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When all you have is a whip...Let's Play Castlevania: The Adventure

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Just wanted to say I've been following along all of these with both the full maps and the soundtrack up in other tabs which works great for ambience. (Same tracks Albatoss has kindly been linking, but the full list is here. And map link with color versions again if anyone wants it.)

The boss is very neat though seems like it'd be simple once you've seen what it does. Could be interesting if it varied up its direction or which holes it came out of but I don't know if Christopher's mobility (or the auto-scroll engine which might have to change) would be up to that.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
The sprite work in this game is real impressive. I too noticed the statue at the beginning of the Drac Castle Level 1.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(65).png

You need to get to the front and stay there, because the screen scrolls fast enough and the dragon is long enough that it’s easy to get trapped against the screen and take a hit.

It is indeed much easier to survive against Bone Dragon by sticking to the right side of the screen, but I always get impatient and end up dying a few times anyway. =V

Anywho, new tracks!

Castle #2 - The map music once you've reached Dracula's castle. Extremely ominous vibes here; I can easily imagine this track being performed on an organ.
Original Sin - The theme of the first stage in Dracula's castle, and it owns bones. I'm sad much of this game's soundtrack never made a future appearance in the series, because dang the work here is stellar across the board.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
"Castle #2" is my favourite track from this game and high up there with all the rest of the series. So much packed into so little time.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(68).png

Then we’re in the second part of Dracula’s Castle, and off the Nintendo Power map.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(70).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(71).png

The upper reaches of the castle have another new background. I wonder how many players actually saw it? (I’m pretty sure Young Beowulf never did—I have no real memories of anything past the Bone Dragon.)

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(73).png

That Zeldo is on a small platform and you need to dodge his throw and kill him fast, or he’ll knock you off. The Birds are entirely here to knock you off platforms, too.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(74).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(75).png

Crystal blocks make a reappearance.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(76).png

But only briefly, then on to the next section.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(77).png

This was a terrible Punaguchi platform room, and I didn't get a good shot of it.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(78).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(79).png

A terrible Zeldo and spike room. (With an axe, if you want it.)

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(80).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(83).png

A crusher…but with a twist. If you break it, you can’t get high enough to reach the rope. (You can climb down and back to respawn the room.)

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(84).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(85).png

You need to carefully go under, then use the crusher as a platform to reach the rope.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(86).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(87).png

This one you also need to get under.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(88).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(89).png

But then you break it to back get across the top.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(90).png

Schmuck bait candles.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(91).png

Zeldo, who you can fortunately get out of the way before dealing with any platforming.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(92).png

The platforming is definitely up to the levels of the first game by this point.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(94).png

Then the return of the pulley ropes. Like the earlier segment, they change direction periodically. Step off onto the first one while it’s going up.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(96).png

You can just bounce across these; there’s room to stand and kill the Evil Armor here.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(97).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(99).png

Not here; you’ll need to bounce between ropes as you whip the armor. (Being able to whip while climbing is such an improvement. It feels like a minor thing, but there are places where it really shines.)

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(101).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(102).png


Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(103).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(104).png

This is a heck of a climb.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(105).png

Another case where you can clear out Zeldo before worrying about the platforms. Which is good—that last little jump in the upper-left is tricky because of the spikes.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(106).png

Got fireballs? Or an axe? Distance attacks are key for some of the enemies sitting on platforms.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(107).png

And another horizontal platforming section, guarded by more Evil Armors on small platforms and swooping BIrds.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(108).png

Then crystal platforms. You need to time them carefully, or you’ll stay too long on the third one while you wait for the moving platform to come down to you. Then a Zeldo, to break up the jumping.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(109).png

Then the spiders return. Remember, let them get as low as possible.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(110).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(111).png

There are several segments; we start mixing spiders and crystal blocks. It’s actually easier to not kill the second set of spiders, just jump across while they’re low. Just watch out for the fireballs after they rise.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(112).png

That doorway is very welcome, after that nail-biting segment.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(113).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(114).png

This is a long, beautiful corridor with some power-ups.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(116).png

Then the boss arena.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(118).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(119).png


Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(120).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(121).png

Soleiyu speaks!

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(122).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(123).png

This is a prelude to stuff like the Maxim battle that were always the hardest bosses of the later games. Soleiyu throws three swords that spin in the upper corner and then fly at you; and while you’re watching them he’ll walk up and whip you like crazy. He’s too short to hit with a whip from the upper platform if he’s on a lower one. Holy Water works for that—it’s the better choice for this battle.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(124).png

But eventually you can hit him enough that he’ll collapse and the stage will end.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(128).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(129).png


Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(130).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(131).png


Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(132).png

But that isn’t the end of the game! Soleiyu reveals Dracula’s backup plan! There’s still more to come!
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
This stage does some pretty cool things with the music that appears! To wit:

Passpied - This is actually an arrangement of the Debussy piece of the same name, which is the 4th and final movement of his Suite Bergamasque (this same suite is where "Clair de Lune" comes from). The Gameboy-ified rendition doesn't go past the intro*, but it's still a super cool idea.
Soleiyu's Room - Pretty self-explanatory. It manages to pack quite a bit into its short runtime.
Faith - This is what plays when you're talking to Soleiyu before the boss fight against him. It, along with "Soleiyu's Room", reminds me of Incarnation of Darkness from Harmony of Dissonance; very short, but nonetheless very ominous.
Chromastiche Phantasie - This is an arrangement of J. S. Bach's "Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor", or the first minute or so of it at least. Again, super cool thing to do! To my knowledge this is the only Castlevania game that features arrangements of classical music; I wish Konami had done more with the idea, but what's here is good.

*If you want to hear a chiptune remix of the whole piece, check out this arrangement by Brad Smith. It's real good!
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(133).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(134).png

Tell the truth: How many of you actually knew this segment existed? I don’t think I did until a few years ago; I certainly didn’t as a kid.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(135).png

It’s just a pretty background and a long walk while you collect power-ups, though. There’s no seventh stage.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(136).png

The final boss arena. Looks pretty familiar, eh?

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(138).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(140).png

The four orbs we released from the castles come together and restore Dracula’s body. Then he summons eight orbs to circle around him.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(142).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(143).png

They spiral out from him and are fairly hard to dodge.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(144).png

Then he vanishes, and the orbs re-converge on his new location, where he reappears and the process repeats. You need to get in close enough to hit Drac’s head/neck area but not get smacked. This…is not easy.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(145).png

If you do that enough, he turns back into a skull and vanishes, and the stage ends. The castle shakes around you and we fade to white.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(148).png

Dracula doesn’t have a second form. We cut to Christopher and Soleiyu on a clifftop as the epilogue rolls. (Point of note: This game only has one ending. You can’t help but save Soleiyu.)

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(150).png
Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(151).png

Dracula’s Castle returns to the earth.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(153E).png

And bad English tells us what happened afterwards.

Castlevania_2_-_Belmont_s_Revenge_Drac_Castle_(173E).png

Then the credits.

And that was Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge for the Game Boy. Thank you for your playing!

I would argue that Belmont’s Revenge is an improvement over The Adventure on pretty much all fronts. It re-uses pretty much the entire bestiary, but makes enemies a greater proportion of the threat by reducing the number of instant-death traps. It re-uses a number of the innovative traps from the first game, but uses them in better ways and expands the areas they figure into—and it really smooths out the difficulty curve in the process. The original only had four stages total, and you could only access them in a linear order. This gives you four accessible stages right from the start, locking only two more (and a boss) behind your skill as a player…and even then, there’s a password system. Also, Christopher’s improved mobility (sliding down ropes, whipping while climbing, slightly faster movement) cannot be overstated.

The presence of an actual plot beyond, “Dracula is evil, go kill him,” is also a step towards the later, much stronger Castlevania games. If I haven’t been clear, the Igavanias are my favorites of the series, with Aria of Sorrow probably squeaking in at #1. The progression towards games with character-driven stories is just as important as the progression towards search-action gameplay and difficulty influenced by rpg elements.

Next time we’ll have a bonus post about the original game, and then we’re going to talk about Castlevania: Legends, which isn’t part of my Game Boy youth (it didn’t come out until my senior year of high school!) and doesn’t get the same gushing praise from me.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Tell the truth: How many of you actually knew this segment existed? I don’t think I did until a few years ago; I certainly didn’t as a kid.

I was clearing this game regularly as a teenager in the mid-2000s when I was first falling in hard with the series, so I did know. Be that as it may, I think the twosome of Soleiyu and Dracula make this one of the hardest endgames in the entire series, so it's never a foregone conclusion even now.

That same time period was basically the only time in my life I took up a pen and did some fan arting because the nascent enthusiasm couldn't be contained. One of those pieces is very relevant here, so to mark the occasion:

TM8fuI3.png

I'm glad you enjoyed Belmont's Revenge. The first game's overwhelmingly negative reputation often overshadows and forbids people from even trying it out, despite it so clearly being some of the best material the series ever had to offer.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I had the Dracula password as a kid! I remember trying that fight but never getting anywhere.

Belmont's Revenge is among the best titles on the Game Boy IMO, thanks in no small part to the killer soundtrack.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Last batch of tracks:

Road of Enemy #2 - Big fan of the final stage being a short stretch of bridge dotted with reaper-skeletons and this incredibly dread-inducing track.
Sons of Satan - Final boss theme! Quite rhythmically complex, and the title is delightful.
Union - The ending cutscene theme...
The End of the Day - and the credits theme. I like how the beginning of this track echoes "Road of Chaos".

And that's that! Great work from Hidehiro Funauchi all around.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Man, that Dracula fight looks both abrupt (how many times has he had only one form?) but also fiendishly difficult.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Man, that Dracula fight looks both abrupt (how many times has he had only one form?) but also fiendishly difficult.
I tried it recently, couldn’t do it without save states. I know I had this game growing up but I’m sure I never made it past the first bit of drac’s castle.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
It's a pure memorizer; all static, unchanging pattern and no reprieve from it. Presents a massive wall upon first contact but conversely "solving" it is a very binary process in turn. Soleiyu is arguably more difficult because he will react to your positioning amidst his own routine, and the arcs of his projectiles and the player's own angles of attack and windows of opportunity are harder to discern amidst those subtle fluctuations versus Dracula's reliable predictability.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I was clearing this game regularly as a teenager in the mid-2000s when I was first falling in hard with the series, so I did know. Be that as it may, I think the twosome of Soleiyu and Dracula make this one of the hardest endgames in the entire series, so it's never a foregone conclusion even now.

That same time period was basically the only time in my life I took up a pen and did some fan arting because the nascent enthusiasm couldn't be contained. One of those pieces is very relevant here, so to mark the occasion:

TM8fuI3.png

I'm glad you enjoyed Belmont's Revenge. The first game's overwhelmingly negative reputation often overshadows and forbids people from even trying it out, despite it so clearly being some of the best material the series ever had to offer.
Damn, that's some nice fanart!

Despite its flaws, I have a genuine nostalgic love for the first game, and I will argue that Belmont's Revenge improves on it enough to be a solid, fun game even without that nostalgia filter. (I have no such praise for Legends, you'll see.)
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
As another little bonus post, I thought I’d take a quick look at the Castlevania Adventure Quick Fix hack.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_01.png

The primary change in this hack is that it makes Christopher walk faster, which is generally pretty good. The animation is a little off, so he slides a bit more than really walks, but it’s pretty smooth. The jumping rhythm is different from the original game, which threw me off in the platforming section at the end of stage 1—Christopher’s jumps are still committed, so you still need to be holding right when you press jump if you want to jump right (rather than straight up), but you have a smaller window to hit jump in before Christopher glides right off the side of a platform. So it’s a mixed blessing.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_02.png

It also removes the whip downgrades when you get hit, which is an unabashed positive.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_03.png

The last thing is does is change a bunch of the item sprites. Instead of spinning coins, there are coin bags.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_04.png

Hearts are replaced with these blobs that I think are supposed to be wall meat.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_05.png

And potions replace crossed for invincibility.

Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_07.png
Castlevania_Adventure_Fix_08.png

1ups and crystals are unchanged; and flashing hearts just become flashing meat. I’ll admit, I’m underwhelmed by the sprite changes.

Overall, a relatively minor change to gameplay. The altered movement rate might be a little easier for a new-ish player but it messes with my muscle memory for this game; the lack of whip downgrades is nice (and can also be done via Game Genie code); the sprite changes are unimpressive.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I think the changes to the pick-up sprites showcase a misguided inclination seen in many hacks where the divergences and exceptions of an installment in a wider game series are hammered down in the name of consistency or whatever it is that motivates such visual edits in bringing iconography back into line with the consensus. It's a standout feature as far as I'm concerned that these games came about in the early days of the series and had that room to improvise with things that hadn't been so locked in yet as far as developer habit and audience expectation.

Damn, that's some nice fanart!

Thank you! It was done in the "grr, barbarian masculinity" phase I went through.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
CL_-_manual_01.png

This game is in a weird spot, because it came out in 1998, very late in the Game Boy’s life cycle—so late, that I never bought a copy. Nintendo Power covered it, but in issue #106, and I stopped collecting at issue #100. And honestly wasn’t reading anything but the “Role-Players Realm” section for a year before that. The N64 catalogue never really won me; I played SNES until I finally got a Playstation in 1999 and didn’t return to Nintendo systems until the GBA circa 2004.

(Fun fact: The last Game Boy game I bought was The Sword of Hope 2, which came out in 1996…and I didn’t actually beat it until 2005.)

The thing is, also, 1997/1998 was a very different video game landscape than 1991, when Belmont’s Revenge came out. The first two games came out when the NES was still the predominate system (the SNES had been out for less than a year when Belmont’s Revenge hit the US) and felt technologically appropriate for the time. Legends came out when the N64 and PS1 were firmly establishing new rules for what video games should look like, and Symphony of the Night was already out.

It would have felt dated just by being a Game Boy game in that era. But on top of all that, it’s a worse game on numerous fronts than Belmont’s Revenge is. Seven years later, and the game is noticeably inferior, and I’m probably going to be more harsh on this than on any game I’ve LP’d before. I’m not saying it doesn’t have any good points—if it came out in 1990, I’d probably have loved it—but it can’t stack up.

Let’s have a look inside the manual:

CL_-_manual_02.png

This game, until the timeline was rewritten by Lament of Innocence, was intended to by the earliest story of the Castlevania timeline. Sonia was the first Belmont in the line (though this doesn’t explain things like “Why does she have a magical whip?”) and this would represent the first interaction between the Belmonts and Dracula.

CL_-_manual_03.png

Sonia has all of Christopher’s abilities, plus a couple of new ones: She can move while ducking, and she can enter “burning mode.” (Burning mode makes you invincible and faster for a limited time, but can only be used once per stage.)

CL_-_manual_04.png

Instead of the usual subweapons, Sonia collects “soul weapons”. I’m going to rant about these later.

CL_-_manual_05.png

The typical subweapons do exist in the game…as bonus collectables. The normal power-ups are the same as we’re used to.

CL_-_manual_06.png

Looks like we can expect six posts for the stages. I’m sure I can find that hidden stage, right?

CL_-_manual_07.png

CL_-_manual_08.png

The bosses we’ll encounter. Interestingly, we’re much closer to what we think of as “Castlevania” by this point, where the other Game Boy games went off in their own direction for both normal enemies and bosses.

CL_-_manual_09.png

Don’t get me wrong: Sonia isn’t a bad character (if a little flat), and I kinda like the idea of the Belmont tradition of Dracula-killing being founded by a woman. The idea is solid, but the execution is extremely lacking.

Next time: I'll play the game.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(1).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(3).png

Welcome to Castlevania Legends.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(4).png

We’ll play on Standard Mode; the only difference that Light Mode makes is that your whip is always at full power and you don’t need to collect crystals to upgrade it. I’m using save states to avoid dying, so I won’t have to re-upgrade my whip anyway.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(5E).png

Having an actual story, especially on screen, is still a step beyond The Adventure.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(11).png

There’s also a map. (Hmm, I wonder what that unconnected bit is? Perhaps…the hidden stage!)

You might have noticed that we’ve taken a big step backward from Belmont’s Revenge already: The stages are back to being linear. The password system lightens that a bit, but how much of the game you’re able to see is once again gated by your skill and patience.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(13).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(15).png

The whip selection hasn’t changed, though the Vampire Killer actually seems smaller in Sonia’s hands than in Christopher’s. Small whip, chain whip, then fireball whip. They only downgrade when you die, as previously noted.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(14).png

Fireball ghosts float lazily toward you and die in one hit.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(17).png

Bats are as standard.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(16).png

You collect hearts, but it’s not clear up front what they’re for. (In the first stage, nothing.)

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(18).png

Slugs creep along the ceiling and drop on you. Fortunately, they aren’t so short that you can’t whip them while crouching, as their sprites would seem to suggest.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(19).png

Fireball whip, for illustration.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(21).png

The first area is “outside the castle,” aka the forest, and the backgrounds are…okay? Given some of the art the other games pulled off, this is disappointing. (This is going to be a common theme in my complaints.)

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(23).png

Shadows dance diagonally towards you. They also die in one hit.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(25).png

I feel like the graphics are a downgrade, overall, from Belmont’s Revenge. Look at that mockery of a rope! (Not pictured: There’s a Wall Meat here to restore any health you lost on the first screen.)

For the record, Sonia can still whip while climbing, which is nice. She can also still slide down ropes, as the manual noted.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(26).png

Zombies take two fireballs or one direct hit. They otherwise just march slowly towards you.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(27).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(28).png

This is an early crossroads.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(29).png

Go left first to snag a 1up.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(30).png

The true path is down.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(31).png

Here’s the front gate, but it’s again unimpressive compared to the earlier games.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(33).png

The graveyard is a straight line full of shadows and candles with hearts.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(34).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(36).png

This candle is an amazingly dickish trap: If you hit it, the floor collapses and you’re dropped into a trap room full of respawning zombies.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(37).png

If you eventually kill enough of them without dying, you can hit a candle that warps you back to this screen. There is no benefit to doing this, and you’ll probably just get hit a lot or die.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(38).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(39).png

More graveyard. Skeleton Pokers start appearing. They walk back and forth wiggling their spears out in front of them. They take two real hits to kill.

Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(40).png
Castlevania_-_Legends_01_(41).png

Eventually, you reach another crossroads: Again, let’s ignore the rope at first.

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This leads to some actual platforming.

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Note that Sonia can jump a few pixels higher than Christopher and can reach platforms that feel a little too high if you’re used to the past two games.

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At the end of the corridor we find an Axe. But we can’t do anything with it, it’s just a collectable.

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Then we need to backtrack all the way to the rope and go up.

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Hey, that candle looks a little different again!

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It’s another bleeping trap room.

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So head up, and then another long straight line of forest studded with monsters.

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Then the bridge is a mess, so we have some more light platforming.

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And we reach this big gate, which looks like a boss arena.

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Man-Bat ("Creatures Bat") mostly hovers on one side of the screen, letting you either jump and whip him or hit him with fireballs.

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Sometimes he’ll flap very fast, indicating that he’s going to pounce on you, so you should move.

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When he explodes, Sonia gets a rose-ball and a tornado appears in the subweapon box. We’ll talk about that next time.
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Whatever else may be said about Castlevania Legends, the music does not disappoint. None of the composers/sound designers from the first two Gameboy titles return; instead we have Youchi Wada and Kaoru Okada providing the music, and they did a bang-up job.

Game Select - This plays on the difficulty selection screen. It's pretty transparently an arrangement of "Scarborough Fair", and it's a good one.
Prologue - The music for the opening text crawl.
Bloody Tears - I'm a little sad that the opening stage doesn't get a unique theme, but this is at least a pretty good arrangement of Bloody Tears; it differentiates itself from most other renditions of the theme right away, and covers a lot of ground in its short loop. That's going to be a bit of a recurring theme all the level tracks will have in common!
Boss Battle - Pretty self-explanatory. Of the three Gameboy games, this one has my favorite boss theme; it goes hard.
Trap Room - Also self-explanatory. The trap rooms might be annoying but at least the theme is good!
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
The enemy graphics are downright amateurish. Creatures Bat looks fine, but the skeletons and especially that shadow are pretty bad.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
It has been a delight to have people hunt up supplemental materials for me. Take some of the onus off of me putting on a show, y'know? And it makes this whole process feel that much more interactive, which is a lot of what makes it worthwhile.

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Welcome to the Castle Halls.

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Again, the background art isn’t bad, just disappointing. There’s no animation in this, either.

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Giant Skulls behave like Boos in Mario: They only move when your back is turned.

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Skull Pillars shoot fireballs like their other incarnations. Nice to see a Castlevania standby, finally! You can whip their fireballs, and they take three hits to destroy.

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That’s all a straight line.

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Then you have a series of these single rooms, each with a different monster hanging out in it. Are these their bedchambers?

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Whatever, moving on. Igor here moves fast. He dances back and forth and periodically jumps at you, and takes a couple of hits to kill.

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You can double back under this bridge for some Wall Meat.

Did I mention how quickly monsters respawn? Scroll off the screen, and they’re right back where they were. Nothing stays dead in this Castlevania.

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The tornado, for the record, is a Soul Weapon. It stops time for three seconds. What, you thought it might be an offensive weapon? What gave you that idea?

So to recap: You can never have a subweapon in the first stage, and you can only have the time-stopper for the second. This is already a terrible way to manage subweapons! If they wanted to give you a set one at the end of each stage, then they needed to have the “four castles” thing again so you could be like Mega Man and get subweapons to get past the parts you personally had trouble with. Or at the very least, they could do it like Kid Dracula, where you started with two options, gained the rest over the first five stages, and still had four more stages with all of them to work with. With five soul weapons and only six stages (one of which is hidden), we're not even getting that.

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We continue on and head up.

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Way up.

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One of those free-floating candles is a 1up, but it’s a pain to whip and catch it.

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At the top is a Stopwatch. But we won’t use it, because we have a time-stopping tornado.

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So then back down, and take the door to the right. (Note that you still need to be holding a rope when you go down off the screen. If you just jump down, you die.)

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Across a collapsing bridge.

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This is clearly supposed to be the library. I don’t hate the background, but I can’t say I’m impressed by it.

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We can go right here, but there’s a platform I can’t figure out how to get up. I think there’s a 1up past there.

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You pass through here, but can’t go right on the next screen because it’s covered in spikes.

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You need to come down and defeat Sword Armor (who you can just duck and shoot fireballs at from outside his reach). Beating him makes the spikes vanish.

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Nothing indicates this. You just have to assume you hit a dead end, go back, and notice you can turn.

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But that’s okay, because at least now you know to do that a second time.

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Then through the dining hall.

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Here I accidentally use and waste my “Burning Mode.” It consumes the B-meter and makes Sonia faster and invincible. You get it by pressing A and B together, which you’d never do while trying to jump and whip at the same time.

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Boss arena. This one has a candle with a boss crystal.

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The ceiling falls, but Sonia jumps back automatically.

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Then we fight the Death Dragon.

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The dragon spits fire at different heights then jumps and makes more ceiling bricks fall.

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His head is his vulnerable part.

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Beating him gets another rose-ball and changes the tornado to meteors. Or something ball-shaped, at least.

Next time: The clock tower!
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
This is an uncharacteristically sloppy and awkward game for the series or even this branch of it, and it's especially troubled for its gendered representation, but I still manage to enjoy it in a limited way these days. The specific ways in which the design falls over itself manage to be interesting enough to sort of gawk at, and aspects like the music do enough the legitimately carry it too. I'm a little mad at Legends but also at peace with it, the way things have settled out.

Anyone that appreciates the music here should check out Yone2008's VRC6 remixes of it, because they're so good they might even make a convert of you in case you don't.

Also keeping with franchise tradition, Sonia's conceptual and general visual basis likely finds origin in Vampire Hunter D and its influential 1985 OVA, once again, in the character of Doris Lang, who may also be at least one of the reasons Belmonts stick to their whips so committedly. Her relationship with the resident dhampir is mirrored pretty directly in what Legends goes on to do with its counterpart characters.

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MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I'm sad that this game wasn't better.

Konami had come a long way from Castlevania: The Adventure and done some pretty awesome games on the ol' monochrome Game Boy by this point, so it was so disappointing that their final Castlevania on the platform (and the first in the series headlined exclusively by a woman) felt so regressive. In a way this feels like a product that was rushed to market solely to capitalize on SotN's surprising popularity (Alucard! He's here! As a boss!) compared to the 3D game that had been positioned as the future of Castlevania.

We needed a Castlevania Legends Rebirth yesterday but disappointingly it was written out of the series altogether when the timeline happened.

As for the previous games, my opinions:

Castlevania: The Adventure: Still not a big fan of this one even after save stating my way through in the collection. It's just too slow for me and I get annoyed by that mandatory precision platforming bit I inevitably screw up and then the entire third stage is a very long gauntlet of instant death traps and I'd rather play any of the NES games instead.

But that said, save stating my way through I did gain a greater appreciation for what it did so early in the system's life. I was surprised by just how many gimmicks from Belmont's Revenge had originated here.

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge: Not my first choice when I have the Castlevania itch, but far more refined and does some really cool stuff with the stage gimmicks it brought back. I like how you can select which stage to go to out of four, and with both the International and Japanese versions on the collection it's neat to see how the way you approach the challenges can change depending on whether the axe or the boomerang is the weapon available to you.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
We needed a Castlevania Legends Rebirth yesterday but disappointingly it was written out of the series altogether when the timeline happened.
I can't get enough Igavania, myself, so a Castlevania Legends that used Sorrow mechanics for the soul weapons and had that level of exploration/gameplay/story complexity would be totally my jam. Maybe some enterprising fanhacker will do it, someday.

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Welcome to stage 3, the Clock Tower.

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You might remember the pulleys from the last game. In this game, they’re just functionally ropes. They don’t move or anything. This is a straightforward climb with Bats and Shadows coming at you.

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Frogurt hangs on the rope here. He takes three hits to kill, but he isn’t particularly aggressive—he won’t move if you don’t. If you’re some distance away he’ll spit small fireballs.

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This whole area is fairly straightforward, just climbing.

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And more climbing.

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For the record, the “Ice” soul weapon restores all your health, at a cost of 20 hearts a shot. I accidentally used up all of my hearts by activating it repeatedly as I tried to climb and whip at the same time. Great design! (Also note there are no big hearts in this game. You’ve got to collect them one at a time.)

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The dragon miniboss here is arguably harder than either stage boss thus far, though that’s not saying much. He’ll charge across the bottom (where you can easily hit him), then fly up into a corner and spit three fireballs down at you.

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The rope drops when you beat him.

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In this room, the right side is a dead-end.

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Then we hit a crossroads. We’ll go left, first.

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We actually leads to another crossroads. Let’s go up!

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Up was definitely the right move, because there’s a Dagger up here. (That’s another useless collectable.)

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Going to the left from the second crossroads…leads to a trap room. Three waves of enemies will come at you before the door re-opens and lets you leave.

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So then we hike all the way back to the right, to the first crossroads.

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And go up, into something closer to a classic clock tower. I give them credit for trying with the background here.

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This gear goes up and down, and you need to ride it.

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The others don’t spin, or anything.

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Mild platforming our way up, nothing exciting. The large gears are just fancy platforms.

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On this screen, the left side is the dead end.

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I hit a glitch on this screen where the left moving gear didn’t spawn and had to go back to my save-state.

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A few more screens of climbing, where the biggest issue is that Shadows will bounce directly at you while you try to climb and respawn the instant you scroll the screen.

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When you jump off the ropes in the top room, they’re pulled up.

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Then you face Death, traditionally the Clock Tower boss.

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He’s not terribly tricky here. He bounces between spots on the left and the right and throws mini-scythes you can whip to destroy. Again, the miniboss dragon was probably harder.

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Beating him gets you the rose-orb with the Fire soul. Given the trend, what do you guess it does?

(I'm out of town until Monday afternoon, so it'll be a few days until the next entry. Which has PLOT.)
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
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On this screen, the left side is the dead end.

According to the map, there's 1UP if you choose to venture all the way up there.

Mid-boss dragon looks pretty nice - in general the boss sprites seem like the least disappointing things in the game outside the music. Though the backgrounds in the second half of the clock tower here aren't terrible.

Speaking of the soundtrack, there's a pretty great unused track in it. Seems like maybe there was originally supposed to be another level (existing bonus level notwithstanding).
 
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