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Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (Wii) artwork

Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (Wii) review

"The developers simply could've done their routine of belching out a decent title that did all the basics correctly, while never attempting to be anything beyond that. And you know what? Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth probably would've been praised as being a good remake, which isn't hard considering the source material."

If there's one thing the first two ReBirth titles has taught me, it's that the development team of M2 is capable of creating familiar, simple games that make me want to play the better, older originals that were the inspirations. So I find it hilarious that, when it was time to do a ReBirth for Castlevania, they drew inspiration from the two Adventure titles for the Game Boy; the first game was a mix of bland game design and annoying difficulty, while the second was just boring and too easy. The developers simply could've done their routine of belching out a decent title that did all the basics correctly, while never attempting to be anything beyond that. And you know what? Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth probably would've been praised as being a good remake, which isn't hard considering the source material.

First impressions will show that M2 did what they do best, and that's crafting a nostalgic world cemented with the very core play mechanics players grew up with. Gamers control a Belmont that moves and attacks like a Belmont, with options to alternate between old-school or SCIV-style jumps, there's candles containing hearts and standard sub-weapons everywhere, and enemies are placed in strategic spots, usually beside endless pits, spikes, or stairways, more so on the hard difficulty. If you hit the right locations, you'll even unravel pieces of meat hidden in the walls. Of course, the developers included some elements from the Adventure titles, like the protagonist Christopher Belmont (now implied as a descendant of Simon instead of an ancestor, oddly), and a few enemies, like the buff spear soldiers, the huge birds that slide back and leap forward when hit, and the most notable, the giant, rolling eyeballs. I am saddened how none of the bosses outside of Dracula made it in the remake, as some of them were cool, like the two ram statues that attack from both sides of the screen, trapping the Belmont in the center. Would've been nice to see retooled versions of these fights.

What makes Adventure ReBirth particularly impressive is that, unlike Gradius and Contra titles, which have remained mostly unchanged during the past few years, an old-school Castlevania hasn't been attempted in a very long time. This could've sucked, but M2 cranked one out like it was nothing, as if the previous Castletroids never happened, and Rondo of Blood and Bloodlines were still fresh releases. They easily could've stopped there and given us a quick, 30 minute romp through Dracula's constantly changing abode. But that's where the similarities end, because in a surprising twist, Adventure ReBirth actually feels like a fleshed-out title.

On your first, complete playthrough, it will take over one hour to finish, beginning as a standard journey through the demonic mansion, but quickly transforming into a gauntlet as you fight towards the eventual confrontation with Dracula. Veterans will have to dig inside to remember all the skills and reflexes that helped them in the past, and newcomers accustomed to post-SotN titles will need to deal without their precious catalog of weapons, health items, and save points. There's not even any type of stage select option; you have to beat the game in one sitting every time. Period.

It won't be easy, as the bold Belmont has to avoid and jump on bloodied spears lunging from walls, bone-throwing skeletons beside ledges, creatures spitting goo balls that bounce around a room, glass platforms, and giant swing axes. You'll even go against enemies that never appeared in the Adventure games, like the huge, flaming skull and the stalking, tail-eye thingy. Unlike the first Game Boy title, there's never any wasted, drawn out space in this castle, as you're nearly assaulted by threatening monsters at every turn. And there's also a surprisingly stubborn time limit for each stage, which means there's not much room for goofing, always gotta be on your toes. You can't believe how many times I've reached a boss, with two bars of health left, and under two minutes to fight. But it's exciting! Especially when you know their attack patterns and believe you can kick their asses.

The game isn't as strictly linear as one would assume a classic Castlevania title to be, as well; littered throughout the castle are numerous, locked gates that can be opened with keys, placed in specific candles, a similar aspect seen in Rondo of Blood. Though, opening the very first gate that appears isn't always the best course of action, as this could lead to a cramped room with only two hearts. Pick correctly, however, and you'll discover a new area of the castle to explore. Some could be shortcuts to the boss, while others can potentially lead to a sub-boss and longer route! There's a lot of fun trial and error to be had here, bringing a level of replay value to an already replayable game.

While it may not be as grand as Rondo of Blood, it's still very much a solid, 16 bit-esque Castlevania that can stand with the best of them. I mean, if any Castlevania title can frustrate to no end with its penultimate stage, a clock tower filled with Medusa heads appearing with expert timing, and featuring a scythe-crazed Death as the boss, you know its heart is in the right place. It's somewhat bittersweet, because it makes me wish the same dedication would've been put into the previous ReBirths... Imagine how awesome those games could've turned out. So if you've been thinking about downloading one of the three ReBirth titles on WiiWare, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is the one to purchase, as it's loaded with quality content and actually feels like a complete product.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (September 25, 2011)

Hopefully Pixel Ripped will pull a "Witch & Hero" and have a great third game, if it ever happens.

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JoeTheDestroyer posted September 25, 2011:

Pickhut, you definitely caught the energy of this game. Great job!

It's a shame they don't do more CV titles in this style. I really got tired of the "Metroidvania" style after playing Order of Ecclesia. Downloading and playing through Rondo and Dracula's Curse taught me again how awesome the old style was.
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pickhut posted September 25, 2011:

I myself can't see why they can't switch between the two styles with every few releases, but I guess the current style is more popular. Speaking of the old style, I took a stab at the original NES Castlevania yesterday thinking, "It can't be as hard as I remembered it to be..." And I got my ass handed to me on the third area of the castle (the outside section thingy), which made it really difficult to beat the boss. I dread facing Death... if I have the will power to play up to that part. XD

Thanks for the comments, too!

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