Review by TFTRC Narte

Reviewed: 04/29/04

The popular franchise makes a decent side trip to the Genesis realm.

Following in the formula of Super Castlevania IV for the Super Nintendo, Bloodlines is the Genesis’s first and only Castlevania, but by God it’s not half bad. Though certainly not the best game in the series, it still gives Genesis owners a peek into the world of Castlevania, with classic gameplay that fans of the series will enjoy.

Instead of typically playing as one of the Belmont vampire hunter family, you play as one of two other characters, John Morris, another whip-wielding vampire hunter, or Eric Lecarde, a man seeking vengeance against evil, armed with his mighty spear, giving his gameplay a different feel as opposed to past Castlevanias. The enemy is different in this game as well. Instead of our friendly, neighborhood vampire, Dracula, the main antagonist is Countess Elizabeth Bartley, niece of Dracula, and she is true evil in a beautiful package.

Now, for the Genesis, the graphics are very good, with excellent effects and great backgrounds. The reflective water and scaling objects make for good eye candy. Effects like fire and blood are decent, and the main character animations are smooth as well. Some enemies have cheap animations that look a bit cheesy, but it never detracts from the game in the long run. The music, while low on quality (thanks to the almighty power of the Genesis, ahem, sarcasm), is fantastically well written, and will be familiar to fans of the series. The sound effects sound like any Genesis title by Konami: poor. Very digital sounding effects are common in this game and are disappointing to say the least. The hellhound boss faced early in the game howls to break the windows around you but his howl is so screechy and annoying that your ears will begin to look like little Tim’s ears in Jurassic Park after the electric fence zapped him. The jerky control, mostly through the stiff jumping in this game, takes some getting used to, but after mastering it, you’ll be smacking bats and leaping over chasms with relative ease.

Though it doesn't break any new ground,the gameplay is pure Castlevania. Deep down beneath its excellent level design is the core feel of the other games in the series. The first level, like in many other Castlevanias, is the main corridor of the castle, and feels like the first level of Castlevania for the Nintendo all over again, only with its own unique elements to keep it from getting old. There are plenty of other clever stages including a series of platforms that you must climb while the room floods beneath you, waiting to swallow you up. The enemies will be very familiar, though they are tweaked and made to look original for this entry in the series. The bosses are tough and require strategy just like in the other games, but the challenge is fun and you will not lose interest from dying over and over again. There is a password system if you want to start you game midway from where you left off which is a bit of a hassle when a simple save feature would have been much easier than plugging in a code using candles and hearts for the password.

Overall, this is a worthy addition to the Genesis library, and while not on par with some other Genesis action titles, this is still a good action game for the system and a great welcome of the series to Genesis owners looking to feed their bloodlust. A sequel would have been nice, to flesh out the weaker portions of the game, but on its own, it is a fun and challenging romp through the world of Castlevania.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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