Game Review

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Simon's flawed quest

Castlevania was a smash hit. Despite the difficulty of the game and its lack of quality in some areas it was loved worldwide and proved very popular. It was a no-brainer for Konami to create a sequel.

Perhaps borrowing ideas from Nintendo (Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, etc.) the game is very different from its predecessor. You don't venture through straight-forward levels until you get to the end; instead, there is a large overworld with many towns and dungeons ("mansions" in this game) scattered all around.

The plot is that Dracula, right before he died in Castlevania, placed a curse on Simon that would kill him. Obviously not wanting to die, Simon sets out to resurrect and then re-kill Dracula by collecting his body parts (collecting Dracula's body parts would pop up again in some later games in the series).

To do this he needs the help of various villagers. Some give helpful tips, others sell Simon weapon upgrades, Holy Water to throw, or other items. This is where a significant flaw becomes apparent: the text was written by somebody with seemingly no grasp of the English language, meaning some villagers that give necessary hints spew complete nonsense. This makes the experience extremely confusing and hard to figure out at times.

When you are inside towns or travelling outside killing monsters, every five minutes or so a box will pop up in the air which tells you that it's becoming day/night (during this you can do nothing for about 10 seconds). During night-time monsters are stronger, houses/shops are closed and enemies even appear in towns. Killing monsters will eventually level up Simon, making him more resistant to damage and giving him more life, while these beasts also drop hearts with which items can be bought.

In mansions there are some stronger monsters, while your objective is to find a salesman somewhere who will sell you an Oak Stake. With this, you have to go to the end of the mansion to find a glowing orb — throw the Stake at this to break it open and find one of Dracula's body parts. Only two of the five mansions actually have bosses, although they can just be walked past. Defeating them gains you a special item, but this is unnecessary. An annoying part of mansions, meanwhile, are invisible pits - it is impossible to discern normal floors from blocks you can fall through. Sometimes this means you will have to constantly throw Holy Water to make it through a whole mansion (as the bottles will fall through fake floors). Some jumps in the game also require you to be pixel-perfect, or else you'll fall down a floor and have to backtrack, or worse, you die.

After collecting all of the body parts you must go to Dracula's castle which, strangely, just consists of empty hallways with no enemies at all. When you reach the end, Simon will use the bodyparts and Dracula will appear. Disappointingly, Dracula is very easy and can be killed in no time with a certain trick, which will make him never get a hit in; after this, the ending is shown. There are better endings if you took fewer days to kill Dracula.

One thing worth praising is the music: this game has a fantastic soundtrack and formally introduces one of the now most frequently used Castlevania tunes - Bloody Tears. It was used before in the arcade game Haunted Castle, but not many people have played that particular machine.

Castlevania II, while introducing some neat ideas, ultimately doesn't feel that much different from other classic Castlevania games, other than the use of items and the overworld (which has some ideas that would be reused in "Metroidvania" Castlevania games). The game is relatively easy, possibly the easiest Castlevania game, though if you lose all lives, you lose all your hearts (which act as money). This can be frustrating if you do die frequently.


The game would be above average if it wasn't for the horrible, horrible script - you honestly have no idea where to go at times as villagers tell you utter nonsense. On top of that, the broken-English speaking villagers that are supposed to give good hints are mingled with villagers that are supposed to give bad hints, making it quite frustrating to separate the two types. Ultimately, while it's not as bad as a lot of people say, it does have a lot of glaring flaws that make it less than enjoyable.

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User Comments (18)



blackknight77 said:

This is one of my favorite Castlevania games and while it does have it flaws, I would still reccomend giving it a try. Just get a guide first It does have a stellar soundtrack as well.



Cally said:

When I was younger I know I appreciated Castlevania 2 for the interesting setting.



Digiki said:

A bit underrated maybe, but the general lack of direction is quite annoying, I'd probably go 7



slangman said:

Actually I am kinda tempted to give this a try. Although since this a Konami game, it might be another bad PAL conversion



sdcazares1980 said:

The best way to build up your hearts and experience are in the dungeons because time won't move as long as you're inside. It DOES play a factor on what ending you'll have... and that makes it kinda boring.



RowdyRodimus said:

I remember getting this for Christmas the year it came out. The onlky reason I do (and might still download it) was the reaction my grandma had when she saw my grandpa got me an extra gift (they'd already got my brother and I matching Batman and Joker bedding sets and some other stuff) and he took her aside and said "Chris is my oldest grandchild, if I want to get him an extra present dammit, I'll ge him an extra present!"
Such a good memory from such a "bad" game (bad when compared to 1 and 3)



sdcazares1980 said:

I give this game a 7 because if it not for the strategy guide, the score would've been much lower. You would need to stay in the Dungeons to build up your character to obtain the best ending, and Dracula was a complete wimp in the end.



Kevin said:

This game is pretty underrated and doesn't deserve a 5. A 7 or 8 would be more acceptable.



Varg said:

5/10 is generous, I'd probably give this game less. It was a huge disappointment after the excellent first Castlevania.

Why is it so bad? For starters, you often have no idea about where to go and what you have to do, thanks both to the horrible english translation and to the stupid idea of having villagers regularly give you utterly false clues. It is at times pretty much impossible to figure out what you must do unless you are using a walkthrough (or have nothing else to do than play all day and try a bunch of random things for hours on end).

The gameplay itself sucks as well. You will constantly find yourself short of money (hearts) and will often have to spend time walking around aimlessly to kill enemies and collect hearts: boring. The overworld is composed mainly of uninspiring straight lines one after another, and going through the dungeons (mansions) is a chore because of the innumerable invisible pits: pits that look like normal ground you can walk on, yet when you walk on them you fall. As a result you constantly have to watch your step and throw holy water on every block to check whether it is a real block or an invisible pit that will cause you to die or to have to backtrack. How on earth did the makers of this game think this would be enjoyable?

The mansions are also usually not protected by enemy bosses, you only have to show up at the right place to collect the treasure, which is very anti-climactic. And on the few occasions where there ARE enemy bosses you can actually ignore them! How lame is that?

The only good thing about this game is the soundtrack, and the infamous line "What a horrible night to have a curse".

It is the worst Castlevania in the whole series. Give this one a miss.



soma said:

I love this game, probably my favorite Castlevania of the NES



gurtifus said:

@Marcel : Haunted Castle (1988) was released after this one so "Bloody Tears" track was first appeared in Simon's Quest (1987) !



theberrage said:

My favorite of the nes castlevanias. Although I haven't played it since its nes release.



grumblegrumble said:

The soundtrack to this game has stuck in my head for the better part of 20 years or so. Great game from what I remember, too. Will have to download it onto my 3DS.

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