Review by Bkstunt_31
A bigger, prettier (and admittedly easier) Castlevania.
Castlevania was one of Konami's biggest and best series on the original Nintendo as it spanned three games and did very well for itself, so when Nintendo brought out their Super Nintendo Entertainment System many fans KNEW a Castlevania game would be on its way.
Sure enough, months after the new hardware was released Super Castlevania IV was out! Unlike the NES titles that all featured a new quest and story, Super Castlevania IV is essentially a remake of the original Castlevania story and features Simon Belmont storming Dracula's castle, Castlevania, to free the land from him. After playing through it in-depth recently, let me tell you what you can expect out of this game!
Dracula has been resurrected yet again and is terrorizing the lands once more! You just can't KEEP this guy down! If he isn't automatically being resurrected every 100 years there's always some evil group ready to see him come back! And so you'll take on the role of Simon Belmont and head towards Castlevania to rid the land of Dracula.
Granted, the story is pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME as the NES game Castlevania despite all this "Super" and "IV" nonsense. It's really obvious that story was NOT a priority in making this game, as no additional effort to fleshing out Simon's story or history can be found here.
The game play in the game is actually a significant evolution forward for the series. Let's face it: the jumping and platforming in the classic NES Castlevania games were pretty rigid. You had to be VERY comfortable with your jump selection as the margin for error was slim to none. Super Castlevania IV let you control your jump MUCH better, allowing for much more control. Simon's whipping prowess has improved as well! Simon can now whip in EIGHT different directions as well as brandish his whip in front of him (which is HANDY for protecting yourself!). The game also features special orbs scattered throughout some levels (and often are REQUIRED to use) that let Simon whip and swing from, a first for a Castlevania game. Castlevania staples such as whip upgrade objects, sub-weapons, and "II" and "III" sub-weapon icons.
Despite all the evolutionary steps Super Castlevania IV definitely feels like a Castlevania game. If anything, the greater character and whip control make the game easier (but to be fair more control usually does make a game easier). There are a total of ELEVEN stages in the game as well (Awkwardly numbered 1-9 and then "Stage A" and "Stage B"), all of which you must play through back to back which made this the LONGEST and BIGGEST Castlevania game to date. Since this is a remake, that also means that several NEW stages were added in; in fact, most of the beginning stages until you get INTO the castle are all brand new! The stages themselves are also fairly lengthy and fairly challenging, making for a very decent adventure. That being said, I also found that the bosses themselves were, for the most part, extremely easy. Still, getting through this beefy adventure is a good challenge and the game play itself is quite fun.
In another evolutionary step, the designers REALLY took advantage of the new hardware's improved graphical capabilities. The stage design throughout the game is, as a whole, pretty darn good! The game has plenty of background animations and detail throughout. In fact, in Stage 6, you'll find yourself jumping from chandelier to chandelier while the background flashes. In Stage 4 you'll be traversing multiple rooms that rotate around you! Whoa! Pretty cool! Animations and enemy designs are well done as well. There are times when environments are re-used, but overall the game has a good variety of locales, good detail and is just well put together, especially for a early Super Nintendo game.
The music in the game is an interesting mix of songs, and definitely an interesting listen. Several of the songs are pure awesomeness of course, such as "Simon Belmont's Theme" (Dance of a Holyman) and "Beginnings". Several are recycled from previous games because of their awesomeness, such as "Bloody Tears" and "Vampire Killer". Other songs just can't live up to the awesomeness of those tracks, but do their job well enough (despite being rather boring by comparison). The game isn't shy about changing tracks at different times during the same level as well (compared to other Castlevania games that put a single track to a single level) and due to that there will be some AWESOME song changes that really pump you up to keep going.
While the game is fairly long in and of itself, especially for a action/platforming game, once you do get through it there is no reason to play it again. It features no alternate modes or branching paths. You CAN keep playing after you beat the game to start playing it in "Hard Mode" if you wish, but that's it.
While the game has little story or re-playability appeal, the graphical and game play evolution of the series made sense. Super Castlevania IV, to me, is basically a showcase of what Konami could do with new Super Nintendo Hardware that was just flat-out impossible on the Nintendo. And while I'm not a very big fan of remakes (new content please!) the extra levels added in to the game make this game a worthy undertaking for any Castlevania of action/platforming fan! Have fun and take care.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Super Castlevania IV (US, 12/31/91)
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