When the Super NES came out every sequel from the 8-bit era had to have "Super" in it's title for some reason. Super Mario world, Super Star wars, etc. But very few games are worth of the adjective. Thankfully this is one of them. I know I'm a Castlevaina whore and everything, but this time I'm not kidding. This game really is that good.
The game is essentially a remake of the very first Castlevaina game, so it's pure action. There's no superfluous adventure crap thrown in here. It's straight kill the zombie before he kills you, all the way. And thank god for that. Simon is large and well animated, and gives a very clear "ugghh!" when he gets hit. Unique to this version is an eight way whip, that can also be held loosely like a shield and flung around to hit stuff around you. This was also the first game in the series to feature rings where you would swing with the whip above chasms and stuff. The usual side weapons are also here, knives, holy water, boomerangs, etc.
For an SNES 1st generation Konami game the graphics and sounds kick major loads of ass. Everything looks and sounds great. Lots of echo and transparency effects help add realism to clear and detailed graphics. Enemy design and music are some of the best ever. Bosses are large and detailed and include all the Castlevaina staples (Medusa, winged demons, ghostly suits of armor, Frankenstein, etc.) Each boss has a gimmick special attack that adds to the strategy, such as the Ghost dancers that warp around the room or the skeleton night that jumps around and tries to stab you. They are all well animated and their difficulty progresses naturally. Little graphical touches add to the sweetness, like transparent ghosts, zombies that catch fire when you kill them, or bone towers that explode into pieces. Some bosses also use mode seven effects to a degree, like a large golem that shrinks as you attack him.
The best accomplishment of this game is the incredible level design. The first level features areas with two levels of playing fields where you walk behind gates in the background to proceed. Later on you transverse echoing caverns with transparent water and falling ceilings, a ruined city that slowly floods, a haunted library where books fly out and attack you, the count's treasury, an extremely hard trap filled dungeon, etc. Later levels also make good use of the SNES Mode 7 effects, with rotating rooms and entire corridors that spin around. The later levels also have scrolling rooms and traps, like a section of the battlements where you climb collapsing staircases while this bladed wheel of death chases you. Totally awesome.
Music also kicks butt to the nth degree. Some of it is really catchy, like the jazzy tune in the sunken city. The dungeon music is the most evil ever. You'll wake up in the middle of the night humming it.
As a straight up action title this game in my opinion is unmatched. The graphics, sound, and playability rival Playstation's Symphony of the Night. Problem is you're left wanting more, some of the RPG elements or extra characters from the other installments of the series would have fleshed out the title considerably. Still among the best games the Snes has to offer and something all Castlevania fans will enjoy.
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