Mini-Review: Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth
December 29, 2009
Konami's Castlevania franchise left its traditional 100% action roots behind over ten years ago, but the aging-yet-beloved format has made a return in Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth for Nintendo's WiiWare in which a creaky old 1989 Game Boy game is given a 1995ish coat of Super NES-inspired paint in this final project from series helmer Koji Igarashi before a different development team reboots the franchise next year with Lords of Shadow. When Dracula rises yet again, it's up the era's local vampire hunter, Christopher Belmont, to enter the haunted castle, clear its six 2D side-scrolling mostly linear stages of monsters, and slay Dracula once and for all (until he rises again next century).
Despite sharing a name with the original Game Boy game, much of this adventure consists of new material mixed with content from other Castlevania games. The giant rolling eyeballs are back and Christopher has his trusty fireball-spewing whip, but the stage designs are new and the soundtrack is lifted from Haunted Castle, Belmont's Revenge, and Dracula's Curse among other franchise entries. Interestingly enough, with the exception of series staple "Vampire Killer", the rest of the music is downright obscure and forgotten, so if you're not deeply familiar with the totality of the Castlevania musical library, then most of what the soundtrack has to offer will be new to you.
Not everything is full of nostalgic goodness. There are still plenty of pixel-perfect jumps that are difficult or frustrating to pull off, and while the original game did not include save abilities or a password system, the lack of either is sorely felt here. I like Stage 1, but I don't necessarily want to play it every time I want to play Stage 2. In the end, however, this is traditional old-style pre-Symphony of the Night gameplay, and while it's not the best that the series has to offer, it's certainly worth the time and ten dollar entry fee if you're a fan of the original action format in which the series began. Why tell you when I can show you though? Here's a trip through Stage 1 combined with a little extra commentary from me.