Castlevania for the NES is a bonafide classic. There is no question about that.
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, on the other hand, is often regarded to be the red headed step child of the NES trilogy. Not without good reason either, as it is an immensely flawed sequel. It was also the first game to feel the Angry Video Game Nerd’s wrath.
However, that does not mean it’s a terrible game. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest took the series when it was just starting out, and experimented a little. In this aspect, Konami should be applauded. Simon’s Quest is a solid entry in the Castlevania series, despite some glaring problems.
What a horrible night to have a curse!
Taking place a few years after the first game, Simon’s Quest has Simon Belmont traversing over Transylvania. After Dracula’s defeat in the first game, Simon has a curse placed on him. In order to rid the curse, he must find Dracula’s body parts, resurrect the vampire and defeat him once and for all.
The adventure format was a big departure from the first game’s linear platforming. This aspect is both Simon’s Quest’s best strength and worst weakness. It allows for more freedom and variety in the scenery. Although, the overly cryptic nature of the map and what little help the townspeople have in the shop sections make this quest a bit of a slog.
One of the best features of any Castlevania game is the amount of horror film/mythologic iconography Konami stuffs in. Unfortunately, Simon’s Quest has a lack of great boss fights and creative enemies. The Grim Reaper makes an underwhelming appearance and Dracula looks like a generic Halloween costume found at any dollar store. They aren’t even challenging boss fights too, which is exceptionally disappointing.
The morning light has vanquished the evil!
What’s good in Simon’s Quest? Quite a bit actually. The graphics and controls are as good as they were in the first game. This is almost required for a relatively long game like this one. The player won’t feel bored, as the day and night cycles keep the challenge coming on.
The music is fantastic too as this was the first Castlevania game to introduce the fan favorite music track “Bloody Tears.” If a player has also managed to fight with the game and stick to it, they will find a decent amount of challenge, and even fun, within Simon’s Quest.
The RPG elements, in a strange way, were a precursor to the Metroidvania-style Castlevania became synonymous with. The items and power-ups found in the game are actually some of the coolest in the series. When’s the flaming whip going to make a comeback?
It’s not perfect, but Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is a worthy entry in the series. Newcomers will just have to push through the adventure parts. Longtime fans should forgive the cryptic nature of the game, give Simon’s Quest a second chance.