Review by OkieRam
"One of the best for the SNES"
Super Castlevania IV is my favorite SNES game. It scores high marks in all of the basic elements of a console game. But what really makes this game so incredible is that all of the elements work together to enhance the atmosphere and game play to such a degree that this game must be considered one of the best the SNES has to offer.
Typical Castlevania fare: You're Simon Belmont and must fight your way through Castlevania and/or outlying areas to kill Dracula. While I've certainly seen more enthralling plots, the story line has never been integral to the Castlevania series nor to the action platform genre in general. The story's only function is to set the mood and it does that job well. Besides, what it lacks in story, it makes up in atmosphere.
The graphics were very well done and enhance the gaming experience. You can tell Konami spent some time on this one. The graphics are appropriate for the horror type tone Konami tries to impart. There is no cartoonish oddity (Ala Dracula X) or bland repetitiveness (Early NES) to the graphics. Simon is large and well animated. Ditto for most of the enemies and which many die in unique way. Medusa heads break apart into snakes and bones fly in all directions when you whip a skeleton. The bosses were simply dynamite as far as graphics are concerned and again each one's death is animated differently. Each stage has a totally separate background with absolutely no sharing with other stages (Except ground blocks and some staircases). Some of the stages have some neat special FX (the transparent water in stage 2 and being in the parallax background in Stage 6, come to mind). Spining rooms, huge chandeliers and some of the bosses are done to dazzling effect in Mode 7. Overall graphics are outstanding considering this was one of the first carts out for the SNES.
Sound FX/Music: 9
The music really enhances the atmosphere and that's what makes it good. Lots of pipe organs, strings and harps(?) are in there. All of it sounds creepy and is consistent with the mood. Some old favorites of the remixed variety are back. Bloody Tears, in particular, has been redone extremely well. All of the music is well done for the SNES. I only had problems with three tracks: Block 3-3 sounds like elevator music, the opening of stage 6 is like baseball organ music and beat in the dungeon area reminds me an awful lot of Led Zeppelin's ''Four Sticks''. Sound FX were good and creepy. Hounds bay and bones clatter when whipped. Lots of background sound effects like lightning, dripping water, and creaking. Most of sound have a spacial quality and, in some of the scenes, an echo effect was created. SCIV also makes good use of SNES stereo feature (the chandeliers come to mind).
Game Play: 10
This is where SCIV really towers above all other SNES games. As stated earlier, this is really a combination of of all other elements plus stage design. Each stage is as unique as it is well designed. There are no parts that are insanely difficult. The stages vary widely as to Each stage and most of the blocks within each stage have a unique element or new challenge (gears in the clocktower, shifting water currents, rotating rooms etc.) Most stages are fairly large and there are 11 levels.
Play Control: 10
There is simply not a game with more responsive play control. PERIOD. Simon can whip in 8 directions and can 'flick' his whip around for minimal damage. He can also hold it up to shield against fireballs, bats, etc. He can latch onto ring and swing around like Indy Jones. This improved play control really helps you with enemies that are positioned to knock you down into holes. Jumps can be controlled and you can now land on stair cases, which again helps avoid some of the frustration from the earlier games.
Many people have accused this game of being too easy. That's only half true. Granted, It's easier than most other Castlevania games, but that's mainly due to the increased play control. Gone are many of the frustrating jumps, positioned enemies and staircase problems which artificially enhanced the difficulty of the other games in the series. Certain areas will take some time to master and some of the bosses can be really difficult. Overall however, it's not too hard to get the hang of it.
Replay value: 8
I never get bored of this game. I find it a particularly easy cart to pick up and play. Its game play makes it addictive. Plus, you can try different challenges (i.e., get through the game only using the dagger.) Your milage may vary.
Buy or Rent?
This is a must have for any SNES owner. You can get it used for a reasonable price ($15-$20).
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 12/16/00, Updated 12/16/00
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