Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

Being a Belmont is hard. You live only to kill Dracula. This wouldn’t be quite so bad, except Dracula has a tendency to not actually stay dead. Simon Belmont had it especially rough, he killed Dracula in the original Castlevania, but due to being cursed, had to locate and destroy Dracula’s body parts.

How Dracula’s body parts got scattered around the countryside, each in a different castle, I can’t say. But you have to find them. The body parts, and the castle. Castlevania 2 is not the linear game that its predecessor was. You get free reign to go wherever you want from the get-go, exploring the countryside, looking for mansions and clues, chatting up each town’s locals, and battling monsters. When you start playing this game, a few problems become immediately apparent.

Just like the previous game, your sub-weapons are powered by hearts. Each time you use one, a certain number of hearts is consumed. But, these hearts are also the currency for the game, so you must choose between killing enemies at a distance, since you’re initially relatively weak, and and getting uncomfortably close and bludgeoning them with what amounts to a slightly al dente wet noodle in order to conserve your hearts and buy better weapons.

The mansions, without some sort of guidance, are nearly impossible to find. The townsfolk will give you some clues, grammatically bankrupt and unfathomably mistranslated clues, but clues nonetheless. Clues that will tell you that if you possess (sorry, ‘prossess’) a certain crystal and kneel at the edge of a certain body of water that you will suddenly make stairs appear in the water, allowing you to not drown when you jump in. Or a clue that will tell you that if you want to get to a certain mansion you have to jump on the riverman’s boat and cross it, but stay on the boat so that you can cross it again, and then back again to get to the correct shore.

It is fortunate, though, that most of Dracula’s body parts that you will eventually find turn out to be useful. You can use his rib as a shield, and his fingernail to break certain bricks with your whip. This gives you some incentive to actually go into and attempt to complete the mansions, which is much more difficult than it sounds. The mansions are thick with enemies, enemies that reappear if their patrol area scrolls off the screen, invisible platforms, and blocks that look solid, but actually aren’t. Top all of this off with a boss at the end and you can get to the crystal ball that holds the body part, which you can claim if you have an oak stake. Yep, I hope you found the incredibly inconveniently-placed stake salesperson. No stake, no body part, and if you leave the mansion for any reason without claiming your part, you get to fight the boss again to get it.

Make no mistake, this game hates you. Hates you with a fiery passion. If you dare attempt to plumb its depths, prepare to be mauled by its brutality. After investing weeks trying to wrap my head around it, I put in a cheat code, finished the game, and got the worst ending possible. Interestingly, this would be the best ending I would ever get at this game.

One Response to “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest”

  1. [...] a few times, but never really got very far. Mostly because I’m not that good at figuring out obtuse clues. But that all changed the day I figured out The [...]

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