Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

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JaySevenZero
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Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin) for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Quiet Paul »

For months now I’ve been jumping in and out of Simon’s Quest. I’ve honestly found it a massive drag to play. I’ve no idea what I’m doing unless I’m following a walkthrough and I feel like if I’m just following a walkthrough I might as well just watch someone else play it.

Ultimately it doesn’t lay a glove on the original. Sure, the gameplay is similar enough but it just feels less fun to mindlessly wade through random enemies, in a dull coloured world when I’m not even sure if where I’m going is the right way.

The RPG elements feel as if they’re just there to slow the game down further as you have to grind hearts from enemies to actually get a lot of stuff you need. Zelda II, which came out at the beginning of ‘87 actually did a decent job at a side-scrolling RPG and that’s a game I really like!

I went back into Simon’s Quest today (after a hiatus) and after wandering around for an hour trying to figure what the hell I’m supposed to do I eventually gave up and punched in the password that gets me every item (POPB PRBV U2DT RGQZ) and I just have to go fight Dracula. On my third attempt I beat him in about 15 seconds.

A boring game that is deliberately made longer through grinding, annoying platforming and convoluted hints from the townsfolk that don’t make a whole lot of sense.

I do like the music for the most part. I’ll give that a thumbs up! Also, I reckon back in its day the dreaded curse message would have players on edge hoping the world wouldn’t turn at some vital point in the game.

Arin Hanson’s Castlevania Sequelitis is a good watch regarding these games and would recommend that as it definitely describes some of my thoughts on this game and it’s predecessor.

3WR: Boring, frustrating. Shame.

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by stvnorman »

This was approximately my fifth Castlevania, and I liked and disliked it in equal measure. I did appreciate its ambition, and enjoyed the more traditional Castlevania bits, but having to look at walkthroughs to get to the next one wasn’t very welcome. But as I write this I am now wondering if I I’d get more out of a second play-through?

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Alex79 »

I nearly started this but skipped it and went to 3. Do you think it's worth going through with a guide?

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by stvnorman »

Alex79uk wrote: June 15th, 2021, 7:56 am I nearly started this but skipped it and went to 3. Do you think it's worth going through with a guide?
I’d play the others on there first then play it if you still want more. The bits that aren’t a cryptic nightmare are fun, but when you’re travelling between them I wouldn’t spend time being stuck. I know that sounds a bit cryptic too, but I don’t want to spoil anything, and it will be obvious when you get going.

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Alex79 »

Cool thanks I'll check it out then. And I can't play 3 before 2, I'm just not that kind of guy, haha. Honestly, it would niggle me so much. Ridiculous I know. The only game I've ever, ever (I'm sure, ever!) played a later entry first is Witcher 3, and that was only because I didn't have access to the first two. (Although will play the second game when I pick a Series X up later this year).

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Pconpi »

It is interesting how three of the NES’ seminal games (Mario, Zelda, and Castlevania) ended up with sequels that diverged from the originals in polarizing ways. This makes the games compelling to discuss as they switch up the gameplay or pursue lofty ideas but ultimately are less enjoyable for me to play through today. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest ambitiously tries to expand on its predecessor’s concise adventure with multiple towns to traverse, a day night cycle, permanent upgrades, and obtuse use of items to progress to different areas.

I think the story is a success as it follows on from your activities in the first Castlevania and ties into the gameplay nicely. You killed Dracula but are now cursed and need to find his body parts to resurrect him and destroy the curse. Each of the body parts has a game function and the ending you get changes depending on how many days it took to collect them. I thought those features were pretty cool for a game from 1987. However, I’m not sure why they opted to not include bosses to gain each of those body parts. I believe there are only two that are randomly placed in some of the mansions and one was just a big mask that wasn’t required (I looked this up and see that the mask is called Carmilla and reappears later in the series, so noted). Each of the bosses in the first game were such a highlight it is curious why that wasn’t carried on here.

I think the lack of compelling bosses and the vague help on progressing are the things that hold this title back. I’m still glad I played through it with an online guide to get the Castlevania history but having played 1 and 3 it was the weakest of my playthroughs. Even so, I liked the RPG elements and permanent upgrades, the music was great, and the action gameplay and sprite art are fun.

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by stvnorman »

Alex79uk wrote: June 16th, 2021, 2:25 pm Cool thanks I'll check it out then. And I can't play 3 before 2, I'm just not that kind of guy, haha. Honestly, it would niggle me so much. Ridiculous I know. The only game I've ever, ever (I'm sure, ever!) played a later entry first is Witcher 3, and that was only because I didn't have access to the first two. (Although will play the second game when I pick a Series X up later this year).
I should have thought of that when I said it because I’d be exactly the same! Same story with Witcher 3 as well!

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Pixel Hunted »

Simon's Quest felt like the actually quite refreshing NES-era trend to massively swerve away from the original when it came to sequels. The best example is Zelda II, but Konami trying to massively expand Castlevania into a cryptic open-world adventure with RPG elements and multiple endings shows a tonne of ambition. But having actually now played it through it's not a great game I and struggle to see how anyone could figure this out without a walkthrough.

If I was more cynical I'd think it was explicitly designed to get kids calling the Nintendo Power Line for tips.

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Kasuga-san »

Simon's Quest is a strange beast very much of its time. When I first played it as a kid, it felt like a revelation: the first game I played with night and day cycles, a free-roaming world, and puzzles that needed to be solved. Little did I know at that time that some of the more obtuse puzzles were due to poor translation and bugs. Still, it holds a special place for me (alongside the Worlds of Power book) and hints at what would come a decade later with Symphony of the Night. I'd only suggest extensive play for completionists, but that soundtrack is always the first one that comes to mind when I think of Castlevania. What a horrible night to have a curse...

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Re: 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by Mr Ixolite »

Being well aware of the reputation of this game, when I finally got around to trying it I wanted to give it the best conditions possible. I would play with a guide from the start to get me through the byzantine exploration and reach the dungeons, which I assumed would be more traditional “Castlevania platformer level” fare. Smooth out the nonsense and leave the basic platformer underneath. So I set out in the general direction the guide told me to, and promptly got lost. After following the guide to the letter I arrived at the first mansion, only to find yet more labyrinthine level design. There were dead ends. I had to find a hidden merchant and buy a stake before I could complete the dungeon. By the time the false platforms arrived I gave up, because I was inching close to using the guide for every action I took in the game. The nonsense was top to bottom.

Castlevania 2 had taken some of my favorite things from the original- the unique levels, the lean-ness, the sense of persistent progress- and replaced them with repetitive locales, grinding and confused meandering back and forth. It was all the weaknesses of the games’ more open ended descendants and none of the strengths, and I’m glad they pivoted back to more traditional design, at least for a while.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (21.11.21): 496 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin)

Post by psychohype »

As a diehard fan of the classic Castlevania games, I'll say this about Simon's Quest. It's not terrible. Even at its most tedious, there's a weird charm to everything that I can't help but admire. Simon's Quest is not a game I grew up with. I only first played it a few years ago when I got my hands on an NES classic mini console. And despite knowing enough of the game's reputation for being a cryptic and poorly translated labyrinth of a game, I nevertheless went in with the intention of relying on as little outide assistance as possible.

I can't really think of many games that deliberately lie to the player about where to go next, but this game does, in fact, have NPC townspeople who will straight up tell you hints that are deceitful or misleading. The manual for the game even warns you about this in advance! Personally, I actually find that aspect of the game kind of funny, and -- if I dare say -- bold. What's even funnier, however, is that the English translation is so bad, I'm pretty sure that some of the NPC dialogue that was *supposed* to be helpful was inadvertently botched so as to be effectively useless. So, yeah, you're gonna need a guide in at least a few crucial areas. But that still leaves a lot of the game world that can be navigated independently with a bit of patience, persistence, and experimentation.

When I talk about the game being tedious, I'm mostly referring to the mechanic where you essentially have to walk around dropping holy waters with each step as you explore the game's mansions, a.k.a. dungeon areas. By doing so, you'll be able to spot the false floors that litter the game's levels. Is this good game design? No, probably not. If Simon's Quest were a modern game, there probably would be no such thing as false floors. But if there *were* false floors, I'm sure the designers would at least do something like ... make it so that after you fall through once, the false floor tile actually disappears. That way, the player doesn't have to keep remembering where each hidden pitfall is located. Obviously, the makers of Simon's Quest weren't so kind or forward thinking.

Nevertheless, if you're going to give Simon's Quest a fair shake, you at least have to recognize the game for what it is -- a product of its time. Having played some other NES games from this era, I can tell you that I much prefer having to walk around throwing down holy waters in Simon's Quest than having to roll around in the original Metroid, laying down bomb after bomb to find the hidden areas in that game. And, let's be honest, Metroid is a game that still gets a lot of critical praise to this day.

Luckily, for all of us, Simon's Quest did not represent the future of Castlevania, at least not its immediate future. It was really more of an experimental aberation for the series that was immediately course corrected with the much more linear and straightforward Castlevania III. Knowing this in advance made it a little bit easier for me to put up with the game's weird mechanics. That said, I did play through the entire game again after purchasing the Castlevania Anniversary Collection. And I enjoyed it even more the second time around. The saving grace for this game is that, aside from the cryptic navigation and mechanics, this is a relatively easy game to beat. Even if you get a game over screen, you get to pick up right back in the same spot that you died.

To sum it all up, I can't really hate on Simon's Quest too much. As much as it earns the criticism that it commonly receives, it also deserves credit for being a game that tried new ideas and, in doing so, carved out a unique identity for itself. Not to mention it gave us Bloody Tears, arguably the most memorable tune in the entire Castlevania franchise. For that reason alone, I'm happy it exists.

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