Thursday, May 15, 2014

Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy) Review

Christopher Belmont. Who the fuck is Christopher Belmont? As a fan of the classic Castlevania games, I was interested in finding out. What do I mean by classic? The Castlevania games that were hard to play and that you actually had to get good at. Not the Metroid knock-offs. Ignore that the internet regurgitation machine has made these games "Metroidvanias." Super Metroid was really the origin of the play-style; Symphony of the Night merely re-used it at a time when video games were more popular than they were when the SNES was a modern system. That's not to say that I don't enjoy these games in any way, it's just that the usage of "Metroidvania" discredits Super Metroid.

There hasn't been a classic Castlevania game since the release of Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth on WiiWare in 2009. ReBirth is a "remake" of this game. They have absolutely nothing in common. There are some enemies an obstacles in common, but that's where the similarities end. ReBirth was actually a pretty fantastic game. The original...?

This is the worst Castlevania game I've played. Piracy is a pretty popular option for most games. I generally don't unless it's a translation, a cool ROM hack, or a game that costs several hundred dollars. I strongly advise you to play this game on an emulator.

Pictured: A waste of money

Why play it on an emulator? There's a couple reasons. The primary reason is that this game runs like absolute fucking dog shit. It's so laggy and drops so many frames that it's nearly impossible to safely navigate the levels. The other Castlevania games run smooth as butter; if there's a projectile coming at you, you can figure out when it's coming and whip it, saving yourself from being hit. Not here. The lag is so bad it's nearly impossible to successfully time this. The other problem? No password system, at all. Every time the game infuriates you into quitting and you turn it off, that's it. You're starting all the way back from the start. There's only four levels, but the third requires such absolute perfection that it's nearly impossible to learn it playing this way.

There are unlimited continues, so you can repeatedly play through stages. Good luck having the stamina to play through this game in one sitting, though. An emulator helps this out for a few reasons. The main reason is that emulators do a terrible job of what they're supposed to do. Emulators are not accurate at all; they're built around how a guy thinks a console works. Granted that's a very smart guy, but he doesn't know everything going on with the system. A lot of it is guesswork and the result is that games just don't run the same. For a purist, this ruins it. That's the category I fall into. As a Castlevania fan, I have an irrational desire to play all of the games, and an emulator's shortcomings actually make the game run better. Since it's not a perfect recreation of the original hardware, for whatever reason, the game performs better. Like I said, the purist side says no, but the Castlevania side says yes. I'd normally opt for the "worse" experience, but it's unberable.

The other perk to an emulator? Save states. Don't use them like a bitch though. Save at the start of a level. Treat it like the password system the game so desperately lacks. Don't just save state before a difficult part and reload constantly.

The bats are the worst part of this game.

Aside from the crippling slowdown, the game has one truly fatal flaw. It's why the bats are so annoying. The first Castlevania gave options for fighting enemies in sub-weapons. Low to the ground? Holy water. Far away? Cross (or useless dagger). Medusa heads? Time stop. In the air? Axe. The Adventure has no sub-weapons at all. Only your whip. That's a huge fucking problem for two reasons. The first is the bats. They follow you around and fly all over the screen, sort of like the hawks in Ninja Gaiden (NES) but 10 times worse because you have no good way to attack them. The other massive problem with the whip is that it downgrades when you get hit. You start with the leather whip, upgrade to a chain whip, and the last upgrade lets you shoot fireballs. The fireball whip is your only hope of survival, especially in the third stage. Get hit once, and it's back to the chain whip. Get hit again and you're back to the leather whip.

This shit ain't Mario. It's Castlevania. You have a fucking life bar. The only reason this was done was (presumably) to make the game's 4 stages last longer. As for no sub-weapons, I can only assume this is because they would've made the game run even worse. The levels themselves are mostly forgettable. The jumping between platforms is completely agitating, this is one of those bullshit games where you have to be on the very last pixel of a platform to successfully make a jump. The third level is actually quite interesting though.

The only really interesting part of the game.

The third stage is basically a race; the screw type thing you see there pulls the floor and the ceiling together, and you have to break them to move on. Once you move on, it's a vertical race upwards with spikes rising from the floor, and then horizontally with spikes coming from the left. It's challenging, but it's actually fun unlike the rest of the game. Probably because there's no bats. It requires absolute perfection to make it with the flame whip so that you've got a chance against the boss. It reminded me of racing games like the first Project Gotham or earlier Forza games where you need to be perfect out of the starting gate, or you were screwed. One wrong corner and you aren't going to win.

The level representing Dracula's castle is depressingly bland, however. This is where the game should've been cranked up to 10, but it wasn't. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising since this is following Simon's Quest, where the castle was equally unimpressive. The game is interesting as a Castlevania fan because it does take some graphical cues from Simon's Quest, most notably the way the sky looks in the first stage.

If you do manage to make it through the monotony, don't expect anything special from Dracula. His patterns are obvious, and it's an easy takedown. Definitely not recommended for anyone except diehard Castlevania fans. If you must, use an's not much better, though.

Pictured: A waste of time. 468 people wasted their time. 469, including me.

The score: 4/10

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