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Title: Aqy's SNES Journeys - Part 5 (Super Castlevania IV)
Posted: May 12, 2011 (05:02 AM)
Super Castlevania IV has always been a favorite SNES game of mine. I never owned it but I rented it as a kid. Even back then, I was instantly enchanted by the uniquely dark atmosphere of the game. I primarily attribute this to the soundtrack which is unlike any other SNES soundtrack. The various instrumentation: wind instruments, piano, orchestral strings, electric organ, horns, realistic and earthy bass sounds and percussion, all come together to make the side scrolling legend Castlevania come to be more imaginative than it is on screen and in game play. The soundtrack is what I always liked most about the game, though the presentation and game play are nothing short of classic, tried and true Castlevania. Rondo of Blood is also lauded for it's soundtrack and both are wonderful, but Super Castlevania IV's music always leaves me in awe because of what it did with the SNES hardware.
Needless to say, revisiting the game has been a treat. The intro sets a serious tone as a grave is struck by lightning and explodes, revealing a bat (presumably Dracula) who flaps around and flies away into a purple night. Then mist and a wailing siren eerily queue the story text and you begin to think you're going to play the best game ever. The first stage starts and the Theme of Simon plays, immediately an organ shouts a triumphant melody and you're whipping the shit out of skeletons and doing the signature Belmont strut. Fuck yeah.
Stage 2 begins as Simon enters "The Forest of Monsters," the music is still upbeat but the melody isn't strong anymore, instead the song's flow is in the bass line. Like Simon's legs in the stage's running stream, pushing you forward. It's apparent now that you're edging closer to the evil as new enemies and hazards appear. So you get the idea. Every stage and part of this game is so accentuated by the soundtrack. As a lover of game music I can't help but adore this game for what it's done in that department. I also enjoy the usage of some old Castlevania things. There are yellow zombies that when killed make a sound that is taken from Haunted Castle (the arcade Castlevania.) It's the sound of your Grandpa who smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for longer than he could hope for, croaking for thinking he could land a jump off of his Grandson's swing-set while drunk as a kite. Then I liked seeing the spiders from Simon's Quest that simply dangle down and shoot a smaller spider at you. Nostalgic little fuckers, they are. There were other continuities of course but those were my favorite.
I'd say the game is worthy of the "Super" in it's title. All signs point to the fact that Konami wanted better hardware to explore the unique mood of Castlevania. The graphics are colorful and the use of scrolling and foreground/background is good. Some things are pretty, specifically the detail of the enemies and bosses. But some of the background textures look like puke. I honestly thought my game was glitching because of how garbled some of the textures are. This is really my only nitpick with the game. The graphics merely pass the test of time.
In this game you can fling your whip diagonally and dangle it and swing it around for less damage. Also you can control your jump fairly well. None of these things compromised the fun factor of the game play or made it less "Castlevania" for me. I was still getting knocked into pits and dying instantly from spikes, so that's left in tact. Also you can crouch walk which has a purpose for a total of like 4 parts of the game. The game is pretty helpful with the locations of health items in the stages, so I didn't have a lot of trouble getting through the game, only after about 6 continues. Struggling with certain spots briefly. This time playing, however, I realized that the game is harder on the 2nd run through. I gave it a run and it was a good change of difficulty. Not annoying, not unfair, just more enemies and enemies take more hits to kill. Because of this, certain sections require your strategy to be tweaked a little. Figuring out those new strategies was a joy. And I finished the game on my second continue. My favorite boss is the bat made of gold, whom when attacked, sprinkles gold that can damage you. Watch out for that bat gold!
By the way, yeah this is Part 5. If you want to check out the other parts, go to http://www.gamingjournals.com (it was temporarily down so I posted here this time.)
Users with accounts on the HonestGamers site are able to contribute reviews and occasionally other types of content. Below, you'll find excerpts from as many as 20 of the most recent articles posted by Aquas. Be sure to leave some feedback if you find anything interesting!
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