Friday, December 6, 2013

The Retro Goat Reviews- Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IV is a 2D action-platformer, the fourth home console released game of the franchise, and the eighth game total. It was the first Castlevania game on the Super Nintendo, as well as the first to incorporate a variety of new elements. It's a pretty innovative game, and many of the changes work in it's favor.

Story- 7/10
Super Castlevania IV is essentially a remake of the first game, with the plot largely unchanged. You are once again Simon Belmont, hunting down the mighty Dracula and killing any minion of his that stands in your way. If it isn't broken, don't fix it, though this is the time where story in gaming was starting to become a bigger deal. This game gets a pass due to it's remake status, but I do wish they did a bit more to add on to the experience. It's not bad by any means, it's just the only part of the game that isn't particularly innovative.

Gameplay- 9/10
The game is back to being about one player, so there isn't a variety of new characters to play as. So they did the most logical thing and made Simon Belmont into an incredible character. He controls better, he's slightly more detailed, and you feel like you are truly in control of him. Many of the changes are towards the controls, so the gameplay is still largely unaltered. You're essentially traveling to the castle to fight Dracula again. If you played the first game, you'll get a feeling that you've done this before. The levels have been altered to create a more unique experience though, and it's one of those games you'll find yourself playing through a variety of times, just due to the fact that it's extremely fun.

Controls 10/10
I wanted to separate this from the gameplay, simply due to how amazing this games controls are. You are finally able to swing the whip any way you need, and you can control your jumps nicely as well. With the changes made to the controls, the games difficulty is much more of a fair challenge than previous installments. This is also the first Castlevania game with a blocking ability of some sorts, thanks to how you can control the whip. The control is amazing, and it really makes the game go from great to classic. There's virtually nothing to change about the control. I do want to add though, with the whip being so heavily improved upon, as well as being able to strike in any direction, it renders the Ax sub-weapon useless, as the whip can do anything the Ax can do, with the space being available for a more useful power up. Again though, not a bad thing. The improvements really do make the game so much more enjoyable, and more accessible to gamers.

Difficulty- 8/10
Just cause the controls are improved upon does not mean that this is an easy game by any means. It simply means the challenge is generally more fair, but it is still a brutal game. Trial and error is clear here, and you will likely feel starved for health items at times, especially towards the end of the game. An experienced gamer will likely have little trouble with the first few levels, but the difficulty spike is apparent. Twice. Once for when you realize the game isn't going easy on you anymore, and once when you realize the game does not want you to beat it. The game is entirely beatable, but it's definitely a challenge to get to the ending. The most notable time when the difficulty is at it's hardest is once you're in the castle. There you'll notice you dying a good number of times due to the massive difficulty spike between "hard" and "holy crap how will I beat this" but like any good game, it frustrates you just enough so that you're focused and trying your hardest, but not so frustrated that you'll give up. It's a challenge that's worth trying to defeat, and it's more much of a fair fight than with previous games. The deaths generally aren't cheap (keyword being generally) and with a good amount of practice you will be able to overcome it.

Graphics- 9/10
The graphics are amazing, and really show off what the Super Nintendo is capable of doing. I do want to address my only complaint about the graphics immediately though, and that's the fact that Simon has no face. It's a bit distracting, and I'm not sure why they couldn't give him any facial features. It's kind of creepy, but not like that one little thing will really affect the overall gameplay experience. Besides that, the graphics are absolutely incredible, and really set the bar for future Super Nintendo games. The key aspect they use to make the graphics seem incredible is simply perspective. How they manipulate the background gives a 3D feel in certain levels, how they use subtleties to make the game feel more like an experience that you're absolutely engrossed in, it's incredible. The graphics really go above and beyond to make the game feel even more incredible, and the work put into them shows.

Sound- 10/10
The games soundtrack really is spectacular as well, and the soundtrack is strangely a focal point in helping to make sure any frustration in later stages not reach the point where you turn the game off. In the later stages, the game uses the themes from the previous titles to create a bit of a nostalgic feeling while you play through the castle. Fitting, since this is a remake, and it's simply enjoyable as well. As for the original songs, they're also very nicely done, and they set the mood in the game wonderfully. There's really nothing to complain about, they don't get repetitive, they add to the overall experience, and they are enjoyable by themselves on a soundtrack. As for the in-game sound effects, they're nicely done as well. Apparently the North American version of the game had altered sound effects to make the whip sound less like a chain whip would, but it still doesn't sound bad at all, and the upgrade sound effects for whenever you get the better whips seriously makes you feel more powerful. Overall, the sound for the game is an underrated classic, and it deserves to be recognized for it's amazing soundtrack in addition to it's stellar gameplay.

Buy It?
If you don't like a challenge, then this is absolutely not the game for you. This is by no means an easy game, and a game of this difficulty is not for everyone. However, this game is a classic, and anyone who wants to test their skills would greatly enjoy this game. If you want to try to beat it, it isn't impossible by any means. If you enjoy challenging games, then this is a great one to play, so I'd say buy it. 

Overall Super Castlevania IV is an incredible game, and is rightfully remembered as a classic on the Super Nintendo. It's difficult, but fair, and it feels more like an experience than simply a game. While the fact that it is easier may be off putting to some fans, the difficulty only dropped due to improvements in the overall games design and controls. There's nothing wrong with improving something, as this is an incredible classic and a must-play for anyone who likes a vintage challenge.