Halloween Video Game Review: Super Castlevania IV

This year, for our Halloween reviews, we’re trying something new. In addition to our film reviews, we also have a series of reviews of horror and Gothic themed video games we’ll be checking out. First up, a game which some of you might have played as a Wicked Child, and probably caused a few of you to shed some Bloody Tears, and featured everyone’s favorite family of Vampire Killer(s), Super Castlevania IV!

General Information:

Title: Super Castlevania IV
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform(s): Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Wii Virtual Console
Release Date: December 1991
Genre: Action-Platformer

The Premise

In the year 1692, to save his wife, Simon Belmont must take up his family’s blessed ancestral whip, the Vampire Killer, and storm the gates of Count Dracula’s lair – the accursed Castlevania.

High Points

All the new features that earlier games lacked, that were now possible with the SNES: The Eight Way Whip, better jumping for Simon, being able to use the whip to swing, etc. Similarly, the SNES’s Mode Seven capabilities lead to some of the most memorable moments in the Castlevania series, particularly with the Rotating Room.

Basically, while the first Castlevania was basically a port of an Arcade Game, and thus retained some of the original’s cheapness, Castlevania IV, while being a remake, was one designed from the ground up to be a console game, and to take advantage of the console’s strengths. Because of this, the difficulty is definitely improved over the ¬†original game.

Low Points

This isn’t necessarily a problem with the game itself as much as it was a problem with Nintendo from this era – some of the visual elements from the Japanese version of the game (crosses in the background, dripping blood) ended up being censored at the insistence of Nintendo of America.

Content Notes

This is an Early 90s SNES game – no real problems here, unless you manage to get a hold of the Japanese version, which contains dripping blood.

The Scores

Originality: This game is a remake, but one that, as mentioned under the High Points, greatly improves over the original. 4 out of 6.

Story: Unlike other games in the series, which would expand on the mythology as they introduced new characters, this game has a minimal story to go with the game being, basically, the beginning of the franchise. 3 out of 6.

Graphics: For the SNES era, this looked fantastic, and even now, some moments till don’t fail to impress. 5 out of 6.

Sound: The game’s sound effects are very good and the music, well, the music is some of the best video game music of all time. 6 out of 6.

Playability: This game has some of the best controls in the entire Castlevania series (at least, as far as the 2D games are concerned). 5 out of 6.

Immersion: To a certain degree, with a game from this era, stuff like the interface is there to stay, whether you like it or not. Still, they were out of the way, with no massive frame or border around them to call attention to them, and the gameplay itself sucks you right in. 5 out of 6.

Overall: I’m not going to say that this is the absolute best game in the Castlevania series, but it is definitely up there. 5 out of 6.

In Total, Super Castlevania IV gets 33 out of 42.