Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

aka: Akumajou Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin
Moby ID: 10125

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 68% (based on 27 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 115 ratings with 8 reviews)

A nice Castlevania action-RPG sequel

The Good
Back in 1986, Konami released Castlevania on the NES. It was a hugely successful game that was ported to other home systems such as the Amiga, Commodore 64, and PC. The game came in two forms. Most NES users back in the day would be familiar with the cartridge version; but those who lived in Japan could also obtain the Famicom Disk System (FDS) version. Each version has its advantages and disadvantages.

Simon Belmont was on a quest to put an end to Dracula’s reign; but unfortunately for him, the Prince of Darkness placed a curse on Simon in his final minutes, although the player was not made aware of this fact at the end of the first game. This curse will send him to an early grave unless he resurrects Dracula, but it can be lifted if he manages to recover eight of Dracula’s limbs scattered around in Transylvania and burn them. To make matters worse, monsters are out rampaging the land and terrorizing its inhabitants.

Konami wanted to do something different with the franchise, by mixing platforming and role-playing elements, similar to the likes of Metroid and Zelda II. This comes apparent when you explore seven towns, where you interact with the townspeople and buy items that help you throughout the adventure. The townspeople will give you hints on what to do. I suggest writing down these hints in case you forget. Each town consists of two floors (some with a platform in between) and have their own color schemes. There are also mansions which you need to get through in order to retrieve one of Dracula’s limbs, which are essential in completing your quest. For example, you have to present the Ferryman with a limb to make him get you across a large body of lava in his boat.

In between the towns and mansions, you have to negotiate rivers, forests, and graveyards, defeating monsters. The backgrounds contain a mixture of dark blue, dark gray, and sepia tones that blends in with the game’s horror setting. Defeating a monster causes it to drop a heart that awards Simon with cash. The monsters boast good animations and they behave the same way they do in the first game. Your health is decreased every time you are attacked by a monster, but it can be replenished by entering churches that are in town. As with any other NES game out there, losing all your energy results in a loss of life, and it is game over if you run out of lives. You can still continue the game if you enter a password given to you on the game over screen. (Lucky FDS users can save their progress instead.)

I like how Konami got creative with this game. It starts off with the title being presented in a huge negative that scrolls to the right to reveal the prologue, and pressing Start allows you to go to the options screen, all the while listening to some spooky music. The password input screen is beautifully presented. It depicts a brick wall with two huge windows showing mountains. At the front are three panes showing the relevant information.

Castlevania II is one of the first NES games to offer a day/night cycle. The flow of the game is unaffected, but how long you take to complete the game determines which of the three endings you will view at the end of the game. At night, shops and churches are shut, the townspeople are transformed into hideous monsters, and the monsters themselves are difficult to beat. At any time during the game, you can press the Start button to pause the game and view useful information such as time (measured in Days:Hours:Minutes), level, experience rating, number of hearts, and the type of whip, although Konami could have provided this information on the main screen. It is also here that your inventory can be accessed. Although it can be annoying that you can’t purchase items at night, it gives you a good reason to keep slaying enemies to make loads of money.

The music in the game is brilliantly composed by Kenichi Matsubara, and most of the soundtracks are memorable. The spooky night soundtrack blends in with the horror setting. I like the tune that plays when you are in the final mansion. The sound effects are quite similar to the ones from the first game. The soundtracks are slightly different between the two versions, with an extra sound channel provided for the FDS version; this was removed for the cartridge version.

Castlevania II can be played again; not just to experience the multiple endings, but to seek out the alternate routes the game provides. The endings share the same picture but each one contains different text. The fifteen-page manual for the game is well illustrated and goes into great detail about everything.

The Bad
I share the same concerns as The Angry Video Game Nerd, and one of them is the kickback that you receive when you are hit by an enemy; this is quite bad when it happens near water or lava. Imagine how angry you would feel if you are trying to jump on a narrow platform, only to have an enemy come out of nowhere and knock you in a body of water.

Also, the transition between day and night is annoying. A dialog box appears above you, and you can’t do anything.

The Bottom Line
I enjoyed playing through Castlevania II myself. I like to think of it as Zelda II, minus the overhead map. There are enemies to kill, items to buy, and people to interact with. Although I complained about the game not providing enough information on the main screen, the numerous remakes of the game address this. The graphics and sound are relevant to the horror setting, and the multiple endings are an incentive for fans to play the game again.

Konami wanted to do something different with the gameplay this time, but its poor sales made them go back to the original formula.

NES · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2021

Simon's Quest: Non-Linear! RPG-Puzzles! Engrish!

The Good
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Simon's Quest) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is one of those great NES games that could break up friendships.

In designing this sequel, the developers opted for an adventure or role playing game-style, which people tended to love or hate with a deep passion

Nintendo did a similar thing with Zelda II, a game that is not as polarizng among Zelda fans as Simon's Quest is among Castlevania fans.

For better or for the worse, the “haters” of Simon's Quest won the day, because subsequent Castlevania games returned to the original, action-packed, blistered thumbs game-play style.

However, I am one of these people (perhaps in a minority) who actually enjoyed the changes seen in Simon's Quest.

This is not to say that I “hated' the arcade style of Castlevania or its sequels. However, as someone who does enjoy role playing and adventure games, it was refreshing to see these elements used in a home console game.

Most of the really great role playing games were only accessible – especially without censorship – through the original computer edition or Japanese imports.

Likewise while some great adventure games were designed for the PC and Mac, few of them ever made the jump to the home console sytems.

I am not saying that hack and slash, arcade action isn't fun, but it was only a small slice of what the gaming industry was doing throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Maybe this is not a complaint widely shared, but it is my opinion and I am sticking to it. Now that I have dealt with the love-hate relationship attached to this game. Let us get back to Simon's Quest game itself.

Simon's Quest combines side-scrolling arcade game with some traditional role-playing or adventure gaming elements.

Instead of linear stages, the game presents a large world to explore, with both night time and daytime elements. The player has to explore the world, interact with different characters (especially in towns), locate items to solve puzzles as well as upgrades to your weapons.

Simon needs to improve his strength, obtain money and stronger weapons if he is going to succeed in this quest. If you enjoy basic role playing or adventure game elements, then you will enjoy what this game has to offer.

Did I mention the night and day sequences? Well, they are worth mentioned again! Not only does the game actually switch between night time and daytime, but things tend to get creepier at night.

Nighttime means that town shops are closed, as towns are invaded by zombies and, yeah, generally everything gets creepier at night in this game. Frankly, this is probably as close to a horror film as a game for a Nintendo system could get – outside of Japan.

Simon's Quest features improved animation and graphics and players should have little complaints with the hit detection, inventory menu or other such basic game play mechanics.

Simon's Quest does not skimp on the arcade action. Several creepy-looking buildings in the game return the player to side-scrolling action.

Even when you are explore the rustic charm of Translyvania, their are plenty of supernatural creatures – large and small – will have to be killed if Simon is to break the curse.

Ah, the curse! Simon is forced to locate the missing body parts of Dracula, so that he can burn them in the fire – of Mount Doom? No, but someplace special.

Apparently, when Simon killed Dracula the first time, he forget to burn the body, or maybe Simon just didn't know any better.

Granted, one would have thought that a skilled vampire hunter would have known to do this beforehand. It does make you wonder whether or not Simon has the education background needed to fight evil supernatural creatures, without, you know, causing widespread destruction or spreading dangerous curses.

OK, maybe Simon does not need a "license to kill", but I refuse to believe that I am the only Castlevania fan who has wondered if Simon (or his ancestors) is “winging it” a bit more then he should be.

The Bad
Simon's Quest emphasis on adventure role-playing game elements did not sit well with all fans of the Castlevania franchise.

Zelda II pursued a similar format, with much less much criticism, but the first Zelda game had mixed blistered thumbs action with adventure role-playing game elements. The change in style between Castlevania and Simon's Quest is much more significant.

Castlevania is entirely a side-scrolling, arcade action-type game. While Simon's Quest did not totally abandon the side-scrolling elements of its predecessor, it clearly sought to bring fans of adventure role-playing games into the Castlevania franchise.

It was successful in doing so, but many Castlevania fans simply did not want have the franchise turned into an adventure role-playing game (RPG).

These Castlevania fans simply did not want to see the franchise take its cues from Ultima, Zelda or The Secret of Monkey Island. Instead they wanted an arcade side-scrolling game that was heavy on supernatural action and violence.

Fans of RPG or Adventure Games, especially of the non-linear sort, may still have some complaints about the game. Some of the puzzles in the game do not seem to have any clues or have close that got lost in the translation. This bring us to the issue of "Engrish"

Part of the problem is with the English localization or adaption. Translating Japanese text -- often a major feature of pre-CD-ROM adventure RPG games -- into English that is not only legible, but also captures some of the mystery or nuance of the text is difficult.

Language (especially the informal language that most people use in their daily lives or an epic quest) is oftentimes influenced by a nation's culture as much as it is the background and beliefs of the author.

A direct-literal translation of Japanese text to English text is not always appropriate because of the nation's culture and history (and even geopolitics) behind the language.

I seen worse English localization in a NES video game, but not all of the text in Simon's Quest is as translated as well and as smoothly as it could be.

The Bottom Line
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the Nintendo Entertainment System seeks to bring fans of adventure role-playing games into the Castlevania franchise, at the risk of alienating fans who expected the sequel to follow the arcade action format of the first game. It is a great game within the non-linear, adventure role-playing genre, but its ability to appeal to gamers looking for side-scrolling action is limited.

NES · by ETJB (428) · 2014

scour the country side, and hunt for the counts missing body parts!

The Good
this was the first of the series i played, and it was very entertaining. i found the leveling up system and password feature was a great idea, and when day turns to night, the game gets increasingly harder. the music must also be noted, because like the original, you remember the music, and will be whistling it for weeks. and the ending is great! this is the best music i have heard for this system, and i am sure you will enjoy it to.

The Bad
the final boss was rather easy. i used the golden knife trick and i beat him on my first attempt every time. and unless you have a guide to this game, you will get stuck on the tornado part of the adventure. some of the later creatures are annoying if you have not leveled up either.

The Bottom Line
this is a great follow up to a legendary game. the side quests will leave you wondering what to do next, and the journey into the counts castle will be something you will remember for all time.

NES · by benjamin grimes (9) · 2005

This is what NES value games were all about

The Good
The game had a lot of variability which was cool for a game of that era. You build your character a-la Metroid, Zelda and Mega Man; in a style that was not resurrected in the Castlevania Franchise until the immensely popular Symphony of the Night on PS1. This game was way ahead of the franchise time; but ultimately proved to be the granddaddy of modern Castlevania in my opinion. The day and night conditions and free-roaming gameplay are a cut above the rest, not showing up until later titles such as Ocarina of Time.

The Bad
1.) Simon doesn't look like the guy on the cover! Since when is brown hair blond? And why is Dracula waiting for Simon when Simon has to put him back together? The packaging for this game sucked and I bet that's why a lot of you apparently missed it. 2.) While I was ultimately very satisfied with the game; the ease of defeating Dracula and the subsequent death of the hero (in a very brief ending; one of 3 possible endings -- another novel feature of this classic); was mildly disappointing to the eight year old reviewer at time of completion.

The Bottom Line
One of my favorite NES games of all time and something I would recommend as a predecessor to many of the video game innovations that we still want developers to incorporate.

NES · by Mike Hotch (2) · 2006

One of the best NES games out there...

The Good
Very well planned out strategy/RPG game. Twists, plots, and secrets everywhere. Beasts are stronger at night, weapons and armor get cooler by the hour, and the base storyline is unmatched, trying to reform Dracula so you can kill him once and for all.

The Bad
Nothing about this game was bad. It can drag at times when you are stuck, but thats the fun of old Zelda/RPG-styled games.

The Bottom Line
A must play. Many hours of fulfilling gameplay. One of the best RPG-style games ever made, compensating for its time period. You'd probably need a strategy guide to figure out all the hidden items and doors. Unmatched in originality of gameplay, depth of storyline, and feel.

NES · by Cormana6868 (12) · 2004

This title doesn't deserve its good reputation at all

The Good
Simon Quest is the second game in the Castlevania series, and it is noticeable especially by the fact that is isn't similar to other Castlevania games. It plays like an unlinear adventure game rather than a single linear action game. You have to collect parts of Dracula's body in mansions, then get back to an altar to defeat him "forever", to leave Simon's curse.

Now, the good. The game has very good music and pretty good sound effects too. Also, the fact to have an unlinear Castlevania game is really exiting.

The Bad
About everything else.

Even if it slightly differs from other Castlevania games, the gameplay isn't that original. You basically travel from town to town and talk to people, and fight monsters outside of towns. Quite like any Zelda game, and this one was especially copied from Zelda II. The graphics are quite odd, very dark, everything seem black and you cannot distinct objects and backgrounds. Each piece of town, overworld area or dungeon looks just reused from another similar place with palette swapped background and palette swapped monsters. This is extremely annoying.

Additionally, you'll need to use special items during your adventure, but without using a FAQ you won't be able to make through the game, because the information that people give to you in towns is in most case useless crap (stuff like "I'd like to have a boyfriend like you") or unusable quest info that tries to get a poetic style (like "With your crystal make through the ruins") to say that you need to use some crystal in ruins, but without mentioning about which crystal, and which ruins (this is just an example).

Overall, they just re-used maps and make all dialogs with other people fit in one small window, making the game design pretty much ruined. Wait, it isn't everything.

When playing through the game, the screen will scroll too slowly making you pass through walls, but then you get screwed inside the wall. Maybe you'll dead just by pushing the down arrow button, which is supposed to make you sit and not to kill you. Maybe you'll fall when climbing stairs, but you'll still be climbing stairs making you climbing an nonexistent stair. Sometimes, while walking, your hero suddenly falls into an invisible hole and dies. When the screen scrolls and when a monster is supposed to appear in its borders, very often two or three copies of it will appear at the same place, they'll flicker and make the game slows down. When monsters walk along one border of the screen, they blink and come back inside a wall, then tries to move in the wall very quickly, making a shaking monster in a wall.

In other words, glitches in Simon Quest are as countless as stars in a moonlight sky. I think words cannot say how glitchy is the game, you cannot believe it without having played it yourself.

Finally, the game control is not fair, the gameplay is incredibly repetitive due to the fact that each place is just like another one, and all monsters and all their attacks constantly glitches, and the game slow downs a lot.

The Bottom Line
Conclusion ? This makes an incredibly over-rated game. Konami really put all the crap they could in that game. I cannot believe it is possible to input so much glitches and re-used stuff in a game, which are possibly the two worse flaws of gaming. Also, mediocre over-repetitive graphics (that actually are worse than the original Castlevania) and quests that are impossible to complete without a FAQ because you just cannot guess what you have to do doesn't bring anything good to the game.

The game could have be good if programmers wouldn't be so lazy, tough. I think the design part of the game is good, but the realization is pure crap.

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2006

Simon, is there ever a good night to have a curse?

The Good
I believe that it’s necessary to give a game a second chance. There are a lot of outside factors that affect how we view the games we play. Things like disappointment, anticipation, nostalgia, discomfort, or even sometimes illness can colour the games we play poorly. This is why I decided to give Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest a second chance. As the legend goes, I acquired my NES in high school as my first retro system. Among the games I received with it was Simon’s Quest. I was disgusted with its poor controls, confusing design, and punishing difficulty, likely due to my inexperience with older titles. Nowadays, however, I’m a bit better adjusted to the games of yesteryear, so I decided it was high-time that I went back to see if Castlevania 2 is as bad as I remember.

Sequels are a huge part of the video game industry, and why not? It gives developers a chance to expand on what made the first game good, or to take it in a new direction. Castlevania 2 leans heavily into the latter category. The gameplay itself will feel very familiar to anyone who has played the first Castlevania, but the way it’s presented and set up has been changed drastically. The stage by stage progression of the original has now been replaced by a more interconnected world. This is interesting, since this is more or less the direction that games later in the series decided to go.

Players are once again put in control of Simon Belmont. It seems that Dracula put a curse on him during their battle in the first game, and the only way he can break it is to gather up Dracula’s remains to resurrect him, and then defeat him again. I find this to be an interesting and involving storyline, even if it is a bit farfetched. Why, for example, would Dracula’s ring, or even his nail, be required for his resurrection? Then again, I’m quite thankful that it isn’t necessary to gather up every part of Dracula’s corpse. This is partly because it would have made the game far longer and more tedious, but also because I’m not sure how I’d react to picking up Dracula’s penis.

People who’ve played the first Castlevania will feel right at home with the controls. Simon still moves in the same stiff fashion, but once you’re used to it, the controls can be very comfortable. Whip upgrades also make a return, but now you must buy them and they will also remain with you after you die. Added is the ability to gain experience points and level up, which can increase Simon’s life bar. Besides that, Simon’s Quest feels a lot like the first Castlevania. It should be comforting to any fans of the previous game.

I think what is most important, however, is that the atmosphere from the first game is actually improved upon. Everything feels very oppressive and hopeless, which is difficult to pull off on the NES. I can’t help but question the decoration in the mansion stages. They look more like dungeons to me. At least hang a picture up. The music is also just as stellar as the original’s, putting it right up there with the best on the NES.

The Bad
I can admire it when a developer takes their franchise in a new direction, but yeesh. The idea is to keep all the things that were good about the original and then expand upon them. I am actually kind of stunned by how many poor design choices were made in creating this game. I’d use the analogy “one step forward, two steps back” but that doesn’t begin to cover it. Some of the game’s problems can be traced back to a lack of polish, others seem to indicate the game being rushed to market, but some are just baffling.

The biggest offender in the game’s design is the puzzles. Castlevania 2 employs a very strange logic. For example, holy water is used to eliminate breakable blocks. Worse yet, nobody in the game world tells you that. You just have to hope that you throw holy water at the right place, and happen to make the connection. But wait, it gets worse. There are places in the game that require you to have a particular item equipped, then they require you to wait a relatively lengthy amount of time, and expect you to sit in a certain pose. Nowhere in the game does anyone or anything tell you this. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to even know what a particular item is for. Even the instruction manual doesn’t adequately explain them.

I challenge you to complete this game without some sort of strategy guide, because I don’t think it’s possible. I’m normally the sort of gamer who never employs any sort of outside help when it comes to my games, because I feel it cheapens the experience. Even despite my stubborn nature, however, I caved and checked a guide. Maybe it’s simply a product of its time. Perhaps, it was targeted more towards the Nintendo Power subscribers. Maybe it’s a case of poor translation. Whatever the reasons are, it comes across as obnoxious nowadays.

The day and night cycle is a form of irritation for me. In concept, it’s an interesting idea, but the way it’s employed makes it a nuisance. The game progresses on its own clock, so when it becomes night, enemies become stronger and the buildings in town lock their doors. The problem arises when you need to wait for the stores to open again. Night can last quite a while, especially if it occurs directly before you actually reach the village. You’ll be left standing and waiting. Your best bet is to either get up and walk away from the controller, or go and grind for money.

A smaller complaint of mine is the lack of bosses. All in all, I counted three, if you can call them bosses, that is. Aside from them being sparse, they were also very simple and easily defeated. Especially the final boss, who, with very little effort, I vanquished before he could even fight back on my first attempt. To make things worse, there’s no sense of accomplishment from beating them. After you leave the room and return, they’re back, and you can just walk right on past them. It’s very peculiar that the game only has three bosses, despite having several lairs. Why not put one in every mansion? I don’t understand.

The Bottom Line
It’s a real shame. Most of the elements that make the Castlevania series good are still present and as enjoyable as ever in Simon’s Quest. Unfortunately, it’s all buried beneath some absolutely horrendous and frustrating game design. The inability to progress without any outside assistance is extremely vexing. If, however, you’re the type of gamer who normally looks at a strategy guides anyway, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this game a lot more than I did. On the other hand, if you’re someone like me who’d rather wander aimlessly for hours than consult a guide, then there’s a good chance you’ll see the game as I have: BAD, bordering on broken.

NES · by Adzuken (836) · 2009

In principle, one of the most disgusting video games ever

The Good
For crying out loud, this sounds like the old kids' blindfolded Halloween game: "The Belmont clan member killed the evil Count Dracula. And these are his eyes. And this is heart. And this... is his nail!" EEEWWW!

His nail? What's up with that? How much demonic evil can possibly be contained in a nail? Anyway, what is good about this game? I appreciate how Konami took a chance with their young Castlevania franchise and branched out into an adventure theme in addition to relentless whip-wielding action. The various whips you can attain were also excellent.

As is now expected with any Castlevania game, the graphics were simply untouchable. The most remarkable detail that I recall from the game is the variety of hanged corpses whenever Simon entered a chamber containing a vampire body part. Although now I can't help but wonder how they got there. Was there some ritual of executing people in the body part chambers?

The Bad
Hey, when a game doesn't grab you, it doesn't grab you. Simon's Quest never really did anything for me. I rented it, worked through it, won it, but it never made any kind of impression on me. Again, I appreciate the fact that the game designers took a chance with the adventure angle to keep the series from getting stale. But this game just didn't work for me.

The Bottom Line
Play Simon's Quest for the satisfaction of knowing you have experienced as much of the venerable Castlevania franchise as possible.

NES · by Multimedia Mike (20664) · 2005

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Alsy, Patrick Bregger, Big John WV, Alaka, SlyDante, ☺☺☺☺☺, RhYnoECfnW, PCGamer77, Baron79, Cantillon, refresh_daemon, CalaisianMindthief, vicrabb, jumpropeman.