The Castlevania series of action platformers is widely regarded as containing some of the best games on the Famicom, and indeed home consoles full-stop, with top-notch instalments on Super Famicom, PC Engine, Playstation and handheld platforms to name a few.
Needless to say the news that the first GameBoy game was being given the WiiWare ReBirth treatment by Konami was met with both cheers and a little scepticism - after all, it's not held in the highest regard by the series' fans, so why choose to remake this title? Well, it could be that it had great music or simply that the Japanese name, Dracula Legend, just sounded really cool. In any event fans who might be dubious should rest easy, as this is certainly a game that lives up to the Castlevania name.
The title screen is much like other Konami ReBirth games: a static title with the flashing "PRESS ANY BUTTON" that wouldn't look out of place on an 8- or 16-bit console, but for the much higher level of detail in the title graphic. You then have the option to jump right in and start the game or set some options, and as with Contra ReBirth all options are in English. There are three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. You have independent control over sound and music volume, the number of lives can be set from 1-9 with a default of 3, and then there are controller configuration options. There are four control schemes on offer: Remote alone, Remote + Nunchuk, Classic Controller or Gamecube controller. There are only two action buttons so it's really down to personal preference, and the buttons can be remapped if you don't like the defaults. If you want to go the Nunchuk route you can crack the whip with a Remote swipe, but that's the only nod to newfangled controls in the game.
Starting the game up you'll immediately note that this doesn't look like a Gameboy game. The game appears to be composed entirely of 2D sprites, with sprite-textured pre-rendered polygons being much harder to spot than in other ReBirth entries. Dracula Legend ReBirth looks just like a cleaned-up Super Famicom or PC Engine title, with good use of colour and fluid animations that weren't really possible on 16-bit consoles.
The soundtrack contains faithful renderings of Castlevania music from previous entries in the series and is simply excellent. It's easy to think you're simply playing some long-lost sequel to Castlevania IV on the old SNES and forget it's a WiiWare game, it's that good. Some of the sound effects are a bit odd and appear to have been taken from a stock sound reel, with boings and monster sounds you may recognise from low budget films or Saturday morning cartoons, but on the whole it fits the mood.
Fans of the original games on the NES (and people who enjoy a good root canal sans anaesthetic) will probably be disappointed at first. The first stage seems to be pretty easy: the stairs just aren't the death traps they used to be as you cannot jump off them, but you can change direction and attack enemies - plus there's no bounce back from getting hit! Jumps seem to be a bit more forgiving without the old leap of death because you were a pixel off. Of course there are some trade-offs: you'll rarely see anything that restores your health, the whip upgrades level out pretty quickly and you cannot attack in diagonals. Whilst secondary weapons seem plentiful they're triggered by pressing up on the d-pad and then using the attack button, but for some reason this isn't detected consistently which can be a bit annoying.
By the time you get midway through the second stage you'll start to notice the game getting a bit tougher, with some trademark Castlevania goofy level design as you jump across various water wheels and moving platforms. It's in Stage 3 that the pain really starts though, and root canal fans will be well pleased at getting killed by room-spanning spears that launch from the walls (and which you need to use like platforms - joy!) whilst endless armies of flying pink pterodactyls and bone-chucking skeletons attack you. Best of all, if you continue after losing your last life you start the stage AT THE BEGINNING and there are NO SAVES. Make no mistake, despite "only" having six stages this game is no pushover. Whilst it feels less unfair than Castlevania IV, people who have a special dislike of Castlevania games will likely still be put off by the difficulty of this one (though there is always Easy difficulty to consider), but you can still get a lot out of it due to the crafty level design.
Your path throughout the game is pretty clear, but there are bonus areas with extra swag to be had. There are also keys that unlock doors to alternate paths, though these will be lost if you pick up any secondary weapons so there's often a trade-off between fun bonus stuff and fun alternate routes. Each stage has one or more sub-bosses and then the main boss followed by the trademark orb, though once you get that the stage just ends, with no mindless walking to the exit afterwards.
On the whole it's a nice entry to the ReBirth series and should tick the boxes for the old-school Castlevania fans whilst fixing a lot of the issues that plagued earlier entries. The Belmonts are still deathly allergic to water however, although thankfully they can be immersed in it a bit without going into shock. It sure would have been nice to record your best scores though, Konami.
Sean got to play this first before us!
looking forward to picking this up. finally, my first classic(?) castlevania game. let's hope i enjoy it as much as the DS metroidvania versions.
It sounds just what I was expecting. I'll get it as soon as it arrives!
this will be the best wii ware game in months i just hope N/A gets it soon
Fang-tastic impressions, Sean. Can't wait for this now!
@Egg miester Even though i only like gradius rebirth out of the 3; Contra rebirth is not good? Released in september.
I think I'll pass. I am awful at Castlevania games and 1000 points (which it'll probably be) is too much for that reason alone.
i might pick this up once its avaible in NA, i loved the classic castlevania so i wont miss this game
I'll be getting this, and using my 500 points from the internet channel refund on simons quest
You have this and I don't.
Is this as good as Rondo of Blood? I loved that game on the Turbografx, even though I had no idea what anyone said. I'll be getting it either way.
...it feels less unfair than Castlevania IV...
From the first four Castlevanias on the NES and SNES, I think that Super Castlevania IV is the easiest. So if this one feels even less unfair than SCIV, it's just right for me. (In terms of difficulty.)
BTW: The game looks like it uses the same game-engine as Contra ReBirth. I wonder if the Debug-Menu, which is present in the european version of Contra ReBirth, will also be also present in Castlevania.
I liked that in Contra because you can practice every part of the game.
I downloaded the original nes Castlevania in preperation for the big Rebirth. But I'm stuck on Frakenstein and Igor on stage 4, I wonder if I will fare any better on Konami's update...
I'm glad to hear it supports Gamecube controllers with remappable input, so I can play it with my SNES controller.
Is there really such a thing as a "root canal fan"? Awesome.
Ahhh...you got you play it?!?
Can't wait, looking forward to this one!
Excitement growing!!! Cant wait for this one. I'm gonna have to send my nephew a copie of this one. He's more of a new gamer (started with the Gamecube). I'm sure he'll like it.
I'm thinking about this game, but I'm not a huge fan of very hard games.
What difficulty did you play it on Sean?
I'm all over this one on day one. I can never pass up a Castlevania game. EVER!
I used Normal in playing for these impressions. I got to stage 3 a couple of times, but never even reached the first sub-boss the difficulty curve is so sharp. I figure to have a hope in hell of completing it in the required single sitting (no passwords either unlike Castlevania IV) I'll have to go for Easy with 9 lives!
There's checkpoints galore so if you die when fighting a boss or far into a stage (they're of decent length: 5 or 6 min. if you don't bother looking for secret stuff) you don't have to go through too much slog, but if you're trying to be all "retro" and play with 3 lives it's a bit soul-destroying to continue and realise you have to go through the entire stage again to get to that bit where you lost your last life in a shower of blood (literally)!
I'll have to play through some more Shadow Walker and Chibi-Robo before coming back to this, but it feels like a game I can play to get my ass kicked and then come back again (which is why a high score table would have been nice -- otherwise why bother keeping score in the first place?).
I don't know why anyone cares about the score. I just wanna whip up some undead monsters. Who cares what my score is. I never pay attention to points in games anyway. As long as I clear the stages that's all I care about.
This game is going to be sweeeeeeeeeeet.
O my god is fantastic game ,classic castlevania game with the best part the music of course
This game looks awesome. Im not going to look at any more youtube clips so that it can be refreshing to play it. Length seems fine as well.
Wonder if we will get it on friday?
Saying that I would take rondo of blood this friday but the chances of that happening are low at the moment. I guess we will get zombies ate my neighbours at 50hz.
Well, unless you've got a couple of hours to devote in one sitting a more "casual" player might just drop a credit for a few lives and then get as far as they can. If the game bothers to even score points (and there are bonus bags of gold and such) then it would be nice for people who may not be up to finishing it to at least have a way of checking out how well they did last time. I don't even need a full leaderboard -- just the top score would be good enough for me, otherwise leave it out (and the moneybags)!
I have all the castlevania games,but this one its gone be my fave(after the castlevania new generation on MD of course )
Why does the protagonist of every Castlevania game run as though they've just soiled their pants? There's retro-cool and there's lousy animation, and that's lousy animation.
The animation of the red skeletons re-assembling is pretty cool, though.
True. Baddies always done well in Castlevania. Seems like for the hero, though, the animators are still stuck in the idea that Michael Jackson's moonwalk is the height of cool.
Symphony of the Night
turn to mist, whole inverted castle, sword familar, succubus fight, imp familar, legion, swords shields and even a shield rod and the vorpal blade
I'm really excited about this game. The music sounds great. The visuals are great. And it seems pretty true to the originals. We'll see how it reviews here at NintendoLife.
The game sounds great, how about we get it Monday?
I think we are not getting this, this October.
You have right Shaggy.probably we see it in november...........in United Europe
Wooo I love castlevania especially the classic ones ill be getting this one
Aaah, not for me. Hope you guys enjoy it. Hope it turns out good for the reviews n' all that
Just managed a single-credit run through this. Stick with it, Sean! You'll have level 3 down pat in no time. Keep whipping the scenery, too - there's wallmeat all over the place, and even a few immediate 1ups. Playing for score is a good way to net yourself some extra lives, too, so grab as many of the money bags and the 5000-point bonuses as you can.
PS - Anybody caught dissing the Belmont pimpwalk is going to have a very smacked bottom.
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