Super Castlevania IV Review

4.14 / 5 (14 votes)

 

 

Author: Mongunzoo

Castlevania. The name alone evokes countless images in the minds of gamers. Everything from the creepily atmospheric castle to the monsters you fight just ooze adventure. This game cemented my love of the horror genre. So when I heard about a 16-bit ”remake”on my favorite system, I made sure it was one of the first games we owned for it. Like Contra III, I never beat it back then. But after recently beating it for the first time I can say without a doubt that this is the BEST Castlevania ever made. Symphony of the Night be damned! (Kidding, as I love that one as well!).

Let’s just get this out of the way. There is an ongoing debate whether or not Super Castlevania IV is a remake of the NES original. They are nothing alike in terms of level structure. They are both the telling of the SAME story, following Simon Belmont on his quest to rid the world of the evil Count. However levels and gameplay are significantly different from each other. I hope that this clears up any confusion.

Longtime fans of the series will immediately notice how much more user- friendly Super Castlevania IV is. The way the first games controlled was a major source of frustration for many CastlevaniaIV pic 1gamers, myself included. Have no fear, as every gripe that I had about how the NES iterations controlled has been dispelled. Simon can now change the direction of his jump, can move more effectively on stairs, and can now whip in eight directions! He even does the moonwalk! This amount of mobility was never revisited, making many of the future games seem like they were going backwards. As a famously angry reviewer once said, “It’s as if you ARE Simon Belmont!!”

Heart powered weapons make a comeback, though Simon’s whip renders many of these less useful this time around. Weapons like the knife are still useful for taking out enemies like those damn Medusa heads. And the axe and boomerang are still the weapons you won’t want to drop! Enemies match Simon’s arsenal and there are many varieties of every monstrosity you can think of. Mud-Men, Harpies, Spiders, OH MY! While they give the game flair, you will always have the feeling that none of Dracula’s forces are up to the challenge of defeating the Vampire Hunter. Most of my deaths came from the bosses and the lethal traps that are spread over the castle grounds.

The bosses in Super Castlevania IV are spectacular and many. Each encounter will bring you face to face with CastlevaniaIV pic 2horror movie icons and massive monsters that will test your reflexes and gaming acuity. All of them (both new and revisited from the first three) will give you a trip down memory lane. Remember when a boss was a challenge and not just a roadblock?

I cannot count how many times that damned treasure bat killed me before I finally bested him! Eventually you will reach the final climb toward Dracula’s throne, and in many ways these final two areas of the castle are a great illustration of the game itself. They throw many classic bosses and tunes from years gone by. It is a celebration of the old melded with the innovations of the new. Even when Dracula breathes his last, it’s not over. Your victory merely unlocks a harder second quest with stronger and more numerous foes, a fitting reward from a great game.

Graphically, the game utilizes the power of the SNES to add some nice touches that make all the difference. From the detailed backgrounds to the transparent ghosts floating around the treasury, to the spinning Mode 7 showoff rooms, everything just clicks together. I have also always loved the way this game flows in such a natural way. Every level seems like a progression through these cursed lands, beginning in a damned village, then climbing up to the gate of Castlevania. Even after you enter Dracula’s domain, there is a genuine sense that you are traveling through a castle, starting in the main hall before being dumped down into the dungeon and treasury, then finally making your way back up the tower to Dracula’s keep. It just feels much more like an adventure than many other games that like to whisk you from level to level with no continuity whatsoever.

The music sells the atmosphere in this game, imparting a sense of horror and isolation. It reinforces Simon’s desperate quest to rid the world of Dracula.You will hear all of your favorite vampire killing songs, as well as many great new pieces of music made just for this adventure. My favorite has to be the cave and cliff songs, where you can just hear the depression and sadness. This is one of those rare games that speak to you through its music, and this soundtrack ranks with the best the SNES has to offer.

Super Castlevania IV stands with the likes of Contra III as one of Konami’s finest titles. It is far and away the most accessible game in the classic series. It’s easily the most atmospheric, taking the gothic roots of Bram Stroker’s classic tale and reformatting it perfectly in video game form. And though I adore the new Castlevania games as well, I can’t help but feel a little sad that this gamCastlevaniaIV pic 3e was the end of an era.

From here on out the series would shed its classical roots and rebuild itself into something more resembling anime. While this is by no means a bad thing, it did have a diminishing affect on me. This game is unequivocal evidence that it is the small things that distinguish a great game from a legendary one. Super Castlevania IV enables us to play from dusk till dawn and thinking to ourselves as it ends that 100 years is too long a wait for the next eternal battle with Count Dracula.

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Mongunzoo

Mongunzoo

I am an avid fan of the SNES who never really left. When others were upgrading to the 64 and enjoying Star-Collector Mario, I was Perusing Japanese auction sites for hidden gems on the other side of the ocean! I now have a collection spanning over 200 SNES games and accessories. When not playing on SNES and writing for this website, I enjoy traveling, good food, drink, and company, and deep discussions with Grimm.

19 Comments:

  1. A TRUE classic in every sense of the word!! Bloodlines on Genesis is pretty good too.

  2. Yes, I heard Bloodlines was good also. Have you played Lords of Shadow? That too, is an excellent Castlevania game.

  3. One of the things I constantly harp about in this industry is the importance of the customer perception. If a customer percieves a game as not being in line with series expectstions it can fail. That said, I think the legacy of Castlevania games is all in the atmosphere. When you think about it there is nothing original or special about Simon stomping from one end of the level to another. But the monster-mashup and gothic atmosphere propel it into an unforgettable experience. I think that may be why Castlevania has remained viable throughout its many changes. Its been a metroid adventure, a sidescroller, and a Devil May Cry action title! As long as it maintains that amazing atmosphere it could be an RPG and succeed at marketplace!

    …There I go again about business LoL!

  4. A Castlevania RPG could be brilliant actually. Just thinking about it, there’s SO many things they could do. Unfortunately RPG’s aren’t doing so hot in America right now. Why didn’t Konami think of this back in the 90’s??? LOL!

  5. Really? RPGs are not doing well in America? I thought they were more popular than ever here.

    • Ummm the classic JRPG style isn’t doing so hot here I should say. More modern stuff like Mass Effect & Skyrim sell well but the 90’s & early 2000’s were the JRPG’s golden era. There’s been several articles lately around the net pertaining to the decline of the JRPG and how Xenoblade Chronicles rectifies that problem & is a step in the right direction.

  6. I think that JRPGs are still popular, but the industry is just not giving us the quality of the games that we want, thus the sales decline. Of course I would argue that this is not just a problem with JRPGs. I would point to FF13 which is a game that almost plays itself and is boring if the narrative doesnt grab you. Because JRPGs are now so narrative-focused they can only be played through once.

    I know, I know, JRPGs have ALWAYS been narrative-focused, and that is true, but look at a game like FF5 and the Jobs System or CHRONO TRIGGER and tell me that those were not gameplay-first games. These games are eternal because their gameplay is eternal. Stories are told but very few are eternal, especially in the videogame world.

    For a perfect example of a great gameplay-oriented RPG I urge EVERYONE to play xenoblade chronicles. God is it glorious, almost like the second coming of MAna…

    • I keep preaching the praises of Xenoblade Chronicles. It truly is the best JRPG I have played since the PS one days!! If only other companies could make games as good…cough, SquareEnix, cough…

  7. By far the best level based Castlevania ever.

    Bloodlines is fantastic too, but it doesn’t quite match the quality of this game (despite coming out 3 years after)

  8. I think a pales in comparison to Symphony of the Night. I also like circle of the moon better

  9. I too enjoyed symphony of the Night but for different reasons.

    It scratched my Metroid itch since Nintendo decided to abandon me as a gamer lol! I never played circle of the moon, but I have always heard good things.

    Still, what i wouldnt give for another classical Castlevania……

  10. I wonder if there are any hacks for the game on the Super Nintendo?

  11. It’s tough to directly compare the Metroidvania games to the level-based Castlevanias, it’s really apples and oranges.

    Symphony of the Night is probably the best in the series, though Super Castlevania IV is definitely the best level-based game.

  12. I like SotN, it has an awesome soundtrack to boot. I’ve just got to get this one next though.

  13. Would be interested to hear what you think. It’s totally different then SotN, but still awesome.

  14. Yeah Symphony marked a new play style for the Castlevania games but this & Bloodlines were the best of the standard action/side scrollers. Super 4 is better than Bloodlines but the fact that Konami actually made a fantastic Castlevania for Genesis/Mega Drive spoke volumes back in the day!

  15. In some ways, Castlevania Bloodlines is a better “classic” Castlevania game because it feels more like classic Castlevania that Castlevania IV does.

    Looking back on things, it’s quite interesting just how much of an outlier Castlevania IV is in the series at large. No other “classic” level-based ‘vania game plays quite like it.

  16. Castlevania is the best serie that I’ve played. I really want to re-play this game after read your review. Thank you Mongunzoo!

    And will play Dracula X after I finish this version.

  17. I still haven’t played this game yet. Maybe one day …

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