Saturday, September 11, 2010

Retro review CastleVania II: Simons Quest

One year after the original Castlevania was released, Konami followed it up with the first sequel, Simon's Quest. Like many NES sequels (SMB2), Simon's Quest didn't follow the original game's mechanics, Konami altered the platforming/action game play of Castlevania by adding RPG elements. Originally collecting hearts was simply for the amount you could use your sub weapon, in Simon's Quest collecting hearts also contributed to building your health bar and was used as the games monetary system. The game also adds NPC's to purchase items and weapons and get clues to next objectives.

One of the most prominent changes in Simon's Quest was the exploration aspect which had the player traveling the Transylvania countryside to find five mansions to reclaim five body parts of Count Dracula; his rib cage, heart, eye, nail and ring (not a body part). Each of these items had special attributes to help Simon on his....erm quest, the rib (cage) could be used as a shield, the heart was used to make the ferryman take you to an otherwise inaccessible area, the eyeball showed hidden items, the nail enables Simon's whip to break thru some walls that were otherwise inaccessible, and Dracula's Ring grant's the bearer access to Castlevania.

Other noteworthy new aspects of Castlevania II was the game had a quasi 24 hour clock that shifted from day to night and kept track of the players progress. The game also had three different endings based on the completion time which was pretty rare for console games at that time.

I remember being very excited on my way home from Software Etc. back in the day when I got Castlevania II and being a bit turned off at the radical change from the original, I also remember struggling with some of the games "puzzles" such as finding Rover Mansion under Yuba Lake and passing over Deborah Cliff to reach Bodley Mansion. I remember getting very frustrated because the info the NPC's gave me either was misleading or altogether useless...I think that can be attributed to poor English localization. Konami took a risk by departing so dramatically from the original; Simons's Quest may not have been perfect but it paved the way for one of the most popular titles in the series...Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Castlevania II had enough fresh idea's added to the core action to keep fans of the original cracking that whip, and the next Castlevania would see a return to the series roots and introduce one of the series most popular protagonists...that wasn't a Belmont!


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