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Retro Game Club - December 19’ : Super Castlevania IV

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Retro Game Club December is here and so is the winning pick of the month. After last month Resident Evil Zero tied with Castlevania, this month saw Super Castlevania IV return to the poll for another round and took the winning spot. I personally went for this in the end as I had wanted to play it anyway but last month RE 0 was one of my previous nominations so I also wanted to play that too and the first time I'd had one of mine appear. Ninja Warriors was close behind and again I predicted that would be another popular vote. Shame Loom didn't get any attention, although it was on my cards as an option as it looks intriguing. Voting was a bit better this time with 19 people voting (or staying neutral). 

 

 

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This SNES exclusive Super Castlevania IV is an absolute classic in the series and for me personally, it's also where I started with it back in the mid 90's. I'd gotten hold of the Japenese version and loved it from start to finish remembering some really interesting use of graphics and mode effect etc in the later stages. I also remember how difficult some of the last few bosses were and it took me ages to do. I never went back through it since and now owning a SNES Mini, I've been waiting for that opportunity to jump on and return again. From memory this was definitely my favourite game in the series next to the obvious SotN, but where as the latter focuses on evolved mechanics and RPG elements, this one is more arcadey and is much shorter. The Japanese version was different from the PAL and NTSC America versions on the title screen (which I later saw on a friend's copy) as the Japenese version has blood dripping during the intro screen from the title.

 

Time to flail those whips...

Dec Poll.png

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Time to set up the SNES Mini again I guess!

 

There's a built-in password system in this game isn't there? I'm kind of tempted to play this "legit" as much as possible - not saving states every five seconds... Although I think there's also a built-in continue option after a game over, so I may just save on those screens and pretend it's the equivalent of "leaving the SNES on overnight". :P 

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Had a quick go on this earlier and got to around 3-2 or 3-3. Annoyingly, until 3-2 I hadn't really suffered any deaths... but one thing I got a harsh reminder of was the fact that the floor no longer exists when it scrolls out of view, so even though there might have been a safe platform down there before, it's now the void of death. :P After that I just got bodied by fish-men and then knocked off platforms by skeletons falling from above.

 

It is still a lot of fun though - the hits feel good, the backgrounds look nice, the music is fun and stages are about the right length. I think last time I tried to play this without save states I got to about 3-x as well, but I was too lazy to bother writing down passwords. So, my current progress is below!

 

Spoiler

QAZI'S CURRENT PROGRESS - PASSWORD

BLANK BLANK BLANK HOLY WATER
HOLY WATER HOLY WATER BLANK BLANK
BLANK HOLY WATER BLANK AXE
BLANK BLANK BLANK BLANK

 

There! I'm sure that won't be annoyingly confusing when I come back to this next time...

 

EDIT: oh wait, I just did 3-3! More notes on that:

 

Spoiler

The fish that spat water kept killing me by pushing me off platforms... but if you move fast and don't stop, it's not too bad. For the world 3 boss I just threw my axe a bunch from a distance hoping it would hit! I'll update my current progress spoiler (above) in a sec.

 

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As soon as the winner of the poll was announced, I had the soundtrack of the game stuck in my head. Super Castlevania IV is a bit of a divisive game among Castlevania fans, but everyone agrees that the soundtrack is amazing. I like it even better than the one in SOTN, although maybe that might be because the baroque stylings appeal to me more. It's amazing to think of how many amazing soundtracks Konami was making for 16-bit systems back in the day; I really took it for granted.

 

Jeremy Parish's YouTube video analysis is worth watching, and then there's an article about the development of the game which might be a little cloying, but it has interesting information about the game. It was a bit of a surprise to find out that the game was developed as the same time as Castlevania III.

 

Anyway, I just bought it on the e-shop, and I'm really looking forward to playing it.

 

3 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

Only ever played the Japanese version (got it Xmas 91) – other than bloody intro and crosses are there any other differences? Going to play on the Switch collection.

 

The chain whip sound is a little different, and there are other differences as well. I personally feel that the title logo and the font choice is better in the non-Japanese versions. However, the blood in 8-1 certainly gives the level a different feel.

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Confession time - other than CotM on the GBA, which I rinsed, I’ve never really put time into a Castlevania, so this might be a nice nudge. Always meant to get some kind of hi-def NES going and play the original 8-bit games first, but life is perhaps too short.

 

I’d put money on there being an uncensor patch for the US ROM, based on the discussion above. 

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3 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Confession time - other than CotM on the GBA, which I rinsed, I’ve never really put time into a Castlevania, so this might be a nice nudge. Always meant to get some kind of hi-def NES going and play the original 8-bit games first, but life is perhaps too short.

 

I’d put money on there being an uncensor patch for the US ROM, based on the discussion above. 


If the censorship bothers you you may as well just play the Japanese original.

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World 4 down. Talk about nerve-wracking. It's a whole stage of having to die in order to figure out how the thing works - jump as soon as you land on the green spinning platforms in 4-1, go ham on the big skull and hope you win the DPS race... then there's the medusas in the rotating room in 4-2 (I opted to move back and forth on the platform, jumping over them when they go low, but you have to know their paths first... which usually means dying whilst trying to figure them out...) Oh, then I died trying to learn the rising platform room in 4-4... The boss was almost a relief in comparison. :P 

 

I left the game paused after posting this and then took a look at world 5, and it turns out that world 5 is pretty easy and super-short (there aren't even bosses) so anyone who has wrapped up the fourth one can probably spare a bit of time to get to world 6...

 

EDIT: World 6 isn't that bad either - it's short and there's a 1up in one of the walls that always comes back after you die and restart - so you can retry a section again and again - but the boss is another race to see who can drain the lifebar the fastest!

 

Spoiler

QAZI'S CURRENT PROGRESS - PASSWORD

BLANK BLANK BLANK HOLY WATER
HOLY WATER HEART BLANK BLANK
BLANK HEART BLANK HOLY WATER 
BLANK AXE BLANK BLANK

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20 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

Thanks. Will stick with the Japanese one for the nostalgia.

 

You’ve made me want to do the same now. I’m still playing through RE Zero though yet. I might investigate into that Hackchi thing once and for all to get the jap version on my SNES Mini

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This game has eluded me, even though I’ve gone through others like csotn, really looking forward to playing it!

 

it’s probably the “best” snes game I’ve never played 

 

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I revise my opinion.

 

First impression, the opening levels are quite slow. The jumping mechanic is quite stiff too, I was expecting something that controlled perfectly.

 

All was going will until I reached a pixel perfect platforming stage with green goo and instant deaths!

 

After an hours thought I’d get my password and end, but I didn’t realise the pattern of items WAS the password and moved on!

 

damn it!

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World 7 complete! Another short one, but the long stairs in 7-1 were the worst. Effectively, there's a long descent down stairs that's several screens long and there are enemies flying across the screen that are like medusa heads but much bigger vertically, making it really hard to get past them. Again, there's some wall chicken around if you whip everywhere, and the boss is a straight race to drain the lifebar before they drain yours (as long as you go in with full health), but the start of the area was by far the trickiest bit and the part where I lost the most health...

 

Spoiler

QAZI'S CURRENT PROGRESS - PASSWORD

BLANK BLANK BLANK BLANK
HOLY WATER HOLY WATER BLANK BLANK
BLANK HOLY WATER BLANK HOLY WATER
HOLY WATER HOLY WATER BLANK BLANK

 

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9 hours ago, Ninja Doctor said:

Hmm. SNES mini or switch online? SNES mini I could put the Japanese version on. Switch I’m stuck with western version. Oh decisions. 


it’s not on the Switch online SNES service.

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11 hours ago, ulala said:

I revise my opinion. First impression, the opening levels are quite slow. The jumping mechanic is quite stiff too


To be fair this was a criticism of the game at launch and the jumping was pretty much a Castlevania trademark at the time.

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I remember the first time I played this. It was back when it was first released in the UK and I had swapped Super Ghouls n Ghosts for a "shottie" of Castlevania with my school pal. When I put it on I hated it. The jumping and movement was stiff and it felt like a relic compared to Super Ghouls n Ghosts. 

 

At some point in the next week I tried it again and played a little further, and something clicked. I got used to the movement, the music was fantastic and later levels revealed some snazzy uses of mode 7 and some memorable battles. 

 

Nowadays it's up there with my favorite titles for the system and I still think it captures the atmosphere of a journey into the unknown better than 99 percent of games nowadays, starting with the sedate section outside the castle and then getting more intense the further you travel across the wee map. An all time classic and for me the high point of the entire Castlevania series. 

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56 minutes ago, Skull Commander said:

I remember the first time I played this. It was back when it was first released in the UK and I had swapped Super Ghouls n Ghosts for a "shottie" of Castlevania with my school pal. When I put it on I hated it. The jumping and movement was stiff and it felt like a relic compared to Super Ghouls n Ghosts. 

 

At some point in the next week I tried it again and played a little further, and something clicked. I got used to the movement, the music was fantastic and later levels revealed some snazzy uses of mode 7 and some memorable battles. 

 

Nowadays it's up there with my favorite titles for the system and I still think it captures the atmosphere of a journey into the unknown better than 99 percent of games nowadays, starting with the sedate section outside the castle and then getting more intense the further you travel across the wee map. An all time classic and for me the high point of the entire Castlevania series. 

 

I'm feeling this exact thing, 30 years later!

 

I've just jumped across from Super Ghouls N Ghosts, and that game feels and plays like butter compared to Castlevania IV

 

I will have to repeat the first 3 levels this evening, as i didnt know the password was the password! Im not lookingh forward to it, it will feel like a chore. The jumping section seemed like GNG to me, a puzzle platformer. I didnt/ do not like the instand drop to your death, even though its a vertical level and there ARE platforms underneath you.

 

I'm also having to get used to the colour palette, lots of the enemies are camoflaged against their backgrounds.

 

As for items, im only finding the knife useful at the moment. Do they have different effects on different bosses?

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1 hour ago, ulala said:

As for items, im only finding the knife useful at the moment. Do they have different effects on different bosses?

 

The stopwatch is pretty good as it freezes enemies and lets you get hits in with your whip. However, I don't know if certain enemies are immune to it (I know in one or two of the NES games there were enemies that simply ignored its effects...)

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Were those of you who were playing the game circa 1992 playing on PAL consoles? Because Super Castlevania IV is horribly sluggish on PAL consoles, and doesn't show the game as it's meant to be. The game clicked for me once I first played the game on a Super Famicom, at the speed and pace the designers originally intended, and I've held it in high regard ever since.

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Every time I've played this over the years I've breezed up to the stage with all the Mode 7 then been put off by the trial-and-error. Might fire it back up and abuse some save states to get that stage down.

 

On 02/12/2019 at 13:29, Alexlotl said:

Confession time - other than CotM on the GBA, which I rinsed, I’ve never really put time into a Castlevania, so this might be a nice nudge. Always meant to get some kind of hi-def NES going and play the original 8-bit games first, but life is perhaps too short.

 

I’d put money on there being an uncensor patch for the US ROM, based on the discussion above. 

 

If you'd like a NES-style Castlevania but nicely balanced and without the overt bullshit, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is well worth your time.

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48 minutes ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Were those of you who were playing the game circa 1992 playing on PAL consoles? Because Super Castlevania IV is horribly sluggish on PAL consoles, and doesn't show the game as it's meant to be. The game clicked for me once I first played the game on a Super Famicom, at the speed and pace the designers originally intended, and I've held it in high regard ever since.

 

ahh, is it an unoptimised pal release?

 

im playing the japanese version on s-famicom, thank goodness

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Gave it a spin for half an hour or so just now, got to 3-2 before I had to stop. No save game option, so I had to repeatedly hurl myself down a hole.

 

It’s okay so far, doesn’t feel like anything particularly special. Didn’t like the L1 music, and was just asking why it has such a reputation when the L2 music kicked in - much better!

 

Playing the US version on the Super NT. quite a bit of slowdown at times, e.g. the dividing mud-men on Stage 3.

 

The shuriken is clearly the best item. Get the range right and it does huge damage. The game hides it like it’s something special too, at least on Level 2. 
 

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10 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Playing the US version on the Super NT. quite a bit of slowdown at times, e.g. the dividing mud-men on Stage 3.


From memory that really is the worst instance of slowdown in the game.

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As an aside, did anyone make better third party games in the early days of the Super Famicom/SNES than Konami?

 

As well as the outstanding Super Castlevania IV there was Axelay, Contra, Parodius,  Turtles in Time, Cybernator, Contra Spirits, Goemon…

 

I'm going to ignore Gradius 3.

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1 hour ago, Rex Grossman said:

As an aside, did anyone make better third party games in the early days of the Super Famicom/SNES than Konami?

 

As well as the outstanding Super Castlevania IV there was Axelay, Contra, Parodius,  Turtles in Time, Cybernator, Contra Spirits, Goemon…

 

I'm going to ignore Gradius 3.

 

Capcom?

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16 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Playing the US version on the Super NT. quite a bit of slowdown at times, e.g. the dividing mud-men on Stage 3.

 

 

That part is also slow in super famicom version, always loses me a bit of energy.

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Did some more of L3 yesterday evening, but got frustrated by the erratic control on the stairs. Maybe this kind of thing isn’t an issue for Castlevania veterans, but I had all kinds of problems where two sets of stairs cross, and your pressing of up is suddenly interpreted as wanting to go up the other flight of stairs rather than the one you’re on. That, combined with the rather silly rule where the bottom of the screen becomes instadeath seconds after scrolling away, cost me a heap of lives and put me off quite a bit.

 

Climbed some stairs, turned around at the top and try to walk across what looked like a platform across the top of the stairs, only to fall down the stairwell and die even though there was a platform about 5 pixels off screen. <_< Turned it off at that point and played some Chrono Trigger.

 

I will probably return, but that stuff felt more shoddy than legitimately hard. 

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