As I may have mentioned before and will probably continue to do so ad nauseam, I grew up with Sega. Fast forward to now, and I’ve recently been able to enjoy a ton of NES and SNES darlings for the very first time. That also extends to the original Game Boy and all its iterations that would come after. As such I’m always looking for a new addition to my small collection of GB games. Castlevania Adventure caught my eye simply due to the general pedigree of the franchise and well, I needed some decent Game Boy games.
This game captures the classic Castlevania feel on an early portable scale. There never seems to be many enemies on the screen and the backgrounds and items are pretty simplistic. Most or all of this can be forgiven in the portable format however. Fitting a reasonable facsimile of the experience many were already used to on the NES onto a tiny cartridge for a system that only allowed shades of pea green for the graphics is still a notable achievement.
Even justifying its scant presentation though, Castlevania Adventure is still lacking. Whether it be due to hardware limitations or development decisions, Christopher Belmont moves far too slowly to accommodate certain parts of the action. The game is often a plodding but deliberate affair however when projectiles are introduced in tight quarters or when jumping acumen becomes momentarily crucial, the controls fail grievously. The early entries in the series will generally never be known for their responsiveness or agile protagonists, but CA will be a bridge too far even for everyone but the most die-hard of fans.
Unfortunately these problems begin to rear their Medusa-like head (reference!) as soon as the second level. You’re required to navigate past enemies that can throw projectiles high or low in cramped tunnels, and then you’re faced with a precipitous jump that wouldn’t be described as such in any other platformer. You’ll be hard-pressed to clear it in this game though. Christopher walks and jumps with the spryness of a man wearing literal concrete shoes. Even if you’re enjoying yourself you soon realize just how long it takes to trudge from one end of a level to another, and I’d guess that your jumps are probably 40% shorter and lower than what you’d normally expect.
It probably goes without saying that these problems really hinder what’s an otherwise acceptable early Game Boy game. Super Mario Land probably didn’t boast as much graphical details as this game, but it also ran waaaaay smoother. Was this a typical trade-off when developing for Nintendo’s first portable so early on, or was late-’80s Konami surprisingly incapable of getting the most out of the platform? Who can say, but I would argue that these technical flaws keep Castlevania Adventure from any mention on a list of the best games this franchise has produced. Oh well. At least the music still rocks.
***Castlevania Adventure will run you somewhere around $10-12 currently. Not recommended unless you must have all things Castlevania or love a ball buster of a game***