Video Game: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest aka: Castlevania II
"What a horrible night to have a curse."
The second entry in the Castlevania series, set seven years after the original. Simon Belmont was victorious over Dracula, yet it feels like someone's driven a stake through his heart: He's been struck with Dracula's curse (not to be confused with the game called Dracula's Curse), preserving the injuries he sustained in that battle.With not long to live, Simon is met by a Waif Prophet in a dream who reveals how to shatter the curse: Simon must collect the five body parts of Dracula from five well guarded mansions and deliver them to the ruins of Castlevania. There, Simon can resurrect Dracula in order to face him again in a final battle to decide the fate of both himself and Transylvania.A very ambitious title for its day, Simon's Quest took the basic gameplay of its predecessor and mixed in RPG Elements such as experience levels, shops, a day/night cycle, and a freely-explorable world. It is the first Castlevania game in the Metroidvania genre.The next game in the series would abandon most of the innovations in Simon's Quest to focus on improving the original Platform Game model. However, Konami would revisit the Castlevania II mold with Symphony of the Night ten years later, and this style would end up defining the subsequent decade of the franchise.
WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF TROPES:
Anti-Grinding: Collecting hearts also gives you experience points, but once you reach a given threshold of experience in any given area, this stops. It's roughly analogous to one level per mansion visited.
Beef Gate: Left from the starting town, the fireball spitting fast-moving monsters that take 8 hits with the starting whip to kill ensure that the player knows he's supposed to start out by going to the right. Their first hit generally knocks you back into town, but if you get past them, there's also a poisonous marsh with additional monsters in said marsh that inflict heavy damage.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The game was already full of vague or straight-up lying NPCs — the English translation added some more by accident. Thoroughly dissected here.
The worst ending has the most upbeat description, the middle ending has the worst description, and the best ending has a good but unenthusiastic description, suggesting that somebody mixed up what ending text goes with which ending image.
Continuing Is Painful: Dying on your last life results in the reduction of your heart count to zero. Since hearts are used as currency and ammunition and every item has an expensive price tag, this always equates to a severe loss of time invested in collecting them.
Oh look! I finally got enough hearts to go and buy a plant that I need to cross the swamp. Now let me get to the store. Oh shit! It's fucking night time!! Now the stores are all closed and I have to wait for it to turn day again! Oh well, I might as well kill some zombies in the meantime and stock up on some more hearts. *Dies on his last life* Oh shit!! Now I have to start all over again!
— The Angry Video Game Nerd
Continuity Nod: The final part of the game has you revisiting the ruins of Dracula's Castle from the previous game.
kneel at the end of the wastes with the red crystal
Cue the Sun: Whenever the game changes from night to day.
THE MORNING SUN HAS VANQUISHED THE HORRIBLE NIGHT.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Losing all your lives will simply dump you back the start of the screen you were currently on. Sure, it'll strip away your hearts, but it doesn't take long to mine those (especially at night).
Does This Remind You of Anything?: This game has a few parallels with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, in both games the main villains are dead and their minions are causing havoc across the countryside, and the entire format changes from their respective originals, which many people complained about thus making both games the "Blacksheeps" of their respective series.
Earn Your Bad Ending: The ending you get depends on how quickly you beat the game. Beating it within 8 days grants you the only ending where Dracula comes back to life. The other endings have Dracula permanently dead.
Eternal Equinox: Day always starts when the timer hits 06:00, night always starts when the timer hits 18:00. The timer resets at 24:00, making day and night equal length.
There's been numerous attempts at 'fixing' the game, especially after The Angry Video Game Nerd made his first video. But the most complete one is called Castlevania II: Dracula's Shadow. Adding new characters, item crashes, alchemy, new areas, bosses, and a host of other improvements while making the game a whole lot clearer. You can check out this review for more details.
Related to this, but more of a Game Mod, is Castlevania 2: Simon's Redaction, as seen below.
Follow the Leader: After The Angry Video Game Nerd ripped this game a new one purely as a comedy bit he didn't really mean as James Rolfe, real angry video game nerds everywhere started bashing it furiously in droves for real.
Game Mod: Like a lot of classic NES games, multiple hacks exist, such as one that replaces the townsfolk and enemies with characters from other games. One of the more noteable mods, despite changing very little, is Castlevania 2: Simon's Redaction, which replaces the cryptic dialog with more well-written and accurate dialog, speeds up the day/night transition, and even changes Dracula's face to look more like Dracula as we know him.
Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The levels can be pretty hard at times, but the boss fights are pathetic. You can literally walk past and ignore them. And even if you do fight them, they usually have one attack that's very easy to dodge.
The Hero Dies: Implied in the worst ending, since Simon is not standing by Dracula's grave, though the text is cheerful. Outright stated in the moderate ending, though he is standing in front of the grave.
Hero with Bad Publicity: The reason the townspeople often lie to you is because they blame Simon for Dracula's curse that has befallen the land.
Infallible Babble: Averted. The townspeople will often offer clues that are misleading, confusing, or just plain false.
In-Universe Game Clock: There is a day/night cycle. Enemies take twice as many hits to kill at night, but give greater amounts of currency for doing so. Towns are also closed at night. Time moves at 240x real time - that is, 6 minutes of real life equals 1 day in the game. Time is frozen when indoors. Finally, the number of days that passes in the game determines which ending you get.
Loads and Loads of Loading: The Famicon Disk System version takes a while to load between each screens, particularly bad if an enemy causes you knock back that sends you back to the previous screen. Fixed in the international/cartridge version where the loading became instantaneous.
Low Level Run: It's possible to beat the game at level 0. The trick is to immediately go LEFT from the first town and get to the Morning Star with your original 50 hearts plus every small heart you can get. Your defense will suffer, but your attack won't. Dracula can kill you in one hit.
Made of Iron: Simon was relatively fragile in the first game, but by the time you reach the maximum level, he can take 96 hits without dying from all but the strongest enemies. But he still sinks in water like...well...iron.
Mood Dissonance: Related to the Multiple Endings, the "Worst" Ending (the one you get if you take too long) is in black and white and Simon is not standing at Dracula's Grave, implying that he died, but the text is the most uplifting of the three endings and there is no mention of Simon dying. The "second worst" ending is in color on a bright sunny day, and Simon is at Dracula's grave, but the text is the most bleak and depressing of the three, explicitly stating that Simon dies. And finally, the "Best" ending has Dracula's hand breaking through the soil.
Some guide at GameFAQs or somewhere once made an elaborate explanation of the three endings pointing out how there is an extremely complex system that calculates several other things in addition to time, but almost no one can understand it and somehow time always seems to be the main deciding factor.
The Best Ending requires you to beat the game in less than 8 day-night cycles, the bad ending in 8 to 15 cycles, and the worst ending in +15 cycles.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The second to last town thinks you're the direct cause of all the havoc that's being wreaked throughout Transylvania. Dracula's minions are still out for blood, after all. (To be fair, they have a point: Simon is trying to resurrect Dracula purely for his own sake, now.) The last town is deserted.
Simon getting a ridiculous amount of health thanks to the game's leveling system, as well as respawning in the same location after dying and continuing.
The overpowered sacred flame and golden dagger.
Sequel Hook: The "best" ending shows Dracula's hand rising out of the dirt in front of his grave.
This example is notable because the next game ended up being a prequel. The story timeline wouldn't be advanced until a half decade later.
Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Averted. The dagger has a short range, no cost to use, and can be spammed. The silver knife and golden knife can only be thrown one at a time, and they cover the whole screen.
The artwork of Dracula on the front cover of the game resembles the Clyde Caldwell cover of the original Ravenloft module from AD&D. "Resembles" here means "identical except that Dracula/Strahd is looking at the viewer instead of directly forward, and Simon Belmont is superimposed on the foreground."
The Black Dahlia Murder, the heavy metal band, named their first demo album after the quote at the top of the page.
Skippable Boss: Most avoidable reaper ever. Even if you do fight him, he's pathetically easy, which is funny, considering he's usually the hardest boss of most of the Castlevania games he's in.
This guy can go all over fighting hordes of evil monsters... but he can't even fucking swim!?
— The Angry Video Game Nerd
Simon is wearing metal armor (as depicted on the cover art), which would make anyone sink like a rock.
Take Your Time: The in-game clock is paused whenever indoors, which means you can spend as much time inside the mansions as you want without it affecting the time of day or the game's overall runtime. Abusing this is essential to getting the best ending; you can level up and grind for hearts all you want inside mansions while the time is frozen.
Weaksauce Weakness: Compared to other incarnations, this version of Dracula is perhaps the easiest to dispatch, with a couple of glaring, "he can't hurt you if you use this" methods of taking him out. There's the obvious method of spamming laurels, which should last you more than long enough to win, or spamming the Golden Dagger or Sacred Flame at Drac, which freezes him in place and prevents him from attacking.