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Video Game / Castlevania: Bloodlines

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The 11th game in the long-running Castlevania series, Castlevania: Bloodlines (Vampire Killer in Japan and Castlevania: The New Generation in Europe) was released for the Sega Genesis in 1994. This game is notable for the fact that it ties the Castlevania story with that of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

It's the early 20th century, and World War I has begun. The conflict has been orchestrated by the vampire Elizabeth Bartley so she can use the countless souls of the fallen to raise Dracula from the dead. With no Belmonts in sight, the duty falls on John Morris — son of Quincy Morris — and Eric Lecarde — inheritor of the Alucard Spear — to stop Elizabeth from resurrecting Dracula once again. Their journey takes the duo all across Europe and not just Transylvania, leading to the game having some unique level locations for a Castlevania title.

Bloodlines plays like any other classic Castlevania: you proceed through a linear gauntlet of enemies and platforms to reach the end of each stage and fight the boss. While John and Eric visit the same levels, John's whip swing and Eric's vaulting high jump grant them access to different paths, increasing the replay value.

The storyline of Bloodlines continues in 2006's Castlevania: Portrait Of Ruin.

Strangely, compared to contemporary console Castlevania games, Bloodlines suffered from a dearth of ports/rereleases until 2019, when SEGA announced the SEGA Genesis Mini, with Bloodlines being one of the first titles to be revealed, and when Konami announced Bloodlines as part of Castlevania Anniversary Collection. This game is also one of the included games in Nintendo Switch Online's library of Sega Genesis games.

Bloodlines provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The plot is explained in greater detail in the game's manual.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: In the Japanese version, Eric has a Bishōnen look, while in the American and European versions (except on the boxart), Eric's face was changed to look more barbarian-like. Also, instead of Boomerang Crosses, it's a Bladed Boomerang, and there's no hearts, just crystals.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A decidedly minor, but very helpful one is how you can avoid accidentally replacing any favored power-ups by looking at the wall sconces; the classic twin candles signify crystals and miscellaneous bonus items, while a single, fat candle always indicates a sub-weapon.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Stage 2 and Stage 3 feature these.
  • Been There, Shaped History: In the game's backstory, the Big Bad of the game, Elizabeth Bartley was the mastermind behind the Archduke of Austria's assassination, which started World War I.
  • Belly Mouth: Dracula's final form is a winged demon with wings, fangs, horns, and a second mouth, not in his belly, but his crotch.
  • Bishōnen: Eric Lecarde, especially in the Japanese version.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Castle Proserpine, in which one room has mirrors all across it that distort the location of the platforms, so that you have to alternate between moving the actual John/Eric on platforms and his reflection onto reflected platforms. This is all while avoiding Medusa Heads. Then in the next room, the castle is upside-down, but not like in SotN, so your controls are backwards...
  • Black Blood: The censored versions of the game replaced all of the blood with light blue water and recolored the reddish zombies to be bright green.
  • Black Knight: Armor Battler plays with this trope. It has the appearance down, and the American manual calling it "Drolta's mecha-knight" implies that it act as something of her bodyguard, but is subverted in that it really isn't that powerful, nor does it have any big reveal behind it, but In-Universe it was considered strong/important enough to guard the ruins of Dracula's castle and the final hallway before the Boss Rush on the last level. On a humorous note, during the first boss fight, its continuous attempts to try and find ways to kill the player after more and more of its limbs keep getting knocked off heavily invokes a certain famous Black Knight.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: When Eric dies, his spear impales him on landing.
  • Blade on a Stick: Appropriately vague, since Lecarde's weapon could become a spear, an axe-head spear, or a trident.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: For once, both sides of the Pacific got this.
    • Eric's spear is supposed to be the Alucard Spear, but the game instead calls it the Alcarde Spear (or "Witches Spear" in the European manual). Subsequent games corrected it.
    • Additionally, Eric's last name is spelled in English as "Lecarde", but is spelled in Japanese as リカード (pronounced as "Rikaado"). This implies that his name is supposed to be "Ricardo," but that name is normally spelled in kana as リカルド ("Rikarudo"), as the "R" in Spanish (as Eric is a Spaniard) is more pronounced than in English.
    • Then the female villains also got their names garbled in the English translation despite that the Japanese spelling of their names indicate they're supposed to be Historical Domain Characters, thus making them seem like Expies of those figures instead. "Bathory" in particular becomes the completely different real name "Bartley".
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Bloodlines has the most instances of blood of the early Castlevania games due to Sega being much more lax than Nintendo when it came to gore. Though the game still got an "All Ages" rating.
  • Boss Rush: Stage 6. Interestingly, it's presented as a boss rush within a boss fight. You encounter Death and think you have to fight him, but he's invulnerable. Instead of attacking, he summons a circle of tarot cards that cause different effects when you hit them with your weapon. Three of them take you to easier versions of the Stage 2, 3, and 4 bosses; two cause Death to launch a pillar of flame at you; and one gives you healing items. After you've hit them all, you fight Death himself on the same life bar.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • In the European version, all the blood was removed. Even the title was changed to The New Generation, removing even a reference to blood.
    • Eric's death animation was also altered so that his spear didn't impale him.
  • Building Swing: John can swing off ceilings with his whip.
  • Clockwork Creature: A few of the enemies and bosses might be this, like the beetle enemy in the munitions factory level, and the Armor Battler. Gear Steamer could count as a very literal example of this trope.
  • Crusading Widow: Eric Lecarde was driven to vengeance following his fiancee Lucy Seward'snote  vampirization by Elizabeth Bartley.
  • Death Dealer: A more literal example than most, in that Death uses tarot cards during his first phase.
  • Degraded Boss: Some of Stage 6's monsters were bosses in the earlier levels.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted when playing as Eric, who can twirl his spear in all eight directions. Somewhat averted when playing as John, who can attack upper left, upper right, and downwards while jumping.
  • Difficulty by Region: Both the Japanese version's Normal and Easy mode are easier than in the western version. In Normal, your characters are stronger and there are less enemies, while in Easy, Easy-Mode Mockery is downplayed by allowing you to see the full ending no matter what, and allowing you to fight the mid-bosses as well.
  • Difficulty Levels: Easy and Normal. Expert can be unlocked by either completing the game on Normal or inputting the Konami Code on the title screen.
  • The Dragon: Drolta Tzuentes, who is actually the second-to-last boss after John/Eric defeated Dracula's first form.
  • Dub Name Change: John Morris is referred to as Johnny Morris in the Japanese version, though it's not too different compared to other examples.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: You'd be missing some stuff if you only play on the easiest difficulty.
  • Eldritch Location: Castle Proserpine seems to be this, since its level design is absolutely surreal. You thought Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was the first game to flip the castle upside-down? Nope!
  • Eternal Engine: Stage 4, the German Munitions Factory (the staple Castlevania Clock Tower in all but name).
  • Everything Is Badass In Texas: John Morris (AKA the guy with the whip) is from Texas, just like his father.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the fifth stage, Versailles Palace has these in one section, though amusingly they instantly kill any Axe Knights that happen to get caught under it.
  • Goroawase Number: The number 573 (ko-na-mi) is used to activate an Easter Egg via the option menu. Setting the BGM to 05 and SE to 073 before exiting activates remixed music from the NES ''Castlevania'' trilogy after collecting enough power-ups.
  • Happy Dance: If you die during the Gear Steamer (the Stage 4 boss) battle, it will celebrate by spinning around and raising its hands in joy.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Expert mode is a little tougher compared to Normal and Easy, but it's also longer and more satisfying, with several new areas to explore and even new bosses to fight.
  • Heroic Lineage: Bloodlines is the first Castlevania game where protagonists don't bear the Belmont surname, though the Morrises are still somehow related to the Belmonts. Much later, Judgement also said Eric Lecarde is also somehow related to the Belmonts. In his own right, John is also the son of Quincy Morris, one of the heroes of Bram Stoker's Dracula (though his name is spelled Quincey in the novel, and he isn't said to have a son) and in turn John had a son named Jonathan who appears in Portrait of Ruin.
  • Hijacked By Dracula: Dracula turns out to be behind this plot, and he is the game's final boss
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Like good old Vlad Tepes, Elizabeth Báthory was upgraded to vampire status as "Elizabeth Bartley".
    • Also, Drolta Tzuentes was based on Bathory's real-life servant, Dorottya Szentes.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Upgrade your weapons enough times and they're on fire for maximum damage. Shame you lose it on getting hit once.
  • Inept Mage: The American manual states that Drolta Tzuentes is an "amateur witch" whose spell "inadvertantly" brought Elizabeth Bartley back to life, though this isn't mentioned in the European or Japanese manuals.
  • Interface Screw: The control-reversing pollen from the giant roses in Stage 5-1, as well as Stages 6-2 (where the screen splits into 3) and 6-3 (the inverted stage, and the vertical controls are reversed).
  • Internal Homage:
    • Stage 1-3 matches stage 02 from Castlevania, but includes slight changes.
    • Bloodlines also includes remixed music from the three NES Castlevania games.
  • Konami Code: Inputting it on the title screen unlocks Expert difficulty without having to complete the game on Normal first.
  • Limit Break: A lesser version of the Item Crash (from Rondo of Blood) appears in this game.
  • Lightning Lash: The whip can be upgraded into one of these.
  • Losing Your Head: It's hard to pull off, but the Harpy enemies in stage 3 can be decapitated without immediately killing them. Following the ensuing bloody mess, they'll keep right on attacking.
  • Magic Skirt: Eric's tunic, which stays in place even while completely upside-down and shooting upward.
  • Named Weapons: Eric wields the Alcarde Alucard Spear. And of course, John has the Vampire Killer.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's bad enough that the game's difficulty gives Rondo of Blood a run for its money, but the limited continues are what really seal the deal. The Easy-Mode Mockery doesn't help either.
  • Nostalgia Level: Up to the mid-boss, the first stage is a close recreation of the first stage of Castlevania. The last part of the stage even uses a remix of the tune originally used for the first phase of Dracula.
  • Off with His Head!: You can actually decapitate Harpies in the Italy level with Eric, although, it's pretty hard to do.
  • 1-Up: These are often hidden in some rather hard-to-reach places.
  • Password Save: At the end of each stage, you get a password with number of lives and continues remaining.
  • Revenge: the main motive for Eric Lecarde to hunt down Elizabeth Bartley.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Stage 2-2 has water steadily climbing. As an Auto-Scrolling Level, you're free to climb up beyond the camera. In the next stage, you find the enemy that causes the water to rise, and need to kill it before you drown.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Old Sinking Sanctuary, much like the Library from Super Castlevania IV, is much different and more upbeat compared to the other songs in this game, mood-wise. It's not like there's a bad thing about this.
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • Although the reference is pretty obvious, the Big Bad is called Elizabeth Bartley, not Elizabeth Báthory... in the English versions. In the original Japanese, her surname is clearly an attempt at a phonetic rendering of "Bathory", バートリー or "Baatorii".
    • Drolta Tzuentes is called Drotia Tzuentes in the European manual, which is closer to Dorottya Szentes, a servant of Bathory, and the Japanese spelling of her first name ドロテア is indeed prononced "Dorotea", making the intent clear.
    • The European manual also gives the name "Kincy Morris" to Quincy Morris and "Belmond Family" to the House of Belmont, likely due to it being written/pronounced as "Berumondo" in Japanese.
  • Super Drowning Skills: A little relaxed by this series' standards; falling into water doesn't kill you unless you fall off the screen; it simply causes you to take heavy damage. If you have low enough health however or if it's a bottomless pit variety, it will kill you.
  • The Theme Park Version: Strolling through World War I Europe, John and Eric visit Romania, an Atlantean shrine in Greece, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Katz Castle in Rhineland-Palatinate Germany, the Versailles Palace and Latona Fountain in France, and end up in Whitby, England.
  • Timed Mission: Stage 2's Water Mage mid-boss, who floods the screen with water until he's dead. Take too long and you get to see Eric and John's Super Drowning Skills on display in the heat of battle.
  • Weird Moon: During the final segment of the final stage. The moon, in all its largeness, is prominent in the background as you climb the first of three boss-room towers, and is turned blood red by the powers of Death as he manifests to attack you. The subsequent towers are presided over by the still-red moon.
  • Whip It Good: Morris steps in to keep this a Castlevania game.
  • World Tour: Unique among the series for its usage of this trope. Granted, you only journey across Europe, but it's still fitting.