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Title: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (3rd Review)
Author:Konami
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Tawna Evans

Synopsis: Simon Belmont returns to Transylvania to complete some unfinished business. In spite of Dracula's defeat, a curse continues to torment Simon's life. At night, horrible monsters appear, seeking to put an end to his life. In order to eliminate this curse, Simon must collect clues concerning a riddle, and he must gather together potent possessions and body parts of Dracula. Once he does this, he would resurrect the vampire so that he could destroy him and his curse, permanently.

The game play is pretty similar to the first Castlevania. This is a side-scrolling game that includes some adventure elements. One major difference is that this game feels less linear than the first CastleVania. Simon may travel around the place freely, collect clues from townsfolk during the day, and build experience points and money by attacking monsters. Whenever you feel like it, (with a minor exception), you can have Simon purchase weapons and tools at the various towns. At night, monsters appear in the towns, seeking to destroy Simon Belmont. You cannot visit any of the people at night. Once Simon defeats a monster, sometimes a small gem appears that may raise either his experience or money. Weak monsters only leave behind money. It's necessary to attack monsters that powerful enough to increase Simon's experience.

When Castlevania II was first introduced, this game won merits for exceptional graphics. This game changes the background color and the color of the monsters to a bluish tint at night. In addition, the music becomes more dramatic and active at night. I must admit, it was a good innovation. The monsters at night are twice as powerful as they are, during the day. Castlevania II also includes a clock that keeps track of how much time has progressed during the game, including nights. Sometimes it helps to wait around for time to pass while at a town, depending on what you wish to do, there.

In comparison to the games you see today, the graphics in this game are not that great. Monsters and gems sometimes blend into the background, which makes it difficult to see them. Six songs are used repeatedly as background music throughout the game. A couple of them play for so long, that they get pretty redundant. Yet, it's easy to forget about the music, while absorbed in the game. One song is for a town, during the day. Another is for the areas outside of the towns, during the day. At night, there is a song that gets played nearly everywhere, regardless of whether Simon is at a town, or outside somewhere. Mansions boast a separate song that gets played regardless of the time of the day. Finally, Dracula's home, Castlevania, has its own separate tunes, one for the journey to the altar room, and another for the final battle. Those last two do not play for very long, because beating Dracula takes almost no time at all.

In this game, the most powerful enemies do not present much of a challenge. The greater challenge emerges from dealing with the other aspects of the game. I lose lives more often when trying to jump off of and onto ledges floating on the water than anywhere else. It would be nice to have more control over Simon's movements while in the air. Plus, Simon cannot use any items while climbing up and down stairs. This can be tough when you encounter enemies at the top a long climb of stairs. Even laurels cannot help much in these circumstances, because their invincibility effects wear off quickly.

This game includes two different endings. If you gather every single clue and explore every nook and cranny, you will achieve the best ending. If you slack on gathering clues and talking to people, you will achieve the not-so-great ending, in which Simon fails to eliminate Dracula's curse. Some of the hints that the clues offer seem pretty mysterious, and they do not make much sense. However, some of the clues aren't really clues, but just pure nonsense. With the non-linearity of this game, I felt pretty confused during my first time playing the game. Afterwards, I zoomed through it quickly, without bothering with trying to collect every single clue... and ended up with the not-so-great ending. Sometimes I wonder if there are any secrets in the game that I have not yet uncovered. There's some hints told by townsfolk that make no sense at all. Oh well. Castlevania II is still a pretty decent game. A fun challenge would be to see how quickly you could beat the game. Doing so wouldn't win you the best ending, but you can see how much time elapsed in a previous game by pressing start once the game ending sequence finishes.

Best Cheats: Nope.

Game Play: 4
Graphics: 4
Music/Sound: 4
Originality: 7
Overall Rating: 5



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