Dracula 2: Noroi No Fuuin was released on August 28th, 1987 in Japan for the Famicom Disk System (aka, the NES) and having picked up a copy during a quick trip down to Tokyo I returned to beautiful Toyama city eager to play through the second epic battle between Simon Belmont and Count Dracula. You can read my review of the first game in the series here. The plot of runs as follows. Seven years after the first Akumajou Dracula game Simon is visited by an unknown woman at his family’s cemetery. His back, critically injured from his last encounter with Dracula, senses a shiver running up and he turns to find a beautiful maiden appear out of the mist. She informs him that Dracula placed a curse on him and that he will not live long if he does not undo the curse. This can only be done by traveling to five different mansions, collect the five body parts of Dracula, get the holy cross and resurrecting the Transylvania devil himself. The graphics and music are improved greatly over the first game. Everything is much more detailed and the backgrounds do not look so sloppy. The character design is improved despite the fact that all the non-playable characters are exactly the same height. The music however take the biscuit. It is simply awesome.
From the famous “Bloody Tears” song that would be featured in many games in the series to come or to the dark,creepy and claustrophobic sounds that plays while you explore the crumbled remains of Dracula’s Castle. Dracula 2 is by far the most challenging game I have come across during my journey of retro reviews while in Japan. That though, is for all the wrong reasons. You start out in a village where you collect clues from the villagers and buy better whips and Items needed to complete your Dracula destroying quest. There is a problem though. You cant trust half the villagers in the game. I actually sat down and figured it out. I counted thirty eight villagers in the entire game and wrote down every thing they said. I explored this game from left to right, up and down and figured that exactly 50% of the villagers in the game give you clues that really make no sense or are just flat out lies. In pretty much every video game I have ever played with villagers in it the villagers themselves are vital to the game play since that is where your going to get most of the clues and information from. But once the villagers start telling lies, what good are they? This just got me lost and confused for several nights and really just wasted my time. My tip here is just not to talk to any of the villagers.
Now unlike the first game, Simon can carry all the items and sub-weapons he finds at one time making battling enemies just a little bit easier. The items themselves range from the previously-seen dagger and holy water to new items like a diamond and mystical flame, as well as Dracula’s body parts. Most of the items Simon can acquire can be bought at the various shops found through out the villages of the game. Simon buys items using hearts as currency. When you get a game over though you lose all your hearts and some of the items are pretty expensive, so the best plan to tackle the problem is to just stay a screen or two away from the villages and defeat enemies until you get the hearts you need. Its kind of the same problem I have with Japanese role-playing games. If I had to pick one fatal flaw in this game, it’s how vague some of the clues you get actually are. I was stuck for about four hours just walking from one end of the Transylvania countryside to to the other only to either be faced with a jump that can not be possibly made from my side or a dead end cliff. I had no clue that I had to go through the cliff. Remember, Nothing in the game tells you how to accomplish this task. I actually had to go online and get the solution, something which made me feel all dirty for cheating.
There are five mansions in the game with a piece of Dracula hidden inside an orb in each one. For each piece you need to find a hooded man who sells you an oak stake to throw at the orb and obtain your arch-enemies body part. The parts of the body can also be used as special items, the rib bone can be used as a shield, the heart is used to gain access to the third mansion, the eye is used to reveal the location of the guiding red books if they are on the same screen as you, the nail allows you to break the unbreakable blocks using your whip instead of the holy water and the ring increases your defense. The mansions themselves are pretty straight forward, with your only task being to get the oak stake and grab the body part or cross in one of the mansions and move on. There are only three bosses in the whole game and all three are a let down. Akumajou Dracula will always be memorable for its difficult boss battles. In the sequel, the first boss, the mask, can easily defeated by just throwing the knife at it over and over again, I managed to bring down Death without him even laying a sickle on me and the final boss, Dracula, also goes down without much of a fight. Dracula 2 is ultimately more about the exploration and the role-playing elements than the more action orientated original. Something that we would see greatly improved with modern incarnations of the series such as Order Of Ecclesia. But then, Dracula 2 always was the black sheep in the series.