Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (1987)

Castl2_Cover castlevania2

The worst of the NES Castlevanias. A conceptual precursor to the later metroidvania-styled games (it lacks progression by specific items gained after boss fights), it falls far short of its true potential. My first impression upon playing was quite positive: there’s the exploration aspect, there’s even a neat day-night cycle with monsters becoming more difficult at night and the game feels big compared to the first part. Sadly, awful level design, stupid puzzles, the lack of good boss fights soon wasted all my goodwill. Once I managed to finish it, I completely hated the goddamn thing.

It’s also plagued by the non-marked breakable wall approach, something that really annoys me in older games. There’s a difference in design philosophy between for example games for the NES and the SNES. Breakable walls or similar secrets are often visually marked in tiny but obvious ways if you look carefully in SNES games, but not in older games for the NES. Yes, it makes it easier to find them, but it also prevents players from repetitive behavior like trying to break every wall or ground in Castlevania 2 or for example trying to burn everything in the first Zelda to find secrets.

All that said, an update of the game with more modern gameplay sensibilities could make a great game out of this turd.