Castlevania is a classic NES and SNES series that many old school gamers hold in high regard. The original Castlevania helped set a standard for side scrolling action games and even today remains fun and insanely challenging. Castlevania 3 was even better, adding different routes to take and different characters to play as and making the gameplay somehow even more difficult. Super Castlevania 4 for the SNES with it’s greatly tightened controls, great graphics, and interesting gameplay is considered by many to be the best of all the pre-Playstation Castlevanias.
Then you have Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. This game is considered the black sheep of the Castlevania family. Clumisly mixing RPG elements to the Castlevania engine this game is typically considered the worst of the entire series, many saying it’s even worse than the N64’s abominations. Some however have felt that inside Castlevania 2 there’s a good game trying to get out. This lead to one person, TheAlmightyGuru to create a fanmade version of Castlevania trying to fix many of it’s issues. It’s this game, Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest REDACTION that I’m taking a look at today.
The FBI denies all knowledge of this game’s existence
I wasn’t sure how to tackle this review. I cannot assume that everyone reading this knows about Simon’s Quest and the issues it has that causes it to be considered the worst in the series. I think the best way to tackle it is to break this review up into two parts. First I’ll discuss the issues the original game has that TheAlmightGuru was able to fix in his updated version of the NES classic, and then I’ll talk about the issues that still persist.
First thing newcomers have to understand is that Castlevania 2 took a radically different approach than the original. In the original Castlevania you played as Simon Belmont, a vampire hunter, out to destroy Dracula in his castle. You fought your way through levels fighting enemies with your whip until you got a boss fight at the end. Upon beating the boss you’d move on to the next level. Typical side scrolling action.
Castlevania 2 however took that same side scrolling action but instead of going level to level you were given a giant open world to explore. The object of this game was to find the 5 hidden mansions which hold pieces of Dracula’s corpse so you can resurrect the evil vampire and defeat him once and for all. Don’t ask why you killed Dracula in the first game to bring him back in the second, it has to do with curses, and not the kind you’ll be yelling at the TV.
In order to find these mansions you travel from town to town, upgrading your whip, getting extra sub weapons, leveling up, and talking to town folks for clues. Here’s the biggest issue many had with the original game. Like in most RPGs you need to talk to townfolks for clues in order to help you progress. However in the original Simon’s Quest nothing the town folks say help you. It’s typically cryptic nonsense.
Well that clears things up completely
Even worse is that some of the townsfolk will actually lie to you! That’s pretty much the worst thing any character in an RPG can do you. For example, in order to get the flame sub weapon you need to travel to the woods, go under the tile floors, move to the far left of the screen, and then use holy water to break the wall to reveal the weapon. But ask this A-hole where to get the flame weapon and he’ll tell you:
There’s a special place in hell for you
My favorite example of a lie is this one. You see, there’s a ferryman who will take you across a lake to a different part of the map. However if you have Dracula’s Heart equipped he’ll take you to a different area instead, and that’s where you find the mansion. What does this putz tell you to do though:
This one is particularly bad because it’s a double lie. Not only is it a lie that would make you waste an expensive piece of garlic on the ferryman but it’s in the cemetery that you need to ues the garlic in order to make a cloaked man appear to give you two secret items. That’s two pieces of BS for the price of one!
Now think about this for a second. The original Castlevania 2 came out in 1988. There was no internet to speak of back then. You couldn’t just hop online and look up the answers to these crypic clues and lies. You were either stuck sharing info with friends, figuring it out through MUCH trial and error, or buying Nintendo Power with the hopes that they’d answer your questions. I guess you could call the Nintendo hotline, but I never knew anyone that actually did that back in the day. Maybe I just had cheap friends?
The good news is that Redacted takes care of these problems. All lies in the game have been removed with actual helpful hints. And the cryptic clues have been made much better as well. Remember that clue about the magic potion breaking the wall of evil? Well here’s what it actually means:
Oh, so that’s what happens when you get clues from people who aren’t clearly drunk!
This is a huge improvement. The game is hard enough to figure out where to go without clues that make no sense or are straight up lies. This alone makes the game much more enjoyable and playable.
Probably the second biggest complaint about this game is the day to night transitions. Castlevania 2 had a timer that would change the game from day to night and back to day at set intervals.
Night sets in fast around these parts
During the day shops are opened and enemies are easier to kill. At night shops are closed, towns are overrun with zombies/ghouls, and enemies are tougher to kill. However, the enemies at night will drop more hearts, which is the in-game currency, so fighting at night will help you afford those upgrades faster. Truthfully I always liked the way the game changed from day to night making the game more difficult at different times. It’s an interesting idea and overall it’s done well.
EXCEPT the one complaint that everyone has. The day to night change takes FOREVER. Well, it takes about 10 to 11 seconds to be exact, but while in the middle of traveling or fighting bad guys it might as well be forever because that’s how long it feels like. TheAlmightGuru fixed this problem immensely by changing the change time from 10 seconds to 4 seconds. Now you move about playing, the message pops up, and before you can blink you’re back to fighting bad guys. A huge improvement.
Actually all text speeds are a huge improvement. The text in the original game used to crawl at a snails pace. Now thanks to Redaction the text flies across the screen like Sonic being chased by The Flash.
All of these improvements to the original game really does give this classic much needed polish. The text speeds, the bad clues, the day/night transitions, it feels like so much less of your time is being wasted. Unfortunately, the rest of game does a good job of wasting your time.
TheAlmightGuru did a great job polishing the game but there are aspects of Castlevania that simply cannot be fixed through hacks. The gameplay itself is dull and the controls don’t fit an action RPG.
Even with the new clues given to you its often difficult to figure out where to go next You will find yourself backtracking around the same areas A LOT until you give into tempataion and just open up a walkthrough.
The day to night transitions have been improved but there is nothing more dull than pacing around the town for 5 minutes waiting for the shops to reopen so you can get an item you need so you can continue your quest.
The controls fit the original Castlevania perfectly but they feel awkward and clunky in places in Castlevania 2. See, for those of you who never played these original games when you jump in these games you cannot change your momentum the way you can in a game like Super Mario. Once you jump you’re committed to it. In the original Castlevania this was annoying but you were able to work around it.
However, in Castlevania 2 it becomes a huge pain in the ass when it comes to making jumps to maneuver around long jumps on the lake or tight confined jumps in the mansion. You will find yourself dying because of a bad jump more often than being killed by enemies.
Even death is a waste of time in this game. If you die you will respwan right where you died, even if it was your last life. You will continue right where you left off but you’ll lose all your currency. This means if you die you need to then grind those ghouls in town again for another 10 minutes so you can afford that whip upgrade. It becomes tedious. Fast.
So, I suppose the question is, “should you play this game”. This is a difficult question to answer. Castlevania 2 is far from being “the worst game ever”. It was an ambitious game for it’s time trying something new and different, something I wish more big name games today would try today. That being said, you can’t really call Simon’s Quest a GOOD game, not with as many flaws as it has.
Did I have fun playing it? Sort of. The game has a great feel to it, pretty good graphics and some of the best 8-bit music ever. It was a nostalgic treat to go back and play a game I used to rent from the video store as a kid with these new improvements. I did end up beating the game this time around and props to TheAlmightyGuru, he even gave Dracula a better face, looking more like a vampire instead of death. However, even with the nostalgia goggles firmly in place about halfway through the game I was becoming weary with it.
If you grew up with this game and have somewhat fond memories of it you should check out this updated version. And hey, it’s a free game to download and play on your emulator even if you never played it back in the day and you’re curious, go for it. However, if you want to play a good Castlevania action RPG, go play Symphony of the Night, its about 1000000% better.
That ends this edition of “Shall We Play A Game?” Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to sit down and discuss this subject over tea? Well simply email me at SuperfriendEd@Gmail.com Thank you for reading, and until next time, I really do hope that the morning sun will vanquish this horrible night.
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