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Castlevania II - Simon's Quest" ist nicht nur eine gelungene Fortsetzung, durch die damals noch revolutionäre "Außenwelt" hat man erst Spiele wie Diablo und Co. möglich gemacht. Dass man diese und andere Neuerungen auf Kosten der Steuerbarkeit von Simon gemacht hat, bleibt ein Manko, das man aber in Anbetracht des Resultats gerne vergisst. Nicht vergessen wird man hingegen die fehlende Automap oder andere Hinweise auf den Storyverlauf, da man so einfach viel zu lange planlos herumirrt. Wie schon beim ersten Teil gilt auch hier: Die 500 Punkte sind für Fans der Serie sehr gut investiert. Genre-Neulinge sind zwar durch den niedrigeren Schwierigkeitsgrad besser aufgehoben, sollten aber dennoch ein paar Euros mehr investieren und sich einen der erstklassigen DS-Teile holen.
Castlevania II was the perfect game to play in 1988. Sitting in your basement with your NES, accompanied by a couple of friends and copy of Nintendo Power – together deciphering the game's cryptic clues and passing the controller around the room to help lessen the boredom of the tedious parts. It was a game tailor-made for what the culture of being a Nintendo gamer was, 20 years ago. But removed from that context, it's lost some of its original appeal.
In the original Castlevania, you journeyed up multiple floors of a castle, merrily whipping zombies and Dracula's generals until you reached the throne room and unleashed your fury against the Count himself. However, as it turns out, old Drac cast a deadly curse on you right when you dealt the fatal blow. So now, in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, you have to break the curse by--get this--recovering the Count's body parts from the various monster-filled mansions the villagers socked them away in. That's not the only twist, either. This second installment does away with the linear level structure from the first game and instead lets you explore a contiguous world of towns, mansions, and haunted wilderness at your leisure.
The problem is that all of these ambitious ideas were mashed together so haphazardly that it crushed any of its potential. The challenging platforming segments - arguably the most fundamental aspects of the series - are almost completely absent. There’s no good sense of direction or goal, which forces you to waste time wandering aimlessly in the wrong directions. The puzzles are so ridiculously obscure, and even interacting with the NPCs and uncovering even the most basic secrets is a chore. Unless you’ve got the patience to explore every last possible way to advance to a new area, you’ll probably end up consulting a walkthrough. Considering how poorly made this game is, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
The game would be above average if it wasn't for the horrible, horrible script - You honestly have no idea where to go at times, just because villagers tell you utter nonsense. On top of that, the broken-English speaking villagers that are supposed to give good hints are mingled with villagers that are supposed to give bad hints, making it quite frustrating sometimes. Ultimately, while it's not as bad as a lot of people say, it does have a lot of glaring flaws which make it less enjoyable.
For all the ideas it introduces which would go on to become central to the Castlevania experience, Simon's Quest is full of inconsistent rules, clunky gameplay and slack pacing. It does at least continue the fine tradition of gothic bollocks dialogue though. What a horrible night to have a curse indeed.