Castlevania II Simons Quest
was very original and experimental for its time. After the simple action-platformer Castlevania
came out, Konami took the sequel in a totally different direction, creating an early example of an open-world 2D platformer.
The game's 2D nature does result in some odd ways to try to reconcile the lack of other directions to walk in with the game's exploratory nature. Sometimes staircases would lead underground, which in turn would lead to new outdoors areas. Signposts would sometimes mention "west" and "east", which obviously correspond to left and right, but, humorously, north and south are never given as directions. My 7 year old brain took that at face value, but looking back, it's pretty silly if you think about it.
I loved the game's backgrounds. Mountains and trees looked beautiful, as beautiful as they could in 8-bit 16-color sprites, which says a lot about Konami's art direction. Having been spoiled by the amazing In Universe Game Clock
in Agent USA
which featured 12 distinct times of day, Castlevania II
's simple day/night system didn't impress me as much, but it did serve more of a gameplay purpose, creating situations where you might reach a town while low on health, but then have to ride it out until daybreak to find the safety of a church - the only way to restore health - since, like all buildings, it only opens during the day.
Today, the game shows its age. Townspeople have nonsensical dialog, there's a lot of Guide Dang It
moments, and the combat is rather simple. Enemies don't have much variety in attacks or movement patterns - even the first game had more depth in that department. The leveling up of abilities is very simple - every weapon upgrade is 2x the previous. Enemies in new areas often take double the hits of enemies in previous areas, and give out double damage. To compensate you can level up on a per area basis, gaining double defense. You get the idea. Houses in the towns are repetitive and share largely identical layouts indoors.
While the "Metroidvania
" style of gameplay has caught on and more such games have been made since, I would like to see a new game more like this one. The use of separate towns to visit, a day/night cycle, and the great scenery are things I'd like to see again.