Recently I completed my NES Castlevania trilogy by finally acquiring a copy of Simon’s Quest. Simon’s Quest was one of the first NES games I purchased all by myself, so it holds a very special place in my video gaming memories. Although I bought it used from a flea market, that doesn’t change the prior fact. I can’t remember exactly when I purchased the game, but it was long before you could type a game’s name into a search engine and find a myriad of walkthroughs. Simon’s Quest was also the first Castlevania game I had ever played, so without the manual I was completely lost as to what I was supposed to be doing. In an attempt to make the most of my purchase I made up my own game. I didn’t know where any of the whip upgrades were or what the hearts did, but I knew I could kill things, before eventually dying, so I made a game out of counting my kills and seeing which new screen I could reach with each new attempt. Ah, the innocence of ignorance.
Simon’s Quest is my favorite Castlevania game of all time, but the fact is as I’ve experienced more of the series I’ve enjoyed them. Except The Adventure, I was not a fan of that one! I’ve not played them all, but I have played all of the NES games, the SNES games and the Genesis one. Aria of Sorrow and Circle of the Moon on the GBA are really good as well. And that’s where I think the legacy of Simon’s Quest resides. While Castlevania and Castlevania 3 are side-scrolling games with tons of little things to find, the objective is fairly linear. Simon’s Quest let the player choose where to go, what to do and how to do it, all while having a skosh of RPG elements. While leveling up was possible, it really did very little in the game as a whole, although it did help the player a little bit.
I love the first, third and the subsequent Castlevania games that follow the tried and true gameplay of the first game, but the GBA games that I’ve played feel like they’re Simon’s Quest’s offspring. It feels like they give that game a rooted lineage within the series, instead of making it feel like the outcast. As I said I’ve not played them all, and I’m sure I’m missing out by not having played Symphony of the Night. I feel that if Simon’s Quest hadn’t dared to try something different, we most likely wouldn’t have seen some of the best games in the series. Speaking of something different, are the N64 Castlevania games any good?