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Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

One of the best games for the SNES and of the entire Castlevania series

The Good
In this fourth installment of Konami's Castlevania series, the first for the Super NES (With the first three being for the NES which I haven't played) you play the role of Simon Belmont who comes from a family of vampire slayers who have passed down the knowledge from generation to generation and swore to keep the evil powers of Dracula from taking hold through the centuries. Every 100 years Dracula mysteriously regains his power and must be vanquished. This game is actually a remake of the first Castlevania released on the NES but at the same time is very different from the original.

Released in 1991, Super Castlevania IV is a visually stunning and musically historical 2D platform action game even to this day. It showcased the many graphical capabilities of the new Super NES with parallax scrolling, Mode-7 effects such as rotating and spinning rooms that were so convincing it gave some players motion sickness, and some level bosses that were as large as the screen! The graphics are extremely detailed and remains some of the best seen on the Super NES. The music in the game remains one of the best Castlevania soundtracks to this day and does very well in setting the eerie horror driven atmosphere of the game. Sound effects are well done from the sounds of bricks cracking, bones bursting or wolves howling, they're very well done and highly utilize the stereo functionality of the Super NES. Speaking of atmosphere, this game has plenty of it for your enjoyment. The combination of the creepy background graphics and colour palette and mesmerizingly haunting soundtrack and sound effects suck you in and edge you on until you finally vanquish the irrepressible Dracula.

Gameplay-wise it is very fluid and Simon can now whip in 8 directions (The first and only game in the series to date that features this). You also can collect sub-weapons throughout the game such as the axe, boomerang, fire bomb, knife or stop watch which freezes time. You collect hearts throughout the game which are stored in candles which you must whip in order to release them. Each time you use a sub-weapon, it depletes some of your hearts (Separate from your health meter). Difficulty is moderate with the game being enjoyable with the first few levels being relatively easy with progressing difficulty. Some higher levels can get a bit tedious but the atmosphere of the game makes you want to keep going to see more of it in the levels to come.

As far as replayability goes, you are able to play the game on a harder difficulty once you beat it and while you may not want to play it again right away, you can record your password and come back to it in a few weeks to enjoy all over again. This game has no battery-backed memory, so it uses the mentioned password continue system to allow you to continue your game later where you left off.

The Bad
There are times when the game has noticeable slow-down especially when there are many enemies on the screen or when you whip a couple of skeletons and all of their bones go flying around the screen. It can be annoying at times but rarely would cause you to lose a life.

Other than that, I can't think of much else I disliked about this game.

The Bottom Line
This is an example of a Castlevania game at it's finest. A 2D action side-scrolling platformer where your quest to kill Dracula, while not an overly original plot, makes for a delicious gameplay experience which is highly addictive. Definitely a classic. If you have a Super NES it is well worth checking out. Many hours of haunting enjoyment await you.

By Xantheous on January 31st, 2005

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