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Offline CVfan13

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Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« on: May 21, 2019, 05:25:46 PM »
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Hey everyone!! So I'd like to start off by saying it's been ages since I've posted here (10 years... and looking back at some of my old posts, all I can say is boy, was I an annoying 15 year old), but nostalgia brought on by the recently released "Castlevania Anniversary Collection" has got me feeling nostalgic about my old favorite video game series and wanting to talk to some other fans. So hello!

Anyway, I hope I'm posting this in the right place, but I finally decided to give Simon's Quest, what was once one of my least favorite Castlevania games, an honest chance and play through it start to finish. I was expecting to have to force myself through it, but what I found was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. It's weird and definitely out of place among the other Castlevania's, but I think it's quirky and charming it's own way. Despite being totally obscure and cryptic (who would've EVER thought to kneel by that cliff?), the puzzles and riddles are a fun and unusual challenge to solve. The dialogue is bizarre and hilarious (who could forget the infamous Graveyard Duck??), and I laughed out loud more than I would expect to playing an old NES game.

Although Simon's Quest often ends up on lists of worst Castlevania games, it might now be one of my favorites. Actually, the worst I can say about it is that it feels unfinished in a way that makes it challenging in areas inconsistent with other Castlevania games - weird clues to puzzles that don't always make sense, yet enemies and bosses that are arguably too easy.

So what are your feelings about Castelvania II: Simon's Quest? Embarrassing disaster or underrated masterpiece?
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Offline RichterB

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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 08:36:34 PM »
+1
For me, Simon's Quest is, and has always been, a top 5 Castlevania entry.

Simon's Quest has gotten an inflated bad reputation over the years that it doesn't remotely deserve. (The N64 entries are similarly and tragically misunderstood, and they have vestiges of this game in them.) Simon's Quest is right next to Dracula's Curse in terms of the entries that first got me interested in the franchise. It's an extremely atmospheric entry, in part because of its great use of music and color, with an ambitious and engrossing game structure that utilizes a night-and-day mechanic. While it can be unintentionally humorous at times, it much more so can be quite eerie and unsettling, and all the while, it also feels organic, with villagers not always telling you the truth or talking to you about everyday things. Now, for whatever reason, localization or otherwise, the game can be overly cryptic, and parts feel almost unfinished with the overall lack of boss battles and the lack of difficulty in those boss battles; also, grinding for hearts can be a pain, especially early on. But think about it: A non-linear Castlevania game with NPCs and character building, along with plenty of surprises and secrets, was well ahead of its time and, together with Vampire Killer on the MSX, you see an almost proto-Symphony of the Night. (IGA has even said recently that SotN was approved by Konami in part because of Simon's Quest's existence and precedent.) However, at the same time, unlike SotN, it creates an interconnected Transylvania bigger in scope than any game since and actually keeps the consequential action-platforming of the original. Much like the N64 games, it's a legit formula that should have been built upon and refined, perhaps.

I'm just discovering now, by myself, some sequence-breaking techniques that add new wrinkles to the game. For instance, you can get the Morning Star whip right at the start of the game if you practice your jumping and attacking skills (and timing) in the poison swamp. That said, newcomers should be encouraged to use a booklet/manual to tell them about the game's systems--what items do and about the game's hearts being currency, experience points, and powering sub-weapons. The game doesn't convey that stuff so great.

But running across the Sacred Flame or the sub-quest to get the Silver Knife are just some of the stuff that sticks with me always.

Bottom line, while I understand the infamy of this game online, and this no intended offense to anyone, I think this memorable game has gotten an unfair reputation to a large extent and it's created jaded or overly concerned attitudes across the internet toward it that sort of miss the point of the ambitious things the game is trying (and often succeeds) to do. It's definitely flawed, but not broken, I'd say. The "un-playability" of this game without a guide is super overstated. There are at most two moments where a guide will likely be required (I had these things spoiled to me as a kid, so I can't judge them). But it's worth noting, there are two clues to the tornado puzzle you were wondering about: "Hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole" (kneeling creates an animation where Simon's head looks like it is against the wall) and "Wait for a soul with a red crystal on Deborah Cliff." (Allegedly this latter clue should have been translated as "The wind waits if you carry a red crystal in front of Deborah Cliff.") One could possibly piece these together, difficult though it may be.

The game requires a lot of wandering...but so does Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 08:39:40 PM by RichterB »

Offline X

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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2019, 09:52:13 AM »
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Castlevania II was my first introduction/experience into the series. There are some things about it that have not aged well but overall it is far from unplayable. I finished the game long before the internet was even a thing in the minds of the common person. The only element that did give me a really hard time trying to figure out was where one of Dracula's body parts was hidden. It was only after looking up a Nintendo Game Atlas that I was able to move on from where I was stuck. I had pretty much figured out everything else by that point. Simon's Quest is a good game for all the flack it recieves and with the release of the legacy collection I'd encourage more new-comers to give it a shot.
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Offline CVfan13

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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2019, 02:25:43 PM »
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Excellent post, RichterB! I knew there had to be other's that appreciated those details in Simon's quest, haha. Great point about the use of color, especially how as you progress closer to Castlevania the colors begin to fade and grow grim, indicating the spread of Dracula's Curse from the castle ruins...

But it's worth noting, there are two clues to the tornado puzzle you were wondering about: "Hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole" (kneeling creates an animation where Simon's head looks like it is against the wall) and "Wait for a soul with a red crystal on Deborah Cliff." (Allegedly this latter clue should have been translated as "The wind waits if you carry a red crystal in front of Deborah Cliff.") One could possibly piece these together, difficult though it may be.

Ahhh, very good point! I thought this might be a clue, but then I was thinking it referred to the other cliff where a man gives you the Diamond (thinking maybe his appearance was triggered by possession of the red crystal). In the modern era I of course have the internet to help with the more cryptic puzzles, but I can only imagine the thrill of working through it as a kid when it was released. Crazy how gaming has changed over the years!!
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Offline Dracula9

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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2019, 07:22:35 PM »
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jesus man i thought you like died or something

welcome back


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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2019, 01:09:04 AM »
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My first Castlevania game and it is very special to me.

Also it introduced Bloody Tears, my favourite CV music track!
Check out my game Castletoria in our forum ->> http://castlevaniadungeon.net/forums/index.php?topic=5631.0

Offline KaZudra

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Re: Thoughts on Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2019, 03:01:11 PM »
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I think the concept is very nice and a a bit of it's execution being well done. unfortunately due to it being so rough any interest of a revisit makes the QoL improvement rom-hack essential... unless you just wanna keep a guide open near-by at all times.

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