Those eight words are something you never want to see while playing Simon’s Quest—they mean impending doom.
The year is 1698. It’s been seven years since the conclusion of the original Castlevania. After killing Count Suckula (real name withheld), a curse was placed upon poor Simon promising him an early death unless he revived the destroyed vampire. Being the total armored whip-toting badass that he is, Simon brought some RPG elements and was well on his way to collecting the five pieces of Dracula. The Count’s welcoming party wouldn’t go very smoothly, however.
Breaking new mold in the Castlevania universe, Simon’s Quest is very non-linear. Gone are the days of level 1-1, whipping candles, temporary sub-weapons, double and triple shots and mini bosses’ HP meters. I mean, c’mon… it’s December of 1988, and we all know it’s the Year of the RPG. I checked.
Mr. Belmont (if you’re nasty) now has a backpack that holds certain quest items, weapons and sub-weapons, making these things permanent so you can switch to them at will. Whip upgrades are also now permanent, but instead of thrashing the infamous floating candles, you now gain hearts by thrashing helpless enemies. I’ll go ahead and say the system rocks.
The world of Simon’s Quest is pretty open, and instead of having to complete a level to progress to the next, you mainly just have to find your way around town. Seven towns and five Dark Manors comprise the 2D battleground in which you smite the wicked. During the day, towns are lively and you can speak to the locals to gain false information. Many people thought this was due to poor translations from Japan, but indeed, they were meant to be lies. Sorry, round-eyes! When day turns to night, all hell breaks loose. Townsfolk turn to mindless zombies, and more difficult enemies come out of the woodwork. But alas, eventually the sun comes up and end the hellish nightmare.
Castlevania 2 controls just like the previous game. Nothing’s really different but the appearance of Simon himself. The soundtrack is just as memorable as the previous effort as well. In a pointless note, the password theme was actually used as Simon’s theme in the Captain N cartoon. Now go impress your friends with your newfound useless trivia.
I personally feel Simon’s Quest is better than the original, but the lack of certain sub-weapons (i.e. axe, stopwatch) kind of let me down. Also, not knowing how close the boss is to actually dying is pretty intimidating. It still stands on it’s own two feet as a great, yet different sequel, and there are enough secrets and exploration to keep you occupied for a few hours. It’s not that difficult once you know where you are going, but n00bz will probably die quite a bit.
With the new backpack system, the non-linearity and more emphasis on a story, Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest is my pick out of the three NES games in the series.