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CONSOLE: Sega Master System DEVELOPER: SIMS PUBLISHER: Sega
RELEASE DATE (EU): 1992 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Castlevania of Darkness.

Hello, Sega Master System. Haven't seen you in a while. I think it's time we dusted you off and have a merry old time, yes? Alright, let me just load up with lemon Pledge... ah, yes, much better. You're shinier than I remember! Oooh, you're just looking so good! Yes, you are! Yes, you are! Well, enough with the infantile talk. Let's play a game. I'm just going to grab some game at random and pop it in. Okay, we're all set. Here we go!

Alright, looks like I have myself a Castlevania game! It plays just like it -- I see my character walking around, killing zombies and skeletons and the like, those ridiculous stairways that plagued the classic Castlevania games are here in full effect, and even the environs looks very similar. I love this series. I hope they didn't exclude the whip! ...What? There's no whip? Wh-what is this nonsense? Wait... wh... what is this? this ISN'T a Castlevania game? I've been duped! Call the National Guard! Call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police! Call Bill Freakin' Cosby!

Okay, calm down, SoyBomb. This isn't as bad as it seems. Maybe I should have just read the cartridge label before starting to play. So, this isn't a Castlevania game, but it sure plays like it. What's this game called? "Master of Darkness"? Sounds like a subtitle for a Castlevania game, but I guess it's just one that is somewhat similar. So what's the storyline? It'll probably be something off the wall, like me having to investigate a haunted house and get rid of some nasty demons or something like that.

...Dracula? I have to defeat Dracula? I have to go to Dracula's castle and defeat freakin' Nosferatu himself? Whoa, whoa, back the hairy truck up. Are you SURE this isn't Castlevania, because it sure as heck feels like it now. I just hope my main character isn't a Belmont. He shouldn't be: he's dressed in a suit! ...nope, he's a psychologist by the name of... Dr. Social?! Okay, hold the phone right there. Dr. Social? What kind of a name is that? I suppose I should be happy that Dr. Manic-Depressive and Dr. Introvert were out of office at the time. Anyway, it looks like Dr. Social must end Dracula's reign because he's been performing murders under the guise of... Jack the Ripper? Considering we still haven't solved that mystery, I wouldn't be surprised if vampires were actually involved. But why send a psychologist? I would think a more seasoned warrior would be more appropriate. Oh well, he's not that poor of a fighter.


That swinging pendulum and the clock tower motif DEFINITELY reminds me of something.

Oh, Master System, there must be something different in Master of Darkness. I can't just accept a Castlevania clone. The fact that you can pick up a variety of both primary and secondary weapons is somewhat original. You can only carry one at a time (and you lose the one you had when you collect something new), but you do have the fun of playing with both a swift axe and a puny little knife as your main weapon. Meanwhile, secondary weapons include a pistol and bombs, which come in limited amounts. They can come in very handy for those enemies in tricky positions.

Speaking of enemies, I think they did play too much Castlevania before making this game. Why am I suddenly bombarded with dancing ghost women, enchanted dining room furniture, and hopping framed portraits? Why am I getting rehashed elements from Super Castlevania IV? Those things were downright weird to begin with, so why bring them back for another odd run? I guess including possessed tables breaks the boredom of excessive zombification and werewolfery.

On the plus side, the controls are as responsive and spot-on as they are in Castlevania. Well, except for the damn stairs! Bwah! I know people complain about how difficult it is to get on and off staircases in the old Castlevania games, but this is beyond ridiculous. You need to be pixel perfect before our beloved Dr. Social takes his first step. Going up isn't quite as bad as going DOWN; what I try to do is crouch while walking until he automatically goes down the stairs. That tends to do the trick on most occasions, but really, how difficult is it to walk down the stairs in a video game? Forget putting that extra pixel on a bat to give it that bloodlustful look; just program stairs. That's all I ask.

Master System, you've done it again. You've made me rather happy to play video games. You have proven to me that it doesn't take an Official Seal of Quality or a thumbs-up from John Elway to create a viable gaming experience. Master of Darkness has everything you need for a spooky adventure: zombies, skeletons, vampires, dark and crusty environs, eerie yet still eccentric music, a psychologist... the list goes on and on. Actually, my list just ended. But if you're severely lacking in Nintendo or Sony consoles and could use an equivalent Castlevania fix, look no further than Master of Darkness. It's just as challenging (although the final boss isn't quite as severe), just as Dracula-tastic, and even equally charming, if you can believe it! Go, Master System, spread your Transylvanian jubilance!


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