Top 100 Retro Game List: Castlevania Bloodlines

Castlevania Bloodlines
Sega Genesis

I did not play a lot of Castlevania Bloodlines back in the old days. I am uncertain as to why, but the game just did not cross my path until I was in college and buying up game lots on eBay. This ended up being a very cool game, but I was turned off by the lack of Belmonts, the more modern setting, and did I mention the lack of Belmonts? I really need to get over this man…

So, the plot of Castlevania Bloodlines goes something like this: Uh, one of Dracula’s nieces caused World War I to resurrect him?! Instead of Belmonts we an American Belmont descendant named John Morris who is also related to Quincy Morris from Stoker’s novel and a man named Eric Lecarde whose girlfriend has been turned into a vampire.

This game received good reviews and I feel like they have gotten stronger in more recent times. Hardcore Gaming 101 noted “Bloodlines…plays like any good Castlevania game – spectacular level design, fabulous music, and two playable characters make one of the best action games on the Genesis.”

The cover for Bloodlines is pretty cool. It shows Eric looking upwards towards some enemies and Dracula with the very fitting red Genesis case background color. Not the best Castlevania cover by far, but pretty cool.

Michiru Yamane’s soundtrack for Bloodlines is exceptional. The classical music influences, also very prevalent in Super Castlevania, fit the game well. Updated versions of classic tracks from the series are great too. Yamane would go onto compose the soundtrack for Symphony of the Night, which is one of the best soundtracks ever.

Bloodlines is a part of the Castlevania Anniversary Collection we willed into existence. It is also included on the Genesis Mini.

My most recent playthrough of Castlevania Bloodlines was on the Anniversary Collection. The early twentieth century setting is certainly a bit different, but the game ambitiously travels around Europe and places Castlevania in some new environments like Germany, France, and Greece. It ends up working out fine as these stages bring a unique style to the series in a game that is on a system unique to the series.

Without Nintendo’s scolding censorship holding the series back, this is the most violent and gore-filled game in the series. There are hung corpses in many stages and enemy deaths are often rather bloody. For a series with such gruesome vampire content, the Genesis allows for a level of violence suitable to the content.

A few things I really like and appreciate about this game: Jumps are really solid in it. In Symphony of the Night this would be perfected. There is no stage timer, so gamers can go as slowly as they wish without worrying about a nagging clock. This is definitely a game where I stopped many times, slowed down, assessed the situation of enemy pattern, and then moved. Not doing so can lead to numerous deaths. Without a clock on the screen I feel more comfortable taking my time.

Rondo of Blood was already allowing gamers to pick up an item if they accidentally grabbed another, so it is frustrating to go back to not being able to do so here. Although in Bloodlines the game generally gives you the item you need in any given situation. On the macro scale Castlevania games do definitely nudge you towards different items in different stages.

While jumps are solid in this game, both Eric and John move a tad slow for my tastes. Again, this is fixed in Symphony.

The fake reflection image in the second stage is one of the coolest visual effects I have ever seen in a video game. Just stop and stare at it and then start moving. There are huge AAA games made in 2023 that could not do something like that more effectively.

A real drag on the game is the small amount of continues. This is solved via save states on modern consoles, but I cannot imagine getting through this game in so few lives. Could have easily implemented a password system like other games in the series. That fear game companies had of the rental market always backfired on me. The increased difficulty just made me not want to engage with the game. I never react to anything properly.

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