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


Lapsed Threadcromancer
The level changing when you beat a boss is a nice idea but it doesn't seem well implemented here.


Son of The Answer Man

The Castle Keep. We’re greeted by a giant spider, as one does. (They skitter fast and take two hits to kill.)


Regarding the fire soul, if you’d guessed “Hits all enemies on screen with no animation”, you’d be right!


The game makes another reasonable attempt at stage hazards here, where you need to hang on moving ropes across the spike pit. The Knight on the platform is actually the biggest part of the challenge.


Heading up, we find a new enemy: The Sand Worm. It scoots along under the ground and pops up to bite you, though it holds still once it pops up, so it’s easy to kill at that point. The background here is also pretty nice.


Then we’ve got the crossroads for this stage. Let’s try heading up.


Knights are really freaking durable; it takes six hits to down them!


A new enemy! The Pinwheel Flower spins and shoots leaves at you, and takes three hits to kill.


Up another screen, those candles look odd.


They’re trap candles. Hitting them spawns bats and spiders.


And the real candle at the end is a Wall Meat. This entire branch is a waste of time.


So heading to the left.


Here’s another miniboss, the Medusa. She glides back and forth and swings a sword at you, which I’ll admit wasn’t what I expected from her. When you hit her enough, her body explodes and her head flies away.

(I think this was trying to actually play into series lore? The reason Simon and Trevor encounter Medusa Heads is because Sonia killed Medusa's body, way back when.)


This is what the Sand Worm look like before they emerge.


The lower path here takes you to a 1up.


Then we need to ride across moving ropes. The pinwheel flowers are a problem here.


A better shot of the moving ropes.


Then a short upwards segment.


This is another crossroads. We’re going to try the right fork first.


Hmm, a room full of trap candles. I’m not sure that bodes well.


But it works out. At the top of this climb, we find the Holy Water.


And getting back down here is an inadvertent trap: If you try to jump from the lowest platform to the rope, you’ll hit the top of the platform and fall in the hole. (And remember, if you just down a rope rather than climbing it, you die. That hasn’t changed since the very first game.) You actually need to walk off the platform above and fall onto the rope.


Back to the left fork.


There’s an enemy gauntlet between you and the boss room. I need to rush through because talking the dead ends means my timer is running short.


Instead of finding Dracula in the throne room, we find Alucard. He has words for us.










This is my perfectionism at work. I could have just transcribed the 52 text boxes, but noooo, I needed to make them pretty. Anyway…


Alucard is a shockingly straightforward boss, especially if you were expecting something like the Soleiyu fight. He either throws two fireballs (high and low), or rushes forward and slashes high with his sword.


When you give him a good beating, there are more words.

And now that you know the pain that is knitting together all of those tiny textboxes, I’m going to transcribe them:
Alucard: Ooww! I had no idea you had become so strong.
Sonia: Oh, Alucard!
Alucard: It looks like this time it is I who have learned a lesson.
Sonia: Alucard, did you purposely...?
Alucard: No, Sonia. You have made me believe in your strength.
Sonia: Alucard. I'm so sorry.
Alucard: Do not trouble yourself about it, Sonia. Now, I must sleep. I fear we shall not meet again. Farewell, my beloved, my beautiful vampire hunter.
Sonia: Alucard! Alucard, I will never forget you. Farewell, dear Alucard.

Because that’s the big surprise twist to all of this: Sonia and Alucard were in love. Now, on one hand, there are some interesting things you can do with this, vis a vis the Belmonts and Dracula being forever intertwined because of these star-crossed lovers. On the other hand, the timeline is iffy, at best. Dracula becomes a vampire lord (with power from “the evil deity”) and stands unopposed long enough to father Alucard and have him grow to maturity (because Alucard wouldn’t have vampire powers if he was Drac’s son from the before times). But the manual tells us that Sonia was born 17 years ago “around the same time” that Dracula got his powers and became a terror. So did we just meet teenage Alucard, who is some amount younger than Sonia?

I’ll talk more about this after we see the ending.


The rose-orb this time gives you the fancy star soul power. Then the floor opens up and you fall into the fifth area, the Inner Den.


Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
It doesn't feel like one in general, but this is the surest sign that this was indeed a mid-late 90s game: WAY, WAY, WAY TOO MUCH DIALOGUE.

You spend most of four levels just walking about whipping monsters and then you get bombarded by a mountain of text exposition at the Alucard fight.


Mellotron enthusiast
I've got some musical catching up to do, it seems:

Inside the Castle - The Stage 2 theme. I'm a sucker for a good waltz, and this is a pretty good one. In fact, I like it so much that I made a string quartet arrangement of it (or a poor midi facsimile thereof, at least).
Clock Tower of Darkness - The Stage 3 theme. Has a pretty good groove to it.
Highest Castle Floor - The Stage 4 theme. In a lot of other games this would probably be used for the final level, but we're only just over the halfway point (counting the hidden stage).
Gatekeeper - The miniboss theme.
The Castle Lord's Room - This plays when you talk to Alucard.
Alucard Battle - Speaking of whom, he gets his own battle music, and it's pretty rad!

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.

Oh sick, I had no idea that they had remixed the whole soundtrack! I've only seen a few arrangements here and there (and was in fact planning on linking those), but y'all should just click that link instead, it's seriously high-quality stuff.


Son of The Answer Man
Mario: Oh! Daisy!

Except that Alucard's hair is darker, you could have told me that was an alternate portrait for Sonia and I'd have been none the wiser.
It's good they put their pictures on the corresponding sides of the screen, because yeah, this is an artist who can only do one face.


Son of The Answer Man

Welcome to the Inner Den. It’s a cave.


Watch your head.


Fishmen jump out of pits and bounce around, then spit fire at you. You need a direct hit or two fireballs to kill them.


Sandworms return, along with the omnipresent Bats.


After the door, we see our first crossroads. We’re going to try going up.


Pinwheel flowers in painful places. Makes me wish I had an axe.


Then the path splits again. We’ll try the lower route.


It’s a low ceiling and a dead end.


Fishmen leap through the floor in this area and always end up bounding around the top.


The upper route leads to a different dead-end, with nothing but a Wall Meat to show for it. So that entire leg was a waste.


So back to here and we go down.


Remember the moving water from Belmont’s Revenge? It reappears here. It'll slowly slide you into the pit, but it's easy to avoid.


A little platforming around the water, leading to a door to the next segment.


More moving water, Bats, Fishmen and Sandworms. Pretty straightforward.


I’m taking the upper route here because I know the lower route is an annoying dead-end.


Then we have our miniboss: The Minotaur. He jumps around and attempts to slam into you.


The arena is what makes this battle difficult, because that middle platform cuts your maneuverability.


I didn’t show off the pointy-star soul weapon, did I? It shoots an energy blast straight ahead, for a cost of 1 heart. If you have a fireball whip, this is basically useless.


Now we exit the caves into the basement of the castle, and there are a number of splits to the path, but one correct way to go.


Go up along the right side of the screen. Stay to the right.


Go through the door.


Then you need to jump down.


Ah, the different-colored candle that signifies traps. But we need to whip this one. (The candle above is a 1up, but you need to know it’s there and time carefully to get it. I did not time carefully.)


Then jump down into the new pit below.


This leads to the Hidden Stage! Pretty well-hidden, hunh?


Most of the game’s enemy’s make reappearances here, including ones we haven't seen since the early game.


Credit: The torture chamber/dungeon backdrop here is pretty decent.


There are a few small switchbacks along the path.


Enemies like Fireballs that we haven’t seen since the earliest stages reappear, though their threat level hasn't really increased.


This room is an unavoidable trap: It locks you in place (you can only turn, you can’t even jump) and Fireballs come from both directions at you for a half-dozen waves. (Upon reflection, I should have used the Fire soul weapon to hit them all. Oh, well. You can just turn left and right and whip them as they approach.)


Then, as is predictable at this point: A crossroads!


To the right, we find a short path and a jackpot: The Boomerang (our last collectable item), and a 1up!


Then we go up and head right from there. (There’s a dead-end upwards from here, but I have the prize for this area so I’m skipping it.)


A dead end…and a crystal!


That brings us to the area boss, the secret boss, the Executioner. He’s…actually really boring? He jumps up on platforms and swings his axe, trying to kill you by chopping through two frames of animation like a neon sign.


He’s a giant sack of health but otherwise not notable.


He drops the bat-orb, which gives you the final soul power: Bat.


Then we warp back to the crossroads in stage 5.

Next time, we'll confront Dracula, have lots more talking, and finish the game.


Summon for hire
This game does put a few interesting twists on the usual stage-based drac's castle formula - the secret stage is cool (and it seems like the only in-game hint that it exists is if you scour the rest of the game you'll come up one collectible item short of the best ending), and then there's the fact that it puts Alucard in the usual end-game throne room in the highest spire, and Drac himself hanging out down by the basement crypts in a cathedral off to one side... though the in-game map kind of gives away that one a bit.


Son of The Answer Man

Okay, once more with feeling.


Climbing up again.


The Bat soul weapon that we’ve just acquired makes the screen flash and then all enemies die. It costs 5 hearts, making it the superior version of the Fire soul weapon. (It’s good for getting rid of the otherwise-hardy knights, that much is clear.)


Now that we have them all, I’m going to say: The soul weapon system was badly implemented in multiple ways. The way the abilities are dribbled out means you’re not going to use them for 95% of the game. The elements listed for each weapon and their corresponding effects make no goddamn sense. The selection of abilities is poorly suited to the game and most of them don’t come with any visual indicators. Time stop, for example, matters when there are moving platforms you can freeze or enemy swarms you need to crowd-control. This game only has a handful of platforming bits, and those rely on the platforms needing to stay in motion; and by the time you encounter crowds of enemies (which can only get so big on the Game Boy anyway) you have the fire soul. The “angel” soul might be a useful distance weapon, except that the fireball whip hits the same arc and is free. You only get the “demon” soul for the final four corridors when you might use it on knights to save yourself some effort, but you really need to save your hearts to use the healing soul in the Dracula battle.


If we go up the left side of the initial climb, there’s a dead end with a Wall Meat.


So we take the right door, and continue right instead of jumping down.


Knights on the platforms, Sandworms on the floor.


These backgrounds are downright respectable.


Then we have another straightforward climb, past Knights and Bats.


I am appreciating the Bat soul killing the knights…though you can just climb straight past most of them.


Then to the right once more.


This run has Knights and Bats that are harder to avoid; at least if you’re trying to rush through.


To the last crossroads of the game.


Going down gets you a Wall Meat.


Going up leads to the throne room.


And Dracula.

Now, I care and all, but I couldn’t face stitching together another 40 goddamn text boxes.

Dracula: You have done well, my girl. In fact, you are the first human who has come this far. You have my praise.
Sonia: You are the Prince of Darkness. Because of you many people have died, many people have suffered.
Dracula: Oh no, my dear. I have merely done what you humans wished for, fulfilling your insatiable desires.
Sonia: People must fulfill their dreams with their own power. You have been consumed by the power of evil no longer have the strength to determine your own fate!
Dracula: Silence! On the contrary, I am just the one to use this power, and I will be the king who rules over the entire world. Give yourself to me, young lady. There may be merit in having your power, in having your presence.
Sonia: My strength will only be used to protect the world! Lord of Darkness, prepare to suffer for trifling with so many lives!
Dracula: As you wish, girl. Then it is your fate to kneel before my power!


Dracula teleports to various spots around the room (often in mid-air) and opens his cloak to shoot out energy balls.


It’s hard to dodge the balls, but you can also just tank a couple of hits, whip the crap out of him, and heal with the Ice soul weapon, which you can have up to four shots of.


He talks more after you beat his first form.

Dracula: Well, well. You are a worthy foe. You have lasted much longer than most.
Sonia: Prepare yourself!
Dracula: Oh, I've just been toying with you so far. But now it's time to get serious!


So then he has a second form. The face in the middle shoot out the same energy balls, but now in eight directions instead of three.


He still teleports around, but rather than chasing him, you can easily dodge from several locations and easily hit him from several others—just let him come to you. And I think he has less health than the Executioner.


After you beat him a second time, we have another 56 dialogue boxes.

Dracula: Ohh, no! This cannot be! Me losing to a- a human?
Sonia: You poor man. It must be difficult for you to understand why you, who possess eternal life, are about to perish. Humans are granted such a precious short life in comparison to yours, but in that short time we are able to love and to live for someone else. There must have been a time when you too cherished the bonds with the ones you loved. We humans are not so foolish as to throw away all of that in exchange for the power you received. There is no place in this world for the likes of you. You were already defeated when you accepted the power of the darkness.
Dracula: Heh heh heh heh. HA HAH HAH HAHH!! Don't let it go to your head, girl. Do you really think the like of you can destroy me? You're a fool just as Alucard was. Listen to me. Darkness will never die out as long as there is light in the world. I am the ruler of that darkness, and I will rise again and again, as long as people like you are alive. Again and again, I tell you. HAH HAH HAH!!
Sonia: When that happens, someone will appear before you to take my place. If it is my fate to again be a vampire hunter, I will be ready! No, I will gladly accept that destiny. So, until your soul is saved, until all the evil desires in the world are exhausted, goodbye ruler of evil. Goodbye, O woeful Prince of Darkness.


At which point we teleport outside.


And Castlevania sinks into the ground.


Thus, the fear of darkness that continued to envelop the world was lifted single-handedly by a young girl. There are as many legends in the world that deserve retelling as there are stars in the night sky. But this story marks the beginning of the Belmont family legend that has been passed on through many ages. And there is not a single person now who knows when the next legendary fight between another Prince of Darkness and human will begin.


So, I think systems-wise I’ve made it pretty clear why I’m not a big fan of this game.


Castlevania: The Adventure was a product of its time; an era when crushing difficulty and repetitiveness was used to compensate for limited memory and short games. It was a perfectly reasonable approach to translating the original Castlevania to the limitations of the Game Boy, and it managed a lot of clever stage hazards and some remarkably nice graphics.


Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge took everything that was good about The Adventure and built it into a much stronger game. The difficulty was still there, but the instant-deaths were toned way down and the controls were significantly improved so it felt more fair. The nonlinearity made the game much more accessible and the addition of subweapons gave the player more variety in dealing with obstacles. And for a Game Boy game, it was downright gorgeous.


Castlevania: Legends was a mediocre 1989 game that came out in 1998. The graphics were worse than The Adventure; and for all that they stuffed into optional abilities, none of them really improved the play experience. It’s easier, but that’s mostly because they aimed for “enemies swarm and deplete your health” as the death mechanic rather than instant-death stage traps—and the stages are boring. The requisite crossroads in each stage to find the hidden collectable is the only real innovation, and even that is marred by the trap rooms and trap candles that feel cruel and discourage exploration. This game isn’t unplayable, but it’s…just not very good.


Because we found all five collectables, there’s a special ending.





Sonia becomes the founder of the vampire-hunting Belmont line and we learn that Alucard was the father of her child. So the Belmonts and Dracula are forever intertwined and the series is actually an intra-family battle. What this doesn’t explain is…practically everything. Sonia was gifted with special powers to command souls and go into burning mode; but none of her descendants could do either. Alucard inherited some portion of Dracula’s vampire powers, but none of the later Belmonts get those, either. Alucard never implies or acknowledges any connection to the Belmont family in any other game (including the ones that had already come out when this game was made). This also doesn’t give any special significance to the Belmont’s signature whip (though to be fair, I think Circle of the Moon was the first game to do that). This was a big twist with nothing to support it and no real follow-through; no wonder it got dropped from canon.


And so ends what was probably my crankiest segment of an LP ever. I wasn’t sure at first whether I’d do Legends at all, but the momentum was there and people were interested, so I pushed through it.

Thank you all for being a great audience for this edition of Let’s Play Beowulf’s Game Boy Youth. Extra-special thanks to Albatoss for posting all the music and Peklo for providing interesting side material that was new to me.

That’s all for now, see you next time!


Round and round I go
Staff member
I don't see where it suggests that Alucard was the father, although that is perhaps the obvious conclusion.

Anyway, good riddance to this game. Maybe you should've done it first and left the best for last.


Mellotron enthusiast

For some reason this text box is extremely funny to me.

One last round of music. However the rest of the game may have turned out, Iwata and Okada knocked it out of the park with the soundtrack for the final Gameboy Castlevania.

Underground Watercourse - The Stage 5 theme. It is intensely baroque, so much so that I'm surprised no one has made a harpsichord arrangement of it (to my knowledge anyway).
Dungeon of Silence - The secret stage theme. It's rockin' as heck!
Dracula Castle Cathedral - The cutscene music for when you talk to Dracula.
Count Dracula Battle - The theme for Dracula's first form...
Vampire Killer - ...And the second. This is one of the more dramatic rearrangements of Vampire Killer in the series, and it pretty quickly goes off into unique territory.
Ending - Pretty obvious. This theme has a good groove to it.
Epilogue - Also pretty obvious.

Sonia Belmont deserved better. She's still the only female Belmont in the entire series, unless you count Zoe and Dolores from the pre-smartphone mobile Castlevania that nobody played. Maybe the cancelled Dreamcast game would have been good, but at this point we'll never know.

Thanks for running the thread, Beowulf!


Lapsed Threadcromancer
Thank you Beowulf for taking us through these GB games. I think I've only ever played the first.


Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Thanks for seeing this to the end, however rough Legends makes it.

To close out for my own part, I want to get a little into the life this game has had in the years since its release, despite the small profile it realistically had in 1998. No one really remembers Legends for its level design, visuals, and sadly the music--the one underestimated part of the production that measures up in practice. The way the game has continued to exist has been as raw ammunition in taking-sides for/against arguments mostly centered around Koji Igarashi, as the longest-serving and most public-facing overseer of the series--a concern that no longer exists, of course, but during the decade or so of his tenure when the series was perceived as "his", this was rhetoric that turned up regularly. The accusations that were weaponized toward him used Legends's erasure from the (messy and informal) series timeline as evidence of his sexism, because a game with a female protagonist got the unceremonius boot from the fan-pleasing tapestry. It was always a transparent excuse of people exercising whatever kind of more generalized vendetta against him, as other games like the N64 duology or Circle of the Moon were deemed similarly of dubious "canonical" relevance; co-opting feminist rhetoric to spark asinine fandom feuds and further petty grievances. The greater irony of the situation was that Igarashi through his own work on the series is a fundamentally and consistently sexist writer in the themes he explores, how he conveys them, and what roles women play in his games--Legends never needed to be framed as a mark against him when simply observing the man's creative record is enough to construct that narrative if people actually cared about the stated cause. The reasons why some games were elevated as sacrosanct while others were diminished in Igarashi's eyes as curator were likely not ideological but simply the same as any given fan's, as he cultivated his persona to be in his role as series steward: largely arbitrary and biased, based on gleeful preferentiality and nerdy obsessiveness determined by those exacting priorities.

The other part of this charade that's bitterly bemusing is the positioning of Legends itself as some kind of noteworthy representation for women in the series. It has the nominal first of a leading Belmont woman that's still the sole instance of that, as mentioned, but that's as far as it ever gets in making any of its trailblazing matter positively. For a game that has only a few scenes and lines of dialogue total, it manages to make Sonia's characterization entirely subserviently adoring and worshipful of the dhampir dreamboat she's paired up with, to be met with constant condescension on Alucard's part and incorporating all these insistent assurances that Alucard is always right, Alucard taught Sonia the important things in life, and Alucard was probably holding back his true strength in their battle--he didn't really lose to his lover just now, dear fans. It's so over-the-top in putting him over and saving face for him that the game doesn't even feel like it's about Sonia at all--it's just a companion work put out into a world high on Alucard fumes post-1997 and what Symphony did for the series, removing all significance from its ostensible heroine. The final indication for this marketing venture's intent is in that secret coda, which intertwines both of the opposing bloodlines of the series with its retcon. It's not a narrative decision that irks me on basis of how it frames earlier productions and subsequent chronological works in the series, but how it reflects on this game in particular where the first solo leading woman of the series is reduced to her ongoing pregnancy and whose kid she eventually went on to have. It's just ghastly work that treats its subject matter so poorly and so shockingly efficiently in the little time it has to express these notions, and the way it's been used as the aforementioned counterpoint in the years since has been nothing short of ridiculous any time it's come up. Sonia Belmont, in a vacuum and conceptually, would and could be cool--even now there's a certain objectifying guilty pleasure to her battle leotard and shawl design--but she has habitually suffered one of the rawest deals imaginable creatively and as essentially inter-fandom propaganda.


Thanks for the fun LP. Well done.

I remember reading about Legends in a magazine, when it was new. The article actually made it sound like an interesting game. I don't remember anything it said, but that magazine had a habit of making all games sound like the most fun adventure ever, filled with all kinds of goodies and secrets. Still, up to now, my image of the game has always been a positive one, due to not knowing anything about it, and a very vague memory.


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
The “angel” soul might be a useful distance weapon, except that the fireball whip hits the same arc and is free.
I've never played this game so I have a basic question - does the fireball from the whip stop after hitting a single enemy?


Son of The Answer Man
I've never played this game so I have a basic question - does the fireball from the whip stop after hitting a single enemy?
Nope, both it and the angel soul keep going to the edge of the screen. The fireball is stopped by obstacles like walls and by the knight's sword when it's blocking, and the angel soul passes through them, so I suppose it has that small advantage.


Son of The Answer Man
Brief Revival Bonus Post: Castlevania Adventure DX

I’ve been meaning to get to this for quite a while, and hopefully this can serve as a warm-up to my next project (or finishing FFL2; we’ll see). The Castlevania Adventure was re-released by Konami as part of the Konami GB Collection Vol.1, which colorized it. Then, an enterprising hacker decided to further upgrade the game fully into Castlevania: The Adventure DX.

What does the hack do? It re-colors pretty much every sprite. It changes the candle design. It incorporates the Autoboot + Speed + Whip Hack which increases your walking speed and removes the whip downgrade from taking hits. And it takes you directly into this game rather than the collection screen, functionally changing it from a collection pack to a single game rom.

So first, let’s look at the collection version Konami put out, then we’ll compare it with the hack.


This is the original version, for reference. It has various opening screens and a selection menu.


Then the proper start menu.


Not bad. A little cartoony.


Not sure I’m cool with the mudmen being bright green.


I think colorizing it actually washes out some of the brilliance of what they did with the original artwork—they had to get very creative with their four colors, and I think you lose some of that when you “upgrade.”


Interestingly, your health bar changes color as it gets lower in this version.


I’m not going to go through the whole game, but I wanted to show a few areas at least, for contrast.


The hack jumps straight to this start screen, and edits the title screen to add the “DX”.


You notice a bunch of obvious changes right off the bat: The candles are different. The health bar starts and stays consistently red.


Mudmen are a more logical brown.


The backgrounds are generally unchanged in the hack. The faster walking is a little jerky; I’m not sure how much of that is VisualBoyAdvance versus the hack itself. (And yes, I realize that there are more advanced GBA emulators at this point, but I’m used to VBA and it’s good for capturing LP images.) It’s totally playable and likely preferable to most modern players over the super-slow Belmont pimp-walk. And if the hack didn’t remove whip downgrades I’d suggest using a cheat code to do it anyway; it was a major difficulty factor back in the day and it really just feels mean now.


I didn’t capture the rolling eyes in the original, but they’re unchanged here. I think they look pretty good colorized.


Foreground objects like the cemetery gravestones are colored in gray, rather than being “transparent” in the original. The trees are also more fully colored. I’m okay with this—if you’re going to lose the original aestectic and go for NES/GBC-era colorizing, you should go whole-hog.


I kinda wish they’d been able to make the boss a little fancier. The flat gray stick out as boring against the backgrounds and the multicolor Belmont.


I think they successfully upgraded this along the lines they were going for. It’s not the original experience and I don’t think I’d recommend it to someone who wanted that, but I think there’s an argument that it improves it as a game by modern standards. Certainly worth a try if you’re a fan.