Storming the castle again.
I still don’t get the doubly-capitalized monicker "ReBirth" that Konami has been giving its retro-inspired downloadable games (Gradius ReBirth, Contra ReBirth), but since I already beat that horse to death, saw it become undead, and then beat it to death again, I’ll refrain from that. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is the latest in the series, and while it isn’t as good as I’d hoped it’d be, it’s certainly the best of the three.
[image1]Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is a completely new game that takes a cooking pot approach, taking some of the better gameplay novelties of the old school Castlevania games of the 8- and 16-bit generations. That goes all the way to the plot: You’re a vampire hunter of the Belmont clan, you got a whip, Dracula is alive, his castle is back, and off you go with not much of a story to consider. Taking into account the newer games in the series, it’s not much of a loss.
Sadly, a lot of what made the first 16-bit gameplay in Super Castlevania IV awesome didn’t make the cut in ReBirth. Gone is the eight-way directional whipping, grappling, and climbing, in favor of a system that would feel right at home on the NES. That’s not to say the game is completely devoid of additions to the traditional Castlevania gameplay, but the additions here are overpowered and unnecessary, like how your whip can be upgraded to the point of shooting laser balls from its tip, a la Zelda, for a limited time.
By claiming that a few things feel unnecessary, I don’t mean to say everything that is new in ReBirth is bad or that it feels out of place. The platforming formula comes with a few twists, like branching paths between levels and the oh-so loved locked doors that require a bit of backtracking between screens. In terms of levels, the six stages you are bound to hit your head against are challenging and long, some being more like mazes than straight left-to-right side-scrollers, with every single one of them culminates into a boss fight. The boss fights are one of the game’s high points, some of which rival the old school series’ best encounters.
[image2]In terms of difficulty, you can sure thank Konami for taking the same approach it did with Contra ReBirth. There are a host of difficulty options to choose from, and for most, the continues are in infinite supply, which makes finishing the game less of an impossible ordeal but nonetheless challenging. You also get two control options which vary the gameplay slightly, one keeping the character movement exactly like the NES games with no control during a jump, and the other giving you airborne control of Belmont, which helps with the platforming. In my mind, these choices are there to satisfy purists, and don’t really directly influence in the game’s difficulty.
As a fan of the series, the only notable downside I can point out in this game is its lack of personality. It’s a hodge-podge of parts from older games, which doesn’t really give the game much of a face of its own. For fans of the older games, however, there’s plenty of the familiar things that made them love Castlevania back in the day to be had here, and it won’t disappoint those in search of a challenge.