Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES)

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Box Art

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

System: NES

Release Date: December 1988

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Platformer

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest has always been a very polarizing game. Remember, the original Castlevania won my game of 1987. Is Simon’s Quest going to repeat? Let’s see. We continue on Simon’s journey after he entered Dracula’s castle and vanquished him. But you didn’t escape unscathed as you have been stricken by Dracula’s Curse. Now you need to find five pieces of Dracula’s remains and the Holy Cross to reanimate the evil count and free your soul.

Simon is equipped with a whip that can be upgraded multiple times throughout the game to become stronger and longer. However, it’s not by whipping lanterns, but by earning hearts and finding the right people to upgrade from. Hearts are found by killing enemies roaming the countryside. It’s a good idea to stock up when you can, because you’ll need a lot of hearts throughout the game. There is a day and night cycle, which has a few consequences. First, enemies become stronger and drop more hearts at night. Second, towns become infested with zombies and you can’t enter buildings. Third, the number of days it takes you to kill Dracula will change the ending you receive.

The item screen has two parts: the top shows the pieces of Dracula you’ve collected and the crystal you currently have. The bottom portion shows you your collection of knives, holy water, sacred flame, oak stakes, laurel, and garlic. You can equip an item from both sections and use your secondary weapons by pressing up + the B Button. Holy water is probably the most important item to grab and should be your second or third goal, because of all the false floors that exist not only in the mansions, where you’ll drop to your doom, but also in towns, where people and items are hidden.

The mansions are where the pieces of Dracula are hidden and are navigational challenges. You have to purchase a stake from a merchant hidden in the mansions in order to destroy the seal that protects the piece of Dracula. A few of the pieces are helpful when equipped. Dracula’s rib acts as a shield that can deflect fireballs. The eyeball shows the locations of hidden items on the map. The heart gets the Ferryman to take you to a different area.

There are a lot of obscure things to do to advance in the game. Many of them are emblazoned in my brain from Nintendo Power when I was a kid. I will say, many of the things are hinted at by hint books that you find throughout the countryside, but they are incredibly vague. I’m looking at you tornado… Dracula is the final boss and is pretty easy. You can cheese him, which I did the first time, but fighting him straight up was pretty simple, too.

Graphics: 3.0

Graphics haven’t progressed very much in the year and a half since the original.

Sound: 3.0

The music is iconic, but there are only a few different tunes I can think of; day, night, town, mansion, and ending.

Gameplay: 3.0

The game plays well. There aren’t nearly as many cheap deaths as the original, though they still exist.

Difficulty: 2.5

The action and platforming isn’t difficult, but knowing what to do is incredibly unfair. Nintendo Power or a hint line was necessary to beat this back in the day.

Fun Factor: 3.0

Simon’s Quest is fun, but it’s not the greatest thing in the world.

Overall Grade: 2.9

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest earns a B. What polarized end do I sit on? Neither, I’m not crazy about it, but I don’t think it’s terrible by any means. Play it and use a walkthrough when you get stuck and you’ll be alright.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest Video Review on YouTube