TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Super Castlevania IV’ whipped the franchise into shape for 16-bit era
In the gaming industry, as in any other form of entertainment, there are no guarantees for success. This is especially true whenever an established franchise makes the leap from one console to the next. In the case of the Super Nintendo, adding the word “Super” to the title of a franchise that earned its cred on the original Nintendo Entertainment System could be equally disastrous.
Today on Turn to Channel 3, we continue our whip-cracking journey through the darkness of “Castlevania” with “Super Castlevania IV,” which can be played on the new SNES Classic Edition if you can find one of those!
“Super Castlevania IV” (SNES)
While you will hear revamped versions of some NES “Castlevania” classics, this is, up to this point, the most well-rounded soundtrack in the franchise’s history, with a solid mix of orchestral, piano, and just downright foreboding themes that help set the perfect mood for a “Castlevania” game. What has always made soundtracks for a “Castlevania” game so well received is the constant attention to detail. Whenever you listen to a “Castlevania” franchise tune, you will notice something different each time and, with more stages than any other “Castlevania” game to this point, there is something there for every fan of these games.
The sounds of your whip, enemies bursting into flames, bones scattering, and the anguished cries of defeated monsters are all there in crisp, clear audio.
Some might say that things like the layered medieval scenery and the bursts of flame from defeated enemies might take away from the dark, gothic atmosphere of the previous games, but I truly felt as if I was playing a game set during the time of the original titles, but from a better, more detailed perspective.
With waterfalls, submerged cities and, of course, graveyards and dungeons, it’s hard not to fall in love with these dazzling visuals. Old adversaries get new looks, and new enemies like golems, flying horse heads, and insect men join the fray.
Let’s get this out of the way right now – “Super Castlevania IV” continues the established frustration in difficulty that its predecessors began. A new feature in this game, traveling by whip and swinging from area to area, is a bit trickier than I imagined, and the less said about instant death spikes the better.
That being said, the complete control you have over your whip, to aim it in all directions, cannot be understated. This is a crucial improvement that we all wish we had in previous “Castlevania” titles. I also found navigating staircases and making those all-too-important jumps over gaps to be far less risky than they were in the NES “Castlevania” titles. Keeping passwords of symbols can be a real pain but, overall, the gameplay was a lot smoother in many regards than any prior “Castlevania” game.
With a soundtrack that’s great to listen to as you Belmont-style whip enemies to flames, some amazing visuals (the chandelier level sticks out the most to me), and gameplay that, while continuing the established “tough as nails” approach, Super Castlevania IV” gives you so much more in control and levels that it is a must have for any diehard SNES collector, especially if they also happen to be a fan of the franchise. At $40-$45, this may hurt your wallet a bit, but it will hurt the vampires you vanquish that much more.
Until then, be safe – you never know when a Belmont whip and some holy water will come in handy! Game on!