How Metroidvania is it? Not a Metroidvania. It's a Classic-vania from before the Symphony of the Night team changed the direction of the series.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~3 hours
Review Info: This review is part of a broader review of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Steam. See the link at the beginning of the review for the main thread.
Buy Castlevania Bloodlines if you like…
- Alternative Classic-Vania
- Gothic Horror
- A Variety of Locations
- Fun Character Options
- Hard-but-Fair Platforming
▼ Review continues below ▼
Considering this hasn’t been released on anything but the original Sega Genesis, this is an absolute gem to be included in this collection, and it’s also far more than just a rare novelty. You spend the entire game chasing your vampire quarry through Castlevania’s interpretation of real world European locations, including Atlantis, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and even a German Munitions factory with helmet wearing skeletons. There’s so much visual variety with some destructible environments and unique platforming sections – it really pushes the limits of what the 16-bit hardware can add to the game.
This time around you have a choice between two characters, both descendants of Belmonts, but not pure blood. If you want an easier time pick Eric Lecarde. He lacks the same amount of startup lag to his attacks as the Vampire Killer has, he can stab in six directions Castlevania IV style, and he can do a high jump that lets him skip level geometry.
Johnathon Morris (Which is, in fact, the father of the Portrait of Ruin Protagonist) plays like your typical Belmont, except for some reason he feels a little weaker. I know his whip is shorter than in Castlevania IV because in that game your whip is as long as a school bus, but it somehow feels even shorter than in the NES Castlevania games. I haven’t actually measured it and it could be completely because Johnathon is built like an Ox making him seem like he has a bigger hurtbox, but after playing Eric, playing as Johnathon just feels limited. There’s also some disappointment that each character has basically the same subweapons – excluding a “Super” subweapon unique to their chosen main weapon. Some people might not like the more “beat-em-up” feel that Eric sort of brings to the table though, and prefer the more traditional Castlevania gameplay, so Jonathon is there to provide that.
One cool thing Johnathon can do that Eric can’t though is swing on ceilings. Since the two characters have slightly different movement options there are even a couple of points in the game where there are diverging paths. The number of these paths are pretty few though, so that’s a minor point outside of the value of just having a different character to play.
The levels leading up to the final one are all a joy to play, and for those that might be disgruntled about the difficulty of the other games in this collection they’re also all a little easier (at least playing as Eric.) After playing all six other games before this one though I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with Death and Dracula in this one. They both have some really weird quirks that I feel detracts from them living up to the climaxes of the other great games on this list.
A minor hiccup in the game’s ending doesn’t stop this from being an absolutely fantastic game though. Castlevania Bloodlines has been too long buried in the Konami vaults, and it’s about time that it graced modern platforms for more people to enjoy without having to resort to just taking it from somewhere else.
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