Castlevania: The Adventure | Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge
Hello everybody! It is time to end the trifecta of Game Boy Castlevanias with its final entry: Legends! But really, it should be just a single Legend, the legend of Sonia Belmont, first of the clan to hunt vampires.
Or rather, a single vampire. You know.
I'm starting with the story this time, because it is utterly tragic and honestly the most interesting thing about this game. This is entirely due to the strength of its protagonist, who outclasses Chillstopher in basically every way. Sonia Belmont was born with a special power around the time when Dracula first rose to power, her destiny being to eventually defeat him, probably. Honestly, the "special power" is vague as hell. The Castlevania Wiki says it's the ability to "sense spirits nobody else can see", which sounds honestly rather worthless. So I'll just believe Sonia is simply the only one to realize that shit is going down with that eponymous castle appearing in Transylvania und going to fix things by introducing ol' Drac to The Belmont Way. Oh, apparently Dracula also killed her grandfather whose last memento was a certain Whip so it's personal as well. Also also Sonia met a mysterious young man called Alucard who was looking for his father, possibly maybe in the direction of Castlevania. So she's got like three motivations to go in there and whip ass. All of this info is barely in the game and manual, I got it off the Wiki who presumable translated the Japanese player's guide.
Sonia is wonderfully mobile compared to Chillstopher (she can change directions mid-air!). She can make weapons out of defeated enemies' souls. She's so badass she can just decide to become invincible and plow through all enemies, damaging them on contact. When confronting Dracula, Sonia isn't content with whipping him into a pathetic pile of vampire meat, she's putting him down with a neverending series of sick burns as well. Of course, she does all of that while 17, and obviously she is the first and only other female Castlevania protagonist besides Shanoa in Order of Ecclesia.
Please ignore that godawful back-pose and check out how cool she is in the others.
So, Sonia's the best. There's only two problems, none of them her fault.
This game is not very good.
And Sonia doesn't exist. After a cancelled Dreamcast Castlevania (Resurrection) which was supposed to star her around 2000, nothing more happened with her, and she was unceremoniously declared non-canon five years later because...well, let's just the series' creator tell us the reason.
"Koji Igarashi didn't like the idea of having a female protagonist in the respective time period that Castlevania Legends takes place in, since it didn't quite fit with the motifs of a vampire story. He stated that: 'Legends remains something of an embarrassment for the series. If only that development team had the guidance of the original team of the series'"
Now mad respect to Koji for making the entire damn thing happen, but most of that is complete horseshit. First of all, really wanna know which "motifs" of a vampire story forbid women from taking part in the staking process itself. There's also some unsaid stuff about the game not fitting the "established timeline", but Adventure and Revenge didn't fit that either so they just said "whoops our bad" and retconned the years. Timelines are poison, anyway. Secondly, if the original team had made this game, it might have starred Chillstopher in a wheelchair moving at his slowest yet fighting yet more rolling eyeballs and I don't know if people would have been entirely ready for such a masterpiece. And this is why the story is utterly tragic.
IGA is bang-on with Legends being an embarrassment, however. Also, ouch.
Let's not beat around the bush, this is not what anyone expects from a Castlevania entry that was released in 1997. Yes, six fucking years after Chillstopher's Revengeance, and after Symphony of the Night. Legends has only five stages plus a secret one, is linear to a fault, has singularly unimpressive music, terrible bosses and even worse stage and enemy design hampered by an engine that needed at least three more passes to be as solid as the second Adventures', and I can't believe I'm saying that. The previous entry is way, way more polished than this. Legends is an uninteresting and unappealing mess and a terrible capstone for a series that could have been a really cool example of the leaps and bounds possible by learning from your initial mistakes and rigorously fixing them. Though I guess as confirmed before, this was an entirely different team working on the game. They had done one other game before - Goemon on the Game Boy - and went on to make Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on the N64. That was good, though, right? Maybe they needed the bigger platform?
Anyway, you could rightfully claim that Castlevania: Adventure was way more of a terrible mess than this, and you're absolutely right, and yet I wasn't nearly as down on the game as I'm on this one. Well, consider this: Adventure came out six months after the Game Boy's release and was a very...interesting exercise in cruelty sometimes. Legends competes with every other platformer that graced the Game Boy since then, but all that pales before its one critical fault: it's very, very boring.
I'm so sorry, Sonia.
Like before, I've played this blind. Unlike before, I'm also already done with playing it, so I can give you all those juicy details above. I'm also editing in important revelations into the videos themselves so you don't have to scream at past-me for not reading the OP. Initially I didn't even read the manual fully even though the game clearly expects you to, good call though because it spoils basically everything including all bosses. So click at your own discretion. For this thread though, please don't spoil without bars because the story at least has some reveals for us which I promise are juicy and ruin the game even further in my mind, poor Sonia.
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Now, this is all subjective of course. And this soundtrack isn't bad, don't get me wrong. But Adventure and Revenge has face-meltingly awesome soundtracks with some absolute masterpieces, while Legends has...this. Some interesting remixes. A good boss theme. And some tepid garbage. The absolute worst thing about this, however, is that the music isn't nearly good enough to support being stretched out over levels that can take up to 40 minutes (!) to complete on your first pass. Hell, even Revenge's music compositions would be hard-pressed in this situation. But here? I'm fucking sick of these tracks, I never want to hear them again. To spare you even more whining, I just...won't comment individually during the update posts.
Bloody Tears (Stage 1)
Inside the Castle (Stage 2)
The Clock Tower of Darkness (Stage 3)
Highest Castle Floor (Stage 4)
The Castle Lord's Room
Underground Watercourse (Stage 5)
Dungeon of Silence (Secret Stage)
Dracula Castle Cathedral
Count Dracula Battle
Vampire Killer (Final Battle)