Retro Review: Castlevania II Simon’s Quest (NES)

Title: Castlevania II Simon’s Quest
System: NES
Release Date: 1988

After his first adventure, Simon decided to star wearing pants.

Konami released Castlevania II Simon’s Quest in 1988 after the success of the first Castlevania. Utilizing the first game’s combat, the sequel shifts from a simple linear side scroller to a much larger world of exploration.

The controls are a bit tighter and jumps feel like there’s a better control than the previous game. Simon’s basic weapon is once again a whip, with stronger versions available from shops found throughout the game. A big change is the secondary weapon. Rather than having one at a time, Simon can collect a variety of secondary weapons and items to use as specific points in the game or as a weapon of choice to assist in slaying monsters through the land.

The game is still entirely in a side view, but some areas will have stairs taking Simon to a lower area where venturing through the area will take the player to an entirely different area than the top route would have reached. The game is fairly sprawling by 1988 NES standards, but not to the scope of the Legend of Zelda 8 bit entries. A bit of minimal effort would allow a player to map out the game and determine where things are, though deciphering which clues are real and which are false information would take some work, as well as determining the right place to kneel for a few seconds to activate special items as specific places.

All this is to say Castlevania is an excellent sequel that adds a good deal of exploration to the adventure and gives incentive for additional play throughs after the player has deciphered the game’s secrets: Three endings greet the player, depending on how quickly they revive, and again destroy, Dracula, to lift the curse placed on Simon.

Overall, Castlevania I: Simon’s Quest is an excellent 8 bit side scrolling adventure 33 years after it was introduced to the US and worth playing today. Conveniently, Limited Run Games is releasing a Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Nintendo Switch as an open pre-order, so you won’t need to find your old Nintendo and an original cartridge to experience this one. It would be a wonderful night to have a curse.

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