GameSpite Journal 10 | Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IV | Dev.: Konami | Pub: Konami| Genre: Platformer | Release: Dec. 1991

Nostalgia often colors our opinions on certain subjects, though it seems that video games are more susceptible to this with people who grew up playing them. Many of us owned an NES, Super NES, or Sega Genesis, so a lot of our formative experiences on these systems have become sacred cows to us. The trouble begins when we start analyzing these games based solely on their tangible merits, especially when it comes to games from the Super NES era. Even without rose-colored glasses, games like Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World?, and Super Metroid manage to stand as some of the greatest titles of all time. But it becomes difficult to actually separate our feelings from any analysis of these games given how integral to our childhood these games were. This is the dilemma I face as I write about how Super Castlevania IV is my favorite game in the series.

Super Castlevania IV isnít as simple to judge as import favorite Rondo of Blood. It was one of the first notable Super Nintendo games to come out, making liberal use of Mode 7 as part of the early rush to drive the technology into the ground. The fact that it was pretty much present from the beginning of the system guaranteed that I would be borrowing the game from friends off and on for years to come. It should come as no surprise that I have exceedingly fond memories of this game. My experience with the NES original only increased my interest and enjoyment.

But nostalgia is the one thing that formed the core of the Super Castlevania IV experience even when it was new. Though it sports the number IV in its title, the game was actually supposed to be a reimagining of the original Castlevania for the NES. But though none of the levels were even remotely the same, the game managed to pull off the same amazing feat as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: It somehow captured what we remembered of the original Castlevania but made it better. You had a similar horror atmosphere made even more immersive thanks to the improved graphical fidelity and sound design made possible by the SNES.

The reason the game endures, however, is simply because it is an amazing evolution of the linear action horror game. While the game resembled the NES Castlevanias, the difficulty was a lot more balanced. Many complain that the multi-directional whip makes the game too easy, but what matters is the fact that it makes the game more fun and versatile. The same can be said of the game itself, as though the incredible difficulty of the old games is nowhere to be found, what we found ourselves with was an incredibly fun, balanced game that was challenging yet not NES hard.

What it comes down to is a simple truth: I love Super Castlevania IV because it is Castlevania distilled to its ultimate form with the rough edges sanded down to near-perfection. Itís one of those cases where, instead of blinding someone from how good a game actually is, nostalgia can genuinely help you appreciate its design even more.

By Jeremy Signor? | Nov. 17, 2011 | Previous: ActRaiser | Next: Joe & Mac