Castlevania: Bloodlines is the only Castlevania game developed for the Sega Genesis. It was released in North America on March 17th, 1994 and in Japan one day later. The game is notable for being loosely tied to the Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker.
The game was promoted as a completely original vampire-themed action series at the time of its release, known as Vampire Killer (バンパイアキラー Banpaia Kirā?), the game's Japanese title. A preview of the game that appeared in the back of the Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo Strategy Guide, referred to the game as a Castlevania Gaiden.
In the 19th century, Europe's greatest nations had gone to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe. The inhabitants sensed that a war would unfold sooner or later and countries formed several alliances, who in turn harbored feelings of distrust against each other. On June 1914 at Sarajevo, the Crown Prince of Austria was assassinated and resulted in a chain reaction of violence across the entire continent. It was said that a strange beautiful woman was involved within the shadows.
Together they traveled to the ruins of Dracula’s castle but were unable to find any trace of the Vampire Lord. After learning that Elizabeth was nearby, they followed her in hot pursuit while fighting their way all across Europe. With much effort, John and Eric were able to finally end the menace of Dracula and Elizabeth after a final showdown in Castle Proserpina.
Victory would soon be tainted when they learned of the terrible price that came by using the whip’s full power.
Castlevania: Bloodlines holds true to the premise of the original game but with notable additions. Making way through six linear stages is required, facing enemies and obstacles along the way. A boss is fought at the end of each level, although minibosses are usually also encountered when reaching its midpoint.
The game allows two characters to be controlled, each of which controls differently and can travel through different sections of a stage only accessible to them.
John Morris controls like a traditional Belmont and thus wields the Vampire Killer whip — which can upgraded three times instead of the usual two — and has access to three separate sub-weapons. The fourth power-up changes the Vampire Killer into a flame whip and boosts the capability of the sub-weapons as well. Something that sets John further apart from most of his Belmont predecessors is that he is able to whip downward while in the air, and can also use his weapon to swing from ceilings.
Eric Lecarde is a more powerful character than John due to being slightly faster, and his weapon — the Alucard Spear — has a longer range yet does slightly less damage than John's whip. The spear can also be upgraded a total of three times, and Eric has access to the same additional sub-weapons as his partner. He is able to attack in six different directions, upward by lifting his spear and downward by performing a dive attack while airborne, as well as diagonally (although having to land a horizontal hit before hitting diagonal on the D-Pad is arguably of any worth). Eric's two special abilities are twirling his weapon back and forth, and using a huge leap to reach platform stationed right above him.
The game is noteworthy for utilizing innovative special effects generated by the Sega Genesis, sometimes resulting in unique obstacles that had never appeared in any of the previous titles. Notable examples include the rotating Tower of Pisa and the upside down rooms in Castle Proserpina.
Born on December 12, 1895 in Texas, USA. John Morris is the son of Quincey Morris, the hero who killed Dracula in 1897, but lost his life in the ordeal. ()
Born on May 3rd, 1892 in Segovia, Spain. Eric Lecarde is John's best friend. He comes from a noble family in Segovia, Spain and wields the Alucard Spear, which was forged by Dracula's son, Alucard. ()
She is an mysterious old witch and a servant of Elizabeth. She obstructs the vampire hunters quest by controlling demons.
Dracula's niece, Elizabeth, was brought back from the dead by a dark sorceress named Drolta. Elizabeth sought a means to bring her uncle, Count Dracula, back from the grave, as well. ()
The embodiment of evil. He was killed in 1897 after a confrontation with Quincey Morris, but his devoted servants would see him return to the world of the living at any cost. Elizabeth and Drolta seek to bring the Dark Lord back to life, but they are pursued by two vampire hunters. The Count's body rests in Elizabeth's Castle Proserpina, located in England.
Some of the tracks would become recurring in later titles in the series. The Sinking Old Sanctuary, would later be reused in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Iron Blue Intention was reused in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and in Castlevania Judgment as a character theme for Eric Lecarde.
Themes from the Castlevania trilogy for the NES can be accessed using a password and can be played in the sound test as well.
Castlevania: Bloodlines displays effects like rotating backgrounds, reflections in the water, a tower that sways from left to right, and very diverse colors. Keeping in line with Super Castlevania IV, the game's mood is more dark and gruesome than the previous titles, resulting in censorship in European versions. While the environments are a step back from the earlier mentioned title, due to lack of multiple scrolling layers and animation in some instances, the game provides very richly-detailed backgrounds. Another noticeable feature is the multi-joint effect seen in several enemies.
Literary and historic references
Castlevania: Bloodlines attempted to make a connection with the novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897, and does this by writing one of the characters — Quincy Morris — into the continuity of the Castlevania series and claiming that he was a Belmont descendant. This leads many people to assume that the novel is part of the official timeline, which in some instances would cause severe inconsistencies, though in reality this is not the case. The book itself was never included in any of the official timelines, and only an (as of yet) unchronicled event involving the character.
The backstory of the game refers to real life accounts of World War I, suggesting that one of the main antagonists ordered the assassination of a real life person called Franz Ferdinand of Austria and thereby causing the conflict.
The vampire Countess Elizabeth Bartley is loosely based on the actual historical figure Erzsébet Báthory. Drolta Tzuentes is based on Dorotya Semtész, one of her servants who aided her in murdering several young women.
The game underwent censorship when localized to PAL regions in both Europe and Australia because of its dark themes. Because it was forbidden to use the word "blood" in video games at the time, the game was redubbed Castlevania: The New Generation. The Japanese and North American title screen was originally red and depicted a sea of blood; this was changed to blue to make it look like water and also had no dripping effect. The palette colors for some enemies like Zombies and Medusa Heads were altered to make them less menacing looking.
This meant the blood drips in Stage 1 and 6-2, and the blood fountain in Stage 5 were removed completely. Finally, Eric's death animation is different; his spear doesn't impale him the moment he dies like in other versions.
Due to running on the PAL Mega Drive, Castlevania The New Generation suffers with decreased play speed, but other than the censorship and lowered speed, it plays similarly to other versions.
The Japanese version is closer to its American counterpart but still includes some changes. The game is titled Vampire Killer, the Normal mode is less difficult (fewer enemies and stronger characters), and the password screen does not show after a stage is completed, but only when the "End" option is chosen on the Game Over screen. In addition, the Easy mode won't skip mid-bosses, features four continues, and regardless of the difficulty setting it will always play the full ending.
Other notable changes are that Eric's facial features in his artwork are more feminine (bishōnen), which was changed in the other versions by making his face more masculine looking in the intro and ending.
- Programmer: M K1 Hanaten
- Enemy Program: Takashi Takeda
- Trap and Enemy Program: Kenichiro Horio
- Wandering Programmer: Koji Komata
- Program: Hidenari Inamura
- Main Designer: BUNMIN
- Design: MAMUUN
- Special Design: TAT, Norio Takemoto
- Sound Program: Atsushi Fujio, Osamu Kasai
- Sound Design: Michiru Yamane
- Package Design: M. Yoshihashi, Kaori Sasaki
There are four endings in Castlevania: Bloodlines. The ending the player receives depends on which character they chose to play as. The ending depicts the respective character staring at the crumbling of Castle Proserpina from afar.
For John Morris, the ending mentions that he has stopped the resurrection of Dracula. If the game was completed on Expert mode, another screen will be displayed with John striking an action pose and mentioning that the blood of Vampire Hunters courses through his veins.
Eric's ending mentions that he has fulfilled his destiny. If the game was completed on Expert mode, the reward is a close-up of the Spaniard and the declaration that greater unknowns await for him in the future.
After that, the credits will roll while a sequence of the game's bosses is displayed.
On Easy mode in the American and European versions of the game, both endings are only played for three seconds before the credits start rolling, motivating the player into trying a harder mode.
- This game is the first to refer to the legendary Belmont whip as the "Vampire Killer". The whip is called "Vampire Killer the Sorcery Whip" (妖鞭バンパイアキラー).
- The game was originally released as a side story of the Castlevania series.
- The American Bloodlines instruction booklet states that Drolta was an amateur witch who casts a spell which inadvertently brings Elizabeth Bartley back to life. However, Drolta plays a much more prominent role in the Japanese version, where she is instead a dark sorceress who intentionally resurrects Elizabeth.
- The warrior and the woman shown at the intro are most likely a reference to Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades, as seen in Sypha's ending in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.
- The game was rated "GA" for "General Audiences" by Sega's VRC ratings board, but possesses a considerable amount of violence and gore for an "all ages" game.
- This game marks the first time the Vampire Killer is referred to by name in a North American release; older titles simply refer to the weapon as the "mystic whip" on the games' packaging.
- It's the first game of the series to be released first in North America before going out to Japan.
- Interestingly, almost all the fire effects used in the game are a bluish tint. This may be due to the traditional belief in Japan and elsewhere in the Far East that blue flame (or fire which turns blue) indicates the presence of a spirit.
- For this game, the traditional Hearts that are normally gathered and used to power the sub-weapons were replaced with Red Jewels that perform the same role. This would be used again in Castlevania (N64) five years later.
- The Discolored Wall contains a repeating melody which closely resembles one in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera (one of the parts in which it is heard is during "Down Once More" when the Phantom sings: "Hounded out by everyone/Met with hatred everywhere/No kind word from anyone/No compassion anywhere"). It is unknown whether this tune was inspirational or if the stage music was intended as a sort of tribute to Webber's work.
- The box art of the North American version was created by Tom duBois.
- The factory stage in the European version is simply titled "The Metal Work", and is described as "A factory run by monsters that produces weapons of mass destruction." in the manual.
- The Water Dragon sub-weapon icon resembles Sypha Belnades's Goodness Gracious Great Bolts of Lightning from Dracula's Curse
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