Game Review: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Castlevania II Title Screen

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Released: November 1988
  • Game Type: Adventure
  • Players: 1
  • Product Number: NES-QU-USA
  • Rarity: D (Common)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Castlevania II Screen 1 Castlevania II Screen 2

    With their Castlevania game a hit, Konami naturally decided to bring out a sequel, but they decided to take the series into a different direction. Instead of just featuring the straight-up arcade action of the first title, Konami decided to make the second NES Castlevania into an nonlinear adventure game with some RPG elements but still kept the same whip-throwing monster-killing action intact, sort of like a crude precursor to the excellent Symphony of the Night. The result is a game that's does a good job with the Castlevania name, though several flaws keep it from real greatness.

    This game takes place shortly after the first title, and once again stars vampire hunter Simon Belmont. In the previous game Simon was successful in defeating the evil Count Dracula. However, since that fateful battle, he's been in constant pain, especially at night. He soon learns from a mysterious woman that he's under Dracula's curse, and if it's not stopped it will eventually destroy him. In order to break the curse, Simon must find the five remains of Dracula, which are scattered across Transylvania, then take them back to the Count's castle and burn them to destroy the vampire once and for all.

    This side-scrolling game features the same monster-whipping gameplay of the original but instead of regular stages you have an open world to explore. Simon begins his quest in the town of Jova and must travel through the different parts of the Transylvania countryside to find five mansions, each one holding one of Dracula's body parts. These include forest, graveyards, bridges and more. As he makes his way to each mansion, various enemies will come toward you for a fight. Simon still has his trusty whip, and must defeat the monsters to obtain hearts, which he needs to buy equipment and use special weapons. There's no candles to whip for bonusus here; you have to find or buy the extra weapons. To choose which special weapon to use involves pressing START to bring up the subscreen and selecting the weapon. Defeating enemies will also give you experience points to raise your levels, which will in turn extend your life meter. Simon needs to visit many towns and talk to many people to to purchase equipment and get clues (although most of their advice is useless). If your life is low, you can visit a church to refill your energy.

    One thing to remember is this game features a day cycle and a night cycle, so it's important to watch the time of day on the subscreen. When 6pm rolls around, night falls on Transylvania, and things change. The townspeople go into hiding, you can't visit shops, and the enemies become twice as strong (but they're worth twice as many hearts). You have to try and survive until morning arrives at 6am. When you finally reach one of the manisons, you have to find the Dracula body part within. As you battle more enemies you need to purchase a stake from a hooded figure and use it on the orb at the end of the mansion to get the body part. Each Dracula part also has a special ability, such as the rib acting like a shield, and the nail able to break walls like holy water. Once you have all five body parts along with the Magic Cross, you can proceed to the Count's castle and burn the body parts. This'll bring Dracula back from the dead, giving you a chance to defeat him one more time.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics aren't the greatest, only slightly above-avearge. While the backgrounds are decent in providing a setting, they're used over and over, just with different color palettes. All the forests look the same, all the towns, and so on. The various sprites look decent, and Simon looks a lot better than the first game, but they only have a few frames of animation. On the other hand the music more than makes up for the visuals. The background tunes in Simon's Quest are awesome to listen too, especially the daytime theme and the mansion theme. There's only a few tunes but they never get old.

    The controls work the same as in the first game. Jump with A, attack up B, hold Up and push B for special weapons, and so on. They're pretty easy to use for the most part, though Simon still moves a little stifly, and you still can't control your jumps in mid-air. The subscreen works okay, though it can be confusing at times.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Unfortunately the game's main problem is its challenge level, or lack thereof. Put simply, this game is way too easy to finish. The enemies are not too tough to handle and the action hardly gets intense. There are also three main bosses in the game (Vampira, the Grim Reaper, and Dracula himself), but they're also very easy to topple if you know how. In fact you can even just run past the first two without fighting them at all. In addition, if you die you start right at the spot you died at, and if you continue you also start right at the spot you died at, just without your earned hearts and exp. points. You also get unlimited continues so this basically means you have unlimited lives to complete the game. The only real challenge is trying to figure out where to go next, since the "advice" the townspeople give you is useless or incorrect. If you don't have a walkthrough, you could end up lost for hours without any clue as where to go.

    Thus doesn't mean the game is terrible; far from it. This cartridge is still very fun, featuring the same classic Castlevania gameplay that's always a blast. The fact that this is a nonlinear game means you have the freedom to decide which way to go to the end (though some parts can't be tackled before others). Simon's Quest also features multiple endings; the ending you get depends on how long you take to kill Dracula, adding some replay value. The password feature is a nice addition as well, keeping you from having to start your game over.

    So despite the almost non-existant difficulty, Simon's Quest proves to be another good game from Konami. This chapter is a nice twist on the Castelvania forumla, with some cool features like the day-night cycle, and the ability to choose your own path is a bonus. The game may only last a couple of hours, but it'll be time well spent. It may not match up to Castlevania III, but Castlevania II is still a great chapter in the Castelvania saga, one that 'Vania fans should look into.

    - Review posted on October 26, 2006