Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth Review
Konami beckons you back to basics. They've taken a break from the Metroid build and revived the retro structure with Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth. It's not only structure that returns. There's something in the quality of the music that stirs memories of pumping quarters into Vs. Castlevania at the arcade and popping Bloodlines into a Genesis. Even the graphics, vibrant and yet dreary, call to mind that lovely old cabinet and console greats. It's an all-inclusive hearkening!
Gamers familiar with the original Castlevania: The Adventure on Game Boy need not worry about this "remake", because it doesn't follow its subpar source material closely. Rather than reiterate the tired old levels of the original into modern beauty, Konami worked from the ground up. Each stage is newly designed, fully planned out with multiple pathways leading to hidden treasures and special mid-boss battles. Along the way are familiar traps loaded with hideous demons, animate skeletons, and evil knights. There is no breathing space in between baddies, either. When you're not whipping dessicated zombies and leaping over sinister bats, you're ducking under giant spears and clearing bloody saw blades. Other scenarios put your platforming to the test, begging you to leap from turning gears and rotting stones, all while avoiding more traps and those aggravating medusa heads.
This is all charted territory, and that's the downside to Adventure ReBirth. Its only defining feature is that it makes use of every space. There are few long corridors filled with nothing; everything has either a trap or a batch of enemies, and you're constantly on your toes. However, the title still doesn't stand out from its brothers. It's a true blue Castlevania title with stable controls (unlike the original Adventure) and all the right tropes, but it doesn't stand up to its predecessors. Adventure ReBirth is just good where previous titles were amazing, even memorable.
It's especially the setpieces that make a Castlevania memorable, and Adventure ReBirth delivers there. After battling the undead in a lonely graveyard, paved with marvelous white stone, you'll cruise into the castle entryway fully detailed with dark decor and massive windows. Even the scenery outside the windows is detailed with lush vegetation and far off haunting structures. Dracula has spared no expense in remodeling his abode, decking it out with an ivory torture chamber, complete with fire-breathing, red-eyed skulls for reducing young Belmonts to piles of cinders. Your tour will take you through a grand cathedral and into a clock tower of myriad spinning gears, the apex of which contains a brutal battle against Death. Your odyssey will eventually end as it should, with a skull-crushing final battle against Dracula--and luck be with you as you challenge his three devastating forms.
Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth does everything it should. It revives old school Castlevania with all of the right fixings the franchise is known for, and its only sins are that it doesn't stand out much from the rest and there's no password feature. These aren't damning qualities, though. It's great to have an old-style Castlevania without all the in-depth exploration or cutscenes; a side-scroller with no frills and properly developed intense action from start to finish. M2 and Konami deliver, but there's still a nagging feeling in the back of my head wondering why they didn't go the distance. Perhaps in the future these two can reunite and give us a Casltevania for the ages: another 2D masterpiece as fleshed out as Bloodlines, Dracula's Curse, or Rondo of Blood. We can only hope.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.