Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Konami
  • Publisher:
    • Konami
  • Released:
    • JP 07/12/1991
    • US August 1991
    • UK 11/26/1992
Score: 80%

This review was published on 03/28/2015.

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge is a platform video game developed and published by Konami for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on July 12, 1991, North America in August 1991, and Europe on November 26, 1992. This is the second Castlevania game released for the Game Boy and a direct sequel to the previous one called Castlevania: The Adventure. Belmont's Revenge later got rereleased in color in the fourth volume of the Konami GB Collection compilations, which were released in Japan and Europe. Despite the similar titles, this game has absolutely no relation to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The first Castlevania on Game Boy had many issues that made it a mediocre game, but Belmont's Revenge is a huge improvement over it. For the most part, Belmont's Revenge fixes all the problems that the previous game had, and is simply better in every way.

Image

In Castlevania: The Adventure, Christopher Belmont bravely fought against and defeated the vampire lord of darkness, Dracula, also making sure to destroy his castle. Unbeknownst to Christopher, Dracula hadn't been completely obliterated, and was waiting for the opportune time to make his wicked return. Fifteen years later, a ceremony is being held to honor Soleiyu Belmont, Christopher's son, as the next vampire hunter in line. Suddenly, Dracula appears out of the shadows and kidnaps Christopher's son! The dreaded Dracula then transforms Soleiyu into a demon and uses him to make a massive comeback. Taking advantage of Soleiyu's mystical powers, Dracula regains human form and rebuilds his ruined castle. Christopher must now save his son by once again facing off against the evil Dracula and bringing peace back to Transylvania. That's where the plot of Belmont's Revenge begins. The only thing that confuses me is the game's title; isn't Dracula the one trying to get his revenge here? I guess Christopher is trying to get revenge on Dracula's revenge, or something. Either way, this premise is a bit more interesting than your typical Castlevania tale, as it differs from the default template ever so slightly.

Image

Christopher is back and he's ready for more vampire slaying action. Like most Castlevania heroes, Christopher is able to walk, jump, duck, and whip things to death. He can also climb ropes, and unlike the previous adventure, he's now able to attack while holding onto a rope. Also, he's able to quickly slide down ropes by holding down the jump button, which is another new convenient feature. Christopher's jumps are still of a fixed length, preventing him from turning around in midair and altering his velocity on the fly. It's important to hold forward or backward when jumping to make sure Christopher crosses gaps, because pressing a direction after a jump is already initiated won't budge the guy, meaning he'll simply perform a stationary jump that's not terribly useful. Because of this, it's important to look before you leap. Of course, that's how the jumping works in most 8-bit Castlevania games, so there's nothing unusual about this. If you're new to the series, then getting used to this type of jumping will take time. However, it should be noted that the controls are way better this time around, being much more responsive than they were in the last game. As long as you account for the fixed jump thing, any missteps are entirely your fault.

Image

Crystal balls will upgrade Christopher's whip whenever he finds them. The upgrades are cumulative and will extend the strength and length of the whip each time a crystal ball is obtained, for a limit of up to two upgrades. On the final upgrade, Christopher will shoot a fireball out of his whip every time he strikes, which makes the crystal balls very worth getting. Unlike the previous game, Christopher no longer loses whip upgrades upon getting hit, instead only losing them when he dies. That's a fantastic change, as it makes the game far less annoying. It also makes the crystal balls even more valuable, considering you won't immediately lose them anymore. Some enemies can still downgrade Christopher's whip by hitting him, though, but these guys are special cases. The new upgrade mechanic may cause some to be concerned that this makes the game too easy, but things are balanced by the fact that the fireballs do less damage than the whip itself. While the modification to the upgrade system does make the game easier, the stage design is still tough enough to make the game quite challenging.

Image

Sub-weapons were absent in Castlevania: The Adventure, but thankfully, this game brings them back. Every so often, Christopher will find a sub-weapon that will supplement his whipping abilities. In order to actually use a sub-weapon, you'll need hearts, which act as ammo. Don't ask why; that's just a Castlevania staple. Like in any good Castlevania, hearts, power-ups, sub-weapons, and other items are hidden inside of breakable candles. Christopher can only hold one sub-weapon at a time, and if he takes another one, he will lose the one he had. Not all of the conventional Castlevania sub-weapons have returned in this installment. The only sub-weapons to make it back are the axe and holy water. Axes are thrown in an overhead arc, whereas the bottles of holy water are thrown to the ground like holy hand grenades. Because the whip can only strike in a straightforward fashion, these sub-weapons are useful to hit out-of-reach foes. It is a shame, however, that there are no other sub-weapons in the game, as that leads to Christopher having less variety in his arsenal.

Image

Four treacherous castles await Christopher in this game at the outset. That's already three more than your average Castlevania game! Each castle constitutes a single stage, and you can tackle them in any order you like, similar to the Mega Man games. Dracula's castle is broken into two stages and is unlocked after beating the four other castles first. This is a significant deviation from the traditional Castlevania formula, though the stages themselves are still linear jaunts. Sometimes there are branching paths, but they always eventually lead to the same end. Most stages start out with an outdoorsy area before Christopher enters the castle proper, so not all the action takes place indoors. Every stage has special hazards and enemies for Christopher to avoid, like the Crystal Castle has platforms that slowly crumble when stepped on and moving spiked walls. A different stage features a pulley that automatically reacts to Christopher's weight when grabbed, forcing him to quickly jump from one chain to another. Yet another stage has spiders that leave behind web strings that Christopher can climb like ropes; a surprisingly cool concept. The stages also all have marvelous music, certainly deserving of the Castlevania name. There are short passwords to retain your progress, too, which is something that the previous game lacked. All in all, the stages in Belmont's Revenge are refreshingly inventive.

Image

Bosses are an important part of a complete breakfast in any good Castlevania game. Shortly before reaching a boss, the music will play creepy music to let you know that a powerful monstrosity is nearby; a nice touch, to be sure. In addition to having spiffy music, the bosses are creative. For instance, one of the bosses is a warlock that teleports around the arena and summons a bolt of lightning from an ominous cloud slowly hovering around from above. Another boss slowly trots around in a suit of armor, but once the armor is destroyed, it becomes significantly faster and adopts a new attack pattern. By far the most unique boss is a two headed skeletal beast that shoots out its ribcage at you like a boomerang, and each head takes turns at shooting and reclaiming the ribcage. A lot of the bosses are part of the environment, giving them a grand scale for the Game Boy's tiny screen. The last few bosses are way too hard, though, especially Dracula. Barring a few that are way too difficult for their own good, this game has creative bosses that are fun to fight.

Image

Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge is actually pretty golly gosh darn good. That's a little surprising, given how mediocre the previous game was. The music's great, the controls are responsive, the graphics are fair for the Game Boy, the level design is inventive, and the bosses are bodacious. Bringing back the sub-weapons was a good choice, even if they're not all there. The only real flaw this game has is that it's short, but it's still longer than the last one. Belmont's Revenge is the best Castlevania on the Game Boy and is an all around great game.

Word Count: 1,454

Tweet