Game of the Month June, 2003:
Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest

System: NES Developer: Konami
Castlevania 2 is one of my favorite NES games. Although this game sometimes gets some flak for it's confusing puzzles and ease of difficulty, it has great atmosphere and holds a certain charm over me. As the second in the immortal Castlevania series, Simon's Quest ditched the action-oriented gameplay of the original in favor of a more sprawling adventure. Now you can explore the creepy Transylvanian countryside at your will, as well as its dark and dangerous mansions. Only by searching through these mansions and finding the lost parts of Count Dracula will you be able to reach the final area, Dracula's Castle, and defeat his evil curse. But it won't be easy because those pieces are well-hidden and the clues to their whereabouts are often vague. There are also many towns along the way where you can buy items and talk to people.

Although Simon attempt to disguise himself as a tree fooled the skeleton, sadly, it didn't have any effect on the green zombie that approached him from behind.

When Simon cut in line at the saucer plate water ride, the two-headed monster wasn't very happy about it. I have to admit that I didn't beat Castlevania 2 without help from Nintendo Power. Some of the odd tasks you have to perform, such as kneeling in a certain spot with a certain item selected for several seconds, are nearly impossible to figure out on your own. But I don't think that necessarily detracted from my enjoyment of the game, although I don't usually like having to "cheat" to win. But because of that, I can understand why someone who didn't have access to a guide of some kind may become frustrated with not knowing what to do. But I strongly feel that the one or two times you'd have to resort to a walkthrough for help are more than made up for by the awe of exploring Catlevania 2's world, and the thrill of discovering its many secrets. Each item that you acquire serves a different purpose. Some make your whip stronger, one gives you a shield that actually reflects bullets, and others help you bust through breakable blocks to access deeper areas of towns and castles. The game's dialogue, though it suffers a bit from a quirky translation, can be quite entertaining, even downright funny at times, as you can see in my oddities feature (see Links below).

The graphics of Castlevania 2 really amazed me, especially how dark and creepy some places look. My favorite areas are the cemetaries and the desolate wastelands with all those dead trees. The music is excellent, too. Some people have called it the greatest NES soundtrack ever, and though I don't quite agree with that, I can understand it. My only real complaint with this game is that there is no real action challenge to it. The game has a day/night feature, in which enemies are stronger at night, but overall, there's just nothing here to challenge a hardcore action gamer. Even the bosses, especially the final boss, are pathetically easy.

If only Simon hadn't been holding that giant shield in front his face, he would've seen the grabbing hands of doom before it was too late.

Despite its shortcomings in challenge, Castlevania 2 is still an adventure worth partaking in. If you're a collector of NES games, I highly recommend adding it to your collection.

Castlevania 2 Links

  • My Castlevania 2 Review - A complete review of this fantastic game.
  • The Case of the Graveyard Duck - My Oddities page dedicated to the humorous qualities of this game's dialogue.


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