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Castlevania the Adventure Rebirth Review

Castlevania The Adventure ReBirth [Only available on WiiWare]
ESRB Rating: T
Number of players: 1
Genre: Action/Platformer
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: December 28th, 2009

Parent Talk: Castlevania has a T rating due to dark theme: slaying the vampire Dracula.  The game is filled with werewolves, skeletons, bats, and all sorts of ghouls.  However, the more conservative action sets the adventure apart from most we play today.  Parents need not be worried, but should be cautious with their younger gamers.  The soundtrack is comprised of classic Castlevania songs, so parents who grew up with the series on the NES may get a kick out of sharing this game with their children.

Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth is a remake from the franchise’s Game Boy era.  This particular “rebirth” isn’t a mere visual update though; great changes to the level design and gameplay are also present.  The music is culled from various tracks across the Castlevania universe, like III and Bloodlines.  This release also falls in line with Konami’s other Rebirth games, like Contra and Gradius.  It’s a classic through and through, perfect for retro enthusiasts.

The Great: The classic Castlevania feel is back and in great form.  It comes off as an old-school NES game brought into modern-day, perfectly simulating what made the originals fun.  The difficulty is balanced and experience fun.

The Good:

+ The soundtrack.  The music celebrates Castlevania, which should delight fans.  The first stage theme is an updated version of “Reincarnated Soul,” which is that of the Sega Genesis Bloodlines.  The quality on the remixes is great.  It doesn’t hold a candle to Symphony of the Night, but there’s still a lot to like.

+ The visuals.  The presentation is reminiscent of Dracula X on the Super NES, rather than Super Castlevania IVIV’s colors were more muted and dark, while Rebirth is flashier and more colorful.  The aesthetic resembles what the SNES would offer, but cleaner and sharper.  This is one for the retro fans.  The default aspect ratio is 4:3, but it can be stretched into widescreen.

+ The level design.  There are six stages total, which sounds minimal, but the five main areas are surprisingly long.  There’s a healthy amount of twists and secrets, and though the focus is more on action than exploration, the levels feel “full.”  The spirit of retro Castlevania lives, especially with the classic clock tower area.

The Bad:

– The controls.  This complaint is a bit awkward admittedly.  The controls are tight and responsive, and the game supports many schemes.  The developers chose to implement the layout from the original three games.  I understand that they wanted Rebirth to feel like the classic NES games, but Super Castlevania IV improved the series by offering better jumping controls and the ability to strike in any direction.  Sadly that isn’t possible here, making the controls a little more frustrating than necessary.

-The boss/enemy selection. The monsters designed for Rebirth just……aren’t as cool as what could’ve been.  The first is a giant eyeball.  It’s OK, but why not classic enemies like Slogra and Gaibon?  Some of the others are a blade master (a common SotN enemy) and a were-mutant.  The most satisfying fights are easily the ones with Death and Dracula, but the rest are underwhelming.

The Lowdown: Castlevania The Adventure Rebirth is a reasonable investment at $10, and easily worth the ride if you want a quality action game.  It’s a must for fans, and can be a great start for those unfamiliar.  It’s a gateway to an excellent series.  It doesn’t match up to Super Castlevania IV or Rondo of Blood though, and both are available on Virtual Console as well ($8/9).  It’s not a bad idea to nab all three though; they’re great games.