Revisiting ‘Super Castlevania IV’ (1991)

Konami's fourth 'Castlevania' game is still loads of fun 28 years later!

Review by J.T. Johnson

It’s 1991 and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is only a year old. The games that are being released on the system are revolutionary with both their visuals and their ability to give gamers more control. At the time, one of Konami’s biggest video game series is “Castlevania”, a game that has members of the Belmont family battling the evil forces of Dracula.

During the NES era, Konami made a trilogy of games. The first one, “Castlevania”, is a bonafide classic. “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest” is unique in that it is a precursor to more open ended games in the series but it is deeply flawed. “Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse” is often considered the best game in the trilogy though it is also the hardest.

The first game for the SNES, “Super Castlevania IV”, is a masterpiece within the classic Castlevania games and for good reason. The story is actually a remake of the first game with original hero Simon Belmont taking center stage again after Trevor took over in “Castlevania III”. Not only is it a masterful retelling of the first game, it rebuilt how the entire game operated.

The SNES controller, with four extra buttons, gives gamers even more control with a whip that can be swung in more than one direction and there is also a designated button for Simon’s secondary attacks as well. The better processing power of the system also means that former hazards such as stairs and cliffs are easier to manage.

Graphically speaking, the game is just gorgeous to look at and Konami also took advantage of the SNES’s Mode 7 to create special levels where certain things are given a more 3D effect. The only problem with these sections is that Konami really pushed the system to its limits, so it can sometimes slow things down a bit. Still, there are effective moments such as swinging on a hook with the whip while the room filled with spikes rotates around Simon.

The game may be easier from a control standpoint, but that doesn’t mean that the game is any less challenging as you progress through the levels. It just means that you won’t suffer from as many cheap deaths as you did in the past. No, there is still plenty of challenging areas that will test you, but you’ll never feel like it’s the game’s fault if you fail.

The challenge of the game and its improved visuals are absolutely gratifying even 28 years later. It is still one of the best (and for some, the best) Castlevania game ever released. Thankfully, after revisiting the title for this review, I can say that its status as a truly classic game is well deserved. If you only ever get a chance to play one Castlevania game, I would say make it this one.

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