The Retro Critic

Castlevania: Bloodlines

Of course I had to talk about a Castlevania game at some point.

After all, a vampire-themed retro gaming month without Castlevania is like…

February or something.

Whatever the worst month is: THAT.

Castlevania Bloodlines Opening

Konami’s Castlevania: Bloodlines for the Sega Genesis, or “Vampire Killer” (its Japanese title), is set during the 1st World War and sees Belmont descendant John Morris and Eric Lecarde try to stop some mysterious green-haired lady called Elizabeth Bartley (who might have been responsible for WWI, apparently) from resurrecting her uncle, you’ve guessed it, Count Dracula.

Elizabeth Bartley

Morris and Lecarde go all over Europe battling the undead and whatever ghouls and monsters she’s unleashed, you know the drill. Morris uses the iconic whip (clearly the best weapon to destroy all creatures of darkness) and Lecarde, displayed here with beautiful blonde locks and pink lipstick:

Vampire Hunters

(cherry flavoured)

Lecarde’s got a spear or whatever. Who cares, why would you not want the whip?!

Although, technically, Morris’ weapon is…

Character Select


I really like Bloodlines, for one thing it’s the only Castlevania game on the Sega Genesis so it boasts some great 16-bit graphics, but it still feels like a Castlevania game with all its creative bosses, its atmospheric settings and action-packed gameplay.

Of course, you get to fight the usual classic rivals from Frankenstein’s monster:

Frankenstein's Monster

To mummies:

Mummies Bloodlines

Vampires (duh!):

Dracula Bloodlines

Even the Grim Reaper:

Grim Reaper

But in a game with this many villains, there’s always gonna be a handful of weirdos. Enemies you wouldn’t expect to be fighting in a Castlevania game, or any game for that matter.

That’s my kind of video game enemy.

The kind I can show you pictures of and sit back while I let their surreal nature sink in.

Case and point:

Gear Steamer

Who came up with this dude? Seriously!

The game has some great, really great villains but this guy’s just lazy!

I mean… he’s got COGS FOR KNEES for crying out loud!

You fight him at the end of a level which, to be fair, has a lot of cogs and machinery lying around anyway:

Cogs Level Bloodlines

I don’t care what machine you’re building, by the way, if it needs this many giant cogs: build something else.

Gear Steamer shows up looking like some metallic mess and really stands out as this game’s silliest, least imaginative boss.

Gear Boss

This is Castlevania, not Robot Wars. Focus, people!

Another one I like is called Princess Of Moss.

She is first seen looking like this:

Princess Moss Boss

She’s flying, that’s weird, but not exactly threatening…

Moss Boss

Holy crap! What happened to her?!

Where’s Gamera when you need him…

Other bizarre boss or enemy choices include this poop monster here:

Blob Boss

The obligatory big giant heads (gotta have those):

Big Giant Head

A demon whose crotch is a mouth with teeth:

Bloodlines End Boss



Bull Man Bloodlines

And blue-helmeted skeletons from what I can only guess are members of the UN forces who somehow vortexed to that dimension we saw in Army Of Darkness and then inexplicably made it back (in a bad mood):

Blue Helmet Skeleton

The game itself looks fab and is very inventive both with its settings and its levels. You’re never bored one second and you’re always looking forward to what comes next. I really like how the game presents some variety visually, parts of it even attempt 3D-style depths. You’ve got levels where water is rising up and you have to find the best way to climb up in time, levels where everything’s slanted, at an angle:

Slanted Level Bloodlines

I like that one: reminds me of Labyrinth :P

You’ve got a Tower Of Pisa level which turns the game into a moving “top-scroller” for a bit:

Tower Of Pisa

Hell, you even have an upside-down level at one point!

Upside Down Level Bloodlines

Now that’s just irritating for the sake of being irritating.

Expect many more impossible structures throughout the game: staircases held together by nothing, floating platforms, etc. I like those, they give the game a more surreal feel.

Bloodlines is a challenging play, though perhaps not quite as challenging as some of the earlier ones like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest or some of the later ones on the Playstation. The bosses aren’t too hard to beat when you know what they can do and where best to stand but parts of the game are all about trial and error.

Expert Mode

Nah, thanks Konami. I’m good.

The music is as badass as you’d expect and overall it’s a really fun, relentless and colourful outing for the Castlevania series. It may not be the very best Castlevania game around but it’s a good one and I definitely recommend it.

It’s funny to think that the game was censored back in the day when some games like Blood or… basically hundreds of other PC games were way more messed-up than that. The title was changed (again) to “Castlevania: The New Generation”, the dripping blood in the title screen was changed to dripping water, zombies were made green instead of pink, stuff like that. I guess it was a big deal because it was GA rated.

Bloodlines Ending

Overall, Castlevania: Bloodlines is a solid addition to one of the best game franchises around and, if you own a Sega Genesis, it’s kind of a must.

Sadly, your character doesn’t get together with the princess in the end but, you know what?

Princess Of Moss

That’s probably a good thing.