Tuesday 17 February 2015

Castlevania: Spectral Interlude (ZX Spectrum review)

Developer: Rewind
Publisher: Homebrew
Released: 2015

Castlevania: Spectral Interlude is a fan-made title that began life as a 'demake' of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (1987, NES).

While it does incorporate RPG elements it's an action-platformer at heart where you travel through 150+ screens finding alter pieces and trying to kill Dracula once and for all. There's a lot of backtracking involved and you'll only be able to reach particular areas once you've gained new abilities by defeating bosses. These include a double jump, a shield and a teleporting move that allows you to cross areas filled with deadly spikes. Power-ups can be found along the way which increase your whip length / power as well as your life meter. You can also collect money to buy more detailed maps, secondary weapons (i.e. dagger, holy water, etc) and an option to return to a central checkpoint without having to slowly work your way back. There aren't any lives in the game and if you die you're taken back to the last checkpoint - these are spaced out very fairly and have the added bonus of refilling your health and secondary weapon ammo. The adventure is surprisingly lengthy and you'll easily sink several hours into the game by the time you've reached the end. The graphics are superb with tons of texture detail and highly distinctive areas and the developers did a great job mixing them with classic Castlevania tunes. My only criticism of the game is that once you're midway through you'll likely have a few thousand coins with nothing to spend them on as the upgrades are so limited. This really is just nitpicking though.

Castlevania: Spectral Interlude has completely changed my opinion of fan-made games. I've always dismissed them but what's here is such high quality and so well paced that it's impossible not to like. Give it a go and you'll find a fantastic adventure that's worthy of the Castlevania name.

Random trivia: If you're interested in the progression of this game there's a playable demo available online. It was released in 2014 and most of the screens are still in their original black and white state.

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