Review by Dogg

"A game dripping with that classic game feel..."

Castlevania. One will need better description of a game encrypted by many as a masterpiece. More importantly one will call the series extraordinaire and transubstantiating, if not transverse. Super Castlevania IV was my first foray into the world of Simon Belmont and his crew-which consists of Dracula, and his self-accorded villains. At the time, however, I already knew much about the series. While I heard a lot of rants on how good it is I never heard by any chance any rants on how bad it is.

This is how I was introduced to Castlevania.

According to the famous scripture of all Castlevania stories, Super Castlevania IV follows a similar one. The relentless Dracula has returned from his oh-so pitiful grave, and the one person who comes to his presence is a vampire hunter of choice, called Simon Belmont. With Simon is his killer weapon, his whip. With whip in hand Simon starts his quest into the foray of Dracula and his minions.

While the story is washed out by all chances an idea lashes out. This idea is to see how this game presents itself, and to see if this game is as different as the once loved Ghosts n’ Goblins series. By playing this game however, I noticed that this game is one thing, and one thing only. This game is art. The way this game presents itself from beginning to end is just astounding. The game pacts the action in levels, during in which you succumb to the creative designs in the terrain, and the area around you. More importantly you are puzzled and are left with over 3-5 enemies to deal with in just one time. There are over 11 of these action-oriented levels in this game. Konami (the fellow developers of this game) put a lot of enthusiasm in these levels, and each one is an artistic masterpiece. Level I puts you in a castle of types that will surely surprise Castlevania veterans, while Level II will take you to the path of a rotten-down forest, which will surely put a smile to fellow Ghosts n’ Goblins players.

Furthermore, the game continues this excellence. Level III is another one of these artistic ethereal looking stages. Here you will have to surpass through the game’s glowy and damp caverns, while being illuminated in the game’s euphoric complacency. Even more are all of the water drops that calmly fall in the ground making one be simply impressed with the way this game takes advantage of what the Super Nintendo can actually do. As you advance through Level III, you will see through the game’s even more euphonic images; a waterfall rustly falling down to a pitfall of rocks, all being played down by the game’s smooth melody.

And that’s where music fits the tone in the 16-bit era.

Super Castlevania IV literally defined the way that music should play like in a 16-bit console, and a 16-bit game. The soundtrack in this game is smooth and moody and helps tone down with how the game itself plays like. While it isn’t exactly perfect all the themes are well done, and the soundtrack, at best is well orchestrated and well played.

Adding to the soundtrack and to the artistic presentation is simply just how easily and well fit this game plays like on a console like this. Everything is so detailed leaving you a clear objective of what you have to do and what you don’t have to do. Each level is well designed, meaning that each level has its own set of puzzles, its own set of traps, and its own set of dangers. And here the problem kicks in. There is just too much challenge in this game that it takes away all the benefits of a game that could have been truly perfect. The constant enemies attacking you left to right, right to left, side by side, corner by corner, top to bottom, horizontal to vertical, to all the constant troubles you are bound to get yourself into. One failed jump takes you back to where you started putting a lot of work to be erased. Bosses also provide a challenge that simply will kill you half of the time. There are over 15 bosses from the game. These bosses range from a Frankenstein looking monster, to a Skull Head, to Dracula, to a 2 headed snake demon, followed by a skeleton riding a horse, to the queen bitch herself the one, the only Medusa.

Simon takes each of these enemies, and bosses down in an orderly Belmont fashion. With Simon’s whip you can commandeer yourself to 8 different whip patterns ranging from you using your whip to attack coming enemies, to using your whip to attack enemies smaller than you and to enemies that seem to be on top of you. You can also find a sub-weapon in each level. These sub-weapons include you to throw daggers, to axes, to throwing holy water on enemies, and to then evidently throwing a boomerang on oncoming enemies. Basically taking care of the enemies and then solving the next area’s puzzles is the way of moving around in this fully environmental game.

The graphics are also seemingly done very good. All of the images moving in a pure 2D background look astonishing, and with the added addition of the Mode 7 effects the game just continues to look better and better. The way Simon uses all his different moves is also well coded, and character animations will put a person in awe and surprise them with endowment and will fill them with full fulfillment. The way enemies and bosses just come and go looks great and hopefully this tactic is used in even future Castlevania titles.

While the game still has a couple of more potential flaws Super Castlevania IV still is a good game from beginning to end. With its artistic appeal it will surely surprise any rookies and any veterans of the series and it will just get them hooked. Castlevania IV is about living up an experience, and this experience should not be missed by any. With an amazing soundtrack, great visuals, and heart-worthy gameplay this game simply rules above other titles and leaves a mark for all Castlevania titles in the future.

(The final climax against the forms of Dracula should not be missed by anyone and I mean that )

::::End of Review::::

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/11/02, Updated 09/03/02

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