2. Super Castlevania IV (1991)
The greatest horror-themed game series, ever.
The greatest 16-bit soundtrack, ever.
The best Castlevania game, ever.
Yeah, I said it. I know I’ve just scorned all the Symphony of the Night fans out there, and that’s OK, I love it too. But Super Castlevania IV is really where it’s at, and here is why.
Konami had longed established Castlevania as one of gaming’s most treasured and genre-pushing game series. From its roots on the NES and MSX home computer, its venture onto the Gameboy, it was only right that the Super Nintendo would receive a Castlevania that was worthy of its new powerhouse console, and my word did Konami deliver!
Super Castlevania IV is actually a remake of the original NES Castlevania, brought up to standard for the 16-bit generation, with a wild stroke of paint and a triumphant gothic soundtrack that has never been bettered, it provided some of the finest steps into 16-bit gaming, with the system’s first few steps.
Level design remains faithful to the classic games, and you’ll still be whipping candles for hearts to power your special weapons, and smashing walls in hope of finding hidden turkey for your health points (yeah, very healthy!), so whilst being familiar it is oh so fresh. But boss battles on are a grander scale, with a cacophony of atmospheric ambience and hard-hitting soundtrack that is one of the most unique in all of gaming.
It has some very new features that are unique to Super Castlevania IV, including the ability for our hero, Simon, to whip in any direction and he can even ‘loose whip‘ in a spinning effect. It might not sound like much, but the ability to whip multi-directionally, rather than just forward, makes this game much more beginner friendly than a traditional Castlevania game, and might just be the difference in you getting so many levels in before calling it a day, or staying the course and finishing the fight with the dreaded Dracula himself.
For me, Super Castlevania IV is the first game that I will play through in full when my Super Nintendo Mini arrives and I will be sure to complete it. It is a perfect example of how to take a classic premise and update it for a modern setting. The mode 7 touches, such as the spinning room stage, just make the game feel so much more advanced as it taps into all the tricks available to the new technology in the SNES. It is a perfect showcase for the console and the absolute best of the linear style of Castlevania games.
The fanboys were still call Symphony of the Night the best of the lot, and that’s fine, but SNES owners will be right at home in the remake of the game that started it all.