Castlevania IV

Castlevania has gone Super.

Review Date: May 17, 2021

Release Date: December 4, 1991

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: Super Castlevania IV is one of those games that is clearly in my memories, especially the rising blocks of block 4-4. I was a freshman in high school at the time. Otherwise, my memories are just kind of faded and I’m not really sure of anything else related to the game. It is worth noting that as a teenager, I never saw anything past block 6. That block kicked me around and 6-2 was where a lot of runs ended. We also didn’t have the resources we do now, so finding passwords to skip to the later blocks wasn’t an option.

Description: Simon takes on Dracula for the third game, going by release order, but both have developed some new tricks. Can Simon find his way through 11 blocks of platforming fun?


-Added on for this game, and only this game, is the ability for Simon to aim the whip in eight directions. This is especially useful for whacking enemies that are on platforms above Simon. This allows Simon to combat annoying moves and enemies not in the horizontal line. Holding the whip button down (I set it to A, if anyone cares) also gets Simon to hold the whip out and it hangs downward. This can be used on enemies below, as most enemies will just walk into the whip and take damage, eventually leading to defeat.

-Konami also reduced the number of shots stronger enemies need to take before dropping. With the best whip, things like Axe Armors, Bone Dragons, and Pillars of Bones are less time consuming to kill.

One final positive: This game looks really good. The graphics are outstanding in this game.


-Climbing the waterfalls in 3-2, I noticed that Castlevania IV, a 16 bit game, STILL employs ratchet scrolling in vertical areas. Unbelievable. That means this is an intentional design choice and Konami should be ashamed of themselves for it. There were better ways to do this. They could have just allowed the fall and let the time wasted by the penalty for falling. If they didn’t want long falls to be allowed, then limit the distance Simon falls before he dies. Using ratchet scrolling in climbing sections is just plain cheap, especially combined with the next issue.

-It seems there are a lot of enemies that are only there to knock Simon off a platform and into oblivion. Even skeletons with long swords are put in for this purpose. 90% of my deaths in this game were due to faulty jumping, spike traps, or getting knocked off ledges by bats, Medusa heads, or skeletons, all of which were conveniently placed in spots where Simon tries to jump.

-While it’s nice to be able to jump on and off of stairways, and it’s nice to have no knockback while on them, I couldn’t get the whip to go in any direction but left or right while on the stairs. Downward attacks aren’t possible while standing, either. The stairway issue limits the utility of the whip quite a bit, as there are about a billion stairs in the game. Using a subweapon may help, but only the axe and holy water can go any distance at all vertically. The subweapons are generally terrible in this game; I hardly used them at all.


Simon can go through that gate to the “back layer,” but the layering effects completely disappear after block 1.
Konami is excellent at building atmosphere. What a good looking game!
Get used to seeing skeletons all over the game. This one is a boss riding a dinosaur skeleton.
Simon better be ready for the weather to get really bad.
Here’s the traditional Medusa battle. The game tries to trick players by making this a mid-block boss fight.
Ah, mitosis mooks. We’ve evolved.
This bonehead is laughably easy. Hit the skull, then aim the whip upward. Rinse and repeat.
In this game, lots of things exist for the sake of existing, such as a rotating chamber that’s really nothing more than showing off the technology.
Speaking of things that exist just because they can, here’s a level with a rotating background.
Deck the halls with tons of zombies, la la la la la….
The flying dancers are Paula Abghoul (left and right) and Fred Askare (not pictured). It’s as if my brother wrote those awful puns.
Can I borrow those weapons?
OK, this stage is great. Ghosts fly up purely for atmosphere, treasure chests are platforms, and the skeletons are gold.
Simon has an annoying block puzzle to get by, but what is going on in the background?
Ah, there’s the traditional mitosis boss! Regardless of splitting, it was an easy battle.
Simon is gearing up for some trouble ahead.
Simon came across a collapsing bridge. Does he dare stop for a second to whip a candle?

Final Opinion: Konami’s refusal to give up ratchet scrolling and their insistence on putting enemies in sadistic places for no other purpose than to knock Simon off prevent this from being an A.

Grade: B

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