- Sep 4, 2018
I'm playing Simon's Quest in 2020, and it's wonderful. It is Halloween: The Video Game. Fuck the haters, that AVGN video has spread so much misinformation about this game, it is simply fucking rad.
first off, how unique is it? By combining both the open world RPG style exploration and purchasable upgrades of the SOTN-era games with the old school level design and gameplay, it is both a Metroidvania and a Classicvania at once.
i find myself going into cities, talking to unhelpful NPCs (Souls, anyone?), killing enemies for currency that i can spend on new weapons, leveling up as i fight monsters around the dark fantasy 8-bit European medieval countryside. exploring swamps, caves, towns, mansions, etc. in a fully interconnected open world (again, Souls anyone?).
then there is the day/night system, a realtime clock that is ALWAYS COUNTING DOWN. at night, the world changes, shops close, people leave the streets, monsters take over. the night is more dangerous, but more rewarding, so it provides a quick cue to farm for souls, er, money.
the realtime clock combines with the open world to almost simulate the kind of open world experiences we have now. these things weren't really used often in action games back in the day. the was super ahead of it's time.
you don't heal from wall chicken, you heal from visiting a church. the power of God is used to fight Dracula, and the notoriously religion-averse Nintendo for once allows for the Christian symbolism to aide in your holy crusade. towns and NPCs may look similar due to the early tech, but they all have a unique flavor to them, culimnating in a final town full of people who see you as an outright villain. you can buy permanent whip upgrades from various towns rather than collecting them at random in candles that you whip. in fact YOU DONT WHIP CANDLES IN THIS CASTLEVANIA AT ALL.
it's a strong, subversive follow up to the first NES game. i really leans on the RPG and storytelling elements and i love that so much. it's a totally different experience than going through the standard linear levels of the first game.
one time i died while exploring a mansion. i respawned in the exact same place! games back in the day usually dump you at the start, so this was another much appreciated forward-thinking bit of game design they implemented. they were really firing on all cylinders for this one. SO IMMERSIVE.
then when you do what you came to do, and you win the mansion, the game is like, "lol you get to fight your way back outside now!" again, a very Souls-like, immersive touch. i like it.
then there is the soundtrack. the GOD TIER soundtrack. listen to these classic horror rock tracks.
Dwellings of Doom
Message of Darkness
The Silence of Daylight
and the mondaytofriday GOAT of Castlevania songs Bloody Tears
i'm not saying it's the best ever and i don't want this to turn into a fight over that. i just want to recognize how cool this game is, how stylish, how fun to play, how far ahead of it's time.