John Morris and Eric Lecarde fight dark forces in this special installment of the Castlevania series. Bloodlines released in 1994 for Sega Genesis and it's the only Castlevania for the console but you can now play it on the Genesis Mini or Castlevania Anniversary Collection.
Castlevania: Bloodlines takes place in the 20th century when the legendary vampire Elizabeth Bartley somehow kills Archduke Franz Ferdinand and sparks World War I. Somehow, she would use the souls of the dead to resurrect the spirit of Dracula so 2 young vampire hunters named John Morris and Eric Lecarde travel across Europe battling the forces of darkness as they journey to Bartley's castle.
I chose Eric Lecarde because it rhymes with Legard. The first stage (the ruins of Castle Dracula, Romania) is the same castle as the original Castlevania. First, you go through the courtyard which has no enemies. Then, you travel through the castle's halls which are inhabited by various undead, merfolk, bats, and skeletons. Through the windows, you see the rolling storm clouds which is a cool detail. The stage isn't too difficult; or so I thought. In the middle is a hellhound boss who cracks the glass above you using its scream then you go above the castle where you can see the full moon in the background. The boss is a knight which is a walking suit of armor so avoid its lance and it will soon fall. This stage looks and sounds amazing; it really is scary like going through Dracula's castle should be.
After you complete the epic introductory level, the rest of the stages are as follows:
- The Atlantis Shrine, Greece, is inhabited by minotaurs and merfolk. There's a fun section where you have to climb while outrunning the ascending water then defeat a boss before the water drowns you.
- In the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you have to climb the tower while being swarmed by harpies and gargoyles then battle an epic gargoyle boss at the top.
- The munitions factory in Germany is also inhabited by the forces of darkness. You'll have to travel through the machinery which makes for some very fun platforming sections. This level also has a rocking soundtrack, by the way. 🎵
- The Palace of Versailles is based on the amazing landmark of the same name. You fight your way through the garden while listening to some nice and relaxing classical music. In section 5-2, the foreground lighting looks great and there are plenty of sections where you can enjoy the palace's stunning art and architecture.
- Castle Proserpina is Elizabeth Bartley's castle in England. 6-2 is a confusing section that you'll just have to see for yourself. Then comes 6-3 (the only upside-down section in the game) and 6-4 which is pretty much a walking section where you can spear a few knights, too. After that, the rest of the stage is a boss rush where you battle Death, Bartley, and Dracula in quick succession. All I can say is good luck because you'll need it! 😅
As I mentioned previously, I used Eric Lecarde and his spear has great reach which makes it easy to take out enemies from a distance. You can also spear up and at an angle but not while jumping. He can also use the spear to perform a nifty super-jump. John Morris uses a whip just like Simon Belmont. Unfortunately, John hasn't learned how to whip above his head which makes things considerably more difficult so there's ultimately not much of an advantage to play as John. By the way, both characters have exclusive areas that only they can access and both characters have their own distinct endings as well so it's probably worth playing through a couple times.
Castlevania: Bloodlines is easier if you can find an axe or boomerang and lots of ammo because you can then attack from an even greater distance. The boomerang is my favourite because of how simple it is. If you want to keep a certain sub-weapon, you need to make sure you don't pick up another one which will replace it. There are a few places where you can get infinite ammo, too; how convenient.
Even on easy difficulty, Castlevania: Bloodlines isn't a walk in the park but it's not quite as difficult as the Castlevania I remember; Super Castlevania IV. I beat Bloodlines in 2 days then beating it on normal took another day. I definitely recommend playing on easy if you're starting out because you can play and beat the game without the stress of dying loads of times. Plus, you can always replay it later and there are also a few bosses that are exclusive to normal and hard difficulty so it won't be exactly the same experience.Super Castlevania IV vs. Castlevania: Bloodlines
Castlevania: Bloodlines is my favorite Sega Genesis Mini game so far. You should try it out for yourself if you haven't already; heck, the rocking soundtrack alone makes it a worthwhile experience!