A blissful return to the days of yore.
Castlevania: The Adventure was a Game Boy launch title back in 1989. It was one of the first games I ever owned, and it took me a year to beat. These days it is generally hated by most Castlevania fans, and that's an attitude I can sympathize with. The game features unbelievable slowdown, a lot of cheap deaths, and an entire level featuring the combination of forced scrolling and obnoxiously unforgiving jumping sequences. With these facts in mind, you can see why I’d question Konami’s desire to remake the game as a ReBirth title, a series that already includes Gradius ReBirth and Contra ReBirth. Howeer, after playing the hell out of it for a few days, I can safely say it’s one of my favorite Castlevania games.
The game's title is extremely misleading. Adventure ReBirth resembles Rondo of Blood more so than Adventure, both in terms of level progression (there are alternate paths to the boss, and key sub-weapons unlock doors) and play control (control is looser, with less precision required). You’ll also find breakable walls and mini-bosses. This is an old-school Castlevania title, so there is no Metroidvania exploration here. The action is broken up into six levels with the final one consisting of your final confrontation.
ReBirth is relatively easy compared to other old-school Castlevania games, although things start getting hairy around the latter half of the fourth level. Thankfully, you can set the number of lives and difficulty before starting the game, and you have unlimited continues. Despite all of this, you cannot save your game. This isn’t much of a problem considering that Castlevania ReBirth clocks in at barely over an hour long, but you'll definitely have to set aside some time to play through it. The inability to save isn’t as punitive as in, say, Bubble Bobble Plus, but it's a throwback game mechanic that hard to appreciate in this day and age. The overall difficulty is probably on par with Super Castlevania IV, though ReBirth obviously isn’t as long as the SNES classic.
The game itself is a colorful mishmash of previous Castlevania titles, with only a few references to its namesake. It looks like a Super Nintendo-era game with a brighter color palette. Some frustrating series trademarks remain intact, such as accidentally jumping through staircases, ill-placed enemies in precarious platforming situations, and knock-back. These throwbacks are all painfully omnipresent in the clock tower level (a series tradition!), but fans of the series will begrudgingly accept them and power through. Some of the bosses are a little cheap in their attack patterns, especially Dracula’s final form. Once you beat the game, you’ll unlock Classic mode, which makes the jumping stricter and the game harder overall. Otherwise, replayability comes from finding all of the alternate paths, netting a higher score, and dying less. Were you expecting a New Game Plus option? Remember, this ain’t Symphony of the Night!
I would be remiss in failing to mention the excellent soundtrack. In a series known for its musical scores, this entry trends high, remixing classic tracks in new and enthralling ways to produce memorable music that holds your attention throughout.
Definitely one of the best WiiWare titles yet, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is well worth your time and money. Even those who don’t particularly like older Castlevania games (like our own TYP) will find this particular game much more approachable than others of its ilk. Konami’s got a real good thing going, and let’s hope they keep this Rebirth series alive.