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Video Game / Super Castlevania IV

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Super Castlevania IV is the first Super Nintendo Entertainment System entry in the Castlevania series, released in late 1991. As an early SNES title, it was an exceptional display of the console's layering and Mode 7 graphical capabilities.

While the English manual implies that the game is a follow-up to Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, and the "IV" in title further reinforces the sequel aspect, this was an invention of the localization. The game is actually a retelling of Simon Belmont's first go at Dracula's castle. (In Japan, the game has the Recycled Title of Akumajo Dracula, the same title the original NES game had.)

Super Castlevania IV improves the gameplay tenfold by greatly increasing the player's control. Simon can whip in any direction he wants as well as move during jumps in midair. He also has a number of new maneuvers, such as a whip wave to block projectiles while standing still and the ability to swing across gaps.

Notably, several of the designers behind this game (such as Mitsuru Yaida, the programmer for Simon's moveset) would leave Konami to form Treasure a year after the game's release.

Super Castlevania IV provides examples of:

  • Ante Piece: In Stage 1-1 when the player is first introduced to the rings that Simon can swing on using his whip, he's covered by platforms on all sides. It's literally impossible to die in this section. The next platform over has a Bottomless Pit.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In Stage 6, in the screen right before the ghostly dancers boss, you can whip the wall at the very end to get a 1-up that respawns after death, giving you unlimited attempts at the boss (granted you don't die from the restart point before you reach it).
    • The last stage makes you fight four bosses in a row, but there are checkpoints and meat between each one. Even if you get a game over on one of them, including Dracula, you still start at their room, as opposed to the beginning of the stage. In Dracula's case, there's that secret invisible alcove beneath the stairs leading to his room, which gives you the Cross, 99 hearts, two whip upgrades and the Triple Shot, making him a lot more manageable if you figure it out by accident. If you managed to defeat Death beforehand, it gives you hearts and food if you barely just defeated him. And just in case you might accidentally plummet to your death, there's actually invisible stairs that leads to the platform.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Mud Men split into smaller copies as they get broken apart, and the Zapf Bat separates into three smaller gold bats at half health.
  • Blackground:
    • One stage employs the trope when the player must jump across a series of colossal chandeliers, despite the fact that it is logically located directly above a well lit hallway with pillars and tapestries in the background. Additionally, for some reason, the background occasionally flashes red.
    • Koranot also has this for its boss fight, which is easily noticeable since the stage's background fades out before the fight begins. This one can be likely be explained from a technical standpoint, seeing as Koranot's gimmick of shrinking over the course of the battle likely takes priority over the background.
  • Boss Arena Recovery: In a rare mercy for the series, Dracula can create healing items for you during the final boss fight. Between each of his three attack patterns, he'll produce purple orbs that, when whipped, spray out a spread of low-damage bullets before dropping a drumstick onto the floor. He'll keep using the attack until he takes more damage and switches moves, which can be exploited to heal back to full provided there's still enough time left on the clock.
  • Boss Bonanza: The game ends with four separate boss fights in a row, none from earlier in the game: Slogra, Gaibon, Death, and Dracula.
  • Bottomless Pits: As is typical in most Castlevania platformers, when you're in an area that scrolls up, any platform that is scrolled off even one pixel below the bottom of the screen effectively ceases to exist if you try to jump onto such a platform, you're instead greeted with Simon grunting and your Life Meter emptying out. Stage 2-1 explains the deadliness in one case by showing spikes in the upcoming pit before Simon traversed enough stairs to make them scroll offscreen.
  • Bowdlerise: The U.S. localization imposed bouts of censorship on the game, including covering up some topless statues, changing the buckets of blood in Stage 8 into green slime, and removing every instance of a cross.
  • Building Swing: There are numerous bat-shaped hooks that Simon can latch his whip onto, letting him swing across gaps to get hard-to-reach items.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: This is one of eight games that detail Simon Belmont's assault on Dracula's castle in 1691. However, it should be noted that, unlike most examples of the trope, the game isn't just a graphical update of Castlevania. Rather it is a completely new game that happens to take the place of the original.
  • Clockworks Area: Stage A, the Clock Tower, full of rotating gears and grapple points that move along conveyors. Akmodan II, the boss of the level, is fought on the hands of the clock face.
  • Collapsing Ceiling Boss: Happens with the bosses Puwexil and Koranot in Stage 4; whippable projectiles fall from the top of the screen every time Puwexil takes damage, and Koranot creates rubble blocks whenever it jumps.
  • Cue the Sun: The windows in Dracula's lair have been boarded up. When you deal the final blow to Dracula, one window breaks open, letting in a stream of sunlight that finishes off the vampire... except for a single bat.
  • Dance Battler: The waltzing ghost dancer enemies, which also have a boss version for Stage 6.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the environments aren't that much more grim than the ones in Castlevania, the music in IV is more atmospheric and less energetic.
  • Dem Bones: As always, skeletons are a common enemy, but most notable is the first boss, Rowdain, who's an undead knight riding a skeletal horse.
  • Degraded Boss: A case where bosses in one game become degraded in later games. Slogra and Gaibon first debut here, where they are among the final four bosses in the game (and are followed by Death). This is the height of their power, and they were degraded in later Castlevania games: Symphony of the Night makes them a Dual Warm-Up Boss, while Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Harmony of Despair made them normal enemies that were only notable for directly serving Death.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted for the first time in the series' history. You can whip in eight directions, a mechanic that wouldn't show up again until Julius Belmont arrived on the scene. However, you're still denied from whipping in downwards directions unless you jump, making enemies below you difficult to handle without flailing the whip around.
  • Eldritch Location: The castle and its environs. As early as Stage 2-3, you find yourself wandering through a shallow stream. For an extended period of time, the water flows uphill. It peaks in Stage 4, a tower before the actual castle itself. Inside is almost like another dimension itself, with spinning rotating rooms and crushing floors.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: A sentient demonic table? Flying books? Grabby paintings? A throw rug trying to push you up into a spiked ceiling? Giant clock gears shaking themselves loose? Yeah, the castle is seriously out to get you.
  • Expy: The Zapf Bat is an obvious upgrade of the Giant Bat, the first boss of the first game.
  • Golem: Koranot, a man of stone who starts out as a giant but shrinks to human size the more you damage him.
  • Goomba Stomp: Inverted; Slorga counterattacks by leaping high into the air and coming back down on you.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: While the game in general is easier than other Classicvanias, the levels themselves can still provide a decent challenge sometimes. The bosses, however, have the biggest drop in difficulty, as despite having more advanced attacks and patterns than the bosses of the NES games, most of them can be beaten by just mashing the whip at them with no care for dodging their attacks, and if you come into the fight with enough health (as will usually be the case), you'll be able to kill them before they kill you unless you stay literally inside them the whole time and soak up constant collision damage. The few bosses that you can't beat this way are still easily manageable with just the whip, whereas in other Classicvanias trying to tackle the more difficult bosses with no subweapon or a subpar one was practically suicidal unless you were extremely skilled at the game.
  • Holy Pipe Organ: While Castlevania typically uses an Ominous Pipe Organ instead, the heroic "Theme of Simon" introduced in Super Castlevania IV uses the organ to represent Simon Belmont as he fights demons while armed with crosses, holy water, etc.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The exact placement of Super Castlevania IV in the Castlevania canon (whether it's a retelling of the original or a sequel to Simon's Quest) has been under much speculation for years among English-speaking fans due to the inconsistent translation that was given to the opening intro. On one hand, the intro clearly states that the last time the Belmonts fought Dracula was over a century ago. On the other hand, it also says that Simon must "once again" fight Dracula, implying that Simon fought him before. This dilemma has since been clarified by official websites and sources, clearly establishing Castlevania IV as a remake.
  • Irony Towards the end of the game, the soundtrack starts using classic themes from the NES days. One of these themes is "Beginnings" from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. It plays during the very last stage.
  • Jump Physics: Finally, a Belmont that can control his jump in mid-air!
  • The Lost Woods: Stage 2, the Forest Of Evil Spirits. Which starts out in an old Cemetery and takes Simon up a mountain where he fights Medusa. Finally culminating with a trip down the river that takes him to the next level.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Time Keeps On Ticking during the boss death animations.
    • It's very possible to defeat Koranot, and still die to falling rocks if you have too little health remaining.
    • Rowdain, the first boss, will shatter into bone fragments before reforming - though he only takes one more hit before dying for real.
  • Made O' Gold: The Zapf Bat is an interesting variation - its body is comprised of gold coins and jewels, rather than being an ordinary (if giant) bat made out of gold.
  • Musical Nod: The final stages of the game have the famous themes "Vampire Killer", "Bloody Tears", and "Beginning" as their background music.
  • Near Victory Fanfare: When Dracula's on his last legs and starts getting serious, Simon Belmont's theme replaces Dracula's for the rest of the fight.
  • Nerf: The Holy Water, infamous in Castlevania I and III for its high-damage and stun properties, does less damage and no stunning in this particular game. It still remains useful for being a reliable way to hit enemies below Simon.
  • Nintendo Hard: If you know what you're doing, the first five levels aren't too challenging. But once you enter the castle proper (i.e. level 6 onward), the game truly becomes Castlevania.
  • Nostalgia Level: Subverted. Stage 6 at first greatly resembles the first stage of the original game, being the first level actually set inside the castle. However, after a short walk, the player goes upstairs, swings from chandeliers, and fights their way through a ballroom instead.
  • One to Million to One:
    • Akmodan II, who teleports as a stream of loose bandages.
    • The Zapf Bat, a boss who's made entirely of gold coins and jewels.
  • Pooled Funds: Exaggerated in Stage 9, the Treasury, which features pools of coins that cause Simon to slowly sink into when stepped on; one would think that metal coins are even less viable for sinking into than quicksand.
  • Punny Name:
    • The names of the dancing ghosts boss in Stage 6 are Paula Abghoul and Fred Ascare.
    • Koranot's name backwards sounds like "ton of rock", appropriate as he is a giant stone golem. Likewise, Puweyxil's name backwards sounds like "licks you up", which is what he tries to do to you.
  • Rise to the Challenge: In Stage B-2, upon entering the uppermost spire of Dracula's castle, you'll see a spiked cog at the bottom of the screen. You have a five-second head start to put as much distance between you and it as possible before it comes after you. If you stop for anything for too long, such as items or to fight enemies, or miss a jump, you'll get run over and die instantly. It stops ascending in the second half of the area, where the challenge becomes riding fast platforms up the tower without hitting spikes.
  • Scenery Porn: Compared to the previous games.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: A few of the bosses, including Koranot ("Ton 'o' Rock") and Puwexil ("Licks You Up").
  • Shout-Out: In the American version's manual, the dancing ghosts are given the names of Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare, after, who else but professional dancers Paula Abdul and Fred Astaire.
  • Shows Damage: Puwexil, a giant skull, starts to crack as it takes damage. By the time it's nearly dead, there'll be a hole in its forehead!
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Level 7, the library. The level has such peaceful music which does not complement the library of death.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: This game has Super in its title just like many early Super Nintendo titles as a nod to the console.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Konami made excellent use of the then-new Mode 7 graphics system. The rotating rooms, swinging chandeliers, and Technicolor Death of many bosses looked great and still mostly hold up today.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: After you've finally drained Dracula's health bar enough for him to turn into his second form, Simon Belmont's theme song (which was also the music of Stage 1) replaces Dracula's theme until Dracula is killed.
  • Turns Red: A handful of the bosses, to varying degrees:
    • At a little under half health, Rowdain's horse falls apart, causing him to leap off and stab at you with his lance.
    • When he's nearly dead, Sir Grakul's axe shatters, forcing him to use a sword instead.
    • The Zapf Bat splits into three miniature bats, which drop harmful coins as they fly around.
    • In an amusing subversion to Rowdain and Sir Grakul, Slorga instead loses his weapon at around half health - and starts trying to impale you with his beak.
    • Gaibon literally turns red, deciding to shoot a triple stream of fireballs instead of landing and shooting a single stream.
    • Dracula has a few different phases, sprinkling in new attacks as he takes damage. Once he's on his last legs, he'll gain a skull for a head and start summoning pillars of lightning.
  • Unique Enemy: A few, most notably the giant centipede in the library, which can be killed before it leaves the screen by whipping it in the head fast enough.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: A hidden room in Stage 6 features the ghost of an old man and his dog, with the dog running about the room. The dog will harm you if you run into it, but it doesn't actively attack you. Whip it down and the old man will fall to his knees, mourning the loss of his friend before they both fade away.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Castlevania 4



The first boss of Super Castlevania IV. Rowdain, an undead knight riding a skeletal horse.

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