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Castlevania Legends

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Released: 1997

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Konami

Developer: KCE Nagoya

Submitted by: Michael Levy

It seems Sonia Belmont just can’t catch a break. She’s been ripped from the Castlevania lore as the first Belmont to not only be a lead character but to also the first female Belmont as well. She was supposed to make her 128 bit debut in Castlevania Resurrection for the Sega Dreamcast, only to have her hopes and digital dreams nailed back into the coffin. All we have as proof of the female vampire killer is her single released starring role in Castlevania Legends for the Game Boy.

 

The year is 1450, and we journey to the land of Transylvania. In Legends, Sonia joins forces with a non-playable son of Dracula, Alucard, to defeat the lord of darkness. Though there is romantic tension between the two, there is fierce rivalry as well. Eventually, Sonia defeats Dracula, and swears to raise her family to fight the vampire king in an eternal struggle between good and evil.

 

The cruelest evil, however, is the fact that the series takes a step backwards with this rendition. The last of the original Game Boy trilogy, this release is plagued with problems that not even the strongest of weapons can cure.

 

Sonia is brutally slow in this game, right on par with Christopher Belmont in Castlevania: The Adventure. While Belmont’s Revenge picked up the pace a bit, Legends suffers from a lack of variation in gameplay. The magic system introduced offers Sonia five soul weapons to use throughout her adventure. Utilizing Ice, Wind, Fire, Saint and Magic, the game’s sub-weapons are unique and varied. Bosses are the atypical for Dracula’s partners in crime. Medusa, Minotaur, Death, they’re all here. Even fighting Alucard is a treat. Boss battles feel too easy at times, and the level layouts to get to these enemies feel a bit off balance and not varied enough.

 

Speaking of level design, the biggest annoyance in the game was whipping a candle only to find it be a floor that drops Sonia into a pit of spawning zombies that respawn continuously. The best shot she has is to commit suicide and jump off a cliff because if the enemies are vanquished, it takes quite a hefty chunk of health off the life bar. There’s no warning that the floor will drop, so upon first game, you’ll be confused and agitated. It repeats itself often, and is a huge mistake in level design.

 

While the tracks on Belmont’s Revenge were much more memorable, Legends has some excellent classic Castlevania tunes, and they are better than Adventure’s by a long shot. The tracks use quick arpeggios, harpsichord melodies, and oozes with the familiar songs to match the atmosphere of the experience.

 

Despite Sonia not getting a fair shot at glory, Legends is worth checking out. It soars for high prices on auction websites, but is a decent addition to your Game Boy library. Just be sure to pick up Belmont’s Revenge first. Though Koji Igarashi, (longtime Castlevania producer) has publicly removed the game and all traces of Sonia from the Belmont legacy, the morale of Castlevania fans still keeps Sonia’s memory alive. While she won't be the last of the Castlevania heroines, she will always be the first female Belmont thanks to Castlevania Legends.