The Castlevania series needs no introduction: it’s part of a long line of successful Konami games that doesn’t include Solid Snake. I came across Castlevania: The Adventure while looking for a retro game to review. Now that most of my consoles are in the UK with my sister, I didn’t have a lot to pick from. So, I took a gander at what the virtual console store had available, and this one stuck out for its price (it was R39). It also didn’t hurt that it was the first Castlevania game to grace the handheld console. All I can say is, I’m glad I bought this game before you did.
The 80s always did sound great
There is a lot wrong with this game, and it’s not just because it’s old, but I’m not going to knock it before I say something nice first. For a game that came out in 1989 on the original Gameboy, the music is great. It’s funky and very catchy. It doesn’t quite match the game, but it’s still easy on the ears and is a lot more pleasant than I thought it would be. The price point, as I mentioned above, is another bonus and the download file is so small it’s a joke. However, it’s all downhill from there.
As the story goes, you are Christopher Belmont, a member of the vampire slaying family who is tasked with killing Count Dracula. Chronologically speaking, the events of this game takes place 100 years before the first Castlevania game (the one with Simon Belmont). Unfortunately none of that is mentioned in the game. I had to scroll through the digital manual for that bit of information.
Whip it real good
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the nitty-gritty sections. Visually, there’s not much going on. It was created for the Gameboy, so there’s no colour. That’s not the real issue though, the lack of anything interesting, is. From the lead character to Dracula and everything else, the visuals are bland and boring. There are four stages in the game and I absolutely can’t remember one of them, that’s how “memorable” it is.
It does stick to the basics of the previous Castlevania games, such as the whip. The problem this time is that it’s the only weapon available. You can upgrade your crappy whip twice, using little balls (which I later found out were crystals), but downgrades if you get hurt. The attack range of the standard whip is shockingly small, so it’s best to get it upgraded and keep it that way.
Plenty of pitfalls
There’s another reason why you should protect your upgraded whip – the enemies are deadly. They’re not particularly hard to kill, but if you screw up, something as reasonably harmless as a bat will slice through your health. Christopher is also unbelievably slow, so you’ll almost never be able to outrun an enemy, attacking is your only hope. Your other enemy is lag and the attack button failing to listen. When there are three sprites on the screen, the game does tend to lag a bit. When that happened, my attacking was out of sync and cost me health, upgrades and patience. The good news is, you have the restore point system to help relieve some frustration.
The level design is another pitfall. There are a few standard platforming elements, like falling ledges and ropes to climb, but the cumbersome Christopher makes it unbearable. The falling ledges fall too quickly, so you’ll more than likely fail 5 – 6 times before you get it right. Once again, restore points are your friend.
Regrettably, I was not impressed with Castlevania: The Adventure. I understand that there are some hardware limitations, but the game is uninspired, too difficult and is not something you’d want to trudge through.