-a rom hack of "Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest" for the Nintendo Entertainment System-
review by: Dr. Boogie
You know what Roger likes? Boo Berry. Have we covered that before? How about lately? Lately, has anyone mentioned just how much he loves that cereal?
Well it bears repeating: Rog loves Boo Berry, and frankly, it loves him back. One of our intrepid readers, going by the name of "Casper DJ 777", decided to commit this universal truth to video game form by taking the Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, a game which taught us all about the geography of rural Transylvania, and filling it with all manner of things. Mostly, it's cereal-related, but perhaps out of a sense of obligation, you'll still find a few classic rom hack tropes.
For your consideration, a rom hack that assaults your eyes and pees in your cereal: Count Choke-ula (with apologies to General Mills).
As you can clearly see from the new title graphics, this game is all about Count Chocula. Naturally, this means that the titular castle is now Choculavania (or Choke-ulavania), and instead of gathering Dracula's body parts for a barbeque at his place, you'll be collecting those of Chocula. No word on why he's so deserving of this treatment. Maybe the villagers were upset that his cereal gave them diabetes.
Seeing as the story no longer involves Dracula or Castlevania, it stands to reason that you would be controlling someone other than Simon Belmont.
And so you are placed in the white stilettos of the Devil. What's his connection to all of this? What does he have against Wilford Brimley? Why does the Devil have a whip made of Pacman ghosts? Longtime readers of the rom hack reviews know that there are no answers forthcoming. No, we'll all just have to accept that this is what we are seeing: an effeminate Satan with tiny bucked teeth.
Right off the bat, you can see that the villages in the game are built on cereal. Literally. Cereal boxes for stonework. Bowls and spoons for stairs. Perhaps this is the curse of "Wilf Brimley" that we heard about in the intro.
The villagers, too, are feeling the pinch. The brown birdman with the wispy black toupee may very well be Sonny, the Coco Puffs mascot. The bear looks familiar, too, but I can't quite place him. The triangle in his chest is throwing me off.
I assumed things would be sticking with the cereal theme from this point, but then other villagers starting showing up looking like Mickey Mouse, and Kenny from South Park. Then there's this guy:
At first glance, it looks like a man taking a dump. If you look closely, however, you'll notice that rather than laying some cable, the man is actually extending his triangular posterior into the ground as though he had a third, retractable butt cheek. This depressed, misshapen man is the new merchant. He'll be selling all the stuff an enterprising young devil would need for an organ-stealing daytrip.
Here's where things start to break down: Holy water is now "holy milk" and comes in a small box labeled LSD. Meanwhile, the knife is now the bowl... and the bowl is now the spoon. When making a rom hack, it can be hard to keep track of all the changes you've made, especially when you're flip-flopping between themes of cereal and all the things that make rom hacking the sport of pariahs. Speaking of which, you know how churches were a place of respite in the original Castlevania II? Well now they're even more relaxing:
Man, that new youth pastor is really shaking things up. Let's take a look, shall we:
What I see is a man in a grey dress trying to hold a paper bag in his mouth, but losing it when he suddenly has to sneeze. Who would be getting the worst of it should he decide to have sex with the Devil?
Things start to calm down a little once you get outside of town.
The cereal theme rears its sugary head once more with a bevy of mascots, including the two remaining members of the Cereal Monsters Triumvirate: Boo Berry and Frankenberry. I'm feeling a little more grounded now. Things are finally starting to make sense now that we've gone back to breakfast cereal mascots again. Hey, Pacman had a cereal of his own! That explains Satan's ghost whip, kind of.
But what's that? Nightfall...
Satan has a world-altering BM that drives all the breakfast cereal mascots into a bloodlust, and twelve hours later he finally flushes the toilet. I don't know what else to say.
Inside the mansion that hold Chocula's body parts, there are more mascots, and more tangentially-related characters like Fred Flintstone. And that thing on the right... is that a portable television with legs? Why does Toucan Sam look like a zombie? Why is the Lucky Charms guy's head falling off? What the hell is going on here?
Things are really spinning out of control now. As is so often the case, the longer the hack goes, the more taxing it is on the mind of the hacker. The original theme is gone now. Random images are flitting in and out of the hacker's mind. He grasps at them wildly and commits the ones he can remember to the hack:
A skeleton in a tracksuit riding a fan-less fanboat.
A 5-year-old's rendition of Zangief from Street Fighter.
An anthropomorphic sperm in an aviator's cap that transforms into a
man with a giant arm and a woman with no neck, then back again.
Madness has supplanted the creative instinct. The hacker is now a slave to his own delusions, his fever dreams becoming the basis for a new breed of horror. He pushes ahead until finally, he can push no further. Exhausted, he tries to force out one last creation, but all he can muster is this:
The hacker collapses into a gibbering mess. His eyes rolling into the back of his head, he groans and drools, wondering if the pain will ever end. And it goes without saying that he releases his bowels.
Days later, the hacker awakens from his torpor and gazes upon his creation. It's not finished yet, he says with a mixture of fear and eagerness. What about the bosses? They must be new, too!
New may have been a stretch in this case. Death has had his jaw removed and his skull flattened. Don't know how, don't know why. The more he moves around, though, the worse he looks. By design? The Brimley Curse? The world may never know.
And of course, the only way to top a man-to-man battle with the Harvester of Souls is to have the player battle the Cat in the Hat. Of course, without Thing 1 and Thing 2 to help him, the Cat in the Hat is a pushover.
That just leaves the last boss. Here's how I know Casper DJ 777 had really lost it:
Tossing Count Chocula's desecrated remains into the fire summons an even more terrifying spirit: that of one Roger Tiberius Barr. He throws some spoons at you, then starts running in circles around the room, just like when he gets into fights in real life. It's annoying, but all you really need to do is plug him with a few Golden Spoons and he is banished to the realm of pickles and Pacman forever.
And so, evil is vanquished. I wish I could say you had some new endings to look forward to, but the best I can offer you is this:
With Rog defeated, the Brimley Curse is lifted, and we see that our devilish character was actually Simon Belmont all along. Hopefully, his Wolverine haircut will wear off in time.
It's important to have a plan in mind when you first start making a rom hack. Get an idea of what you want your hack to look like, then stick with it, and in no time at all you'll have shat upon the works of those infinitely greater than yourself. If you try to change horses midstride and take your hack in a completely different direction, you can expect things to get awfully messy. Once that happens, there's really only one thing to do: kill yourself. In fact, why not be proactive and kill yourself the moment you think making a rom hack is a good idea?
Seriously, though, Rog is more of a mini-boss than a final boss.
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*** You too can play Count Chokeula! ***
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