I'm on a bit of a roll getting through games I've had on my list for aaaaages, and so I used my momentum to start Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. This is definitely one of those games that I had vague recollections of playing when I was a kid, but really didn't remember anything about it, other than that the game is infamous for being confusing and hard to get through without a guide. This turned out to be pretty much completely true as a little more than halfway through the game I did have to resort to a FAQ to figure out what the heck "Hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole" was supposed to mean and what I was supposed to do with the red crystal (and it still looks like no one really knows what "A flame flickers inside the ring of fire" is supposed to mean either!). The game is maddening not only because the majority of "clues" don't make much sense or are otherwise completely useless, but that all the people refer to place names and town names, but nowhere do the towns actually directly tell you what their names are! Gah!

My list of grievances definitely goes on. There are five dungeon-like mansions, but they're all pretty boring and same-y. There are only two lame boss fights, not counting the lame ending fight, and the locales connecting the towns and mansions are also reused a lot. The day/night system is novel, especially for its time, but more often than not is a pain since you just end up wasting time waiting for it to turn back to day so you can actually get stuff accomplished in the various towns. Similarly, the RPG elements are unique, but feel woefully underdeveloped. There are some fun subweapons (but no real need to use them), and there's a decent amount of enemy variety. The music is also pretty good, and I definitely appreciated how generous the game is in terms of restarting you right where you left off when you get a game over and giving an unlimited number of continues.

This may have been a game that was enjoyable for its time, but I don't see how anyone playing it now could find it anything but annoying. I'm glad I've finally been able to cross this game off my list, and that I don't ever have to play it again. I've still barely made a dent in the Castlevania series overall, though, so hopefully I'll be able to get around to another one or two before the end of the year.

Stake these Castlevania II: Simon's Quest links:
- Thorough page at castlevaniacrypt.com, that includes an annotated map, wallpapers, and even a scene creator
- Video playthrough by Coyote12101
- Entry on Miiverse
- NintendoLife has three reviews of the game (and counting!) covering its various rereleases
- Details on the game's three endings
- Entertaining look back at the game at Destructoid
- Old Howard & Nester comic from Nintendo Power about the game
- Someone's hacked the game to replace all the text with text that is actually useful
- Entry on Wikipedia
- An entertaining look at the novelization of the game. I actually kind of remember seeing these books when I was a kid. This quote is particularly entertaining: "'I will drink your spirit like cherry pop!' said the count, flapping his cape and showing his fangs." Ha ha.

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