Spoopy Game Highlights: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

October is here, and we’re highlighting some of our very favorite spoopy and creppy games! First up: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV.

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Oddly enough, when I think of SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV, I think of Christmas. Christmas of 1992, to be precise (or maybe it was 1991? I’m old and feeble and senile, so I don’t really remember). Either way, it’s strange that a game featuring mummies and vampires and the fucking GRIM REAPER make me think of holiday cookies and hot chocolate and stuff.

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It makes sense in a way, though. Christmas of that year (or nebulous time period of my young life) was dominated by the arrival of the SUPER NES into my life. I’ve probably talked about this on the show before, but what was funny about me getting a Super NES is that I didn’t ask for one. I had actually asked for a Sega Genesis, and my step brother had asked for the Super NES. For Christmas that you, we got the old switcheroo. He got the Genesis, I got the SNES. I don’t think I managed to get upset about it because along with my SNES, I received SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV.

I remember watching the opening story cinema. Simply a gravestone, some lightning, some fog, and some of the creepiest music I’d ever heard in a video game. I was drawn in instantly. I’ve always argued that Super Castlevania IV was the perfection of everything the first 3 NES games tried to achieve, but truly, the music for this title elevates it above and beyond many games.

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The game itself is your typical Castlevania fare: whipping undead baddies and exploring the Transylvanian countryside before finally making it to Dracula’s castle. The game is a beefed up retelling of the original CASTLEVANIA, though, somewhat hilariously, the English translation treats this as a continuation of the previous entries, making Simon Belmont well over 100 years old. Grandpa on the go! What makes this title stand out for me is that it just feels like the culmination of every aspect of the original NES games, honed to perfection. It might not be as difficult as Castlevania III, it’s still a challenge in it’s own right and ultimately makes the game slightly more approachable.

The atmosphere and soundtrack are tops here. If Castlevania II did a marvelous job of setting the mood and building a feeling of dread, Super Castlevania IV takes this to the nth degree with the detailed backgrounds, excellent art and enemy design, and the lush soundtrack. The processing power of the SNES amplified Castlevania to visual and audio heights I could not have dreamed of. It still stands to me as one of the most immediately visible leaps in hardware processing power I’ve experienced. Check out my favorite song from the Super Castlevania IV OST below, and one of my favorite songs in all of gaming to boot!

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