#8: Super Castlevania IV

Super castlevania iv capa

If I were to pose the question; “What would Halloween or Hammer Horror look like in video game form,” what would you immediately think of? There’s no right or wrong answer, of course, but for some there’s only one:

#8: Super Castlevania IV

Castlevania is practically synonymous with vampires, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and mummies. Saying the name aloud is enough to suddenly evoke images of old dark castles and otherworldly monsters. The game stars Simon Belmont, the latest in a familial line of vampire hunters, and the player takes Simon through Dracula’s castle battling creatures of the night toward a final showdown with Dracula himself. The plot doesn’t get simpler than that, but there can be great beauty in simplicity. Simon’s main method of attack is a whip along with various items that he can throw. This first outing on the NES is a classic in its own right, however it would not be until its reboot on the Super NES that Simon Belmont would get the treatment he deserved.

Enter Super Castlevania 4! During this period of the 90’s, it was pretty common for new products to be marketed as either “SUPER!” or “EXTREME!” The new game more than lived up to its title. Simon Belmont is back once again to do battle with the lord of darkness himself. Many of the issues made the original game difficult to deal with, those being some minor bugs and control issues, were polished or replaced in the reboot. Navigating Simon through the immensely detailed worlds is fun and effortless. Even the controls for his whip were given a much needed overhaul. The Super NES allowed players to aim the whip in eight directions, either on the ground or while jumping through the air. This new mechanic did away with the cheap character deaths so prevalent in the original game. Now there was nothing between the player and a genuine challenge.

The developers also went above and beyond when pushing what the Super NES was capable of producing. No two stages are alike in any way, and the backgrounds are rich with detail and life. Some stages feature backgrounds that move as Simon progresses, creating a very convincing 3D effect. Other areas move vertically and horizontally, forcing the player to utilize the whip in ways never seen before. The final fight with Dracula is one of the hardest boss battles in gaming history. Castlevania is notorious for being exceptionally difficult, however, Super Castlevania IV took it a step further by making sure your final confrontation with Dracula was nothing short of a nightmare.

Since this title’s release, there have been many other Castlevania games produced. They stretch across many consoles and handheld game systems. While these new stories in the classic mythos will no doubt satisfy gamers today, many still consider Super Castlevania IV to be one of the strongest in the series. Look for a copy on Amazon, EBay, or Wii U’s shop channel and play it at night, you might just think Halloween came early this year.