Sunday, October 21, 2012

Game Review: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Action/Adventure; NES; Konami; 1988
Welcome back my Fiendish Friends from.... France? If you where wondering what happened to my Walkthrough of Castlevania I, well I've run into a problem trying to format the damn thing since I want it to look presentable and so far Blogger hasn't really given me much to do so. So it is on hold for an indeterminate period of time. But the show must go on, next up is the most controversial game in the original Castlevania Trilogy: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.

Go forth Holy Water! Do you're obnoxious thing!
A few years have passed since the events of the first game, but Simon didn't escape his battle unscathed. A Curse was place upon him by Dracula during his last moments. A Curse that will kill him unless he does the unthinkable: Resurrect Dracula. Now Simon my travel across the land, searching for the 5 remains of Dracula: his Rib, his Heart, his Eye, his Nail, and his Ring, and bring them all to the remains of Castlevania to free himself from this curse once and for all.

Fuck, Move out of the way!
Major changes where made between Castlevania I and II, which oddly enough seemed common at the time for sequels. Instead of a straight forward Stage 1- Boss -Stage 2- Boss progression of its predecessor, Simon's Quest adds RPG elements such as towns, level ups, upgradable weapons, and currency (which are Hearts for some reason) and has a largely nonlinear progression. You're only guide as to where to go is largely determined by "Can you kill these guys without dying?" or "Do you even have the item required to go here?" The core gameplay mechanics remain the same, you still jump, swing your whip, and move with the same slow moving deterministic controls of Castlevania I; however, now you have to walk outside first and get to a dungeon called a Mansion in order to find Dracula's bits (And also have the particular item required to enter the Mansion and know whatever the hell you need to do). Instead of whipping candles for goodies, your Subweapons are selectable from a menu and only the most powerful weapons consume hearts (Though the less powerful ones are next to fucking useless), and hearts are random drops from enemies. As I said before, Hearts are now this game's currency, and they are necessary to buy weapon upgrades and some necessary items, they also add to your experience pool which allows you to Level Up gaining more Health and or Resistance to attacks. However, don't take too long as Simon's Quest is one of the first games with a Day and Night cycle. At night all the enemies are twice as strong, and all towns lock their doors until daybreak. Also the number of in game days you spent trying to beat the game determines which ending you get, so don't waste too much time lest Simon falls to the curse.

You also Prossess Dracula's Lungs, Digestive Track, and Brain.
Unfortunately, the game isn't without it's flaws... It's many, MANY flaws. The slow controls are paired with frustrating jumps that seem illogically conceived. There are some jumps that you have to make while a block is just avoid your head requiring you to stand as close to the edge as possible to ensure your jumping arc is unobstructed. Others include blocks that move up and down which seem positioned to make you jump at counter-intuitive times. However, that problem is assuming you know where you are going which brings me to my next point: Where the hell do you go!? The game is so ambiguous as to how you are suppose to proceed that you either need a walkthrough right next to you telling you the solutions to all of the cryptic information the game has been feeding you, or for some strange reason you committed all this information to memory due to a strange form of cultural osmosis because your brothers spent weeks trying to figure it out before eventually coming to the correct solution, like I have. Enemies are also rather generic, as most of their means of attack is just to walk into you and only a few actually throw fireballs at you (Which can't be whipped). Also some of the enemy placement is frustrating. I remember one part where I walked into the next screen and a skeleton was standing around where I appear from, and before I could react I was knocked back into the previous screen. It took me several attempts like this before I could actually defeat the fucker. Next is the bosses or the lack there of, there are only 3 including Dracula and by the time you fight them you have plenty of items that can be used to stun lock them until they die (not that their battle strategies are that well thought out). And finally, when you die it is no biggy since you respawn right where you died, but if you have to continue you lose all of your Hearts and Experience, requiring you to grind some more if you had to buy a really expensive item, which you almost always had to do.

Personally, I wouldn't really consider Simon's Quest to be a bad game like so many other reviews. If you know what you are doing, and where to go, and what you have to do when you get there, and where you don't need to go, it can be simple addicting fun in a similar manner of say Metroid or the Symphony of the Night style Castlevania games. However, knowing what you are doing, where you are going, what you have to do when get there, and where you don't need to go is the major stumbling block for the game. Unless you know all that, or have a guide telling you all that in a very simple easy to read fashion, it is a real pain to get through. Limited Recommendation.

Next time, we tackle a game that is far more diabolical in it's difficulty. Next week we have Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Until then.

 -Crescent, What a Horrible Night to have a Curse.

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