Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth – Wii (WiiWare)
Platform: Wii (WiiWare)
Release Date (NA): December 28th, 2009
Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10
When it comes to Castlevania, a couple of download-only titles have been eating away at me: Harmony of Despair (on Xbox Live and the PS Network) and The Adventure ReBirth, a re-imagining of The Adventure, originally for the Game Boy, offered via the Wii’s WiiWare. What’s the difference between the Wii Virtual Console and WiiWare, you may ask? I’m not really sure, but I think the Virtual Console contains games that existed on older systems and WiiWare is for original creations. I do know that I got a little flustered when I was unable to find it under the Virtual Console, as I hadn’t used WiiWare before now.
Despite having both an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, neither are connected (hey, I gotta make room for the old stuff), so Harmony of Despair hasn’t got my attention yet. The Wii, however, is a permanent fixture in my room, mostly because I need to get my Mario fix more often than I’d like to admit. Why I had abstained for so long I do not know, but I finally spent the requisite $10 and settled in for Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth.
Honestly, I wasn’t sold on the idea. I remember the Game Boy’s The Adventure well, and although it’s a solid early Game Boy title, I wasn’t sure whether or not there was truly enough appeal to make this whole “rebirth” concept work.
I was instantly blown away, and the small blurbs about it being “a colorized version of Adventure with more enemies and some different levels” don’t begin to do ReBirth justice. I think it deserves its own title rather than the connection with the original, but I can understand the logic behind marketing an old-school-style game like this. With a brand new name, people’s expectations might be set too high, but by tying it in to one of the earlier Castlevania releases people have a better idea of what to expect.
The Adventure ReBirth is firmly rooted in old-school Castlevania, perhaps with a bit of the bite and edge taken off. It reminds me equally of Castlevania Chronicles and Super Castlevania IV, with a little more modern sensibility thrown in when it comes to controls and massive difficulty. It looks and feels like its progenitor but does away with stiff controls, frustrating and limiting game mechanics, and the finality of losing 3 measly lives. The story is the same as The Adventure; Christopher Belmont is out to kick some Dracula ass, a hundred years or so before Simon went on his quest.
“Redesigned” is such an understatement when it comes to ReBirth’s redesigned levels. Things aren’t recognizable at all – and that’s a good thing! It truly feels like an all new experience. The levels take a more or less linear approach, but there are various offshoots and alternate paths which usually lead to 1ups or a massive cache of points. (The old feature of awarding extra lives for every-so-many points is retained here.) I won’t say that there’s anything wildly innovative about the level design, but the are far from the drab visuals of the Game Boy. Despite being one of the few Castlevania games not to be developed by Konami, M2 has captured the essence of what it’s always been like inside of Dracula’s castle. Lots of stairs, tons of candles (several different candle/torch designs actually), and a smidge of ultra-precise jumping will make any fan feel immediately at home.
The controls have a much more natural and responsive feel when compared to earlier games, especially the Game Boy. Precise jumping is flawless due to the ability to move in mid air. The act of whipping is handled wonderfully; it’s super quick and can catch enemies extremely close to our hero and even a short distance behind. Whip upgrades are handled a bit differently this time. The first transforms the leather whip into the chain whip, but instead of the second upgrading the chain whip to the fireball-spitting fire whip until damage is taken, the ability to “whip fireballs” is put on a moderate timer. The original game didn’t include subweapons, and ReBirth reintroduces a grand total of 5 to supplement Mr. Belmont’s combat. These projectile-like subweapons are essential to winning boss battles without taking too much of a beating.
The retro-feel is recreated in stellar fashion. ReBirth uses a limited color palette, but the resolution is high enough to avoid blocky backgrounds or muddy details. There is a kind of “indistinct simplicity” going on with the graphics, but it looks to be purposeful rather than any kind of hardware limitation. No one will be fooled into thinking this game came out of the late 80s, but as I said before, it captures the old-school essence while adding in modern sensibilities. Of equal note is the music and sound effects; low-tech chip-tunes and slightly generic sound effects comprise the audio output, all the while adding to the authenticity as a re-imagining of the original The Adventure.
Nothing new is happening in Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, and for this reason it’s possible that some fans may see it as a redundancy. But for those always in the mood for a new old Castlevania challenge, this should be more than satisfying. It’s clear that the developers put a great deal of attention into how this final product was going to look, feel, and most importantly play, and their respect for the larger body of work that is Castlevania is evident at every turn. Even if you haven’t and/or don’t plan on ever kicking back with Castlevania: The Adventure, that’s no reason to pass this one up. A worthy homage, perfectly suited for downloadable-content, ReBirth isn’t a sloppy imitation or a useless port, but a unique experience that any Castlevania fan ought to derive enjoyment from.
I don’t know what bearing it has on the Wii’s marketplace, but I do know that at least some of their servers will be going offline soon or maybe already have. I’m not sure if it can be downloaded via the Wii U’s Wii menu or not either, so if you think that you may ever be interested in playing Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, you may want to go ahead and grab it or least look into how much longer WiiWare will be available. Ten bucks may seem a little steep if only for its short length, but hey, how else are you ever going to be able to “own” this piece of Castlevania…?
Reviewed by The Cubist
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