The only Castlevaina game in the series to appear on the Genesis, Bloodlines does a good job of utilizing the system's capabilities. You get to choose between two heroes, The usual Belmont armed with a whip and another guy who has a lance named Eric Lecard. Eric is more maneuverable as he can shoot the lance out in four directions, while our resident belmont hero can whip side to side and at an upwards angle. Eric can also do this pole vault type move to jump to out of reach platforms, while the Belmont in able to latch onto under hanging platforms and swing ala Castlevainia 4. The usual powerup weapons appear, daggers, holy water, boomerang crosses, etc. Plus this was the first game to feature the "Item crash," where you could power up the bonus item to do a super duper attack.
The level design is truly the highpoint of this title. While the levels don't look as good as the SNES game they are well planned and full of graphical touches that show how powerful the Genesis could actually be. Lots of scaling and rotation, parallax scrolling, etc. The Atlantis level features a slowing rising water line that reflects everything that's going on above, as well as huge rotating columns and statues that you have to knock over to advance. One level takes place on the leaning tower of Pisa, where you jump up along out of sight platforms while the entire tower rocks back and forth. Incredible.
The rest is pure Castlevaina all the way through. The staple ghouls, skeletons, and ghosts abound, while you also seem to have to deal with a large assortment of flying demon type bad guys. Unlike the SNES version this game actually has somewhat of a plot following it, and the evil priest Shaft from Dracula X makes several appearances.
Bosses are also huge and impressive, many of them large suits of armor made up of multiple independently animated sprites. Something about these games make what today would be considered substandard graphics stand out. The closer things get to looking real on modern consoles the less the "wow" factor becomes. It's like when the whole game is full of ultrarealistic graphics and effects, then when the boss shows up it's not so impressive anymore. That can't be said for this game.
Only gripe I've got is this game is hard. I mean it. The other Castlevaina games have a decent progression in their difficulty, but this one seems to be hard as hell from level 2 onwards. A password feature helps a lot here, but some people might get turned off by the frustration level.
They don't make'm like the used to, and they don't make them like this game anymore. A true classic that every Genesis owner should own.
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