Super Castlevania IV Review

Super Castlevania IV Box Cover

– The controls don’t always feel tight.
– The jumping physics seem odd, even in the SNES era. Can change directions but still feels stiff.
– No battery, game uses a password system. 4×4 grid, composed of holy water, axes, hearts and empty spaces. I’m going to store the codes as I go, here’s one:

w e e e
a w e h
e w e a
e h e e

[a = axe, e = empty, h = heart, w = holy water]

– The music is fantastic and easily the best part of the game.
– Boss can sometimes be super easy, you can kill them so fast you don’t even see all of their moves.
– There is frequent slowdown even when a lot isn’t happening on screen.

– A lot of the gameplay elements seem to be based on Mode 7. Almost a Mode 7 demo.
– The level design can definitely be super cheap. Platforms crumble or rotate you off without much warning and before the game safely demonstrates they can do that.
– You can rotate your whip around in a circle, and angle the whip, which can help hit annoying enemies not directly in front of you or create a little shield to destroy incoming projectiles.
– Most of the time, can hit projectiles with your weapon to destroy them so they don’t hit you.
– I entered my name as “AAAAAAAA”, it was easier that way.
– After never knowing for years, I finally looked up what those blocks with Roman numerals on them do. They allow you to fire your sub-weapon two or three times concurrently.
– I love finding food hidden in walls. I love that I can eat the food and not get sick. In fact, eating the food left inside the walls for who knows how long heals me. Is it a chicken leg and pot roast or are they small and large pork chops? The manual says pork chop but that really looks like a chicken leg. Either way…delicious.
– The floating horse heads are called “Mr. Hed” in the manual.
– Why does a pork chop (chicken leg, pot roast) heal me and not a heart? I’ve never understood why hearts power sub-weapons.
– The rotating rooms and backgrounds on some stages are interesting, it’s a pretty cool effect.
– There is one stage with vertical moving platforms that you can loop through forever until you figure out the correct path, which can be frustrating. There’s no indicator where you should be going or what you should be doing.
– I really wish when you picked up a sub-weapon and already had one equipped, the old one would fall to the ground so you could pick it back up again. Losing a III boomerang for a dagger sucks.

w e e w
a w e h
e w e a
w h e e

– I had to watch a video to get past 8-2. I didn’t know I could crab walk under those spikes dropping from the roof that instantly kill you if they hit.

– Stage 8 has great music, but not great enough to offset the fact that there are way too many insta-death spikes

h e e h
a w e h
e w e w
h e e e

h e e h
a e e h
e e e h
h a e e

– Stage B (they start using letters) is a pain in the ass.
– Whoever designed how navigating staircases works is a dick. At least you don’t get knocked back on them. You attach to them automatically at a connecting ledge, which is good, but then you can’t jump if you get too close to the edge. Why can’t I jump while on stairs? You can jump onto them by holding up, but the only time I needed to do that was on stage B, and those stairs crumble and begin to drop from the bottom to the top. This is a problem because you sometimes attach at the base, they start to crumble and then you just immediately fall into the abyss, it’s annoying. Stage B would not have been nearly as difficult if not for the crap stair implementation.
– I enjoyed the boss rush at the end. It could have sucked if dying didn’t allow continuing right at the boss you died at.
– I liked the final Dracula fight.
– If I would have purchased this game when I was a kid, I would definitely be sad because it was pretty short. You could easily beat it the same day you purchased it.
– The game was originally released in 1991 on Halloween which is pretty awesome.
– There are not branching paths which seems like a step back from Castlevania 3.
– There’s a secret room that I missed with an old man and his dog that you can murder because why not?

Overall, I liked the game, it had some nice graphics and cool effects thrown in. Most of the gameplay is fun and I enjoyed a lot of it. That said, some of the level design was pretty cheap… Stage B (the last level) is ridiculous. At that point, I wasn’t really having fun anymore. I was dying because of poorly implemented level and staircase design.

Score: 85/100

References:

Wikipedia
The Video Game Museum
Castlevania Dungeon

I’m trying to play through my old backlog of SNES games and write brief notes as I go along, then giving the game a score once I’m finished. I’ll try to keep the reviews within the context of the time, which can be difficult given the fact that it’s now 20+ years later. I’m playing them all on the original hardware and not through emulation.

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