You never forget your first time as the saying goes and Castlevania's only entry on the Sega Megadrive was my personal first experience with the series and dare I say to this day still my favourite.
Castlevania: The New Generation (Or Bloodlines for the American release) has a surprisingly deep story when you flick through the manual. The basic plot is Dracula is back and you can choose two characters either the current welder of the vampire killer whip John Morris or Eric Lecarde who to make up for his feminine appearance carries around a very large spear. Eric is out for blood as the love of his life was killed by the countess and both heroes travel across Europe to take down Dracula was well as many other baddies and ghouls in the process.
The story is as simple or complex as you want to read into it, and performs well as a standalone Castlevania title as all links to other games are very loose. New Generation is platform action refined to a T. The controls are solid each character has its own unique feel when using their weapons, not only that but each character has a special move which allows them to access a slightly alerted route through some of the levels in the game. John Morris can swing with his whip from walls and Eric Lecarde can do a sort of super jump with his spear weapon accessing high up platforms.
Anyone familiar with the series will be aware you have a health bar allowing the player to make some mistakes depending on difficulty. Like most of the games in the series when your hit your character actually jumps back slightly which can cause you to fall to an instant death and possibly rage quit the game depending on your patience level, however, I always felt this addition always added to the challenge especially when you had a health bar, preventing you from just breezing through the game without any consequences when being hit.
The enemies in this entry are well suited to the Gothic feel of the game and all have unique sprite artwork and unique personalities. Yes, the dreaded Medusa heads return to wreck your day as you scale a tall building which has instant kill pitfalls, however, the game never feels impossible or cheap because most mistakes are made are through player fault, so man up and win the day.
The art style is very impressive you visit various environments and settings as you trek around Europe. Greece has an ancient feel to it with its white pillars and water which reflects your image off the surface and of course Dracula's castle looks as dark and moody and magnificent as you have come to expect in the series. It is also worth mentioning that this game is pretty gory and was released way before the PEGI rating came into play in Europe.
Konami really had magicians working the sound design of this game. Despite the Mega Drives sound limitations when held up to the more superior quality of the Super Nintendo the music in this game sounded amazing. There are so many memorable tracks in the levels which I still remember off the top of my head to this day, this was probably one of the few games I used to go to the sound test in the options menu just to hear the soundtrack. The sound effects were also equally impressive, certain bosses screamed disturbingly when you defeated them and specific enemies had a unique sound when you whacked them with your weapon. For example, armoured enemies make a metal ding as you hit them and skeletons make a satisfying collapsing sound as you break them apart.
In case you didn't have enough reasons to replay through the game you can choose multiple difficulty settings, the harder you go makes the enemies tougher but you'll also see new enemies, new bosses and even new sections of levels which gives a very satisfying achievement feeling to the player for taking the risk.
Completing the game on the hardest setting will also net you the full ending of the selected character however, you'll have to complete the game with each character separate to see both endings (unless your lazy and YouTube it) . The sheer amount of play on show here is incredible, for anyone who is prepared to put in the hours you are going to be treated to some amazing gameplay time after time after time, this is a lesson in how to make a superb game, pure and simple.
Verdict:- Castlevania: The New Generation was fantastic back in the day and still remains that way. The art style, the gameplay and music all hit the right notes making for an incredibly memorable gaming experience that is not too be missed.
The only factor that may deter you from the experience is if you have no interest in the horror setting or the platforming style.
Second Opinion:- Transbot can find no fault in this review, only Konami know the secret ingredient that makes such an amazing play experience and this megadrive outing is one of the really great ones.
By all that is right and good everyone must go play this now or face my type D weapon of justice!!
Transbot Scores:- 9 out of 10