Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 4-01 to 4-03

In our analysis of Castlevania III, Trevor and Sypha have reached Dracula’s castle itself after a long, difficult fight over water and across the span of treacherous bridges and deadly towers (no, no, not those Deadly Towers). But wasn’t there another option somewhere along the way? Ah, yes, the branching path in the middle of […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 7-0A to 7-0C

The seventh block along Castlevania III‘s alternate path brings us to the end of Sypha’s route, and the game marks your arrival at Castlevania proper by swapping out the standard regional map for a castle floor plan patterned after the first game’s stage map. In case you had forgotten about the way the journey diverged […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 6-0A to 6-0D

The alternate route’s sixth Block stands out as one of the most memorable stages in a game crammed with them, because of a neat throwaway gimmick. Sure, it basically boils down to a case of stunt programming, but damn if it didn’t impress back in 1990 — and it’s one of the reasons I became […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 5-0A to 5-0C

Every game eventually reaches a point at which it stops teaches and expects you to function on your own steam: To take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them, or fail. Even games like Final Fantasy XIII and modern Zeldas do this, although in those cases it may not come until the very end. Castlevania […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 4-0A to 4-0E

Dracula’s Curse splits midway through Block 3, giving you two completely different paths through the game. We’ll be following the path we saw a portion of yesterday to its conclusion before exploring the alternate route. This puts us in Sypha territory, which (based on the stage numeration) represents the alternate path to the castle. I […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 3-00 to 3-04

Ambitious as Block 1 of Castlevania III was, Block 3 might actually top it. At the very least, it demonstrates the fact that the designers didn’t tip their hands at the very start. You know how you play a lot of games these days with a crazy, amazing, introductory set piece… and then the rest […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 1-01 to 1-04

So we have the initial run-up of Block 1-01. In Castlevania, this took place outside the castle, and here we have an initial moment of whip-upgrading in a hazard-free zone… but at the end of this screen a pair of bone-throwing skeletons appear. For comparison, these guys didn’t show up until Block 07 of Castlevania. […]

Anatomy of Castlevania III: Beginning

Many gamers see Castlevania III as a return to form, which is to say it turns the gears of game design backward to pretend Simon’s Quest never happened. Rather, it plays much more like the original Castlevania: Linear discrete stages, high difficulty level, stages designed as refined obstacle courses rather than meandering open spaces. New […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: VIII

Here we go, folks: The end. The finale. Where the rubber meets the road, and the wooden stake meets the chest of the satanic abomination determined to rise from the dead and prey upon humanity. Despite spanning the entirety of Transylvania, Simon’s Quest culminates in Dracula’s castle, or at least its ruins. In a nice touch […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: VI

And now: The world. Or, if you prefer, ザ・ワールド If Simon’s Quest falls apart in the Mansions and annoys in towns, it shines in the world beyond those locations. I don’t know why all five Mansions look exactly alike, or why they’re so boringly constructed, but I’m going to guess that it’s because all the […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: V

Let’s talk about Simon’s Quest‘s NPCs. Long story short, Transylvania is populated by a bunch of jerks. I get that living in the shadow of a cyclical undead horror bent on conquering the world by transforming humanity into a race of snack-pack slaves can be pretty harrowing, but that’s exactly why you’d assume these guys […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: IV

By far, Mansions represent the point at which Simon’s Quest‘s reach exceeds its grasp. They’re an interesting attempt at spicing up the Castlevania style with something new and different, but they fall short of the mark due to poor design and sheer monotony. If Simon’s Quest mimics the shape of an RPG, Mansions play the […]