There are a fair few series' of games that I've hardly ever touched over the years, and the Castlevania series is one of them. If I have played one, it would have been an early and/or portable one, but I just can't remember.
I know I'm in for a platformer where my main weapon is a whip, where I'll be whipping monsters from classic horror films, as well as some bloke called Dracula, but apart from all that I'll have to consider Super Castlevania IV an unknown game to me.
Let's hope it whips up a storm in my favour, rather than make me whip the controller across the room.
Super Castlevania IV wastes no time in showing off. The title screen an intro cinematic (of sorts) are awesome, as Simon Belmont reaches the out walls of Dracula's castle on a foggy and foreboding night.
Obviously, these graphics aren't going to carry through to the game itself, but they're nothing to poke fun at either as you work your way through the outer grounds and into the meat of your task - to reach and defeat Dracula himself.
Along the way, you'll face off against skeletons and bats and all kinds of deadly drops and spiky threats - it's perhaps 'same old, same old' when it comes to describing these kinds of platformers, but get far enough through the game and you're in for visual treats from the SNES, including a stage with a cylindrical rotating background kinda thing going on.
Until that stage, however, are a whole bunch of platforming sections that will require you to get past a variety of monstrous threats, both big and small, flying and grounded, mini-bosses and generic enemies. You'll be able to whip them from one of 8 different directions and will have the option of a secondary weapon to fling their way too, including axes and boomerang-like crosses of some description.
There are no screenshots of all this because it's too hands on to faff about with that, and frankly too fun and engaging to play.
Movement is a little slow but satisfying enough to keep going. Your attacks are responsive, your jumping doesn't require absolute precision (though it does help to at least aim for absolute precision) and stages are varied enough in their look and feel for you to forget that you're basically doing the same thing over and over again, albeit in new places each stage.
Not that I got through too many of the stages. Death in Super Castlevania IV is a setback, as it should be, but it sometimes felt like too much of a setback. Falling at the first boss put you a couple of screens back into the level, and those screens involved a swinging section, where - if you hadn't got used to the controls - failing meant falling to your death.
If it's not frustrating enough to fail at the boss, it can be mighty irksome to then mistime a swing and fall to your doom, costing you another of your precious lives before even reaching the boss.
I've heard it being said that failure in Super Castlevania IV is rarely the fault of the game screwing you over, and more a result of your mistakes or lack of experience. I can see why that's said and would probably agree with it too.
I didn't feel hard-done by the game, but that alone wasn't enough for me to push myself through the tough times and try and get a whole lot further - and there is a whole lot of game here to get through, with stages getting better and better as the game goes on, both in looks and challenge.
It sounds great, it plays pretty good, it is a sight to see and it's a game you must play. There are another three Castlevania titles on the list, so I hope we're in for a good time.
Konami didn't allow developers to use their own names in the credits of games during this period in their history, so good luck if you wish to look any of them up once you're finished.
Super Castlevania IV, developed by Konami, first released in 1991.
Version played: SNES, 1991, via emulation.
Version watched: SNES, 1991 (DerSchmu, Cinemassacre)