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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The history of Castlevania: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Akumajo Dracula II: The Accursed Seal in Japan
Released: 1988
Systems: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

The Basics
When a game developer finally understands a piece of hardware, it becomes like an appendage to him, sticking off his body. Well, that's an odd image. But the point is that when this happens, developers can stop learning and starting pushing limits.

Konami apparently understood the NES in 1988, pulling apart old games for new ideas to see what would happen. Castlevania II came out during this period, a game that, at first glance, seems terribly odd. It's just so very different from Castlevania.

Castlevania II is, essentially, a role playing game - a very detailed role playing game. You travel around the Transylvanian countryside visiting towns, forests, swamps, and, ultimately, Dracula's mansions. You're out to find Drac's body parts, bring them together and burn them in the ruins of Castlevania, then kill Drac when he resurrects. And you must do this because he put a curse on you during your last battle in Castlevania. Time passes in the game and, at night, stronger creatures come out. (Weaker ones come out during the day.) And, along the way, you grab experience points to gain levels and hearts to buy better armor and weapons. This ain't no run, jump, whip game.

Look closely and see if you can figure out Castlevania II's inspiration. (I'll tell you in my final thoughts.)

You start off Simon's Quest in the village of Jova. Shops, churches, and markets sit atop each other (an interesting architectural decision), and villagers walk aimlessly about the town, apparently there to give you clues on how to proceed. You get a white crystal here, then go through the woods (to the right) to Berkeley Mansion where you fight for Drac's rib. (What a prize!)

As you go along, you encounter other mansions. In Rover, you'll find Drac's heart. In Brahms, it's Drac's eye. In Bodley, look for Drac's nail. In Laruba, get Drac's ring. Throughout your journey, you pass through towns, swamps, and cemeteries. You find gypsies who give you diamonds, ferrymen who cart you over rivers, and so much more it would really be something to try and sum it all up. But, in each place, you must accomplish something to proceed. (Hey, I'm not going to give you a strategy guide. It would take away the fun.)

Once you have all Drac's pieces, you travel to the ruins of Castlevania and burn the pieces. Drac comes alive, and you kill him, just like in the last game. The curse is lifted, and Transylvania saved. Hurrah!

There are several endings in Simon's Quest. Which one you get is determined by how long it takes you to complete the game. Their most accepted names are The Twilight (less than eight days; Drac's hand bursts from a grave), Daytime (8 to 15 days; you win, but you die), and The Black and White Ending (more than 15 days; Drac is gone forever. Yeah. Right.). Throughout the game you can get a password that saves most of your progress, but it doesn't save your heart stash.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Rated 4.3/5 based on 12 reviews

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