365//365: Day 007 – Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN)

01.07.2010

bloodline

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The Sega Genesis released quite a few titles that went under most gamers radars. Ghouls n Ghosts was one example of a worth playing game that many passed over for one reason on another. Castlevania: Bloodlines is another example, as it was released with very little fanfare when compared to the Nintendo and PlayStation releases. While the game does not feature a Belmont as a lead character (opting for a relative of a character from the Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel as a lead) you’ll find that although the story and path you take is tweaked ever so slightly, the action and difficulty are still here, and still quite exhilarating.

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Your journey takes you through Dracula's castle, as well as parts of Europe.

Your journey takes you through Dracula's castle, as well as parts of Europe.

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There’s two constants when talking about the Castlevania series – great music and high difficulty. In regards to the music, Bloodlines has some of the series best tunes, perfectly setting the mood for each stage. I’d go as far as to say the soundtrack in Bloodlines is in the top three when it comes to best soundtracks in the series. There’s not one stage or sub stage that doesn’t have impressive, nor fitting music going on.

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Can’t say as much for the sound effects though. Some of the sound is stock, some Castlevania remixed sounds, but for the most part, it lacks the power and doesn’t match the action as seamlessly as previous installments. It’s not bad, but certain video game series have higher expectations than others. I’ve never been much of a fan of the audio capabilities on the Genesis. There are some great soundtracks in some games (Aladdin, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bloodlines) but the sound capabilities are just poor overall in so many cases.

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John and Eric can power up and lengthen their whip and spear respecively. On its final form, they look like sci fi weaponry at times.

John and Eric can power up and lengthen their whip and spear respectively. On its final form, they look like sci fi weaponry at times.

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Super Castlevania 4 had some awesome graphics, aided by some really wicked Mode 7 effects that allowed stages to rotate and whatnot. While Bloodlines does not have Mode 7 aiding in the visual presentation, and while it’s not as impressive as SC4, they still look pretty effective. There are some stages that feature cool rotating stairs and all, but nothing to the scope of SC4. Bloodlines is a more colorful game than Super Castlevania 4, with a lot less muddy, darker colors used as a whole. However, one slight drawback to this is that a few of the backgrounds look simple and lack coloring. It’s pretty cool that some areas you can hit a designated pillar to break it and drop down in a well animated matter, a platform that lets you advance further ahead. Interaction in that form doesn’t happen much, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. The detail is there, but it’s not diversified with more color. Animations are decent, with some nice looking staff twirls when using Eric.

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As mentioned earlier, there are no Belmont’s here to defeat Dracula. You do have a whip wielding character named John Morris, who’s pretty much as Belmont as they get. You can upgrade your whip as you advance through a stage, ending up with a cool flaming laser like whip, although getting hit downgrades your whip. You are able to whip standing, whip ducking, and you can whip downward when you jump, as well as an angle upward when jumping. Eric Lecarde wields a spear, and as with John Morris’ whip, can be upgraded, lengthened and strengthened. You can perform an upward super jump that allows you to traverse through certain portions of the game with a lot more ease, like stage 3-5 where the screen is scrolling vertically, and you need to keep jumping and moving higher or you will die. The jump also acts as an attack, breaking candles for you and hitting any annoying enemies that you make contact with.

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While on the ground, John can only whip while standing and while ducking. In the air howeverm you can aim above and below you, helping make combat a bit more varied.

While on the ground, John can only whip while standing and while ducking. In the air however, you can aim above and below you, helping make combat a bit more varied.

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In terms of difficulty, the other staple to the Castlevania series, I find Bloodlines to be a lot less brutal, depending on your character selection. Picking Eric seems to make the game a lot easier to play through. His slightly stronger attacks, super jumps and overall better use of a main weapon help ease your journey through Europe, defeating all enemies in your path. John’s traditional whip and minimal bonuses helps make his journey seem a bit tougher. Not a ton harder, but enough to make it slightly under par with the difficulty of the series on average. When you get hit, you still have that annoying backwards leap, but it’s not as over dramatic as the NES Castlevania games. What helps out as well are the lack of annoying pit deaths. There are plenty of enemies around, but combine the lesser back jump when getting hit, not as may pits of death around and not always an enemy there to knock you into it, and you have a less of a headache.

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In all honesty, there’s not much to complain about with this game. The bosses are not as well defined, nor as memorable as past games, nor are they as difficult. There’s a lack of sub weapons you can obtain, and what you can use is pretty mediocre in general. At least by holding up when pressing C, you can throw out a more powerful, more crystal costing sub weapon. Probably the only other thing I wasn’t fond of was the mood. Granted you are not isolated to just Dracula’s castle this time, it adds other layers of mood to the game, however it doesn’t feel as creepy because of this. The different locations you visit feel diverse enough so that you don’t think you’re just plowing through an extension of Dracula’s castle, but I don’t always feel a tension, or have that feeling something really creepy or bugged out is around the next bend.

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When you lose all your health while playing as Eric, you fall to the ground, while your spear spins up into the air, and lands firectly through you. Dying never looks that cool.

When you lose all your health while playing as Eric, you fall to the ground, while your spear spins up into the air, and lands directly through you. Dying never looked so cool.

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Castlevania: Bloodlines provides a good bit of entertainment and good times. Thanks to two different characters to play, tweaks to ease the difficulty fairly, some quality music and some fun stages to play through, Bloodlines is a solid addition to the Castlevania series, and one of the better Sega Genesis titles out there. Bloodlines may have never been properly recognized as a top of the line Castlevania title, but let me reassure you – this ranks up there with the best of them.

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Rating: 8.5


Jason V.

I am the Co-Editor-in-Chief here at Chocolate Lemon. Over the last 15 years, I have been writing gaming articles here and there, including my time with GameSages, a then IGN affiliated video game code database that's now owned by IGN, as well as my near four year stay on this very site. I'm quite the gaming enthusiast, have a somewhat "old school" soul, and enjoy a wide variety of geeky shows, movies and so on. Follow me on Twitter @Jas0nVelez