I was excited when Simon and Ritcher Belmont were announced for Smash Ultimate, not just because I’ve wanted Simon in ever since Mega Man appeared as a NES-era 3rd party rep in the last game, but also it meant I got to cover a Castlevania game on this blog! I mean, I was going to eventually anyway, obviously, but this is a nice excuse to jump straight to the favourite one that I’ve played: Super Castlevania IV. Let’s take a look, and kick off the actual game review part of the Smash Ultimate countdown!
A whip and a Bone Pillar, what more do you need?
Super Castlevania IV was released on the SNES on October 31st 1991 in Japan, December 4th 1991 in the US, and November 23rd … 1992… *sigh*, in Europe.
Despite being called Super Castlevania IV, it’s not the fourth “Super Castlevania”, and while it’s the fourth game on consoles, it’s actually a remake of the first Castlevania game, so… misleading all round (well, apart from everyone was used to seeing “Super” added to most SNES games anyway…) In the end though, who cares?
Like the other early entries in the series, Super Castlevania IV is a side-scrolling action platformer, with your main character controlling a whip to attack enemies. This time the whip can whip in eight directions, and if you hold down the action button the chain goes limp and you can waggle it around in order to block projectiles, or just have fun with the early example of weapon physics. You can also whip it up to ledges or ceilings and swing across platforms, which is fun but tricky. As per usual you can power up your whip by collecting power ups, making it longer and do more damage.
You can also still collect side weapons, like an axe, holy water, daggers, and more, though they consume hearts that you have to collect during gameplay, either from defeated enemies or via candles.
That’s the main jist of the gameplay, with sub bosses and full on boss fights featuring the usual array of classic creatures from folklore and legends, including the inevitable showdown with Dracula at the end. The levels are all really well designed, challenging and made to make sure you use the new whip mechanics, but not obnoxiously difficult. Plus it has a password system, which gets rid of the limited lives issue with older games…
Graphics and Sound:
Those are some properly cartoony ghosts!
The sprites are nice and detailed, the backgrounds are full of atmosphere, and the animation is nice for the time, making it easier to go up stairs and the like. Enemies and especially bosses explode with the satisfying SNES echoing explosion sound.
Speaking of sound, it has a great soundtrack, as all Castlevania games tend to do! A lot of them are remixes of old themes, which is something more modern games tend to do, but hey, I’ll never complain about hearing a new version of Simon’s Theme.
Dracula firing a fireball up Simon Belmont’s arse.
As it’s a remake of the original, it takes place in 1691 and sees Simon Belmont live up to his family’s destiny and travel to Transylvania to defeat Dracula, who has returned to wreak havoc on the world once more. It’s fine, as with most early games, it didn’t need a strong narrative as the gameplay was so good…
Damn, those are some large books!
I was properly impressed at the time, seeing my brother play it after he rented it out once. I had a quick go but not much, it was enough that when I got into oh-so-naughty ROMs in my early 20s it was one of the first ones I downloaded. Top stuff, but it’s kind of hard to give it a rating since I played it so little then, so I’ll just leave this story here, but I never actually played it enough to do it justice in terms of a score…
Erm, wow… nearly got him?
While I’m still new to Castlevania (it was between it and the Mega Man series as to which old school platforming series I wanted to play through, with Mega Man winning because it had two handy collections to download…) but I really enjoyed this game after I brought it from the Nintendo Wii e-shop. Great level design, action, satisfying difficulty and nice graphics combined with an excellent soundtrack means even in 2018 this is highly recommended.