Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest
Box Shot
Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest
Platform: NES
Publisher: Konami
Designer: Konami
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

I'm sure that a lot of people who played Castlevania where taken by surprise when they first played this game. At first, the play mechanics seem a bit control the same person, Simon Belmont, although he looks different. You have the same side view of the action, as well as whips, daggers, and holy water, although the status bar is now gone and your life meter is in the upper left part of the screen. The biggest difference comes in the structure of the game. The original Castlevania was a normal, linear action game. This is an adventure game, with some RPG elements added in for fun.

Apparently, Simon could not get anyway unscathed at the end of the first Castlevania. Dracula cursed Simon before he died, leaving him with a pretty much permanent chest pain. The only way to remove this curse is to find five of Dracula's body parts (mysteriously spread through five different mansions) and then burn them. You start off in the town of Jova, and thus begins your search for new whips, items, and the mansions, some of which are hidden. Hearts now double as a currency and a limit to the amount of times you can use special weapons (which must be either found or bought.) Defeat enough enemies, and your maximum life level increases. You can go through most of the mansions in pretty much any order (although you must beat the second mansion before you can get on to the third.) There is now a time scale to the game...after a certain amount of time, nighttime comes, and the enemies are twice as strong. Yes, this is most certainly different than the first game.

The graphics are all rather blah. In addition to being boring, almost everything looks the same. All of the forests, towns, mansions, etc. are the same background just with different colors. And don't get me started on how the enemies look...most of them consist of two or three frames on animation and end up looking pathetic. However, there isn't anything bad to be said about the music. Every single tune in the this game manages to sound wonderful, from the general spookiness of the password theme to just=plain-cool day time theme. This is undoubtedly some of the best music to come out of the NES. Simon controls similarly to the way he does in the original...he doesn't walk particularly fast, and can't control the direction of his jump in mid-air. However, most of the body parts have special effects, like the rib acts as a shielf to defend against projectiles.

I know plenty of people don't like this game, plainly because the game doesn't give enough clues. Talking the people in town is extremely useless, as they either give bum advice or simply give useless information (half of the comments from females are come-ons.) Once you figure out that most of the puzzles simply involve exchanging the right crystal and kneeling with it at the right spots, you've pretty much figured out everything. However, the game isn't as large or confusing as Goonies 2, where you similarly had almost no clue in where to go or what to do.

However, once you know the puzzles, Castlevania 2 turns into tons of fun. Sure, there isn't as much die hard whipping as the first one, and the action hardly escalates at all. There are three bosses in total, including Dracula, and none of them require any effort whatsoever. Everytime you die, you simply resurrect in the same spot (although if you run out of lives, your experience and hearts go down to zero.) It's basically too easy, with none of the palm-sweating intensity of the original. Despite this, its an engrossing game. I've played it through four times, clipping off my total time and getting the best ending.

Overall, this is the kind of game, like Metroid, that's just fun to explore the game world. There may not be as much action as I'd like, but it's still damned fun game to play through.