Guest Blog post by Stingray Games @ Stingray_Gaming
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was originally released in North America in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The 80's was a great year for the NES what with the birth of Super Mario Bros and the classic Duck Hunt. Who didn't love the NES Zapper too? That was a classy piece of kit back in the 80's. It's just a shame about that Nintendo Power glove!
Simon's Quest picks up some time after the original Castlevania as you control Simon Belmont on his journey to find Dracula's body parts, resurrect him, and defeat him once again to remove the curse that was placed on you and the surrounding cities at the end of the first Castlevania.
Simon's Quest differs greatly from the linear play style that was introduced in Castlevania. The open world design will have you traveling across the land in search of five castles, which house the five different body parts, and then head to Dracula's castle.
Besides the five body parts that are required to finish the game, there are several items that you can pick up along the way. The items can either be bought from the townfolk or found somewhere in the countryside. The bought items cost hearts to buy, but can be used freely. The found items are free, but like the original Castlevania consume a heart on each use.
Castlevania introduced a few features that most players either loved or hated. One of them was the day/night squence. While the transition could be a little quicker, I found the change to night an interesting one. During the night, the area monsters become twice as strong and the townfolk are replaced with roaming zombies. I particularly liked the zombies in town as it gave me a nice opportunity to farm some hearts when I needed them. An RPG element was introduced where collecting enough hearts leveled Simon, increasing his maximum health. The game includes three different endings, depending on how many days it took you to defeat Dracula.
The biggest difficulty you will face in Castlevania II is figuring out where to go next. The townfolk do offer clues. However the clues suffer from a bad translation, often turning the normally cryptic clues into utter nonsense. The castles are often maze-like with false walls and floors and dead ends, all of which are designed to trip you up. In each castle, you must first find a cloaked lady that will sell you a stake. The stake is needed in order to get Dracula’s body part.
There were a couple of minor annoyances with the game. I wish the switch between night and day happened quicker considering how often it happens in the game. You can only hold one stake and it was consumed upon using it to get one of the body parts. This made the castles a little trickier, but it was more annoying than difficult.
There are two things I never quite understood about the game. In two parts there are blocks over water that you must jump across. They always seemed out of place and needlessly difficult. I don’t mind difficulty in a game, but when it is just for difficulties sake, I find it annoying. There are two “mini bosses” in the game. Both of which are fairly easy and can be skipped over completely. They do give you a bonus item, if beaten, they always seemed out of place and unnecessary.
I'm sure that I am in the minority when I say that I enjoyed this game much more than the other NES Castlevania titles. Despite the flaws and frustrations I found in this game, I always came back to this one over the other two. The open world design, which would not be revisited until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, always pulled me back for more as I just had to figure out the next puzzle or find the next castle. The effort to make each city or castle unique made me feel I was in a new place, ready to be explored. Likewise, the surrounding areas diverse enough to keep me on my toes, never knowing what to expect.
You can purchase Castlevania II: Simon's Quest on the Wii or Wii U Virtual console for $5. It is also one of the games packaged with the NES Classic. Even after knowing all the secrets and where to go, this is a fun game to come back to and explore over and over. If you like explorative, discovery kind of games, I recommend this game.
Guest blogger @ Stingray_Gaming & StingrayGamingYouTube
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