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Super Castlevania IV – SNES

Super Castlevania IV – SNES


Platform:  SNES

Developer:  Konami

Publisher:  Konami

Release Date (NA):  December 4th, 1991

Genre:  Platformer, Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating:  7.5 out of 10

Super Castlevania IV has been sitting in my “to play” pile for a very long time now and I finally was able to devote an entire evening to conquering this beast.  In most respects I’m inclined to agree with Doobs’ excellent review of the exact same game though I’m not nearly so seasoned when it comes to the Castlevania series in general.

Super Castlevania IVWe have the improvements one would expect from jumping to the SNES from the original Nintendo, particularly when it comes to graphics.  As superb as the graphics for II and III are, they are of course limited and IV keeps up the tradition of delivering exceptionally detailed visuals in the franchise.  The game is a little shorter and can probably be finished in 2 to 4 hours by a reasonably accomplished gamer.  Difficulty is tapered down somewhat as well.  The endless swells of flying enemies are fewer and further between and the pointlessly impossible jumps have all but been removed.  In part, this is due to the most noticeable improvement: the controls.

Super Castlevania IVHere we go again, Belmonts vs. Dracula Round 4.  Gameplay and structure from the previous installment are carried over and we find a lot of familiar faces as well.  Bosses like Frankenstein’s Monster and Medusa are lifted straight from prior games, and this time we’re finally given a linear, unchangeable course.  Much of the ridiculously impossible stuff found in Dracula’s Curse is gone – in my opinion – due to stronger level design, more thorough testing, and an increased level of character control, especially in the air.  Stereotypical platforming elements are presented in fine form.  A suitable amount of combat can be found and in most cases can be handled strategically rather than through a mix of blind luck and blinding reflexes.  Some portions focus heavily on jumping and timing without becoming too frustrating.  Some will lament the loss of exploration available in Simon’s Quest and others will miss the number of optional paths and characters from Dracula’s Cursebut Super Castlevania IV frees itself of the clutter and chooses instead to focus on the series’ strongest aspect, whipping monsters.

Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IVMy favorite innovation (or addition rather) is the delight of platforming fans everywhere, the ability to control one’s jump in mid-air!  Finally the awkward process of carefully lining up jumps and positioning oneself at the exact right spot on the edge of a platform is a thing of the past.  Jumping is a more all-around fluid and intuitive action, one that most players will feel instantly at home with.  We also now get to choose where the whip is whipped, following all points of the D-pad and even those in between.  This is great for defeating enemies typically out of reach and leads to a lot less dying from having to run straight at foes while furiously jamming the B button.  Naturally, Up + B now sends the whip upwards instead of launching the “sub-weapon,” which now has its own special place on the controller.  No more of all that was associated with trying to use the sub-weapons.  These factors all add up to not only an easier game but a better, more complete game.  There will be significantly less cursing at the screen about some stupid jump or button configuration.  Minor (but appreciated) other changes in controls include the reduced rigidity when encountering staircases.  Instead of falling through them or automatically walking on them, the player has much more control of when and if Simon interacts with the steps.

Super Castlevania IVSuper Castlevania IV possesses the finest graphics yet seen in the series (back in ’91) and offers up an experience that truly illustrates what was so magical about the 16-bit era.  Backgrounds are detailed and varied and some very novel effects are used for the time, such as the waterfalls, the treasure bouncing around, the spinning and rotating areas of Stage 4 (nausea inducing, yes; awesome, yes), and the amazing giant swinging chandeliers near the end.  The clock-like level with all the spinning gears is annoying as hell but equally impressive.  Sprites are as good looking as ever, and for the first Super Castlevania IVtime our character has real definition.  Bosses have always been a source of eye candy in these early Castlevania games and IV continues the tradition.  Dracula may not be quite as impressive as before and though the end suffers from a bit of an anti-climax the rest of the game easily compensates.


Super Castlevania IV

Finally, we get music that sounds like it belongs in some dark alternate reality of Eastern Europe.  Actual piano synth is used this time around and provides that perfect Nocturne-esque sound during the majority of the game.  It isn’t exactly creepy or foreboding, but it is mournful, solemn, and kissed with a touch of despair.

Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IVPurists may complain about the adoption of simplicity over titles II (I for one love the exploratory nature of Simon’s Questand IIIand while some additional complexity certainly wouldn’t have hurt the game, IV stands as a shining example of how solid controls and artfully crafted sound and visuals are the hallmarks of any great game no matter how old or new.  Should Konami have pushed the envelope a little more on this one?  Maybe, though I don’t think the game outright suffers from its straightforwardness.  Super Castlevania IV fetches a relatively hefty price tag compared to most used Super Nintendo carts, but it’s worth every penny for fans of both the series, the Super NES, and awesome games in general.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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