Castlevania’s first game on Nintendo’s phenomenal Game Boy, Castlevania: The Adventure, in ’89 wasn’t quite the mobile red carpet debut for the series that Konami hoped it would be. Critics savaged the title’s shortcomings — poor graphics, slow movement, overabundance of pixel perfect jumps, and a lack of secondary weapons. The sequel, on the other hand, not only fixed many of those points, but is regarded by many fans as one of Castlevania’s best.
Taking place fifteen years after the events of the first game (and a century before Simon Belmont’s adventure in the first Castlevania on the Famicom/NES) in 1591, Christopher Belmont must once again take up the whip to save his son, Soleiyu Belmont, from Dracula’s evil. It seems after his adventure in the first game, Dracula manged to use the last of his power to turn into mist and escape, biding his time until he could create a new body.
With Soleiyu’s coming of age, the town of Transylvania was host to a ceremony performed by Christopher to initiate him in as a vampire killer and the hope was that the two would be the greatest team-up ever conceived. Unfortunately, Dracula had other plans. Cursing his son and turning him into a demon the day after, Dracula intends to use the power Soleiyu inherited to resurrect himself and spread evil once again.
Belmont’s Revenge takes place across five castles. Seemingly taking a page from the freedom given to players in Castlevania III in picking which stage to attack next during the course of the game, four of the castles can be attacked in any order from the start screen. It’s also something that fans of Capcom’s Mega Man series might feel completely at home with. In that series, players could pick which robot stage they want to head into first. The last castle (revealed after the others are defeated) is where the showdown with his son, and then Dracula himself, awaits. The game also sports a password feature that uses icons of items found in the game instead of letters and numbers which can be both a boon (it helps quite a bit) or a curse (I hope you can draw).
Konami seems to have scrubbed out the unfun elements from the first Castlevania on the Game Boy and rewrote it with an eye towards making it a lot more fun and to a large extent, they managed to succeed. Each of the castles — the Cloud, Crystal, Rock, and Plant Castles — have their own distinct looks and challenges to set them apart. And it’s still a tough game. Precision jumps have also been replaced with cunning traps and tricky monsters, but players will still be doing their fair share of hopping around here.
Secondary weapons have also been added in. Christopher can arm himself with the Axe or Holy Water, both fueled by heart points he collects along the way, and his whip can also be powered up and not lose its upgrade when he’s hit by monsters as it could be in the first game.
Along with the improved visuals and tightened controls, Hidehiro Funauchi’s work with the music of the game was noted by a few critics as impressive stuff, something that Castlevania Dungeon and Damien McFerran reviewing the game over at Nintendo Life both agree on.
Unfortunately, like a number of other early Game Boy classics, Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge had only seen something of a limited resurrection after its run.
It appeared in in the late 90s as one of the titles in Volume 3 of Konami’s GB Collection where the axe subweapon was replaced with a cross instead. Unfortunately, after that, it never quite turned up on services like the Virtual Console for the Wii or in any other online collection for players to download and try out for themselves. But who knows? Maybe one day it’ll rise up from the past like Dracula has often done in the series and introduce a new generation of vampire killers to a classic slice of Castlevania’s best.