Genre: Action, Platformer, RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Konami
No matter the outcome, I knew a singular truth would remain, one that outreaches its success or failure as a playable and enjoyable experience: this is the kind of game that I like. Honestly, it’s the first game I encountered that won me over with its ATMOSPHERE. I do enjoy the original Castlevania and Dracula’s Curse, and I now believe that those are very successful at creating atmosphere in their own right. This is because of my latter-day experiences with Castlevania IV. However, none of those are the type of game that I innately prefer. Simon’s Quest has you visiting towns, exploring the countryside, finding secrets, and collecting a set of special objects. The engine is very similar to the other two games in the franchise that were released on the NES, but the execution is almost wholly different. You aren’t traveling a fixed path. You have to backtrack and explore the world. Your progression is dependent on finding, buying, and trading items; it’s the first step towards Metroidvania! I love the world and I love the mythos. As a kid, I poured over Oriental Trading catalogues to find exactly the right toys to be Dracula’s body parts. As much as a ring can be a body part, at any rate… I had two copies of F.X. Nine's Worlds of Power adaptation! I even had the Tiger Electronics handheld.
Right, onto the game itself: Hearts act as currency and seemingly allow you to level up. There's an experience meter, but in my...experience, I've always leveled up when actually collecting a heart. You have three lives but this only really matters when you’re grinding to buy something. I.e., when you’re trying to buy something, park yourself on the closest screen with enemies and BE CAREFUL until you’ve reached your goal and made the purchase. Okay, okay, continuing does affect the ending you'll receive, as well. I'll get to that in time.
Frankly, this does everything right that Zelda II does wrong. Yeah, you're moving back and forth and up and down levels, but the areas look different. They're colored diversely. Different colored woods, different colored skies, different colored towns. There's as much back and forth in the entire game as there is in, I dunno, the first two palaces in Zelda II? That game is out of its mind. I should have scored it lower.
It is similar to that game in that if you're playing on an NES, you'll be placed back in Jova when entering the password you can ask for when you Game Over. They’re a little lengthy (16 characters), but they aren't the worst I've heard of, and Jova is fairly centrally located. If you're playing on the Virtual Console, just exit to the Wii Menu when on the Game Over screen, without resetting. That way, you can pick up exactly where you left off. You don't even have to write down the passwords because of this de-facto save state.
Alright, moment of truth: In my opinion, it's not badly translated. It's deliberately cryptic. The manual even says that some of the townspeople are tricksters! I had one problem, and it was the result of a lack of exploration and an assumption naturally made by the human brain given the specific visual stimuli on display. However, that decidedly is NOT the result of mis-translation. I was able to completely fill out the menu and do EVERYTHING, except proceed to the endgame. I acknowledge that not being able to find Castlevania is an intensely significant act with which to have trouble. However, it is nice to see that the greatest challenge was the final one. Someone more clever and thorough than me could easily manage it. I'm just over the moon that it didn't involve the translation or any of the puzzle-solving.
It was partially MY fault, and partially the designers being intimately aware of the intricacies of human perception and thought processes. I think it's a fair and intelligent challenge. You're free to disagree all you want.
You’ll have to play for speed if you want the 'better' endings, but that’s no different than other games on the system (e.g., Metroid). Also, the ending you’re almost assuredly going to get the first time is completely fine! I like it better than the 'middle' ending, to be frank. Also also, this really is obviously all about the journey.
I'm not sorry, guys; this is an ambitious, fully fleshed-out NES game, whose clue-dependent puzzles can be solved with the text as it was presented. If you'd like to see my justifications for the ones that I couldn't forget the solutions to, please visit this post, on my blog. More than anything, though, I'd like this to serve as evidence for my belief that, if you're truly interested in something, you should judge it yourself.
Buyer's Guide: Originally an NES game. It seems it was re-done for the PC. I know for a fact that it was on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles. It's also on the NES mini. There's a redacted version out there, available on actual carts, but it should be obvious that I don't think you need to bother with that sort of thing.
4 Deliciously Bloody Tears out of 5
4 Deliciously Bloody Tears out of 5