For the first time, Castlevania was going portable and being most at home on the NES due to making a name there, it was a good move on Konami to make the next entry for the Gameboy. This was the first Castlevania game I ever owned and while I am a fan of the series, despite its ups and downs, I stand by that “nostalgia is a seductive liar” and being a reviewer means being honest with the readers.
Could learn something from his descendants
You take control of Christopher Belmont, an ancestor to Simon Belmont who is out to kill Dracula for the earliest time so far. Our hero still has the famous whip, the Vampire Killer, which can be powered up two times. First giving it more strength and bit more length, and a second time which will make it shoot fireballs. However, these power-ups will be easily lost because each hit you take will downgrade it one level towards its original form. This makes the game much more of a drag, since enemies can take more hits to kill and Christopher doesn’t have any sub-weapons like most of the other family members have, so he is ill equipped to deal with the monsters. Other items that can somewhat support you are hearts that actually heal you this time, crosses that makes you become invincible for a short duration, rare 1-ups and coins for points that can lead to an extra life.
The game in general is slow, making our hero and the enemies move at a snail’s pace. If I can compliment the enemies on one thing: they have unique attack-patterns and while they take time to kill as mentioned before and move slowly, they have at least a design that somewhat complements our hero’s lack of movement. But really, the lack of speed makes it a bore and I see no reason why it could not have been sped up. What will make this adventure a terrible pain however, is both our hero’s stiff jump and the level-design. The original Castlevania had stiff jumps, but also levels made with this in mind and Simon could jump pretty far. Christopher is awful, with his jumps having barely any length to them, he falls like an anvil and the platforms are terribly narrow. A good example is the first level, where you have to jump across a bunch of narrow pillars that can hardly be called level-design and then deal with falling platforms over a bottomless pit. And no: the game does not get any easier or better.
There are some neat ideas throughout the game however. There are ropes that you can whip from, spike-traps that you must run from and giant screws that you must attack to stop dangerous traps. The bosses are not bad either, and perhaps the easiest part of the game with patterns that do not expect you to do more than what our hero is capable of. This could have had potential if they just tweaked parts of it and did not focus on making this entry so hard. Being only 4 stages long, it is also terribly short, which makes it almost seem like they deliberately made it unfairly difficult for the sake of lasting-appeal.
Gameplay Score: 3/10
Maybe use the Gameboy as a cool Ipod?
I will sound like a broken record by this point. but the soundtrack is great, with the first stage being a personal favorite. Due to only having 4 levels, there is a much more limited amount of tracks, but what is here, is awesome and complements the gothic theme. They are also much longer, making them much more engaging and not repetitive.
The visuals are also impressive. The developers added a lot of details in the background, and the enemies and our hero look really good too. There are only a couple of levels as stated, but they thankfully did a good job distinguishing them from each other and make something visually pleasing despite of the black and white screen.
Presentation Score: 8/10
This is the worst handheld Castlevania-game. With terrible level-design, stiff jumps that makes the platforming even worse, and power-ups that don’t last long enough. The lack of speed also makes this an awful drag, despite being only 4 levels long. If they tweaked these problems, we might have had at least a competent game, but as it stands: it is difficult to recommend it.