues are limited. There are some secret bonus rooms here and there, but they're so well hidden they'll remain secret for the many who'll believe that this game is too evil to give you any help, any time.

Technically, the game is nothing special, as it belongs to the first generation of Game Boy games. Music is quite atmospherical, but it will soon be covered with your hysterical screams of frustration, so it can't make up alone for the game's many lowdowns. Quite simply, Castlevania Adventure is a shameless attempt at exploiting a well-known brand. Luckily, not so many believed the hype, and the two sequels turn out to be more enjoyable, and better designed, than the original - so at least, the lesson has been learnt. However, Konami never really believed in the original Game Boy's potential. The sheer quality of the Game Boy Advance Castlevania games clears up any doubts about this. And while this game is still able to provide some entertainment to those who'll be persistent enough to keep playing, it honestly can't be recommended.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 09/04/02, Updated 09/04/02

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