Game Review: Super Castlevania IV (1991)

Since E3 is over and everyone is left with mixed feelings, I’ve decided to go back to a simpler time. A time when a man with a whip and a Super Nintendo was a killer combination (you might want to look away, Vampire Step-Dad…your family has not fared well in this series of games!). Not only is Super Castlevania IV one of my favorites in the series, it was also special for me since it was the first one released for the SNES, a system I loved dearly.

I got Super Castlevania IV for Christmas in 1991. I was a big fan of all three NES Castlevanias, with part 2, Simon’s Quest, being my favorite of the original trilogy. I loved its music, the RPG elements, and the night/day elements. Super Castlevania IV was being billed as a follow up to Castlevania II and a continuation of Simon’s hunt for Dracula. Unfortunately this was not the case. It was merely Konami USA marketing that way in an attempt to sell more games. It’s actually considered a remake of the original Castlevania and is reflected as much in the official timeline of the series now.

Despite my initial sadness that it wasn’t a sequel to part 2, Super Castlevania IV was amazingly good. The updated graphics set this game apart from its predecessors immediately. The levels were multi-layered, allowing the players to movie behind fences and obstacles. Items moved in the background, storms were active in the skies, and SNES Mode 7 graphics were used to add 3D elements to levels. Super Castlevania IV also featured more usage of the whip than had previously been available (including the ability to swing the whip around in 360 degree circles and also swing across pits). The music was baroque in style and was some of the most sophisticated on the system at the time of release. The series is well known for its soundtrack, and IV did not disappoint.

Super Castlevania IV, in my humble opinion, is one of the must play titles of the SNES era, and a top shelf side-scroller. The series would move forward from this classic style in the future, adding Metroid style exploration, leveling up, inventory management, and so much more. There’s something a bit refreshing in revisiting Castlevania in its simpler, 16 bit vampire killing action. This one is a no-brainer….play it!

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