Castlevania Bloodlines

Game Overview

Although the various consoles by Nintendo (NES, SNES, and Game Boy) had all recieved various iterations of the Castlevania franchise, until 1994 Sega's consoles had not been equally blessed. For whatever reason (maybe the limitations of the hardware, or the seeming domiance of the Nintendo franchise), it was ten years after the start of the Silver Age of Home Videogaming (arguably in the Bronze Age) that a Sega console finally recieved a Castlevania game, the rather ambitious Castlevania Bloodlines.

Bloodlines starred two heroes, John Morris and Eric Lecard, each on a quest to destroy Dracula and Dracula's niece, the even vampiress Elizabeth Bartley. John, armed with the Vampire Killer, was after Dracula to uphold the duty of the Belmont clan (to whom he was related), and to avenge his father, Quincy (killed by Dracula is Bram Stoker's novel). Eric, meanwhile, was after Elizabeth Bartley for her role in the death of his wife. Armed with the Alucard spear (originally called the Lecarde spear in the American version, although that was a mistranslation from the original, Japanese name), Eric has joined with his friend, John, to aid them both in their quests for vengeance.

Along with two characters (each who play more or less similarly, aside from their differing primary weapons), the game featured an interesting twist on the standard Castlevania forumla: although the quest starts at Dracula's castle, it then leaves the lands of Romania, going all over the war-torn lands of Europe. The levels were long, featuring nods to various previous stages in the game (such as the "Munitions Factory, Germany" bearing strong resemblances to the Clock Tower and Machine Tower stages, or the "Palace of Versailles, France" containing elements that would later compare to the Gardens, Marble Gallery, Villa sections of many games). Although the title only featured six stages, the variety of elements, and length of the stages, provided an expansive platforming quest.

But while the game was the best Castlevania ever released for a Sega system up to that point -- by sheer fact that it was the only one -- it did lack some innovations from previous games. Although there were two characters, you couldn't switch them out at will (unlike in Castlevania III. And while you have a Belmont-style character that can minimally swing from ceilings and platforms, John doesn't have the dynamic whip abilites that Simon exhibited in Super Castlevania IV -- although both heroes can upgrade their weapons an additional level (over the standard three), at least until they take damage (which negates the collected fourth level).

Additionally, while the various sub-weapons are included, many function differently than notmal. The standard cross is replaced by the boomerang, which travels at a c-shaped arc instead of the usual back and forth. Meanwhile the axe now functions more like the basic cross, traveling out and back instead of the expected upward arc. These are weird changes that take a little getting used to, and seem like strange changes to introduce to the venerable series -- changes that were immediately reverted back in the next games in the series.

The game is a milestone entry, none the less. It was the first game for Sega-produed hardware (of only two, the other being a Saturn port of Symphony of the Night). And it did introduce the full Dracula mythos to the series (even if not much was done with it later). Whatever can be said about the game and how it plays, it's at last memorable for that.