sunnuntai 2. tammikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (1991)

Genre(s): Action / Platform
Released: 1991
Available on: GB
Developer(s): Konami
Publisher(s): Konami
Players: 1

Back in the day, Castlevania for the NES was a great game, if not a masterpiece, and Castlevania II was downgrading of the worst degree. Well, the first Game Boy title Castlevania: The Adventure was below mediocre, while Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge was a fine effort to save the Castlevania brand's face on the handheld. It's got problems - not all of the first game's flaws are scrubbed out - but at the very least, it's playable, and quite recommendable for Castlevania completists as it has a lot more of the vintage franchise in it.

Son, now you've gone and pissed me off

15 years after Christopher Belmont put another reincarnation of Dracula to rest, the Belmont family is celebrating the inauguration of a new vampire hunter, Christopher's son Soleiyu, who has somehow gained possession of great mystical power. Dracula needs this power to be able to once again return to Earth, so he lures Soleiyu away from his family, brainwashing him to take a stand as his right hand man. It's up to the aging Christopher to once again put an end to the vampiric menace, and beat sense into his son in the process.

The graphics are more detailed, cleaner and smoother than before and the game's look is much closer to home when it comes to the brand name, in all of HUD, level and character design. The music was quite OK in the last game, one of its few good qualities - in this game it's even better. All of the songs are original pieces written exclusively for the game, and most of them retain Castlevania music's awesome trademark drive. Audiovisually, the game is exactly what the first one was supposed to be.

There are four stages in the game and each has its own, distinct theme. You can beat them in any order to unlock two more in the dungeons of Castlevania itself. It's kind of like Castlevania III on the NES; all of the first four stages are only moderately difficult, while the last two are pure, untamed hell, all the way to the incredibly difficult bosses. The game might not have the most difficult final bosses out of all Castlevania games, but they are HARD, nonetheless. 

Bloopers in Castlevania?
The gameplay's pretty much straight-on Castlevania for those who enjoy it - although all sorts of staircases are still replaced by ropes, which you can slide down fast, now. The biggest theoretic difference about the game and the previous one is the much appreciated inclusion of secondary weapons. Only holy water and throwing axes are in, but they are more than enough to compensate for the previous, total lack of secondary weapons. The Vampire Killer no longer loses its upgrades when Christopher takes damage - the weapon remains upgraded as long as you manage to stay alive, just like in any ol' Castlevania game. The last upgrade for the Vampire Killer is the Mystic Whip, which allows you to whip out projectiles with excellent range that spans across the whole screen. Damn, I wish this had made it to some other Castlevania game! So, in theory everything's in place for a fanboy to settle down and enjoy a small game of 'Vania on a small screen. The most important question lies unanswered, though, and it involves the physics of the game.

Would you freak out if you
were chased down by a giant
Well, Christopher is not quite the male bitch to control he was in Castlevania: The Adventure, but he still moves at the speed of a snail. It feels like his walking speed, as well as his reaction speed, are intentional parts of the character since so many of the first game's problems relating to control are rarely to be found. Chris' occasional refusal to jump on your exact cue - which is particularly hazardous when you come across elevating platforms or ropes with spikes on both sides - makes the game even harder than it already is. Most invisible walls are gone, though - that relieves some of the tension. Overall, there are many screens in the game that just wouldn't have been possible to survive in the first one. Here, the better programming provides even a slight chance for survival. You just need to get over the fact that you're apparently controlling the laziest vampire hunter around, and overcome some really awkward timing issues.

In the first game, you'd be dead
already. The gears are also
deadly, you know.
Like I said, the game is hard. Really hard, this time it's not just the gameplay mechanics pissing on your face. The stages you can most definitely beat after trying enough and taking mental notes of their toughest spots. The bosses are something else, at least those residing within Castlevania's walls. The last two are indeed "Revenge", revenge by raping one's ass. I don't blame you for not wanting to even come face to face with the Count himself after dealing with his second in command.

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge is a moderately entertaining, good old black 'n' white Castlevania game. Due to its lead character who is apparently made out of solid rock, it's not quite comfortable all the way and its occasionally ultra-high level of difficulty will have you ripping your scalp to shreds, but it's so close to what Castlevania used to stand for back in the day, that it's pretty much irresistable to try at least once.

Graphics : 8.5
Sound : 8.8
Playability : 7.0
Challenge : 9.0
Overall : 7.3


a.k.a. Dracula Densetsu II (JAP)

GameRankings: 81.88%

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