Review by Psycho Penguin

"Another day, another classic Castlevania game."

Plenty of games over the years have failed to get the recognition it deserves. And for whatever reason, a CastleVania game is one of those! Yes, one of the most popular series ever has an underrated game in it. That game is Castlevania: Bloodlines for the Sega Genesis. Maybe it was because it is a Sega Genesis game that the game never received the attention it deserved, but regardless of what console it is on, Castlevania is Castlevania. As long as it's 2D, the Castlevania games are probably going to be good. Bloodlines is actually one of the best in the series, in my opinion. It's also one of the most challenging games in the series as well. It takes a somewhat different route from the main series and delivers an outstanding gaming experience that should not be overlooked.

The storyline in the game is not wonderful, but it is really well written for the most part. I think the biggest problem with the storyline is the fact that it seems to be a little too much like the other games in the series. Yes, it is true that you can't really do too much with a basic storyline like ''go into a castle and kill Dracula'', but with games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night proving that there can be a basic plot to a Castlevania game, I expect a little more. Yeah, this game came out before SoTN, but that doesn't mean it can't have at least a little bit of a storyline. Basically, you have the choice of being one of two characters, John Morris or Eric Lacarde, and you have to go inside Dracula's Castle and destroy Dracula yet again. Wow, I've read better storylines on the back of Lucky Charm boxes.

See, these are good graphics. In my opinion, the Castlevania series should always remain in 2D (please do not flame me). Especially if the graphics are as good as they were in Bloodlines. Now graphics do not make the game, but the graphics in this game were outstanding, from the devious enemy and character designs to the detailed backgrounds. I love the graphics in this game! I loved the wide variety of backgrounds. The majsetic first level alone will prove my point. In one stage, you will rarely ever see a more varied background. Every stage provides a very detailed and wonderfully designed background, and perhaps the coolest part of this is the fact that each stage's background changes from time to time, so you may see two or three different kinds of background in one stage, while the stage still keeps the same setting. Simply marvelous.

The Castlevania series has always had good music, and this game is no exception. Featuring wonderfully orchrestrated music and outstanding sound effects, you can do no wrong in listening to Castlevania: Bloodlines. Each stage featured music which really fit the feeling of each stage perfectly. From the dark brooding overtones of the dark, murky forests, to the majestic sounds of the castle, it's all here in spades. The sound effects could have been a little better, but they're still really well done. I loved the music, as you may expect, since it is a Castlevania game, and you could rarely go wrong with the music in a Castlevania game.

The control will certainly take a little bit of time to get used to, but once you figure it out and get the hang of it, you will be at ease with how truly easy the control setup is. I wish more games would take advantage of the button layout and make it as easy for the player as possible. Not many games do that, but Bloodlines is one of those games. You can time the whip to do different attacks, like in Super Castlevania 4, only you can't point your whip up or down. Moving can be a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of the controls, you will be platform jumping with the best of them.

Bloodlines is simply a fantastic game once you get to the heart of it: the gameplay. This is classic Castlevania gameplay with new twists added. When you start off you get a choice of two charcaters. Their games are almost completely different from one another. The game is also split into stages and mini stages like ''1-5'' and ''3-12''. It is not too big of a deal, until you consider the fact that a Castlevania game has never done this before. While most just have you go from stage to stage, this one has you go through mini stages, and some mini stages have mini bosses, so you will have trouble getting through the stages, making the fact there's only six stages not seem so bad all of a sudden.

Otherwise, take everything you know about the Castlevania series, and add on some cool elements, and that's what you get here. Basic gameplay is as fun as ever, you go around killing enemies, and whipping candles to get items which aid you on your quest. Platform jumping has never really been a major selling point to the Castlevania series, but there is a lot of it in this game. Some of the platform jumping will get a bit tricky, but you should expect that from a Castlevania game by now. The new password system certainly is nice, since a save feature wasn't really needed, due to the fact that there is only six stages in the game.

Now, because of the fact that there are only six stages, does that mean the game has a limited replay value? Nope! Because of the fact that the stages are quite long and feature lots of challenging obstacles and enemies, it will take you a little while to complete, and once you complete the stages, you will want to play them all over again. The fact that you get two characters, each one having a different quest, just adds to the already solid replay value.

This game, while not being quite as challenging as some of the other games in the historically challenging Castlevania series, still has some challenge to be found. The platform jumping gets quite tricky, but increasing the challenge level of the game doesn't really make the platform jumping trickier. Instead, it increases the challenge level of the enemies and bosses, who were already challenging to begin with.

Overall, I loved the game, and it just missed out on a ten due to the fact that it's only six stages, which is a flaw no matter how you look at it, and also it just isn't as fun as Super Castlevania 4. Don't let either of these two facts deter you from purchasing the game, however. It really is a classic, and it'll bring you back to a time when the Castlevania series was at its height in terms of quality games.

Good Points
-The graphics are very well designed.
-Musically, the game is top notch.
-Gameplay is just as classic as ever.

Not So Good Points
-There's only six stages.
-Sound effects could be better.
-The storyline is totally unoriginal.

I Rate This Game, Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 1.3/10
Graphics - 9.7/10
Music - 9.3/10
Sound Effects - 6.8/10
Control - 9.1/10
Gameplay - 9.3/10
Replay Value - Above Average
Challenge - Average
Worth a Purchase? - Yeah!

Overall - 9.3/10
Combining all the classic elements of the Castlevania series, this game is quite nice, although not totally original. It is well worth a purchase, despite its relatively few amount of flaws.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/20/00, Updated 12/15/01

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