Everyone who grew up with Nintendo has heard of a little game called ‘Castlevania’. There have been countless chapters to the story of Castlevania, but while researching the series, it can be found that some chapters of the series have been treated as alternate timelines or retracted from the series’ canon entirely. One such entry was ‘Castlevania: Legends’.
As the last entry of the Game Boy’s Castlevania series, “Legends’ told the story of Sonia Belmont, another of the fated vampire hunters. Sonia held two distinctions before being removed from the actual universe of the series: she was the first of the Belmonts to take on Dracula, and she was the only female of the clan. Her being a female had nothing to do with the removal, however. It was the fact that her being the first of the Belmonts contradicted the actual canon of the series. Later on, Leon Belmont would be crowned the original hunter. It also appears that she had a romantic connection to Alucard, one of the series’ mainstays, and she was the reason he went into his self-induced slumber. Even being ‘together’ with the most popular character in the series couldn’t save her from being reduced to near non-existence.
As stated before, the story is about Sonia Belmont, who makes her way through hordes of undead and other creatures to reach the infamous Dracula. There isn’t much else to the story, and seeing as how she was meant to be the original slayer, there shouldn’t have had to have been. Through a series of about ten stages, she uses her trusty whip, magic powers, and iron resolve to take on the master of the castle.
Even if she doesn’t really exist, Sonia is one of the coolest Belmonts to take on Dracula. She gets the usual upgrades from the original series, but with her third upgrade, she can whip fireballs at her enemies. There are also elements she can wield and the standard sub-weapons, but I never really figured out how to implement them, nor did I have to. What I did use, though, is her ‘Invincibility’, which for a short time, by pressing both buttons, allows her to move faster and attack until her lower bar runs out. All in all, the girl’s loaded for bear. Sadly, she moves slow as hell in her normal gait, and upgrades later in the game can be few and far between.
The game is not terribly difficult. There are a few mini-bosses, but the only difficult battle really is the battle with Dracula, and once you figure out the pattern, he’s a pushover. The easiest fight is with Mister Popularity himself, Alucard. Duck and hit. That’s all. Also, when you die, you almost always start at a point that’s so close to where you were, it doesn’t become redundant. That was certainly a nice feature, considering some of the past entries and their unforgiving manner as to your death. Again, it should be noted that the idea of the ‘Soul Weapon’ elements and sub-weapons were a great inclusion, but one that the player does not suffer for neglecting.
Speaking on the games graphics, it’s a mixed bag. The graphics are exactly what you would expect from the original Castlevania. That was nearly ten years before. On one hand, the game was produced for Game Boy, which was not the most graphically inclined system. It is hard to take that as an excuse, though. Legends is visually passable as an entry into the series, but the game really shines in the occasional anime-esque character portraits or scenes. The characters are well represented in these small boxes or scenes. That aside, the visuals are pretty unimpressive. There are also instances where fireballs passed through what I was attacking, making for some agitating situations.
The music was a bit of a tinny mess, too. As a general rule, it can be hard to be impressed by Game Boy music, but you may find yourself reaching for the volume button more often than not. There isn’t much more to say about the sound beyond that, which is a shame given the game’s fantastic soundtracks in earlier entries.
Praise for Legends really goes toward the potential of the game, not the execution. The implementation of a female Belmont was refreshing, and it’s honestly surprising that it hasn’t been attempted again. It was also a step in the right direction to add more than just subweapons and a whip. If your family is ‘fated’ to fight the Lord of Darkness, one might think your bloodline would have more than jumping and whip handling. Even the idea of Sonia having a romantic angle with Alucard was interesting, as it adds some depth to the Belmonts that wasn’t a precedent at the time. The game really is just a clone, though, with a few tweaks in the right direction and a lot of heart.
In the end, Castlevania: Legends was a couple of hours of time killed, and the experience is pretty forgettable. If you have a driving need to play every game in the series, hunt this one down. Keep this in mind, though: you’re not missing out on anything game-play-wise or story-wise. If you want an experience like this, just playing the original should sate your appetite as well as this game would.