Friday, January 18, 2013

Emulator Hour ~ First Impressions: Castlevania: The Adventure

I first apologize for the overuse of colons in the title.  Well, there're only two, but even that seems like a lot for a single title.  Maybe not.  Now on with the show:

Until I started writing this article, I've apparently been saying the name of this game incorrectly.  I've always called it "The Castlevania Adventure" instead of it's official title, Castlevania: The Adventure.  This game came out in 1989, the same year of Gameboy's release and only four months after it's August release in North America.  Some of the games shortcomings could be attributed to the fact that companies were still figuring out both the software and what could be accomplished with the hardware.  I'm just speculating of course.  I can't say what Konami's limitations were with the 256/512 KB cartridge.  Just think on that for a second though.  An entire game contained in 256 - 512 KB of information.

All of that aside, the game plays very much like the original 1987 Casltevania on the NES.  You control a character, this time Christopher Belmont (Simon Belmont's ancestor) delves into Dracula's "gloomy castle on the outskirts of Transylvania."  The controls though, are a bit sluggish.  By "sluggish," I mean that it feels like Christopher is moving through mud, even if he isn't.  The enemies though (especially those fucking bats) have the agility of drunk five year old (the five year old is the neighbors dog, so it's probably legal).  

Like most Castlevania games, your main character starts out with a simple whip which can be upgraded with items (magically appearing from whipped candles) and turned into a ball and chain whip.  Unlike most Castlevania games though, the whip can be upgraded again and shoot fireballs.  I believe this is to make up for the fact that there are no sub-weapons (knife, axe, boomerang) as found in the previous two installments.

The game is made up of four stages, although I've yet to make it through the second stage.  I've been playing for only 41 minutes and there's one jump in the beginning of Stage 2 that is constantly screwing me over.  Which jump you ask? This one I reply:
Gameplay from jrdu44 (
Now that at first glance doesn't look too hard, but like a lot of platformers, platforms like that usually mean that they'll fall once you step on them, which these ones do very well.  To note, that first candle produces a whip power up, but the power up will pass through the steps and unless the jump-whip-land on platform-jump are timed perfectly, you will fall and die.  To date (and as of 15 minutes ago), I cannot make the second jump off the platform onto the ledge leading to the rope.  I don't know how many times I've tried, but it's been a lot of failed attempts.  A very nice thing with this game is that while you start out with 3 lives, you do have infinite continues although the continue starts you back at the beginning of the stage.

No, I don't suck at video games, this game is just incredibly difficult.  And no, I don't base that off of this one (pain in the ass) jump.  The game is difficult, mostly because of the sludgey controls and the awkwardness of jumping.  Like a lot of early Nintendo games, this one is designed to be difficult, otherwise you could beat the whole game in a single 30 minute sitting.

I should also point out the music, which falls under the category of awesome Castlevania music.  The music was composed/programmed by Shigeru Fukutake, Norio Hanzawa and Hidehiro Funauchi.  The soundtrack is only made up of four songs, one for each stage; a track for when you fight a boss and two tracks for Dracula.  Presently, I've only heard two of the tracks in game, but having a "version" of the soundtrack on my computer, I've heard all the tracks quite a few times and they're all standard fare for a Castlevania game.

So my final recommendation for Castlevania: The Adventure, is that if you are a fan of the Castlevania series, you enjoy challenge and don't mind monochrome graphics and often times sludgey controls, shelling out $4.99 isn't a bad way to go.  Now if Konami and Nintendo would just release the rest of the Castlevania back catalogue, I'll be very happy to give them my money.

I'll Never Lie To You, And That's The Truth

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