Guest blog post by: Todd M @ The Top Loader
Super Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo (SNES) is a pretty kick ass Video Game right? Rise from the grave as I see a bat outta hell. Oh no wait sorry my mistake it's just Dracula spreading his wings again. It only took him a hundred years because it's dark and I guess hell was too hot. Well stretch out your legs and relish the sun (unless your Dracula) because oh glorious day, seriously these are Konami's glory days and oh how the mighty have fallen since the days of Super Castlevania IV , a masterpiece on the Super Nintendo but now a relic from the past that should seriously have a resurrection of it's own just as Nosferatu the spawn of hell has done so convincingly here. Resurrection's are supposed to be every one hundred years but let's make an exception and bend the rules a little bit, for Konami's sake. Simon Belmont is the perfect fit rebel for the job and he is here to play by his own rules, on his own terms with a whip in hand - within the boundaries of the game's coding of course - but it maybe too late for Konami because I don't even think in this day and age that the Belmont's would even except a friend request on Facebook from them as they're certainly off the Christmas card list - and I've checked it twice - but just like the opening scroll it's the same old story that will also end in horror. There was a time where I didn't care much for this franchise .. or so I thought as I did the unthinkable .. I judged a game by its front cover while standing in Kmart arguing with my brother over which game to buy next for our beloved Super Nintendo, as at that age I didn't care for the Monster Squad freaks it was showing me on the box. Well we are in Transylvania where things are different and my brother tried to tell me it will be fun to play as he begged me to buy it with him, but I did not listen as I went with Super Star Wars anyway (which is a whole other story) ..was he right .. or was I wrong? I feel like I've almost told this story before.
The power of Dracula starts to revive himself stronger and stronger, his sinister actions have consistently been thwarted! "Let's get the whip out", no time for this nonsense as I'm ready and raring to go so lets skip to the action because - if you know me - which most don't, I'm not big on reading the big picture so just give me the whip, show me where the monsters are at and get out of my way as I slay everything in my sights using Toddy as my password name.. that's the basic gist of this story right or at least that's what I got out of it. My brother drew the short sword so I guess that means I got the long sword, right? Well i dunno but there is a whip dangling in front of me and the more I play with it the bigger it gets but don't worry I didn't go blind because it's clear to see this whip does come in handy so lets whip it - whip it real good. After I get my head out of the gutter I see Simon is having a splish splash making a blood bath avoiding any Vampire kiss's while collecting hearts as he is out and about ice skating cross country.. or by the look of the way his animations show him walking as Transylvania is being threatened in this breeding ground for evil - I wonder what the land value is there. I can tell Dracula has been gone a hundred years because they really let the castle go with all these vines and weeds everywhere that have really come to life, but he's back now making a grand entrance as he has obviously has woken up the dead. Maybe he was out looking for love as these wild hearts that I'm constantly collecting seem to be broken because they are doing nothing to my health bar, wait .. what, OK who's playing funny buggers - Translation - who's playing tricks because these hearts aren't your health but if you look hard enough you will find pork that worksa treat. The walking dead are all skull and bones so I guess they didn't find the pork hidden in the wall - well I'm not sharing - but unfortunately I can't moonwalk my way up the stairs out of this one because these guys are everywhere so I've decided to have a BBQ as I fry all these spare ribs with my awesome Holy Cross when I throw it back and forth through the air and since I'm a Vampire Killer - I'll bring the garlic.
My path to Super Castlevania IV started with the Nintendo Wii! Sock horror to most gamers right? I just state the facts I can't help it if you don't like the answers. After owning the Super Nintendo for many glorious years I completely jumped onto the Sony ship, these days I'm stranded somewhere in the middle, but I did buy a GameCube as it was dying a horrible horrible death. I was left impressed while we all got caught up in Nintendo's next revolution so launch day of the Wii - I had one - along with Twilight Princess - my first Zelda - that led me on track to many more of Link's sword wielding adventures, but let's face it everybody remembers their first Zelda the most. However, aside from the clear masterpiece I already had there was nothing else worthy to put by its side so I resorted to turning on the WiFi, as it surrounded the Wii, penetrated the Wii, hey not on a first connection but it was my first step into the Virtual Console. Sometimes you don't know what you have until its right there downloading in front of you because this time I gave Simon a second chance at winning me over, I was looking for more than just a good time, I wanted this relationship to last as I thought he might not be my type. In 1993 my eleven year old selforiginally thought it was going to be some weird game with back tracking metroidvania elements (long before that inserted term was even coined) with a Transylvanian mythology I had Zero interest in, ironically that's what Symphony of the Night turned out to be - which I have also never played. What is wrong with me?.. I'm not so sure but if you do find out please tell my wife as she would love to know. However, to my surprise and my delight Super Castlevania IV is actually an action platformer that left me elated because I'm a simple guy, don't get me wrong I'm not stupid I just like to go from point 'A' to point 'B' with the occasional rendezvous with 'C' sending a flag up the pole moving on to the next castle - except in this castle - as we all stay very central where there is no going back, which is how I like it.
Now where was I? Whipping candles, finding items and working your way through the levels where you beat each level's boss with the final blow while doing the ritual of jumping mid air into a orb that glows, is there anybody in the world that does not do a celebratory jump for that orb to end a level? Simon is easier to control than the Luke from my Super Star Wars game of choice, maybe Yoda would of had an easier time training Simon over Luke if he had the choice at the time.. looks tougher too, I bet you he wouldn't complain or constantly whine to uncle Owen about getting knocked back for "joining the academy next year" and "harvesting only season more" either, I'm paraphrasing. Getting knocked back can be a pain though sending my OCD into overdrive Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts style as I lose control sending me over the platforms edge at the worst possible times but it's nothing I can't handle, at least my head wont end up on some demons mantle, hey - wrong blog - back to it or back to going forward on the straight and narrow path, but it's so annoying when these Medusa Heads aren't usually backward when coming forward as they aren't shy about showing their ugly side. At least they don't turn me to stone because that would put me between another rock and a hard place depending on the level you find yourself in and it doesn't get any easier when I can't keep those Eyes off of me - hey this ain't no peep show - keep your eyes to where I can see em so I can hit them with one of my weapons. Super Mario World has its Cape n Yoshi combo, Super Ghoul's n Ghosts has its Cross Bow or Knife, but here its the spinning Holy Cross that you want to constantly keep by your side.. sure I could talk about other weapons like the "Knife" or "axe" or the waste of "Time Stop Watch" but it doesn't matter as there are no substitutes for the Holy Cross Boomerang. I only use other weapons them if I accidentally jump onto them which is always followed directly by the F word - "Fudge" .. my kid is present .. and I don't want to teach him many more bad habits, honestly how is he going to learn to play this game properly - if he sees me picking up the wrong weapon.
These levels seem scary because this game sounds eerie helped by the awesome soundtrack I hear in the background but it's still not as scary as playing Doom in the dark on my dad's old 486 - whats that ? A pre Pentium pocket calculator by today's standards that's what it is. As I enter the forest of evil spirits I hear the music and I can't move as something is holding me back .. oh it's this purple hand grabbing my leg, you can't keep a good ghoul down. Forget Buffy, Simon Belmont is the true original Vampire Slayer that neither Sarah Michelle Gellar or Kristy Swanson could dispute. Who are they? Who cares. It doesn't matter, they cannot help you here. Once I stomp on the hand that's trying to feed on me I move on as I eventually go deep into the caverns as it then hits me hard - yes the big drops of water - but it's the music to my ears that instantly gave me the realization of the class of game that I am now playing that I should have played ten years earlier. Send me down to the Dungeon, stab me in the heart with a stake and let the silver bullets fly, but before you do all that I've noticed something.. where's the blood in this game? The Japanese version has blood but everybody else missed out because in this version it must be St Patrick's day down here in the Cellar because the river of blood has turned green, it's Mortal Kombat all over again before that controversy even began because "it's just not cricket" - translation - "what the fuck" - maybe it's the river of slime from Ghostbusters 2, explains the ghouls let's be honest here. The road to Dracula isn't that hard but gets a little shaky near the end but just shine a little light on him and he goes up in a puff of bats with some smoke as the castle crumbles to the ground while Simon watches from the high ground wearing his high pants. Dracula may have revived many times before but once again it's the Belmont's who put Dracula back deep in the ground where he belongs with a Holy Cross on top.
My brother and I could hardly ever decide on a game together so we sometimes did not buy what we truly wanted to buy .. ironic.. or moronic? Bit of both - obviously - which is the reason why I have Battle Clash and the Super Scope sitting up in the back of my cupboard and I can guarantee you he did not want NBA Jam sitting on his shelf in our room at the time.. but remember if in doubt buy Super Star Wars instead. Who was right, who was wrong? ..my wife thinks I cannot admit when I am wrong, so without disappointing her here I won't. Choosing Super Star Wars over this I always felt that I left bad blood on my bloodstained hands as it always stuck and I could never wash it off but over time it has washed off and I can see the writing is clearly on the wall - I won the a battle but it turns out I lost the war and I didn't even know it. I avoided Super Castlevania IV for (at the time) over ten years, I'm kinda glad I missed it the first time round though .. you know why?.. because it's a classic Snes game that I got to experience for the first time when I more than ever appreciated my favourite console of all time, plus Super Star Wars was awesome anyway. Maybe I should have done more listening and less judging of the freaks with two heads on the front of the box, oh the irony. I feel like aKakariko Village idiot - and we all know what i think about idiots - turns out I was one , but now I'm not - which is the plot of the story here just remember that. I like who I am and I would hate to be anybody else or any different, but don't get me wrong I don't love myself.. I just really like myself - alot. Konami however, not so much these days for me as they are long dead in my mind, a distant memory with what looks to be no revival in sight but still lives on in spirit somewhere inside of me. Dracula is dead and the world is now safe and because of games likethis everybody wins .. well except my brother because all these years later he still hasn't played it...what an idiot.
Guest blog post by: Todd M @ The Top Loader
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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