Saturday, May 11, 2024

Castlevania Adventure (Game Boy, 1989)


The next Castlevania I wanted to cover...also happens to be the next Game Boy Player's Guide game, so I can take out two things with one stone. Unfortunately this one is broadly considered to be the worst game in the series, at least out of the 2D games.

There are 10 more Castlevania games I want to check out. I've gotta save some for Halloween of course but I'm doing a few before that because it's always a good time for Castlevania.

First off, the Game Boy Player's Guide coverage makes this game look waaaay better than it actually is. The monster designs are particularly cool and I remember really liking the monster page as a kid.

They also made the bosses look cool, even one called "The Drips"

This is weird though. Where's Stage 3? It jumps right to 4 and 5. Well, this is a typo, and the game only has four stages. Note how none of the monsters are listed as being in stage 5...because there isn't one. This was a hell of a big typo. I almost feel like they were trying to make the game seem longer than it is, but they weren't clever enough to lie, plus these guides were full of typos.

All of that said, it's pretty weird for a game to have four stages when five was a nice round number.

Next up, here's what I said about this game in the 1000 list:

#145 Castlevania Adventure (Game Boy) – Spring 2000

The very first 'Vania on the Game Boy and commonly regarded as the worst game in the series (on a Nintendo platform, anyway). This one is slow, clunky, frustrating, and short. Mad short. I think it only has four levels or so. Couldn't even make it to a nice round five levels. Yeah, I basically subjected myself to the two worst 'Vanias back to back here. It's little wonder that I didn't really do anything else with the series for over a decade. I didn't even play Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge after this, which is too bad considering it's actually really good and well beyond the other two on Game Boy.

Fondest Memory: Reading about this in the Game Boy Players Guide. That guide SOLD me on so many games. I do consider this one of the few clunkers in that guide. Damn if the guide didn't make it look great though.

Playing this on the Castlevania Anniversary Collection. It's almost definitely the worst game on here by a mile. In this one we play as Christopher Belmont, descendant of Simon, making this an intended sequel to the first two NES games. We never really hear anything about Christopher again after the two games he got on Game Boy. Presumably he's one of the Belmonts between Simon and Richter.

The game begins, and it's...well it's a Game Boy game from 1989. It doesn't look too bad. You start with the Leather Whip, which has a paltry range and damage.

Get a powerup crystal and it becomes the Chain Whip (2x damage, longer reach). Get a second crystal and it gains the ability to fling fireballs. This is obviously pretty OP, but you can't rely on it as a crutch because taking one hit causes you to lose the fireball power. Taking another hit causes you to lose the Chain Whip! It's obvious they were emulating Super Mario Bros here but it was a terrible call and there's a reason you don't lose whip levels on hit in most of the series. In this game you end up spending most of your time using the Leather Whip.

A giant eyeball rolls downhill! Main thing to note about this game so far is how incredibly slow it is. Everything you do feels like you're underwater, with big floaty jumps, slow attack swings, and a meager walking speed.

The game also loves these platforms that fall out of the sky the half-second you land on them. Given the slow movement and jump speed, it's pretty hard to get across these without plummeting to your death. Awesome!

Next we have these really annoying tiny blocks that you have to stand on with one foot to be able to leap onto the next one.

First boss is the Giant, and it's just a matter of moving in, striking, moving out. It's nice enough to give you these blocks to jump over the boss, unlike that damn The Terminator game on the Genesis that I played a while back.

The collection I'm playing this on is nice enough to include a bunch of filters, which sets it apart from a basic emulator. You've got the Game Boy dot matrix filter, which is rad for nostalgia's sake but I prefer the B&W normal emulator-like image for screenshots (something I really wish the Collection of SaGa had)

There's also this kind of Super Game Boy enhancement color scheme that's pretty nice.

And a scanline filter that only works with the SGB scheme but simulates an old-school TV. Part of me kinda wants to buy a CRT one of these days specifically for playing old games.

Moving on with the actual game in question, stage 2 is a cavern where I get menaced by more eyeballs. These blow up when you hit them, taking out portions of the bridge.

Probably the nastiest regular foe is this boomerang-throwing dude. They function just like the similar enemy in Zelda 2.

Boss of that level is...The Drips. Basically it's a horde of mud-monsters that can be one-shotted and cause you serious issues if you let them get loose. Pretty much have to whack them right at their spawn points when they appear.

After a fairly easy first two stages, the last two stages are ridiculously hard. This could have really used another stage in the middle to even out the difficulty curve.

In stage 3 we've got spiked ceilings that crash down every so often. Somewhere, the future creators of the Metal Shark Player level got a lightbulb above their heads.

Next is an incredibly long section where a spike wall relentlessly follows your character through the level.

This part is ass-tastic and your character moves so slow that you have to pretty much do everything perfect or you simply won't have enough time to stay ahead of the spike wall. I especially like when it throws in those tiny platforms that have been obnoxious since level 1.

Get past that infernal vertical section and we have a somehow even worse horizontal section where the spiked wall is continuing to close in.

Of course it does this thing where you have to run ahead and then run backward. Of course! And I use the term "run" loosely because Christopher moves like he's 90 years old and has a peg-leg.

Rope-jumping to stay ahead of the wall, in a game with terrible rope-jumping controls. You're mostly hoping against hope that you climb high enough to make it to the next rope, but not too high that the wall gains an insurmountable lead...and the middle-ground is a tiny area.

Now it throws in the tiny platforms! Why not, right?

This is hands-down the worst level in the entire Castlevania series.

Finally I get to the end. And yeah I had to use saves. Doing this on original hardware without checkpoints and with limited lives must have been ass and a half.

I'm actually kind of angry that they put kids through this back in the day.

The next boss is this dive-bombing gargoyle, but it's pretty whatever after that level. The bosses in this game are really easy compared to the rest. Worth noting that I'm spending most of the game with the Leather Whip and almost never get to use the upgraded form, which also makes the game a lot less fun to play. The good news is that the sequel doesn't take away your weapon powerups when you get hit.

The final level isn't as bad as stage 3's spike-a-thon but it's pretty bad regardless. You have to take out the first boss multiple times in this level, and he respawns if you move a little too far off screen in the direction you came from, so that's great.

They basically went totally nuts with the spikes in this level, but at least you aren't being rushed. Still legitimately angry at whoever designed these levels, because they didn't know what they were doing and they were putting kids through this disaster.

Late in the level you get sandwiched between two of these guys, Night at the Roxbury style. I don't wanna talk about it.

Final boss is, get this, Dracula. At this point I was just ready to be done. He's got two forms, as is tradition. First form is easy once you know his pattern, just stay on an adjacent platform and whack him when he appears. Can do this part without taking a hit, at least after a couple tries for practice. Yet another example of how the player should get more than three lives to play these damn games.

Second form is significantly harder and flies around the room. Another matter of learning the pattern and striking at the right times, and...

...Dracula's latest castle crumbles into the ground while Christopher pees on a cliff. Not sure how he got so far away from the castle, or why they had to show him peeing.

Either way, we are that cliff. This game was so bad that they might as well have whizzed on all of us.

Other Castlevania Posts

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