Super Castlevania IV (SNES) Review

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Every now and then, a game comes along that is a real life changer. For me, Super Castlevania IV is one of those titles. I recall seeing Super Castlevania 4 back in the 90s at a friends house for the very first time. I got lucky enough to trade it to him for a copy of a copy of cool world a little while later.

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Cool World SNES
Boy did I make out like a bandit on that deal!

Super Castlevania IV features protagonist Simon Belmont and his handy whip as he heads out to set Transylvania free of Dracula's stranglehold. It’s a platforming game where you have to execute some well timed jumps or avoid enemy attacks to progress throughout the stages of the game.

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Along your way, you’ll pick up various sub weapons such as a throwing axe, knife, holy water, or cross that can be used after you collect hearts throughout the stage.

My go to sub weapon in super Castlevania IV has to be the cross. It can hit multiple enemies in a row on the first pass, and a second hit on the way back. This can be extremely useful against bosses as well.

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You can also pickup morning stars that power up the length of your whip. The items featuring roman numeral symbols are powerups that allow you to have either a double or triple shot of your sub weapon.

The legendary wall meat is also available for grabs, in case you need a quick pick me up along the way. You can either get a small or large turkey leg to refill your heath.

Super Castlevania IV has multiple advantages over the NES counterparts in the controls department. Simon can now whip in 8 directions including diagonally. You can also hold down the Y button and wiggle the dpad to dangle the whip around in case enemies are near by. Simon can also modify his jump in mid air. This is very useful to not commit to a jump and fall or get knocked back and fall to your death. The ability to jump onto stairs and even do a moonwalk makes Simon feel less clunky compared to his NES counterparts.

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The game is split up into nine numbered stages along with two lettered ones, coming in for a total of eleven stages. The overview map as you progress, really makes it feel like you are progressing through the journey ahead.

I found that the later stages in the game are often the more tricky ones that feature Simon having to use his whip to platform his way across obstacles. You have unlimited continues and a password system that can be used if you want to pick up where you left off. If you do end up using a password to pick up where you left off, you’ll have to pick up any hearts or sub weapons throughout the stage.

Visually, Castlevania 4 is a step ahead of it’s predecessors. The character sprites are massive and backgrounds are sharp. The pixel art is nothing but magic. There are often things in the foreground and background that really add more depth to the level design.

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Konami made a great effort in showcasing the Mode 7 graphics with some of the enemies or screen transitions in the game. I really like you have to hang onto the hook with your whip as the stage rotates in stage 4-2. The swinging chandeliers in 6-1 add a real nice touch to the gameplay design. And in 4-3 where the entire world is spinning and you have to race to the end as the platforms behind you are falling.

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The enemies really give Castlevania IV the perfect theme. Slash your way at some skeletons, but watch out for the hands that grab onto you. I obviously still hate the medusa heads, however they don’t feel as cheap as in other Castlevania titles. Pro tip, grab onto a staircase to avoid any kickback from any of the enemies.

In addition to the regular enemies, Castlevania four has some iconic boss fights. From Frankenstein, the mummy, medusa, death, or count Dracula himself. Each stage ends off in a boss fight where some of your sub weapons have obvious advantages over the others, depending on the boss.

You can also figure out the pattern for each boss in case you only have your whip handy. The music is also another area where Super Castlevania 4 shines. I absolutely adore  the SNES sound chip and this game is a prime example of a soundtrack that fits the gameplay theme.

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Frank, is that you?

Beating Dracula unlocks a second quest that adds an extra challenge if you’ve gotten to the point where you can clear the game rather easily. This was definitely a nice touch by the game designers.

You can pick up a copy of Super Castlevania IV on various virtual consoles, the SNES Classic Edition and was also released on the Castlevania Anniversary Collection for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo switch, and PC.

Super Castlevania IV is a phenomenal title that belongs in every super Nintendo fan’s collection. A true masterpiece that should not go un played.

Putting together fantastic controls, excellent level design and an unbelievable soundtrack, This makes Super Castlevania IV a top tier title for the Super Nintendo.