Anatomy of Castlevania III: Block 2-01 to 2-06

The second block of Dracula’s Curse introduces a few new elements to theCastlevania franchise. For starters, it’s a wholly optional stage; at the end of Block 1, you’re given a choice of paths to pursue. The lower path offers a roundabout path along the outskirts of the lake surrounding the castle, while the upper path — which leads […]

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: VII

This whole “let’s dissect Castlevania games” obsession began by accident after I started writing about Simon Belmont’s sprite, so it only seems fitting to look at Simon as he exists in the sequel. Well… color palette aside (he’s traded his barbarian leathers for what appears to be armor and mail), Simon isn’t terribly different in […]

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 […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: III

So, towns. Simon’s Quest breaks its world, effectively, into three play spaces: Towns, the Transylvanian countryside, and Mansions. Each operates by its own rules, although the general means by which Simon navigates them remains consistent. It’s not like a tactical RPG where you have battlefields, towns, and a world map, each of which you deal […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: II

Simon’s Quest works, by and large, like Castlevania. You control Simon Belmont. He walks (hobbles) along, whips stuff, uses subweapons, jumps, gets knocked back into pits when he collides with enemies, and seeks to destroy Dracula. The general details are almost indistinguishable at a glance, except now Simon wears dark armor instead of leather. Take […]

Anatomy of a Simon’s Quest: I

Konami tried something bold with Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Where the original Castlevania hailed from classic arcade roots, escalating the form with its sensible construction design, beautifully realized sense of space, and logical architectural progression, Simon’s Quest pushed for something more akin to a role-playing game. This approach wasn’t without antecedent! Around the same time […]

More on Castlevania

I’m very sorry, but I still have a few more things to write about Castlevania. You may slam your computer angrily, if it makes you feel better. Specifically, I want to mention what might be the most interesting items in the game: The weapon multipliers. The concept of a power-up was in itself nothing particularly new […]