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Castlevania Legends Review
Posted on December 26, 2008 by MikeV

For this review, I am going to look at the 3rd and final Castlevania game on the original Gameboy. This game also has a unique color palette when used on the Gameboy Color, so I guess you could also refer to it as GBC enhanced. This game was released in 1998 by KCE Nagoya, who also worked on the Sega Saturn port of Castlevania:Symphony of the Night. Legends was their first fully developed game.

Legends was a well known game in the Castlevania timeline for a number of years following its release. This is due to its former status as the origin tale of the Belmonts and the other familiar elements of Castlevania. This game was redacted from the official Castlevania timeline around 2002 due to its events contradicting IGA's plans for the origins of the Belmonts and Dracula. Koji Igarashi took some heat from this decision due to his apparently misogynist comments about how a female can't be a Belmont or a female being the origin story isn't right. I guess we fans have to move on, in this case, on to the story of the game.

The story takes place in 1450 with the hero Sonia Belmont. She has been trained by her grandfather to wield a sacred whip with the power to destroy evil. Upon the reemergence of Dracula, Sonia sets out with the whip and only her wits to destroy this evil. A mysterious stranger has also trained her to combat the forces of darkness, due to his mysterious familiarity with them. This man turned out to be Alucard, in the first stages of rebellion against his immortal father, Count Vlad Tepes Dracula.

The graphics in this game are disappointedly similar to the last GB Castlevania:Belmont's Revenge, and that was in 1991, 7 years ago. We really should have seen completely new sprites as the platform had been around long enough for developers to master the nuances of graphics production. Look at games like Wario Land for proof.

Sonia Belmont still looks the traditional faceless Belmont, with a similar outfit, knee length high-heeled boots and un chignon on her hair so we could understand that she is female. Lame. The backgrounds are more similar to the CV Adventure and are pretty good. However, because of the stages' length, the repetition can be grating after a while. The enemies are good enough, but it is in the bosses that the game shines, with huge dragons and other impressive beasts. Dracula's forms are pretty sweet as well.

Music-wise, this is no Castlevania Adventure. It is about equal to Belmont's Revenge musically in that it is passable for in game listening only. The conversation with Dracula and the subsequent Vampire Killer are highlights. Sound effects are non-existent from what I recall, with no sound for whipping, defeating enemies, getting hit or similar. Come to think of it, I'm not sure many GB games had such sound effects...

Gameplay luckily brings the player some innovation in the form of a new magic system. The staple subweapons have been replaced by different magic attacks that also use the heart system. Some are functionally similar, only have new and unique effects. You obtain a new magic power for each boss you defeat.

There is also the new "Burning Mode" done by pressing B+A at the same time. This allows Sonia to move faster, deal more damage, refill her life and become invincible. It is best saved for bosses as it can only be used once per life and level. Great for when you're in a tough spot. The standard whip powerup system continues from Belmont's Revenge, with a fireball shooting whip as your ultimate whip.

Legends also has an easier setting, being called Light Mode. In this, you have a permanently powered up whip and the enemies die quicker. All around easier.

Challenge on the default setting is not difficult, but patience can come into play due to a few factors. Number one is that the levels are extremely long, probably longer than Bloodlines on the Genesis. But unlike Bloodlines, they are rather stock, with the same enemies repeating, boring backgrounds, and few challenges. It's just tedious.

The levels are non-linear, but this only means that there are paths that are meant to lead you to a dead end. So you have to backtrack through respawning enemies just to get back on course. Not fun.

Most of the bosses are challenging if you don't abuse burning mode. Dracula is a challenge as burning mode is not enough to defeat both of his forms, so chose wisely.

Replay value is present, but fairly insignificant. The traditional Castlevania subweapons are hidden throughout the game and finding them all allows you to play a bonus stage. Otherwise, it is the standard one character, one path to the ending.

Castlevania Legends is not what Belmont's Revenge was in 1991, given the time that passed between GB Castlevanias, fans were not wrong to expect something with greater differences. For a traditional Castlevania game, Legends works, but it is on the low end of quality when compared to its sister games, probably besting only the Castlevania Adventure.


- Ugly Bob

MikeV - Staff Writer mikev (@) | all author's articles

What's your favorite Silent Hill game?

Silent Hill 1
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill: Origins
Silent Hill Homecoming
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Editor's Note - If you pick this one, you suck)
Silent Hill Downpour
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