This installment is a rather obscure chapter in the history of Castlevania. Today, I’m going to discuss Castlevania Bloodlines. This title was released on the Sega Genesis, and for this reason alone, went largely ignored by many.
This title takes place in 1917. You can choose to play as either Jonathan Morris (son of the Dracula character; Quincey Morris), or strange spear-wielding vampire hunter known as Eric Lacarde. (Often believed to be Alucard is disguise… although this is not confirmed in the game in any way)
It is through some unknown twist of events that Morris possesses the legendary Vampire Killer whip, and when the evil countess Elizabeth Bartley tries to resurrect the soul of her uncle Dracula, John takes up arms to stop her. The general consensus seems to be that the Morris family branches-off from the Belmont family tree. Hence the title: Bloodlines.
This game starts at Castlevania itself, but when Jonathan learns that Bartley has fled, he chases her all over war-ridden Europe. Finally catching up with her in London, just in time for the final showdown with the newly resurrected Count Dracula.
This game was Konami’s attempt to link the Castlevania storyline, with the actual Dracula novel by Bram Stoker. Admittedly, it is was a good attempt, although several plot holes do exist,. But, the fact that they tried can at least appreciated.
Overall this installment is similar to previous Castlevania games, but to me, at least, it just didn’t feel right. The graphics on the Genesis, while just as good as the SNES, felt different, maybe a little too polished. Also, for the most part, I found the soundtrack to be somewhat lacking.
In my opinion, the first and the last level in the game are by far the best. The whole rotating staircases, and warped/upside down levels seemed more about showing off the 16-bit power of the Genesis, than about actual gameplay value. All that aside, on its own, I think Bloodlines is a solid title – but perhaps a little overshadowed by the legacy of the franchise itself. At this point, I think it is safe to say that the formula is starting to get stale.
1897: Dracula the novel
Originality: Aside from the story elements and the historical settings in the game, there’s really nothing new brought to the table with this title.
Soundtrack: This soundtrack is pretty mediocre in my opinion. The new music in the game is not very attention grabbing in my opinion. The few throwbacks that are included sound watered down. I’m wondering if perhaps the soundchip of the Genesis was a bit more limited than the SNES. That may be the problem here.
Fun: The game is itself is sadly more of the same. But I did take some enjoyment seeing the design of the various European-based levels. The game takes you exotic locations such a Greece, Germany, and Italy. Many of the token landmarks appear in the levels.
Graphics: Visually on par with most other titles of the 16bit era. Perhaps, maybe even a bit sharper than the SNES titles. It seems like the designers took a lot of time in the presentations of the game stages. High marks here.
Playcontrol: The controls in this game feel a bit wonky. I think this may be by design but I cannot be sure. There is a definite difference in the feel of the two lead characters. But many of my deaths were the result of a misplace jump that just didn’t really feel misplaced. — That being said, I have to confess I do not own a Genesis. Therefore, I have to admit that I was relying on an emulator for this title. My problem with the playcontrol could be nothing more than bad emulation.
Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – This was one of my least favorites so far. While undoubtedly “Castlevania” – something didn’t feel right and I can’t really put my finger on it. I do think that stage-by-stage concept of the Castlevania series was starting to grow old by this point.
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