It was solely final month that we regarded again on the unique Castlevania, which after 35 years, nonetheless stays one of many Konami’s finest NES video games. And, after a sequel that, whereas initially maligned, laid the groundwork for what was to come back for the franchise, and a 3rd entry that’s nonetheless praised as one of many perfect video games ever on the NES, the place do you go from there? For Konami and director Masahiro Ueno, you regarded forward to the SNES with Tremendous Castlevania IV, which was first launched on Halloween in Japan again in 1991.
For Ueno (recognized within the credit as Jun Furano, as Konami didn’t enable the crew to make use of their actual names on the time), Tremendous Castlevania IV (as soon as once more titled Akumajō Dracula in Japan) was his first 16-bit title, which was being developed in parallel with Castlevania III. Ueno was a fan of the unique recreation, and wished to make the sequel “a pure motion recreation”, with not one of the RPG components from Castlevania II. The tip end result was launched not lengthy after the SNES debuted in North America, and was an instantaneous hit.
Castlevania IV is basically a retelling of the unique recreation (Ueno considers SCIV to be a remake of the unique recreation “to some extent”), however with some enlargement. Set in opposition to the backdrop of Rely Dracula having been awoken from a 100-year slumber (when the forces of fine mysteriously weaken), vampire hunter Simon Belmont should now embark on a quest to destroy the vampire and free Transylvania from Dracula’s energy. Solely now, Simon should make his method by means of eleven levels as a substitute of the unique’s six, and should really make his solution to the fortress itself.
Clearly, with the soar to the 16-bit SNES, expectations have been excessive for enhancements. Ueno and his crew initially didn’t have the SNES dev kits, and because of this needed to sketch the degrees out on paper. Finally, as soon as they acquired a maintain of the kits, manufacturing concerned experimentation with the the SNES’ talents, together with the console’s well-known Mode 7, which allowed for scaling and rotating of sprites.
In comparison with the unique, SCIV‘s gameplay was smoothed out to ease the frustration of gamers. Simon doesn’t transfer as stiffly as earlier than, and gamers may now management Simon in mid-air along with his soar. Gamers have been additionally now granted the flexibility to whip in eight instructions, in addition to have extra management whereas climbing stairs. You possibly can even now crawl ahead whereas crouched, and even soar on and off stairs. The particular weapon now had its personal assigned button, and you could possibly now maintain the assault button to have the whip turn into slack to permit gamers to flip it round to take out projectiles and minor enemies with out having to waste time with the whip’s wind-up. As a part of the experimentation, Ueno’s crew instituted grappling mechanics that allowed Simon to connect his whip to particular hooks to make his method throughout giant gaps, in addition to have one thing to hold onto for sure conditions.
The elevated energy of the SNES additionally allowed for bigger and extra detailed sprites, which means Simon lastly resembled how he appeared on the sport’s field artwork. Enemies are additionally given the graphical improve, permitting for cool results like skeletons exploding into bone showers when killed, mudmen splitting off into smaller variations when hit, enemies showing out of the background to assault you and extra. Bosses have been additionally given the love, as they have been bigger, extra detailed and extra creative of their design. You had the Zapf Bat made out of treasure that dropped cash because it moved, the large stone golem Koranot (which was really a background layer) that may splinter off rocks and shrink as you hit it, and the enormous cranium Puweyxil (learn the title backwards) and its large tongue that by the identical token would chip off bone fragments as you broken it.
Likewise, the degrees additionally acquired their improve. Now not was a Castlevania recreation restricted by browns and greys, as the sport’s ranges have been large as they have been detailed. Water now dripped whereas within the caverns. Vines grew up and snaked round forged iron fencing that erupts from the bottom. Simon now needed to soar from large chandeliers, or navigate spike-filled rooms that rotated at a second’s discover (once more, the ability of Mode 7). Fancy new issues like transparency have been included. Backgrounds have been extra detailed and had animation. Within the very first stage, you could possibly now transfer between the foreground and the background through the doorways.
And no, you may’t speak about Tremendous Castlevania IV with out speaking concerning the completely legendary rating by Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo (credited as Masanori Oodachi and Taro within the recreation’s credit). Not to remove from the very good sound design, which has all the whip cracks, howls and bone rattling you could possibly ask for in a Castlevania recreation, the rating combines longtime fan favorite tunes, in addition to introducing new fan favourites. Ueno desired to make the music and sound results contribute to the sport’s “spooky and actual” environment, and it succeeded. Whereas “Vampire Killer” opened the unique recreation, gamers have been simply as energized and psyched up as soon as “Theme of Simon” began after the drawbridge closed and the iron fencing appeared. It was a technical marvel that Konami’s sound crew have been in a position to program the organ, bass drums, flute and extra into such an early SNES title. And the soundtrack to at the present time nonetheless holds as much as trendy video games. And whereas this recreation’s rendition of “Vampire Killer” isn’t fairly as much as the unique for yours really, Tremendous Castlevania IV‘s model of “Bloody Tears” is totally wonderful.
As was the case for lots of titles on Nintendo’s consoles on the time, the sport was censored earlier than going outdoors of Japan. Previous to the North American launch in December ’91, the cross on Dracula’s headstone was eliminated, as was the dripping blood on the title display screen. Blood was additionally modified within the sewers was to a inexperienced slime. As for the dreaded nudity, topless statues have been coated up, and Medusa had her nipples eliminated (although she nonetheless had her breasts).
With all of this reward for SCVIV, it’s simple to miss the truth that the sport does have some flaws to it, satirically some launched with the enhancements. Whereas the unique Castlevania had a deliberate studying curve to the way in which Simon moved and attacked, it tied additionally to the dimensions of Simon’s sprite. With the sprites now bigger in Tremendous Castlevania IV, there are factors within the recreation the place as a result of Simon’s measurement, the sport can really feel “cramped”. That is in all probability most noticeable throughout boss fights with Koranot and Puweyxil, the place your measurement limits your manoeuvrability in dodging the raining particles. Additionally, due to the usage of the directional whip, there are some enemies that may be “exploited”. You may merely droop your whip in order that it hits an enemy under you, eliminating the frustration present in earlier video games the place you could possibly be attacked whereas on the steps. This, which mixed with a number of the earlier boss fights, does reduce the problem of the sport in spots. Which, to be honest, is what Ueno wished. He felt that the unique recreation was “a bit too tough” and pissed off gamers.
Ueno additionally favoured the unique Castlevania over Castlevania III, and because of this, the options of a number of playable characters and the a number of paths launched in Castlevania III have been omitted. Had Castlevania III already been launched previous to the beginning of manufacturing on Tremendous Castlevania IV, Ueno admits that he would have carried out the branching paths to provide gamers extra of a way of exploration as within the earlier two NES video games.
Nonetheless, Tremendous Castlevania IV was acclaimed by critics and followers upon its launch, and stays a staple on many gamer’s checklist of not solely among the best SNES video games, but in addition among the best video games ever. Whereas Castlevania‘s problem was a part of its attraction, Tremendous Castlevania IV focuses much less on the problem, and extra on fashion and environment. And, other than some deviation with Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Tremendous Castlevania IV stays the epitome of the unique Castlevania gameplay fashion. SCVIV remains to be a blast to play right this moment, with the sport’s music demanding that you simply cease and hear for five seconds or so, or to analyse the sheer great thing about the graphics, that are nonetheless spectacular. If you must play a horror online game this Halloween, you actually can’t go fallacious with Tremendous Castlevania IV.
Credit score to Retro Gamer Journal Subject 119 for key data.