Literary Corner

Worlds of Power: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest: Chapters 5-6

When last we glimpsed at the adventures of Tim Bradley, his hero Simon Belmont was turning into Dracula, something which never happens in the game.  In fact, in the actual game what does happen if you don’t complete it before a set point is that Simon succumbs to Dracula’s curse by actually dying.  The player is even left with the image of his gravestone.

So basically the book based on the game can’t even be anywhere near as explicit as the very game it’s based on.  That’s the logic of censorship and “What about the children?!” for you.

Anyway, you’d think an image as potentially gruesome as the hero literally transforming into the monster he’s always fought would be an opportunity for the writer to cut loose a bit, but…well…

It was like Dr. Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde – only much, much worse!

Well, unless you’re one of the people Hyde battered to death, raped, or both.

The eyes became narrow slits behind which pupils glowed like live coals in a furnace.  They burned through Tim like laser beams edged with razor blades.

I…have no response to that.  I will admit it does rather top Dr. Evil, or would if you could get the science to work out.

“Ah-ha!  You are a puny little nothing, aren’t you?  Why did Simon Belmont ever choose you?”

That’s an extremely good question.  I can only hypothesize that it was so Simon!Dracula would have someone to attack and kill other than an actual loved one.

Okay, so if you’re familiar with genre writing for children, you might guess that the way Tim gets out of this situation is through trying to appeal to Simon’s heroic nature.  Or possibly the book actually engages with the source material and has Tim knock over a candle to get some holy water or the like, which I know would barely make sense from his perspective but that is actually how the games work.  These are good and rational guesses, but they are also wrong.

“I shall enjoy hearing you squeal and feeling you squirm when I sink my lovely fans into your soul!”  [Seriously, we can’t have any references to bloodsucking at all?  KIDS KNOW WHAT VAMPIRES ARE, YOU KNOW.]

“Is that the tooth?””  Tim shot back.

“”Arrgh!”  cried Dracula’s voice.  Simon’s body jerked as though physically struck.  “A pun!  I abhor puns!  If there’s anything I can’t stand more, it’s stupid, silly jokes!”

Okay, I have to be honest.  Even though this is a “twist” that would have looked mind-bleedingly stupid even on something like Captain N: The Game Master, I kind of like it.  It’s unexpected, at least.  Also I have to appreciate that Tim’s one power here is being a lame children’s book character.  That’s some meta crap right there.

Oh, and before we get too far off the subject, I can’t help but find it a little ironic that, in their bowdlerizing of the most basic and widely known aspect of vampire lore, they’ve actually made Dracula more frightening, in a way.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I think I’d much rather have a vampire drain my blood than drain the metaphysical essence of my very being.

Anyway, Simon is fully restored and warns Timothy that he’s made a powerful enemy.

“If he defeats me and gains the use of my body and remains in this dimension, he will take great pleasure in flaying every inch of your skin off!”

Tim blinked.

“And after he pours salt on your raw nerves, he will dip you into a vat of acid!”

Tim gulped.

“And then, Timothy Bradley, he will really start torturing you!”

Okay, it’s not the most original joke in the world, but…I kind of liked that one.  

Anyway, the two recuperate at an inn, and the book actually acknowledges an aspect of the gameplay of the original game, as Simon explains that he has to set out at night and collect “magical essence”” from the ghouls that roam around at night (okay, it was hearts and it was more like the game’s currency, but since that part of the game was never really explained I”ll let it pass).  Of course, even here there’s a weird and inexplicable bit of bowdlerizing (and just after there’s a joke about skinning the protagonist alive!), where Simon clarifies that with his whip he only sends the monsters back into “the dimension from which they came.”

The novel also acknowledges another aspect of the game that tormented many a kid back in the day:  the fact that the townspeople in Castlevania II are a bunch of damn sociopathic liars.  And no, it’s not bad “Engrish” translations;  the people actually lie to you.  Simon explains it’s because they’re under Dracula’s influence or something, but I’m sure in the game it’s because they’re just a bunch of jerks.

Something that isn’t part of the game, though, is that Simon warns Timothy to alert him if he starts committing any of the seven deadly sins, because it will mean he’s falling under Dracula’s influence again.  Deliberately or not, F.X. Nine gets the list wrong – I assume for the sake of plot convenience – including “deceit”” and “”blasphemy” instead of sloth and greed.  Weirdly enough, this is one part that”s not bowdlerized, since lust is mentioned.  Again, it’s a prime example of how ludicrously inconsistent these types of things are.

Anyway, the plot of the game, where Simon has to collect Dracula’s body parts to end the curse, supposedly gets started at this point, except this time an annoying middle schooler is accompanying Simon for reasons that still haven’t been explained and, I suspect, never will be.

“This was going to be one righteous adventure.”

Indeed it will be, Tim Bradley, indeed it will be.  (Wait, was “righteous” ever really a thing?  Oh well, it’s still better than “sick.”)

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