Released: December 1988
US Cartridge ID: NES-QU-USA
Genre: Action RPG
Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Reprising his role from Castlevania, Simon Belmont (renamed to fix the awkward and semi-correct Japanese transliteration of the name Berumondo Shimon used in the first game) sets off once again in pursuit of pure evil. This time, however, the adventure is much more personal in nature: Simon was badly injured in his fight with Dracula seven years ago in Castlevania‘s finale. A mysterious and beautiful woman appears, warning Simon that the wound had laid a curse upon his mortal soul, and if he didn’t take action, the taint would kill him. Simon’s only hope of salvation is to return to Transylvania, find the five remaining intact body parts of Dracula, and burn them at his castle.
In a huge departure from the gameplay style of the original, this sequel incorporates several RPG mechanics and a non-linear exploratory structure similar to that found in Vampire Killer, a 1986 Castlevania title released for Konami’s MSX2 home computer. Simon must speak with townspeople for hints about what he should do next (though they are oftentimes purposely misleading), buy items in shops, gain levels by collecting hearts from downed enemies, and more. An interesting day/night cycle is also in place, significantly changing the flow of the game: at sunset villagers turn into murderous zombies, and enemy monsters become much more powerful.
In order to find all five of the needed body parts, Simon must traverse the Transylvanian countryside, seeking out mansions that house Dracula’s nail, eyeball, rib, ring, and heart. Once collected, these pieces can be equipped as items to improve Simon’s odds (the rib can shield Simon from damage, the eye allows him to see hidden items, the nail allows walls to be destroyed, and so on). Once all of these pieces are collected, Dracula’s citadel, Castlevania, will become available for the final showdown. The game features multiple endings, decided by how long it took to finish the game, as well as how many times Simon died before destroying the Count.
The platforming action of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is quite similar to that of its predecessor, with its controls being nearly identical. The game is significantly less linear than Castlevania, but due to the hideously butchered translation, it’s oftentimes impossible to figure out what the clues that villagers give you mean (“GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER,” for example), resulting in a lot of time being spent aimlessly wandering. This isn’t time completely wasted, however, since Simon will inevitably build up a necessary stockpile of experience and hearts while exploring. The graphics are a large improvement over the original game, with better detailed character sprites and far fewer garish color schemes.
The music sets a high bar for the NES, complementing the action with some of the most memorable tunes to ever grace a video game; several of these tunes would be reproduced in remixed forms in later Castlevania games. Of particular note is the difference in the sound quality between the American NES version and the Japanese disk version: though not usually the case, the cartridge version of the game sounds significantly better than the Famicom disk version. Even though the disk system could handle more sound channels than the base NES system, the bass and the drums in the American version are a massive improvement over the original’s, making the music far more driving and dynamic.
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is an excellent game and unquestionably a worthy successor to Castlevania. Though the faulty translation makes the game much more difficult than it should have been, the improved graphics, sound, and story make this a worthwhile play for any fan of the Belmont clan.
|Castlevania II – Simon’s Quest
|Castlevania II – Simon’s Quest
| ドラキュラⅡ呪いの封印 (Dorakyura II Noroi no Fuuin)
Dracula II – The Curse’s Seal
Konami, 8/1987 (Famicom Disk System)