NOTE: When possible, the game's official manual or official documentation from the game maker's company or Nintendo is used — with spelling or terminology presented as is, despite some translation errors.
SPOILER ALERT: Some of the categories below may have a question mark to conceal important or secret revelations in the game. If you would like to see the unknown revealed, a rollover option or external link will be attached to the question mark.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
not listed in game
not listed in game
North America - December 1, 1988
Adventure, Horror, Action with light Role-Playing Game elements
Ratings/Suitable For Age Group?:
E for Everyone (Mild Fantasy Violence)
(Scary imagery for younger audiences)
Port To Other Game Systems:
(Nintendo 3DS) Virtual Console as a digital download from the Nintendo eShop and
included in the (Switch, PS4, XBox One, Steam) Castlevania Anniversary Collection.
Numerous sequels and re-issues based off of this title
Included in NES Classic Edition (Direct Port of NES) and
on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console (as a download from Nintendo eShop).
Cartridge is fairly common and is relatively-inexpensive in value (at least, in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area).
Add'l Game System Peripheral Needed To Play?:
1 or 2 Player:
Number of Reserve Players:
Start with 3 Players
Yes. On left, the starting Player Level of 00 (12 bars) and on right, the maximum Player Level of 06 (24 bars).
Yes. By deciding to CONTINUE, Belmont resumes play from the exact last point of death (or last spot from which Belmont leapt before falling to his death), regenerating with temporary invincibility and the temporary ability to pass through any foe in the immediate location.
2D and Horizontal/Vertical, Non-linear (Freedom to explore with open-world feel)
Number of Levels
N/A, but Five Mansions and Dracula's Castle are key places
No (After a Password is entered, you begin from starting point of game in first town... no matter where the Password was saved from.)
Upon the death of Simon (as well as death of final reserve player resulting in the use of the CONTINUE feature), gameplay stops and resumes from the exact point of death (or last spot from which Belmont leapt before falling to his death) with temporary invincibility and the temporary ability to pass through any foe in the immediate location.
No, but signposts in towns reveal some locations.
No (An actual time limit does not exist; however, the duration of days and nights do affect what can be done during gameplay.)
No, but there is a large cast of townsfolk, priests, merchants, traders and strangers - all NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) - who communicate, sell, trade, give items or weapons and interact with Simon.
Leather Whip (default)
Dagger (unlimited supply)
Silver Knife (costs 1 Heart per usage)
Gold Knife (costs 2 Hearts per usage)
Diamond (costs 1 Heart per usage)
Sacred Flame (costs 1 Heart per usage)
Oak Stake (costs 50 Hearts)
Holy Water (unlimited supply)
White Crystal (purchased)
Blue Crystal (traded)
Red Crystal (traded)
Garlic (can be used as a weapon or special item)
Laurels (grant temporary invincibility; especially useful in poison marshes)
Hidden Book (reveals clues; is hidden within blocks scattered around Transylvania; exposed by Holy Water or Dracula's Eyeball)
Magic Cross (cannot reach end of game without this)
Flame Whip (Morning Star powered up by "A MAN IN DARKNESS")
Small Heart (currency of Transylvania; worth 2 Hearts; can build up 1 Heart toward your Experience Rating, which ultimately builds up your Player Level)
Half Heart (currency of Transylvania; worth 4 Hearts; can build up 3 Hearts toward your Experience Rating, which ultimately builds up your Player Level)
Large Heart (currency of Transylvania; worth 6 Hearts; can build up 5 Hearts toward your Experience Rating, which ultimately builds up your Player Level)
Silk Bag (extends the amount of Laurels and Garlic that Belmont can store, up to 8 each)
The box art for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest has a surprising inspiration. The top half that consists of Count Dracula gazing from a balcony in his castle is, indeed, remarkably-similar to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - Ravenloft cover art. See the comparisons below (↓):
There are some differences to spot, though... it is not an exact copy, but close enough. For example, Dracula's menacing gaze is turned toward Simon Belmont and the viewer of the box art, his cape flows more openly and the tower is positioned and designed with slight alterations.
As another interesting point to add, only Simon Belmont and the ground he stands on remains on the European (PAL Region) release of the game. (See below ↓.)
The PAL version came out on April 27, 1990 — almost two years after the North American edition, and nearly three years after the Japanese Famicom Disk System release from August 28, 1987. Perhaps this was done to avoid potential, legal entanglements with the makers of Dungeons & Dragons material.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest graced the cover of the second-ever issue of Nintendo Power (September/October 1988), released just in time for the upcoming Halloween holiday season. The cover art would live on in infamy for its violent imagery.
In the pictorial — perhaps not the kid-friendliest choice for a magazine that was, interestingly-enough, targeted to children and teens — a decapitated Dracula was depicted. His body lay crumpled over with displaced body parts lying across his cape. His head — a grimacing countenance with fiery-red eyes aglow — dangled from the clenched fist of the valiant Simon Belmont, clad in gilded armor and hero's helmet. In an ironic touch, the headlining Castlevania II: Simon's Quest feature was subtitled "14 Pages of Gory Details".
And in an interesting side-note, the cover actually stays true — at least, partially so — to how Dracula was actually slain in Bram Stoker's novel. Although popular culture would have you believe that he was dispatched with a wooden stake, the Count actually faces a much more grisly demise at the hands of a small band of fighters (Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris directly), finished off by the beheading.
In further issues surrounding questions of controversy and censorship with Simon's Quest, Nintendo's policy against showing religious imagery was tested. As in Castlevania before, contradictory conflicts with much of the upcoming religious imagery abound:
The vial of blue-colored liquid that was self-contradictorily described as a Fire Bomb in the first Castlevania, now became a bottle of red-colored fluid referred to as Holy Water. Besides the mixup in colors for the "water", the reference of being holy was now allowed.
Castlevania's Fire Bomb
Castlevania II's Holy Water
The slowly-scrolling Prologue that cranks along the film sprockets of the opening screen of the game forebodes of a mildly profane-laced description and objective for this sequel:
The Prologue from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest details the objective of the game with perhaps some objectionable language for children (as deemed by Nintendo's censors).
If the following parade of religious icons made it past the watchful eyes of Nintendo's panel of censors, then one must wonder what, if anything, would get pulled:
Naturally, the Churches in Transylvania would display crosses.
The password screens showcase ornamental instances of crosses.
Some tombstones in the graveyards and cemeteries of Castlevania II are chiseled in the shape of a cross.
The Magic Cross, found in Laruba Mansion, opens access to the final area of the game.
Ironically, Dracula's grave is crowned with a cross.
Finally, aside from the religious artifacts that were strewn throughout the game, these following questionable images remained untouched:
The reappearance of the Grim Reaper that may have escaped the censors once again.
The Grim Reaper, or Death, is a major character that was allowed to remain... once again.
The introduction of a new major enemy, Vampira (based off of the female lead in Carmilla, an early and very influential vampire novella by Irish writer, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu) and her mask that cries "bloody tears" (although very abstract in reality) may have skirted the line.
Going along this same line, Konami named one of its songs, "Bloody Tears" — a track that would go on to become one of the most popular songs in the Castlevania catalog.
Vampira, also to be known as Carmilla or Camilla in future titles, is represented by a mask that sheds tears of blood... a surprising entry.
Usually seeing images of hanged figures in a game that was predominately marketed and played by adolescents, would send up flags of caution. However, in this game — where so many things seemed to miss crossing an arbitrary line of censorship — it's no big surprise.
Hanged figures seem to be a particularly troublesome choice of images to be missed by Nintendo censors.
The Wolf Man seemed to be the only major movie monster, unceremoniously, left out of the original Castlevania.
The Wolf Man headlined monster movies of yesteryear, but couldn't make the cut as an enemy boss in Castlevania... like his fellow fiends.
Konami makes up for that gaffe in this game. In fact, from the starting point in the game, the Wolf Man is the very first enemy you encounter when you leave town and take the path to the right. (If you attempt to go left first, the enemies are, presumably, too strong and fast to get past.)
The Wolf Man earns some much-deserved respect and appears as the first of "Count Dracula's Best Buddies" that Simon encounters (in many cases) — most likely by purposeful design.
It's as though the game's designers intended for the player to turn right first... and since the Wolf Man is the first foe you see, he makes his triumphant entrance in style... even if he is a little late to the party.
There is only one holdover, major boss from Castlevania. The Grim Reaper returns to lord over one of the Mansions found in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
The Grim Reaper is one of the few characters that appears in almost every Castlevania game.
The only other major boss — besides the final boss and the aforementioned Grim Reaper — is Vampira (according to the game manual... but also, referred to as Carmilla or Camilla, later in future titles in the series).
Above (↑) are two instances of where Camilla/Carmilla is mentioned in the game: (left) the cryptic riddle directly connects Camilla/Carmilla with Vampira, as it hints at the Vampira boss in Laruba Mansion, and (right) the town sign points the way to Camilla Cemetery.
The name, Carmilla, comes from novella and title vampire, Carmilla (1871-1872), penned by Irish writer, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Well-known for his Gothic and horror stories, Le Fanu's story was an early influence about a female vampire that predated, fellow Irish author, Bram Stoker's famous horror novel, Dracula (1897), by nearly 25 years!
In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Vampira stands in defense of the Magic Cross and Dracula's Ring in Laruba Mansion. She appears as the manifestation of a dark gray mask that sheds tears of blood.
Interestingly enough, Vampira/Camilla/Carmilla — in her Castlevania II: Simon's Quest masked form — has made future cameos outside of the series... in another high profile series.
That's right! She appears in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo) from 2018 on the Nintendo Switch.
Carmilla (Vampira) makes a terrifying return as a third-party featured character in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Note the PG-rated, non-blood-colored, purple tears!
In the spirit of celebrating famous monsters from film, Castlevania II introduced a more modern one. A clawed creeper, who pounces at Belmont with a hair-trigger, slash attack, is called Freddie — an allusion to Freddy Krueger, the bladed-gloved bogeyman who terrorized sleepers in A Nightmare On Elm Street from 1984.
The horror film genre wasn't the only source of inspiration for "Count Dracula's Best Buddies" in Simon's Quest. Slimey BarSinister, surprisingly, comes from the world of animated cartoons.
This enemy is a play on names from a character in the cartoon series, Underdog. Simon Bar Sinister was one of the nemeses of the heroic, Underdog. It's not certain why Konami chose to take influence from this character's name, but it is displayed within the game manual.
Underdog was the star of his very own cartoon series that originally ran from October 1964 through 1973.
Simon Bar Sinister was one of the villains of Underdog and was the inspiration for the naming of Slimey BarSinister below (↓).
The Ferryman, which is one of the "Six Haunting Scenes", makes his debut in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. He is the second major representative of Greek mythology to enter the Castlevania arena; Medusa being the first.
The Ferryman, known as Charon or Kharon, transports souls of the recently dead over the rivers, Styx and Acheron, in Greek/Roman mythology. This eerie oarsman ferries Simon — ironically, a living soul — across the Dead River to different regions amongst many of the haunted hordes that stalk the land.
An engraving of Charon created by the prolific, French artist, Gustave Dore, from 1861.
"WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE." This message has lived on years after the release of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, existing in various media — in other video games and music even.
This is a demo album, independently-released in May 2001 by death metal/metalcore band, The Black Dahlia Murder. Its name? What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse.
The Black Dahlia Murder, an American death metal/metalcore band, showed its adoration for Simon's Quest by naming its independently-released demo album from May 2001, What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse.
The Black Dahlia Murder's album, Nocturnal, actually contains a song called "What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse" on its playlist.
The Black Dahlia Murder further showed its love by bestowing the same title for the second single released from their later album, Nocturnal (released on September 18, 2007).
The single — released on September 24, 2007 — was actually featured in two video games.
In Saints Row 2 (2008), originally on the Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Microsoft Xbox 360, the song can be heard, if the gamer tunes into radio station, Krunch.
The song is, also, downloadable as add-on content for the Rock Band series. It can be found in the PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS4 versions or from the Xbox Marketplace.
Not to be ignored, the flipside phrasing that appears once nightfall ends — "THE MORNING SUN HAS VANQUISHED THE HORRIBLE NIGHT." — is resurrected in a later piece in the Castlevania oeuvre.
Shanoa, heroine from Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia (2008 - Nintendo 3DS), utters a variation of the message during the game:
The original phrase: THE MORNING SUN HAS VANQUISHED THE HORRIBLE NIGHT.
Shanoa's reinterpretation from the Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia game.
Did you know that Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was one of the earliest video games to use the innovation of an internal clock or sense of time change with real consequences to gameplay?
Time affected the strength of enemies and when, where and what could be done (depending upon daytime or nighttime); as well, as which of the different endings would be achieved (dependent upon amount of time played).
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is one of the first games to utilize a system of time that mimicked real days and nights, as well as recording passage of time with real consequences to gameplay.
Did you know that time actually stops — that is, the internal clock pauses — while Belmont is inside a building or Church in the towns; inside a Mansion or at the final area of the game?
Did you know that in the final confrontation of the game, the Oak Stake cannot be used?
If you happen to purchase a spare one from any of the Mansions, then venture to the game's ending fight, the Oak Stake will be displayed in the Multi-Screen, but will be disabled and unresponsive if you try to use it. That's because this item can't be used at any point in the game, except for in retrieving the five body parts.
And if you are looking for other traditional weapons known to afflict vampires, access to Simon's Garlic is taken away in the final battle, as well.
In the final battle of Simon's Quest, the Oak Stake is disabled and any cloves of Garlic that you may have had before you enter the final room are removed — whittled down to zero. Simon Belmont never seems to learn his lesson.
Did you know that during the various endings of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, a shot of Dracula's grave is shown that displays the actual lifespan of the real-life inspiration for Count Dracula, Vlad Tepes?
Vlad Tepes or Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler and inspiration for Dracula, was born in 1431 and died in 1476 — as depicted in Simon's Quest.
Did you know that Castlevania II: Simon's Quest gives another nod to the real-life inspiration for Count Dracula, Vlad Tepes? One of the locations found in the game's revision of Transylvania is named the VRAD GRAVEYARD. (Suspiciously-enough, the VRAD GRAVEYARD rests just outside of the game's final area.)
VRAD seems to be one of the game's notorious mistranslations. (It is rather common for Japanese translations to transpose and confuse the English letters/sounds/phonics, "L" and "R".)
Vlad — not VRAD — Tepes, or Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler, was the inspiration for Dracula... and for this graveyard in Simon's Quest.
With the number of mistranslations in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, it makes one wonder if the BRAHM MANSION, is actually supposed to be the BRAM MANSION - a nod to Dracula author, BRAM Stoker?
Could BRAHM be confused for Bram — as in BRAM Stoker, the author of Dracula, in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest?
Simon Belmont was a member of the cast of a Saturday morning cartoon that featured Nintendo video games. The show, called Captain N: The Game Master, aired between 1989 and 1991. Simon Belmont was satirized as little more than a vain caricature.
Castlevania's Simon Belmont represented, err... misrepresented on Captain N: The Game Master.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was featured along with a number of other games from similarly-high profile series of the day (Super Mario Bros., The Legend Of Zelda, Mega Man, StarTropics, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Ninja Gaiden, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the rest of the Castlevanias, to be exact) in a special gaming guide.
Officially released by Nintendo, the NES Game Atlas, was printed in 1991. The publication, replete with road signs on its cover, dissected 18 of the best titles the NES had to offer at the time, and created intricately-detailed maps and tips for each game.
One special note of interest: the NES Game Atlas had a hand-drawn representation of Castlevania II's Transylvania. Labeled as the "TERROR-TORY OF TRANSYLVANIA", the sketch revealed a rare instance of many of the landmarks and areas actually being named — even those not actually mentioned within the game's conversations or signposts. (This may be the most authentic source available that shows the regions of Simon's Quest.)
Above (↑): The hand-sketched "TERROR-TORY OF TRANSYLVANIA" and the rarely-seen place names found in the NES Game Atlas.
Years before Castlevania's Simon Belmont was immortalized as an Amiibo, his 8-Bit likeness from Simon's Quest existed.
As a promotional giveaway at Comic Con 2007 for the release of Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld console, a limited number of 3.5 inch, pixelated Simon Belmont figurines by NECA (the National Entertainment Collectibles Association) were handed out.
The promotional Simon's Quest Simon Belmont figurine giveaway predates the Amiibo by over a decade! The top image shows the actual figure in its original packaging; the bottom image is the back of the packaged item.
With its entry of "Bloody Tears", Simon's Quest continued to forge Konami's growing, musical reputation with its legendary, Castlevania soundtrack.
This song — named in honor of the teardrops shed by newest villainess, Vampira or Camilla/Carmilla — shows up time and time again across future Castlevania songlists, just like the heroic theme, "Vampire Killer", from the original game.
Although the piece was originally uncredited in the game (some sources now state that Kenichi Matsubara is the composer, while other sources state that Kenichi Matsubara, Satoe Terashima and Kouji Murata all collaborated on the soundtrack), it has grown to become one of the most prolific tracks to be remixed within the Castlevania galaxy, appearing in such games as:
𝄞 Haunted Castle (arcade),
𝄞 Super Castlevania IV (Super Nintendo (SNES)),
𝄞 Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood (PC Engine CD (in Japan) and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)),
𝄞 Castlevania: Bloodlines (Sega Genesis),
𝄞 Castlevania: Dracula X (Super Nintendo (SNES)),
𝄞 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and various others),
It seems that Simon's Quest left an impression on more than gamers — even musicians were deeply-influenced.
Earlier, it was mentioned how the metalcore group, the Black Dahlia Murder, memorialized the famous phrase, "WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT FOR A CURSE", not once, but twice in their music.
Well, another American death metal group, With Dead Hands Rising, did the Black Dahlia Murder one better. Its song, "A Ghost For The Broken Hearted", from February 2003's album, Behind Inquisition, actually opens with a raucous, percussive rendition of the beginning music from "Bloody Tears"!
Death metal, in particular, seemed to be heavily-influenced by Simon's Quest. The album above (↑) — Behind Inquisition (2003) by With Dead Hands Rising — featured "A Ghost For The Broken Hearted", which actually contains a replayed riff from "Bloody Tears"!
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was converted into a Tiger Electronics LCD Handheld, very loosely-based off of the NES title.
In the 1990s, the Tiger Electronics LCD Handhelds were monochromatic, liquid crystal display games that animated on top of a stationary backdrop. These handhelds were similar, in some respects, to the Nintendo Game Boy, wristwatch games or Tamagotchi digital pets even.
However, they lacked the sophistication and solid gameplay of the original source, due to basic, primarily-stationary graphics; limited controls and range of movements; repetitious play; lack of change of stages or variation of play; vague instructions and the simple audio bleeps and blips associated with the devices.
Konami's licensing of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest resulted in two Tiger LCD products: a handheld device and a wristwatch.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest — along with a number of other classic hits on the NES, including Bionic Commando, Blaster Master and Metal Gear (Click here to read our review here.) — provided the source material for a series of short novelizations known as The World Of Power series.
Targeted to and created for younger audiences, these publications in the early 1990s hit school book fairs and populated order forms. Printed by Scholastic Inc., this paperback was written by author, F.X. Nine. It first landed on shelves on July 1, 1990.
Because of the youthful readership, tamer stories were crafted — loosely-based around the plots and characters. In this story, Simon is joined by young, gaming wizard, Tim Bradley, as they track down Dracula to battle.