Castlevania: Bloodlines
Sega/Shin Force
Castlevania: Bloodlines

Sega/Shin Force > Systems > Sega Genesis > Reviews

Shin Force ~ Genesis ~
Castlevania: Bloodlines / Vampire Killer :: Review
Geoffrey Duke
8 Megabit
Import / Domestic
March 18, 1994
March 17, 1994
March 20, 1994
6 Button
     > Castlevania: Bloodlines is basically a typical side scrolling platform game but with a dark theme. Like in previous Castlevania games the main characters hunt down vampires and the undead that follow them. The game has two selectable characters. You can play the role of either John Morris, who uses a whip, or Eric Lecarde who uses a spear. John and Eric are two vampire hunters and close friends who embark on a mission to stop Dracula from being resurrected. Bloodlines is meant to be a side story to the more traditional Castlevania games and was made exclusively for the Genesis. Obviously this was a console that was too popular to ignore. 

     > Old games don't usually grab my attention unless they still have something to offer modern gamers. I am of the opinion that many old games can still be a great escape from it all because the gameplay doesn't necessarily age, the art is timeless, and the themes are still relevant. Bloodlines falls into this category in my opinion. If decade or more old MMORPGs are still being played by millions of people then it should tell you something. 

     > There's actually far more lore to this series than meets the eye if you are interested. So much so that it can become a hobby unto itself. Vampires are people who feed on human blood in order to survive. They are such a popular and pervasive myth that it forces you to wonder if there is any truth to it. Castlevania is another great series that has a cult following. If you delve more into this series you will quickly see that it has a following for a reason. 

     > Castlevania: Bloodlines is called Vampire Killer in Japan. A part of me actually prefers the Japanese name but the name Castlevania evokes images of the medieval era with knights and castles and evil that never sleeps. The game doesn't revolve around a castle this time however, as your hunt takes you to the ends of the Earth. Strangely enough, Eric Lecarde is more feminine in the Japanese version. The PAL version, Castlevania: The New Generation, also had some of the gorier elements cut. Thankfully we can forget that version exists. 

     > Imagine vampires were real, and imagine you weren't ready to know the truth. If vampires were all around us, could you ever let your guard down again? If you are still prepared to walk down this path then heed my warning: greater minds than yours have lost their minds when they learned the truth. Suffice it to say, some things are best left buried.

     > Graphically the game lacks color, but it's fast and fluid, and the art style makes up for it. The sprites are small compared to many other Genesis platformers (such as Sonic 3 for example), but there are tons of enemies and objects on screen at the same time so I can't complain. The lack of color would be inconsequential to modern gamers anyway because the game is ancient by today's standards.

     > Artistically this is one of the best games I have seen on the Genesis. You fight what seems like every type of undead enemy there is from zombies to skeletons raised from the dead to giant armored knights. The first sub boss is a giant demonic hound who breathes fire. My favorite boss is the huge towering undead knight who wields a giant ball and chain, but you also fight Dracula himself who turns into an undead winged demon. These enemies do the series proud.

     > The second level has water that reflects the world above while moving up and down as if the tides are coming in and going out. Someone clearly knew how to build on the Genesis's strengths. The sun also follows the player directly overhead which I found both novel and fitting. The reason I find it fitting is because the sun has been used as a symbol for certain ideologies that will never be allowed to win. I would describe those ideologies as vampiric, which is ironic because vampires are afraid of The Light. We will have to bring The Light to the darkness so there's nowhere left for vampires to hide. Then we will end them all and bury their vampiric sun forever.

     > Like the graphics, the controls are fluid. It's important to note that the two main characters have different strengths and weaknesses. John uses a whip and can launch stronger more prolonged attacks with it if you hold down the attack button, but he is limited to horizontal attacks with his whip. Where he can aim his weapon is a bit limited in scope but he compensates with sheer strength. He can also use his whip to strike down underneath him when jumping, or similarly he can use his whip to swing across ceilings above him. Both characters can jump attack as well as upgrade their weapons. 

     > I'd much rather wield a sword that cuts through the fabric of space and time, but this will have to do for now. The whip John uses is known as "Vampire Killer" and is an inseparable part of the Castlevania series. It's a powerful weapon against vampires and their kin which makes short work of enemies when in the right hands. In Bloodlines the whip burns with blue fire when you imbue it with more power. John's attacks need good timing because they can seem slow, but no one wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of power. Such weapons are rare which is why they are closely guarded and only given to vampire hunters who have proven themselves to be trustworthy. Killing vampires is a tradition that must be maintained, lest the darkness devours us all. 

     > Eric uses a spear that has a longer range than John's whip. Eric can also attack in diagonal directions. This makes him far more flexible when facing enemies that attack from above or when facing enemies that attempt to surround him. Eric's spear burns with magical green fire when it's at full power. The art direction in this game is awesome.

     > I must say, John and Eric make a great team. They compensate for each other's weaknesses. One day they will pay a visit to Silent Hill in an APC tank and cut out the cancer before it can spread any further. Into the darkness we descend. A world that forever scarred us both. Don't die on me my closest friend. 

     > You can find special weapons (including a boomerang, axe and Holy Water) that give you more range which are powered by gems you can find everywhere (these weapons can be used vertically as well). Use these weapons wisely. When you upgrade your weapon to full power, you will lose it if you lose full health, so the game really rewards player skill here.

     > The music is pacey. The soundtrack uses fast beats and synthesized keyboard notes. I'm not sure what exactly the music is trying to capture. Nothing really stands out to me other than the fact that it's fast paced most of the time (which is fitting). Church organs would evoke thoughts of the dead, for example. The boss music hastens the pace so you always know who you are fighting. The sound effects are fitting but weak. Overall this isn't the game's strongest area but it's adequate for the task of bringing the game to life. Notice the deliberate irony there.
     > Non-stop action awaits (pause is actually useful here). Enemies can become overwhelming if you are not fast enough, so you can't let your guard down. Boss attacks come from many different directions as well so you need to be quick on your feet. There's also (and we always need more of this) platform jumping. This is one thing gamers should practice more until it becomes second nature because it tests your reflexes and sense of distance. The game itself isn't that long but it can be quite difficult which is what one would expect from this series. If you look up the true definition of fun you will see yourself staring back at you. *You* decide what you want from life. If the gameplay and theme interest you then it might be worth investigating.

     > Personally I would play this game just for the bosses. They are evil and imposing works of art. The bosses are very memorable and challenging enough to test your skills. It all adds up to create a great action game. This game actually makes me wish I could have played Symphony of the Night on my Saturn (*sigh*).

Bottom Line
     > Castlevania: Bloodlines is another timeless classic that's worth playing if you can enjoy games without modern graphics. This game still has a lot to offer. For some reason the vampire theme always seems to be popular. I think it's a case of art imitating life, and in this case, art adding new dimensions to itself. The things we do to save the world. Let's kill some vampires!
Overall: 9.2 | Graphics: 9.4 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 10
~ Geoffrey Duke ~


Japan | Box Art
[click to enlarge]

USA | Box Art
[click to enlarge]

Europe | Box Art
[click to enlarge]

UK | Sega Magazine #002 February, 1994 - Ad
[click to enlarge]

USA | GamePro Magazine #057 April, 1994 - Ad
[click to enlarge]

Wallpaper | Japanese Artwork
Japanese Artwork
720x1280 | iPhone
1024x768 | iPad
1280x720 | 16:9
1920x1080 | 16:9

[ << BACK ][ TOP /\ ][ FORWARD >> ]
All images and logos are the copyright of their respective owner.