The first Castlevania game to appear on a handheld console, where you play as Christopher Belmont on a journey to vanquish Dracula.
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Castlevania: The Adventure is often considered to be one of the worst entries in the Castlevania series, though the game itself isn’t among the worst games I ever played. But it’s certainly lacking on what made Castlevania on the NES great.
Castlevania on the Go
Much like its predecessor, Castlevania: The Adventure has you take the role of a whip-carrying badass on a quest to defeat Count Dracula. This time, you’re playing as Christopher Belmont, a descendant of Trevor Belmont from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse and an ancestor of Simon Belmont from the original Castlevania.
The controls are mostly the same as the original Castlevania’s, but there are some major differences in the gameplay.
For one thing, Christopher’s walking speed. He moves at a snail’s pace and there is no way to make him go any faster. And the problem with this is that it feels like you’re playing a game chugging along at 10 FPS or less the whole time. It also seems to affect how the game responds to your button presses, because there are multiple times when I tried to get Christopher to jump or use the whip, but it simply doesn’t work.
Combine those issues with boring, bland level designs, Castlevania: The Adventure effectively becomes a walking simulator… that just so happens to have combat mechanics.
Also, no sub-weapons. All you have is the Vampire Killer whip, so weapon variety is out of the question. While you can collect powerups to strengthen the whip into a fire-shooting chain whip, you lose those powerups if you take damage. This is what partially makes the game more difficult, because some enemies can attack from a range and even take a lot of punishment. Playing through most of a Castlevania title without powerups just seems like an alien concept…
But by far the most difficult part about this game is the platforming. Holy shit, the platforming.
Some of the jumps you have to make in Castlevania: The Adventure require you to stand at the very edge of a platform in order to make the next one. All those platforms at the final stretch of the first level should give you a clear idea on what that’s like. You have to be very precise and perfect on these jumps, or else you’re going down down DOWN.
Level 2 has you trying this with FALLING platforms more often. And man, these platforms do not fuck around. You have to be both quick and precise, because these platforms fall down FAST. There is no room for mistakes here.
As I mentioned, the level design is generally uninspired and boring. There are many long stretches of land and enemies are placed about in areas where they’re just asking to be slaughtered. Whatever happened to the great level design of the NES Castlevania and the challenging platforming?
The second level had a random maze haphazardly thrown in, but you wouldn’t know this until you suddenly return back to an area that you’ve been to before.
The third level is, without a doubt, one of the worst levels I played in the Castlevania series. For one thing, it’s spikes hell, and spikes kill you in one hit in this game. If you don’t move your ass, you’ll die for sure. Furthermore, there are parts to this level that deliberately try to mislead you into taking the wrong path and you have no time to correct your mistake, leading you to your doom. This level will also make you realize that your character’s hit box is bigger than it appears to be. Expect cheap deaths everywhere.
And in the fourth and final level, you’re faced against multiple bulky enemies while avoiding traps and spikes. While it sounds like the final level is the best in the game (and it really is), it’s still not fun to go through.
Still, it wouldn’t be fair to say that Castlevania: The Adventure is a bad game. I don’t think it is. If you have lived around the time when the Game Boy is still being sold everywhere, the convenience of playing games on the go is a compromise resulting in weaker gameplay. Combined with a significantly shorter play time and predictable level hazards, you’ll eventually figure this game out.
The same happened in the case of Super Mario Bros., where Super Mario Land had simpler graphics and gameplay compared to its cousin. But people still liked that game despite the tradeoff.
Castlevania: The Adventure is pretty much the same thing. It’s definitely the first Castlevania game on the go and it plays like one too. So to come reasonably close to emulating the original NES game, this Game Boy game did an okay job at it.
While the stages and enemy designs aren’t too interesting, the graphics are pretty okay for the Game Boy (despite graphical glitches and screen tearing). And the music is great for the system.
As far as bringing Castlevania on the Game Boy, Castlevania: The Adventure doesn’t do too bad of a job. But yes, definitely a mediocre game. But much like Super Mario Land, this game has an even better sequel. So, there is definitely hope.
Castlevania: The AdventurePrice Varies
- The gameplay is fairly straightforward, coming across as a simpler version of its predecessor on the NES.
- The graphics are okay, sometimes trying to go for nice scenery like that of the first level's.
- The music is pretty cool.
- Christopher moves very slow while the level designs contain a lot of long stretches of flat land.
- There are no sub-weapons like in the NES Castlevania games.
- Jumping across falling platforms is a difficult task, requiring nearly perfect jumps to get across.