Review by Emptyeye

Reviewed: 08/17/01 | Updated: 08/17/01

....why doesn't Drac ever change his fighting strategy?!

Super Castlevania IV was released roughly in 1991 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In this game, you took the role of Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter. Every 100 years or so (Or every 2-3 years, in the case of poor Mr. Belmont--this is his third attempt to rid the world of Dracula!), Count Dracula revives and attempts to take over the world. Dracula also happens to be a vampire, and as you're Mr. Hot-Shot Fancy-Pants Vampire Hunter in the world that is Transylvania, you get to go out and attempt to destroy him.

Graphics: 9/10- Yes! Super Mario World was not the early showcase title for the graphics of the SNES. This game was. Incredible animation and attention to detail abounds in this game. Great backgrounds, truly haunting, are another highlight in this game. And these background have parallax scrolling too! Check out the background through the windows of level 1.
This was also one of the first games to extensively use Mode 7, particularly in Level 4-2, where the room rotates around you as you hang above deadly spikes. Very cool stuff.
However, there is, incredibly, a tiny bit of slowdown (Something that was supposed to have been eliminated with the advent of the SNES), particularly in the Caves where you fight enemies that split into smaller versions of themselves. But it's minor, and you might not even notice.

Sound: 10/10- And yes again! This game had a very cool, varied soundtrack. From the rocking Organ of Level 1, to the Piano that pervades in later levels, to the reemergence of ''Bloody Tears'' and ''Vampire Killer'' (Themes from Castlevania II & I, respectively) in some of the final levels, the game's soundtrack helps to set the mood of whatever you happen to be doing, whether it be climbing up a waterfall or leaping from chandelier to rocking chandelier.
The sound effects are also quite memorable, in particular the sound of spikes crashing down over and over again. The other effects--whip cracking, Simon grunting as he gets hit, and so on and so forth--only add to the game, never taking away from it.

Control: 9/10- Score another one for Super Castlevania IV! Simon may seem to move a little slowly at times, but he's plenty fast enough to be able to dodge most attacks that will come your way. You can fire the whip one of 8 ways, and if you hold the Whip button, you'll let the whip just dangle there so it can be haphazardly spun around. Simon also responds very well, and can finally change the direction of his jump in midair (YES!!), besides being able to jump directly onto stairs.
This game also made use of the top buttons on the Super Nintendo Controller, in that the somewhat awkward ''Up+Attack Button'' combination to throw a special weapon has been done away with, replaced by the quick press of the R button in the default control mode. Very nice, especially in the heat of action where unnecessary taps on the Control Pad are the last thing you need.
The one complaint? Well, when jumping, if you hold the Jump button for too long, Simon will sit there like a stone upon landing, until you release the jump button. While most gamers will probably not even notice, for those with ''heavy fingers'' (Like myself), this can be murderous, particularly in one late level where quick jumps are key.

Gameplay: 8/10- The Gameplay loses a point or two because it's really not very original, even by 1991 standards. But for what it is, it's damn good. You go from level to level, whipping Dracula's minions into oblivion, stopping now and then to fight one of his personal henchmen. If you succeed in beating them, you grab a crystal which allows you to proceed to the next level.
One of the cool things that was added in Super Castlevania IV was attaching your whip to rings and swinging back and forth Indiana Jones-style in order to get to your next objective. It was a very nice touch and a way to liven up the gameplay whenever it because stale (Which was very rarely). However, this game is linear--the multiple paths of Castlevania III have been eliminated--which likewise takes a bit away from the Gameplay.

Story: 3/10- Okay, we all know the story by now--Vampire Hunter Simon Belmont must defeat Count Dracula--hopefully for good this time--in order to bring peace back to the world of Transylvania.
Not only is the plot unoriginal, but it directly contradicts what we supposedly already know about Dracula--that being that he revives once every 100 years. If this is true, why is this Simon's third attempt at taking down the big vampire (He tried in Castlevania, and again in Castlevania II)?! Is Simon over 200 years old or something? Somehow, I think not. There's also an inconsistency over Simon explained in one of Castlevania II's endings, but I won't get into that.

Challenge: 7/10- Well, it's classic Castlevania in terms of Challenge, but I feel a large part of the game is based on Intimidation Factor--that the game really isn't super hard if you just put your mind to it. In addition, if you've played just about any Castlevania game before, you'll know what to expect out of Dracula's first form.

Replay Value: 6/10- Because you can save your game via password, because the game is only 11 levels long (Which is actually quite a bit), and because there's only one path you can take through the game, there sadly isn't a whole lot to re-see here once you're done the first time. There is a second quest, but it's really not that much different from the first, and you don't get anything special as a reward for completing it. There are a few mini-hidden spots, but no full-fledged secret levels or anything of that scope.

Overall: 10/10- But on the overall, this is a great game, one of the all-time classics. Before this game came out, the Castlevania series had built a reputation for having some of the best action gaming on the NES. Super Castlevania IV took that reputation and carried it over to the SNES quite nicely. The new features and graphical enhancement in this version more than offset what was taken out of the game, like the multiple paths. Buy this game immediately if you like action games. If you're an action fan, then buy it anyway. It's that good.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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