The Premise

In the days of the NES, game developers were still figuring out how to proceed with follow-ups to their original smash hits. When it came to making a sequel, the choices seemed to follow either one of two paths: 1. Do the exact same thing the first game did. 2. Maintain the spirit of the first game while going in a completely different direction.

As previously discussed, there is a love/hate relationship with the Nintendo developed sequels that followed Option 2, at least in the United States. However, how would it work for a game company not named Nintendo? That’s what Konami tried to answer as it followed up the original Castlevania with its sequel, Simon’s Quest. Again, the results are a bit of a mixed bag, but the legacy it would pass onto future titles in the series is undeniable.

I’d Still Fuck Chloe Sans Lube

This time around, Simon Belmont is fighting a curse placed upon him by Dracula at the end of the first game. It’s not really clear what this curse does specifically to Simon except stop him dead in his tracks every five minutes or so. The lore says it’s supposed to be slowly killing him, but aren’t we all slowly dying?

The Game

While the graphics are quite comparable to the original game, the color palette is a bit darker this time around. This could be chalked up to the darkness that has overtaken the land, and it makes for a more gothic experience. Some would say that the color selection is more limited, but some of the more colorful choices in the original game were blinding. I’m looking at you level three.

The biggest change from the original is the gameplay style. While the first was a straight-forward go right and kill whatever shit is in your path type of game, the sequel drops the player into the open world of Transylvania. Simon can go anywhere his cursed ass desires, but certain areas are off-limits until he obtains the necessary relics to open up those paths.

Castlevania 2 also introduces non-playable characters (NPCs) to the series. These fucks will charge Simon hearts to gain additional items, weapons, and upgrades. For a bunch of dirtbags who have their towns ravaged by zombies every night, one would think they would give the only guy doing jack shit about it some help for free, but the only ones who really do anything pro-boner are the assholes who swap out the different colored crystals, and they do this without the player’s consent. I feel raped…

Flame Whip? More Like Flame Dick!

Instead of one main castle, the player has to fight through five mansions in order to collect the five pieces of Dracula. Once Simon has all five pieces, he can go re-assemble Dracula and fuck him up because…game. Each piece has certain powers that can assist the player, and I always forget to equip the heart when I need the ferryman to take me to the secret island or wherever it is we go…

The various mansions are littered with skeletons, demons, and other baddies, but only two of them have bosses: The Resting Bitch Face of Camilla and Death (because he’s Dracula’s power bottom). Furthermore, only Camilla needs to be defeated in order to progress through the game; you can leave Death’s sorry ass there to ponder his own futility. Deep, I know.

The Backlash

As with most games that have shitty reputations today, internet personalities are to blame. If the Angry Video Game Nerd had never harped on this game, most people would probably have an opinion somewhere between “Yeah, it was OK” and “Totes best game EVA!” Of course, since people can’t form their own opinions anymore, the internet tells them what to believe.

Jukes’ in Town. Help Me Get These Pants Off!

The biggest bitch is the one who lives down the road from me in the trailer park. Good Gravy, what I wouldn’t do to her, even though she’d be most likely covered in gravy. But when it comes to this game, people complain about the day to night transitions. The game functions that every five minutes the game will stop and a slow text box will fill the screen, informing the player that it’s now night or day.

This is predominantly annoying when right in the middle of fighting an enemy, but it’s a bit overblown. For those of us who like to imbibe as we play, it’s the perfect opportunity to take another swig or check out some more fat lady porn that should be done buffering by now.

The other complaint is the smell that’s coming out from my basement, but if Mother hadn’t mouthed off like that… Also, players mention the esoteric clues and random hoops they have to jump through to access hidden paths in the game. For example, when arriving at a seemingly impassable rock wall, the player has to equip a crystal, kneel, wait a few seconds, and a tornado will arrive to whisk Simon to the next part of the game.

Lot of Skulls On The Ground in This Town

There are a few spots like this where it’s hard to figure out what to do without a walkthrough; however, if you’re reading this, you have a walkthrough because you have the fucking internet! I can understand being pissed at this back in the day if you didn’t have a subscription to Nintendo Power, but there’s no reason to fault it for that today.

“But Juke,” I hear a few assholes in the back saying, “what about people who like to beat the game using their own intuition?” To them I say figure it the fuck out on your own then. The NPCs in the game give enough hints that a player can figure out how to progress eventually, and the gameplay mechanics repeat, so players should understand what to try when they run out of options.

For example, the player will need to equip a crystal and kneel early in the game to reveal a secret path under a body of water. It stands to reason, if a player can figure this out, they would try the same process when they reach another dead end. For those of us who have other methods to derive personal satisfaction from other than beating a 30 year old game without a walkthrough, there is the internet.

The Legacy

Today Metroid-vania has been coined to describe the popular style of gameplay in the majority of the 2D Castlevania titles since Symphony of the Night. But that game is heralded as a masterpiece and Simon’s Quest is shat upon.

When looking at Castlevania 2 as the next chapter of the first game, it admirably serves its purpose. One of the most intriguing features of the Castlevania series was its ability to weave an extensive mythology across all of its games. If the sequel had been just another romp through a castle, it would have been sufficient, but it wouldn’t be as memorable. Taking part in events that come right after the first game is rarely seen, even today, and it really helps expand the game’s mythos.

Limp Whip Fagoo!

As a child, exploring the open world of the game was what made it remarkable. I wasn’t concerned about beating the game, there was always the one neighbor kid who could do that, but just having the opportunity to walk left was groundbreaking.

Ultimately, once the player knows the route through the game and can decipher the Engrish translation, the game is fairly simple to beat. Yet, if you’re looking to unlock the best ending, the game will need to be completed in only a few in-game days.

Every year, when I sit down for my annual play through, I aim for the best ending, but I have yet to achieve it. Maybe one day I’ll have that game session where everything clicks, and I unlock the best ending where Dracula’s grubby little paw claws up through the dirt. Until then, it gives me a reason to keep coming back. 

36 COMMENTS

  1. I love this game. Played it all the time while in college. I’d stay up late and do some homework, then some Simon’s Quest, a little more homework, and a little more Simon’s Quest. I got Nintendo thumb playing this sucker.

    My only complaint was that the end boss was very easy to beat. Maybe I spent too much time wondering around collecting stuff, but I honestly thought there was going to be another boss after the big bad.

    • i just spam him with the fire attack thing. i’ve never tried to beat him legit. same with Death in the first Castlevania. I just throw holy water at his ass…

  2. Almost broke down laughing in front of my family and had to hide my face and cover my mouth when I read the Jukes in town caption. Nicely done.

  3. One of the best things to happen to gaming was the ability to save progress without needing passcodes.

    So many games I probably never finished because I couldn’t figure out if a character is supposed to be an o or a 0.

    • I remember when I messed a code up on the first Metal Gear. Even called the Nintendo tip line because I was so irate. Thought the game was broken. Then I realized I wrote it down wrong. Derp.

      The Metroid code was painful.

      • Kid Icarus code was long and hard to write down correctly as well. And the game was extremely difficult, so having to go back and playing with an old passcode that worked was very frustrating. For a long time I was convinced no one had ever actually finished the game because of it.

        But then you had games like Rygar which had no codes and required you to finish the game in one marathon session.

    • I remember keeping a notepad of save game codes. What a pain. Thankfully I had developed the “coder” habit of putting a slash through my zeroes to differentiate them from the letter “O”.

  4. Thanks to the Nintendo Power walk-through, I passed it in 3 days. And after dropping $30 on it, my mom was kind of pissed.

    The game itself was pretty ok. Noticed it stuttered quite often in the mansions due to graphic overload.

    Castlevania III redeemed the series in a big way.

  5. How many old Nintendo series followed this trend?

    1. Classic
    2. Oddball that introduces a few new elements that stick around
    3. Return to form masterpiece.

    • outside of mario, zelda, and castlevania, i might venture Metroid. however, the first sequel was on the Gameboy, so hardware limitations probably forced it’s departures from series norm. i am not too familiar with that series, so i can’t say for sure. the megaman games all seemed to follow the same pattern.

      i like the Adventures of Link more than I do the original Legend of Zelda, and Mario 2 has really grown on me. i’ve always like castlevania 2, but it’s probably the weakest of the 3 on NES, but it’s up against some stiff competition…

      • I like the oddball games a lot. Super Mario 2 was nice to have a quest other than saving Princess Bitch from Bowser AGAIN. Always wished they did a return to Subcon, especially when they started making all those New Super Mario Bros. games. It’d be fun to play multiplayer in the SMB2 style.

        I never played Zelda 2 or Castlevania 2 in depth myself, but I saw enough to make me appreciate what they were going for and want more. I agree with you about Metroid, it follows the same path close enough. I never played that enough, either, but I should.

      • Oh yeah. I played a minute of that. My friend tried to tell me the second one was better, but I couldn’t be bothered to even try it.

        • I biggest memory of it was that the final boss fight was ridiculously stupid and easy. All you had to do was circle Dracula and shoot without targeting.

          • the platforming in the 64 version makes it pretty much unplayable. i got it about a year ago and still haven’t progressed past the first stage. i could easily get through the first half back in 99 or whenever it released…

          • I don’t remember if I posted this before, but the end fight is the worst final boss battle in video games. Your weapon automatically seeks its target, so all you do is literally run around Dracula and hit fire your weapon without looking. It’s like they knew how bad the game was and thought no one would ever bother playing it long enough to get that far, so why bother designing a good fight.

            And then there was one where they somehow got Patrick Stewart to do the narration in the game. Just remember getting a copy from my brother and being too bored to bother playing more than a couple of times.

          • I liked the first lords of shadow. although, it could use some trimming. never played the sequel…

  6. I’m just seeing this now. Very well done, Juke.
    My issue with this game was too much cryptic shit you NEVER would figure out if not for the magazine.

    • I still have dozens of copies in my garage somewhere. Fun trivia fact, the cover of issue number one was a clay sculpture of Mario by Academy Award winning animator Joan Gratz.

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