Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is an action-adventure game produced by Konami. It was originally released for the Family Computer Disk System in Japan 1987 and for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in 1988. It is the second Castlevania title released for the NES, following the original Castlevania. Set sometime after the events of the first installment, the player once again assumes the role of vampire hunter Simon Belmont, who is on a journey to undo a curse placed on him by Count Dracula at the end of their previous encounter.
The gameplay departs from the standard platforming genre of the first Castlevania, and instead uses an exploration system. Simon, controlled by the player, can travel to towns and dungeons. Some RPG elements are included in the game—Simon can talk with townspeople who will offer vague clues or lies. He can also go to merchants who will sell items, either for fighting enemies or for traversing to unreachable areas. In order to pay for them, he must collect hearts, which are dropped by defeated enemies. In addition to the ordinary items in Simon's inventory, he can also purchase new whips in a few locations of the game. He begins with a standard Leather Whip, and can upgrade to stronger ones with each new purchase.
Simon's Quest has an Experience Rating system, also found in role-playing games. Simon's Experience Rating is raised by also collecting hearts. After he finds a sufficient amount of them, his level will rise and his maximum health will increase. Each time his level rises, the required amount of hearts for the next level also increases.
Simon's Quest has a night and day function, where the period of time in the game can change between daytime and nightfall. Each sequence lasts a few minutes before the next transition, and they have a prominent effect on the game and Simon's encounters. During the day, the enemies outside of towns in the game are less strong and occurrent. At night time, they appear more often and do more damage to Simon's life points. But when defeated, they give more hearts in compensation. The townspeople and merchants in their respective locations are no longer available to talk to during night time, and are replaced by enemies called zombies.
Despite the departure from the previous game, there are elements from it that have remained. This includes the Magic Weapons, which are secondary weapons to Simon's whip. Each of them have a different use. Like most games in the series, some of these require the usage of hearts. One of them returning from Castlevania is the Holy Water, a small glass which can disintegrate walls that conceal hidden items. Some Magic Weapons from the previous game do not return, but there are also new ones that make their first appearance in Simon's Quest. One of them is the Diamond, which bounces off any walls surrounding Simon, and damages any enemies.
The objective of the game is to travel to the five mansions to find the body parts of Dracula's corpse, and an item known as the Magic Cross. The body parts can be utilized to support Simon in the game. For example, the Rib Bone can be used as a shield to block any projectile attacks fired from an enemy. After finding all of the required items, this will allow Simon to clear the blockade in front of Dracula's castle, and fight the last boss.
The game's setting takes place seven years after the original Castlevania. According to the story details in the instruction manual for the Japanese version, the prologue begins when Simon visits his family's resting ground. His back is critically injured from his last encounter with Dracula in the previous game. He suddenly feels someone's presence, and turns to see a young woman standing within the mist. She tells him that a curse was placed upon him by Dracula during their last battle, and that he does not have long to live. The woman continues to say that the curse can be undone if he resurrects Dracula himself. She further explains that Dracula's body was split into five different parts after his defeat seven years ago, and Simon must recover these and bring them to the ruins of Dracula's castle. There, he must seal Dracula and defeat him. But before disappearing, the unknown woman says she cannot guarantee that this will destroy Dracula permanently.
After Simon defeats Dracula in the game, there are three possible endings which are received based on the time the player took to finish it. Two of them are scenarios where Simon sustains fatal injuries from the confrontation with Dracula, and dies.
Simon's Quest was directed by H. Akamatsu, who was later credited with the programming and directing of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse on the NES. It was released on the FDS on August 28, 1987 in Japan. It was eventually made for the NES and released in North America on December 1, 1988, and in Europe on April 27, 1990. Because of hardware differences between the FDS and NES, there were changes between the versions designed for both consoles. The FDS version of Simon's Quest featured a save system, as did other FDS games did at the time. The NES version instead used a password function to return to specific sequences from the game. The maximum amount of data for the FDS version was only 1-megabit. Because the data for the NES cartridge was bigger, the developers took advantage of this and improved the music quality for the game, and also changed other effects like the instruments.
Other changes included some of the text found in the game, most of it being from the endings. The endings for Simon's Quest on the FDS contained spelling and grammatical errors, known as Engrish. One of them was "Simmon Belmont". The ending credits also have similar errors, citing the developers of the game for unusual roles. For example, Akamatsu was credited for "Invincibility". This was corrected for the NES versions.
Information such as official artwork for Simon's Quest has been lost since its release. Most of the original art for it and early Castlevania titles were lost during the Great Hanshin Earthquake.
|GameStats||7.7 out of 10 (NES)
7.3 out of 10 (VC)
|TopTenReviews||2.1000 out of 4|
|Allgame||4 of 5|
|GameSpot||6.5 of 10|
|GameTrailers||7.5 of 10|
|IGN||7.0 of 10|
|RPGamer||3.5 of 5|
Upon its release, Simon's Quest received strong publicity in the second issue of Nintendo Power . Its front page had a costumed model dressed as Simon Belmont, holding Dracula's severed head. This cover provoked many telephone complaints from parents of children who purchased the magazine. They told Nintendo Power that it gave their children nightmares. Nintendo Power still remembers this, and it was covered in volume 50 of the magazine, which cited it as their worst cover. Simon's Quest was also referenced in a following issue in a Howard and Nester comic strip.
The game garnered positive reviews following its release, and received the reputation of a Nintendo classic over time. It has an average rating of 7.5 out of 10 on the popular gaming community, GameFAQs. Gaming website, IGN, cited Simon's Quest as the "perfect game to play during 1989". It praised it for its theme of exploration, and acknowledged how it evolved recent titles of the series. RPGamer noted it for being a "a very rough blueprint for some amazing games to come". Numerous statements about the game also laud its graphical and audio presentation. Reviewers have remarked that it is "absolutely amazing", and have complimented its visuals for being an improvement over the first Castlevania.
Simon's Quest was not without its criticism. A common complaint about the game was its English localization. The clues offered by the NPCs in the game were criticised for being too cryptic and poorly translated. The current producer of Castlevania, Koji Igarashi, revealed in an interview that all the NPCs in the Japanese version were deliberate liars. GameSpot said that the subtle hints from the Japanese version were lost in translation. An infamous line of dialogue they gave as an example was "hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole". Active Gaming Media went further describing where and how the Japanese hint was lost.[ Further criticism also stemmed from some of the game's puzzles, which reviewers have noted for not having any clues at all. Complaints were made towards a scenario from the game where Simon must summon a tornado in a graveyard. 1UP.com mentioned the game required a walkthrough because of its non-explanatory nature.
Simon's Quest was the first game in the Castlevantia series to depart from linear gameplay, and instead feature a non-linear explorative world, which has been compared to Nintendo's famous Metroid series. The game's exploration system and ideas introduced adventure elements to the series for the first time, and it would heavily influence future titles. The first game that drew inspiration from it was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The plot of Simon's Quest would also be directly referenced in future Castlevania titles. In the Game Boy Advance entry, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, the protagonist recounts when his grandfather Simon had to search for Dracula's body parts. In the game, the player must also find them again.
Simon's Quest saw several merchandise following its release. In 1988, Tiger Electronics released a handheld game and an LCD wristwatch based on Simon's Quest. Promotional collector's cards were also available exclusively in Japan. They were based on sequences in the game, such as Simon's encounters with enemies. Worlds of Power, a series of books with stories based on Nintendo games, also had a novel about Simon's Quest. In 2007, when Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles was released, a figurine of Simon's appearance from Simon's Quest was included as a pre-order bonus.
On November 16, 2002, Simon's Quest was a part of Castlevania and Contra: Konami Collector's Series in North America, a PC port of original Konami games. In an exclusive fan interview for the official Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow strategy guide, Koji Igarashi was asked about possible ports of previous Castlevania titles. In response, he considered the possibility of a compilation of the NES titles, which includes Simon's Quest.