Castlevania: The Adventure
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Konami
  • Publisher:
    • Konami
  • Released:
    • JP 10/27/1989
    • US 12/15/1989
    • UK 09/28/1990
Score: 70%

This review was published on 03/26/2015.

Castlevania: The Adventure is a platform video game developed and published by Konami for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on October 27, 1989, North America on December 15, 1989, and Europe on September 28, 1990. This is the first Castlevania game ever released on the Game Boy. The game was later rereleased as part of the Konami GB Collection compilations in Japan and Europe. Later still, a remake called Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth was released as WiiWare for the Wii. When the original Game Boy version first came out, it garnered mixed reviews from critics. That's because it's not exactly the greatest thing ever. Its main selling point is that it's portable Castlevania, but that's really the only thing that stands out about this game. Castlevania: The Adventure has been stripped down to the bare essentials of a Castlevania game, making it lack the pizzazz of other games in the series.

Image

This Castlevania adventure is set in 1576, over a century before the events of the original Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System. So yes, it's a prequel. Dracula, the vile vampire of darkness, revives every century to haunt the world with ghastly ghouls, generally focusing on Transylvania. The Belmont Clan is a family of vampire hunters that have dedicated themselves to destroying Dracula whenever he reappears. They're basically Dracula exterminators and have an unhealthy obsession with whips. You take control of an ancestor of Simon Belmont, the hero of the original Castlevania, named Christopher Belmont. As is usually the case with the Belmont Clan, Christopher is tasked with defeating Dracula, preferably with a whip. Really, this is the same exact plot of almost every Castlevania game ever made, just set in a different time period and with another protagonist. The same could be said of many other Castlevania games. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, though.

Image

Christopher Belmont controls a lot like Simon Belmont, something that should make sense, considering they're both related. He can slowly trudge forward, jump, and swing his whip to attack enemies. Like the original, this game has a fixed jump, so you can't change which direction Christopher is facing or his velocity during a leap; you've got no choice but to commit. The guy can also climb ropes. And that's about all Christopher is capable of. The controls are a tad unresponsive, but functional. Normally, most Castlevania games have sub-weapons to help spice up the game play, but for some reason, those luxuries were removed from this game. That's a big bummer, especially since that's a signature feature of the early Castlevania games. The one positive thing that came out of this change is that hearts now actually restore health instead of providing ammo for sub-weapons, which makes more sense, though it will probably confuse fans of classic Castlevania. These classic Castlevania games have always been simple affairs, but Castlevania: The Adventure takes that simplicity a bit too far.

Image

Picking up crystal balls will upgrade Christopher's whip, extending its reach and increasing its power. These upgrades stack until the third level, at which point no further upgrades can be made. Most other classic Castlevania games have a similar mechanic, though this one does a few things differently. The first departure from the norm is that the final upgrade allows Christopher to shoot a fireball out of his whip as a ranged projectile attack, which is very handy. To offset the usefulness of this, Christopher's whip goes down one level whenever he is injured by an enemy, forcing him to find another crystal ball to regain his lost power. That's unforgiving, even by Castlevania standards. The original Castlevania only made you reclaim your upgrades after each death, so this is quite a significant change. It isn't surprising that this gets incredibly annoying after a while, and that annoyance pervades the whole game. As cool as the fireball thing is, it's not worth the irritation of repeatedly losing your upgraded whip.

Image

The level design is as plain as cheese pizza in Castlevania: The Adventure. A lot of it is just long, flat pathways with the same couple of enemies appearing constantly. Different segments of stages are separated by ropes that Christopher either climbs up or down, and these replace the iconic staircases from other Castlevania games. The platforming itself is quite mundane and finicky. Christopher has a tendency to pass through platforms and fall to his death if he doesn't land exactly in the right spot, resulting in frustrating game play. These are referred to as pixel perfect jumps, and this game has far too many of them for its own good. Another big problem is that the game suffers from extreme slowdown whenever so much as a single enemy appears onscreen. The checkpoints are rather far apart, too, worsening matters even further. Stage three is an absolute nightmare, being that it is an auto scrolling level littered with instant death spikes, bottomless pits, and pixel perfect jumps. Additionally, this is one short game, because there are only four stages in the entire thing. They're awfully long and difficult stages, but that doesn't make up for there being only four. The only good thing the stages have going for them is the fairly nice music.

Image

As is expected, there is a boss at the end of every level. Given that this game doesn't have many levels, it goes without saying that there aren't many bosses, either. Many of the iconic Castlevania bosses have been replaced with generic stand-ins, so no Frankenstein monsters, medusas, or mummies. While the first boss is immune to the fireballs from Christopher's fully upgraded whip, the others aren't, so you can cheese a couple of the fights by taking advantage of that. One of the boss fights is a total copout, as it's nothing more than a barrage of small enemies. Considering there's only four bosses in the game, that's pretty bad. Dracula himself is nothing to write home about in terms of design, though he is tough. The boss fights are as rudimentary as the levels themselves, honestly.

Image

Castlevania: The Adventure is a barebones Castlevania experience. Aside from the pretty decent music, the game suffers from being extremely short, having subpar graphics, too many pixel perfect jumps, unresponsive controls, frequent slowdowns, and dull game play. The removal of sub-weapons was uncalled for, and the whip's fireball ability, while cool, never stays long because of the new mechanic in which you lose whip upgrades when getting hurt. The game is also insanely hard. Having said all that, this isn't a terrible game, especially for an early Game Boy title. It just isn't at all remarkable, and is definitely not a good representation of the Castlevania series.

Word Count: 1,126

Tweet