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Video Game / Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

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Since Dracula was dead at the time, Count Strahd von Zarovich filled in for him for the box art.

"What a horrible night to have a curse."note 

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. As a result of this (particularly its ambition perhaps exceeding the capabilities of its target platform and alloted development cycle), it received a very mixed reception and its triumphs and failings remain topics of debate even today.

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.

Not to be confused with Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge.


  • All There in the Manual: A lot of the things the townspeople tell you that are chalked up to "Blind Idiot" Translation are actually just plain lies. The manual tells you that townsfolk, and even some of the books, lie. The Japanese version also had the dialogue boxes themselves hint you as to whether their content was true or false (anything presented as truth was true, anything presented as a rumor wasn't), but it got lost in translation.
  • 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 eight hits with the starting whip to kill ensure that the player knows they're 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 Japanese game was already full of vague or straight-up lying NPCs — the English translation added some more by accident. Thoroughly dissected here.
  • Blob Monster: This game's monster roster includes jumping slime blobs. They're short enough to avoid even a ducking whip attack, making them one of the harder enemies to defeat.
  • Bowdlerise: Surprisingly, averted in the English version, where the opening text crawl reads, "Step into the shadows of the hell house."
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The wounds from Simon's battle with Dracula in the previous game are the setup for this one.
  • Cap: You can only carry 256 hearts, and Simon's level caps at a mere 6.
  • Chain of Deals: Simon can buy a white crystal in the first town, and can exchange it for a blue crystal and then a red crystal by talking to knights in two other towns. Each successive crystal has stronger magic that can be used in certain parts of the world.
  • Collision Damage: The main way most enemies deal damage to Simon is by touching him.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying on your last life results in losing all your hearts, which can be painful if you were waiting for daytime for the stores to open. It also adds several hours to the in-game clock, making it that much harder to get one of the better endings.
  • Continuity Nod: Going back to Dracula's Castle for the final part of the game has you going through the ruins of Stage 1 from the previous game.
  • Cue the Sun: Whenever the game changes from night to day.
  • Cycle of Hurting: All of the enemies, bosses included, go into stun-lock when damaged, making them easy pickings, especially in comparison to other pre-Symphony of the Night games, where they are more strategically positioned, crafty, and/or more aggressive.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Losing all your lives will simply dump you back at 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).
  • Decapitation Presentation: An infamous Nintendo Power cover had a very 300 Spartan looking Simon Belmont holding the severed head of Dracula. It was certainly Bloodier and Gorier than the series and game were presented as and made tons of 13 year old boys want to buy the game. The heavy coverage of the game by Nintendo Power only added to the fond memories the game had from fans.
  • Determinator: Simon Belmont, who didn't just kick Dracula's ass with jack shit, but after being cursed by the vampire's dying breath, decided the best solution was to resurrect Dracula himself so he could kick his ass again!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The game itself was a sharp departure from the level-based platforming challenge of the previous game, with an expansive open world and items to collect and use. While the series would go back to the level-based style of the previous game for the next few titles, this game was the first tentative step into what would become known as the Metroidvania.
    • Carmilla is portrayed in this game as a weeping mask. Later games would portray her as a seductive vampire woman and/or a bleeding skull, with her weeping mask only being seen on occasion as background details. Her weeping mask form wouldn't be seen again until Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • 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 leave Dracula dead. In a bizarre twist, the ending you get for taking the longest time seems to be the most uplifting one.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the best ending, Simon is free from the curse and he can live the rest of his life until the next time Dracula rises. In the other endings, Simon either succumbs to his wounds and dies as well or his fate is left ambiguous.
  • Easter Egg: In the Disk System version, if the game is beat exactly on day 69, there is an extra line in the credits: "SEE YOU AGAIN." While this is technically still checked in the NES version, the text was shortened so it doesn't reach line number 80.
  • 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.
  • Fake Platform: The first mansion will make you paranoid about these, making you want to throw holy water every few steps in the other mansions to make sure.
  • Fan Remake:
    • 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 Simon's Redaction, as seen below.
  • 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 notable mods, despite changing very little, is Simon's Redaction, which replaces the cryptic dialogue with more helpful information, speeds up the day/night transition, and even changes Dracula's face to look more like Dracula as we know him. Another mod completely retranslates the game accurately while also adding in a map, seamless transitions between day and night and a battery backup save.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The gold knife is the most powerful ranged weapon, striking and then continuously damaging any enemy it hits.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Thanks to misleading dialogue, well-hidden clues, and some muddled translations, figuring out how to find the game's mansions after the first one is very difficult. The crowning example is accessing the section of the map where the final two mansions are, which requires you to equip the Red Crystal and kneel down in a dead end until a tornado arrives.
    • GameSpot's review makes sure to point out that internet guides make the game easier than in its release (but point out "you can try to work through the game the old-fashioned way by throwing holy water on every brick and kneeling down on every inch of ground.").
    • If you hadn't already found out through experimentation that Dracula's Nail lets you break down walls with your whip, odds are you learned about it just now by reading this. There sure isn't anything in the game that so much as hints at it.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The levels can be pretty hard at times, as the mansions are full of dead ends, pitfalls, secret passages through seemingly solid walls, and strategically placed enemies that can make things really challenging. It doesn't help that, even when you get the body part inside the mansion and defeat the boss (if there is one), you have to backtrack to the entrance. However, the few boss fights are pathetic. Death can literally be ignored by walking past him. The other bosses usually have one attack that's very easy to dodge, and they get stun-locked whenever hit.
  • The Hero Dies: Implied in the worst ending, since Simon is not standing by Dracula's grave, though the text is optimistic. 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. In one of the last towns, the locals are hostile and tell you to leave, and it also doesn't help that Simon intends to resurrect Dracula in order to kill him.
  • Infallible Babble: Averted. The townspeople will often offer clues that are misleading, confusing, or just plain false. This was deliberate from the get-go rather than a case of mistranslation, since the Japanese version also has plenty of bogus clues.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Flame Whip, the strongest whip that Simon can obtain. It can't be bought like the other whips, so Simon first has to buy the expensive Morning Star and then find a man who can enhance it for free in one of the game's last areas.
  • 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 pass in the game determines which ending you get.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Laurels, which make you invincible and can be stockpiled.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Sacred Flame produces a rapid-hitting pillar of fire, and the Flame Whip is Simon's strongest whip upgrade.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: In the abandoned town of Ghulash (Yomi), Simon meets an old woman who tells him: "Let's live here together". However, there is no option to actually do so.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Your only way of restoring life short of visiting a church. Or dying on purpose.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The Famicom Disk System version takes a while to load between each screen, particularly bad if an enemy causes you knockback that sends you back to the previous screen. Fixed in the international/cartridge version where the loading became instantaneous.
  • Metroidvania: The first-ever example of this in the Castlevania series. The world is open and filled with collectibles that open up new areas, Simon has a leveling system, and the main goal is to find and clear the five mansion dungeons so the final boss can be reached.
  • 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 middle 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 a good but unenthusiastic description, and shows Dracula's hand breaking through the soil. Some fans have mistaken this for a mix-up during localization, but it's actually accurate to the Japanese version, although the localization still added dissonance by claiming in the bad ending that Dracula's curse was gone forever, implying, unlike in the good ending, that Dracula would not come back.
  • Multiple Endings: Take too long to kill Dracula, and it's Downer Ending time for you! Of course, once you know where time runs and where it doesn't, as well as where to get the items and which ones aren't needed (don't bother with the Diamond), the bad ending is easily avoidable. 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.
  • Nerf: The once-almighty Holy Water can be bought in the first town, but it doesn't produce stunning flames and doesn't scale in damage with the whip, so it's mostly useless for combat after the first or second mansion. Since it costs no hearts to spam, its best use is for breaking blocks and finding fake floors.
  • New Game Plus: The Disk System version allows those who beat the game to restart from day zero with all items, including Dracula's parts, making it very easy to see the best ending.
  • 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.
    "After Castlevania, I warned you not to return."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In contrast to how the rest of Transylvania is infested with monsters, the ruins of Dracula's Castle are completely empty of any dangers, and a slow, unsettling tune plays as you make your way to the ritual chamber
  • Pinball Projectile: The Diamond (known in later games as the Rebound Stone or Ricochet Rock) is a new subweapon that throws out a gem that bounces across surfaces and through enemies.
  • Plot Coupon: This game introduced the concept of collecting body parts to reach the final Dracula fight, which was repeated in Symphony of the Night and Harmony of Dissonance.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: Four of the five Dracula parts give you secondary benefits if you equip them. Dracula's Rib gives you a shield that takes effect when standing or crouching, Dracula's Eye makes hidden clues visible, Dracula's Heart prompts the ferryman to take you to a different location, and Dracula's Nail lets you destroy walls with your whip. Meanwhile, you need to have both Dracula's Ring and the Magic Cross to access the bridge leading to Castlevania, but neither of them has any other beneficial effect.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Simon can travel around fighting monsters for days on end without sleep or fatigue.
  • Point of No Return: There's a long drop just before Dracula. Simon doesn't have the means to get out of this pit once he falls down.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest introduces a much larger world than the previous game, Castlevania. There are different paths, and different objectives, which contrasts with the previous game's "defeat a boss, then move on".
  • Raised Hand of Survival: If you beat the game quickly enough, the ending you receive will show what happens to Simon, then the screen goes dark except for Dracula's tombstone and a hand reaches through the ground.
  • Riddle for the Ages: So who was that mysterious woman mentioned in the backstory who told Simon about the curse and how to break it? Search us- we can make all the guesses we like, but she's never mentioned again.
  • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: After the first game, Dracula was defeated and his body was divided into five parts, which Simon Belmont must put together to break the curse, which leads to him resurrecting Dracula and killing him again.
  • 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.
  • Sequence Breaking: A minor case with the Oak Stakes. The game intends for you to buy a new one from a person hidden in each mansion and use it to break the orb containing one of Dracula's body parts, but in some cases a lot of time can be saved by buying a second Oak Stake from the same person before leaving, skipping having to find another one in the next mansion.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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." This one does feel a bit beyond "shout out" and it's a little incredible to some today that the otherwise litigation-happy TSR didn't take Konami to court over it.
    • The infamous line "DON'T LOOK INTO THE DEATH STAR" likely refers to Fist of the North Star, rather than the more infamous battle station. In the manga, whenever someone sees the Shichosei (the Ominous Star of Death), that man will die soon.
    • Several of the location names. For example, Brahm's Mansion and Bodley Mansion are references to Bram Stoker and Elizabeth Báthory, respectively, and Storigoi Graveyard is supposed to be Strigoi Graveyard.
    • The Black Dahlia Murder, a heavy metal band, named their first demo album after the quote at the top of the page.
  • Skippable Boss: Death, the boss of the third mansion and the first boss of the game overall, doesn't need to be fought because the item he drops, the Golden Knife, isn't necessary to complete the game (it's a useful weapon against Carmilla, who is required because she holds the Cross, but she can be beaten with just the whip). Simon can walk right past him, grab Dracula's Eye, and then walk by him again with little risk of getting hurt.
  • Super Drowning Skills: As has become common across the Castlevania series, Simon Belmont sinks like a rock. He 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.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Every nighttime cycle is preceded by this piece of narration:
  • Trailers: You can take your pick of the classic 80s commercial or the modern fan-made trailer here.
  • Überwald: Almost the entire game other than the mansions and the ruins of Dracula's Castle. It's one of the things that makes it stand out among other games where it's either all castle or a more balanced mix of outdoors and castle environments.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Diamond requires a lot of effort to get (going left from the third mansion past a difficult platforming section and some tough enemies, then backtracking through it all), but isn't too useful. Most of the game is in open space where its bouncing isn't as powerful, it doesn't scale with the whip's power, and it has no effect on bosses. Since you get the Golden Knife at the same time with much less effort, there isn't much motivation to grab the Diamond outside of completion.
  • 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.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: The premise for the whole game is that the wounds Simon suffered against Dracula in their first battle have not healed, and are slowly killing him.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Death is technically the hardest boss, but is also the easiest; a simple garlic dropped in his path will stunlock and render him completely unable to move or attack until he's defeated. How effortless is this strategy? The player can safely walk away from the game while they wait for Death to expire.