Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (known in Japan as Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin, the sub-title loosely translated to "The Accursed Seal") is a 2D horror-fantasy action-adventure platformer developed and published by Konami for the Famicom Disk System in Japan on August 28, 1987. It was later released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America (on December 1, 1988) and Europe (on April 27, 1990).
The direct sequel to Castlevania, Simon's Quest abandons the traditional stage-based linear platforming system of the original Castlevania for a free-roaming platforming system built upon exploring a large 2D world while collecting items to progress (similar to fellow NES platformer Metroid, hence the "Metroidvania" sub-genre). This style of gameplay did not return in future Castlevania games until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Set in the year 1698, the game opens seven years after heroic vampire hunter Simon Belmont traversed the castle of Count Dracula and defeated him. Simon realizes that during the encounter Dracula placed a fatal curse upon him. Players resume control of Simon as he tries to rid himself of his curse by gathering the five remains of Dracula's body and burning them in the ruins of Dracula's castle, all while fighting the Count's dark minions haunting the land. It is one of the earliest games to feature multiple endings, in which Simon's fate is determined by the amount of time spent playing the game.
The game was later digitally re-released as a Virtual Console title for the Wii (in 2007-2008), the Nintendo 3DS (in 2013-2014), and the Wii U (in 2014). It was also included in the North American and European versions of the 2016 NES Classic Edition micro-console and was included in the 2019 digital compilation Castlevania Anniversary Collection for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Simon's Quest was a unique platformer for its time, boasting a number of fresh, innovative ideas. While its predecessor was a straightforward platformer, Simon's Quest is more comparable to Metroid with its exploration elements. The player has the freedom to travel around to different towns and dungeons. Simon can talk to townspeople for hints and directions in his quest. There are merchants in the towns who sell items useful for Simon's quest. The game uses hearts as currency, collected when they are dropped by defeated enemies. Small hearts are worth two heart points, half large hearts are worth four, and big hearts are worth eight points.
The game was among the first games to employ RPG elements without also being strictly an RPG itself. The game has an experience rating system which uses hearts to raise Simon's level. When Simon levels up, his health will increase and the number of hearts required for the next level will also increase. Simon can also upgrade his weapons, such as finding new whips in a number of locations throughout the game.
Simon's Quest featured a very complex and innovative day and night system. Each phase will only last a few minutes, but they have a substantial impact on the gameplay in each level. During the daytime, the enemies outside of town are weaker and fewer. During the night, enemies become more dangerous, and appear more frequently. During the night, the townspeople and merchants will be unavailable, as they presumably are getting a little bit of shut-eye. Unfortunately for Simon, zombies wander the towns at night too.
Fortunately for Simon, most of his sub-weapons do not require his hard earned hearts to use. The exception being the golden magic dagger. Additionally, the parts of Dracula's body that Simon gathers provide some extra utility, such as the projectile blocking rib bone and the eyeball of Dracula which allows Simon to see some hidden objects.
- Leather Whip: The initial weapon possessed by Simon Belmont
- Thorn Whip: An upgrade obtained in the first town, Jova, for 100 hearts. Twice as strong as the Leather whip. Most players skip this purchase.
- Chain Whip: The second upgrade for Simon's primary weapon, which can be purchased in Veros for 150 hearts. Twice as strong as the Thorn Whip.
- Morning Star: The third whip upgrade, found much later on in the game in the town of Oldon for 200 hearts. Twice as powerful as the Chain whip.
- Fire Whip: The fourth and final whip upgrade, which is twice as strong as the morning star. This upgrade is free as long as Simon owns the morning star. Obtained from a cloaked woman hidden west of Bodley Mansion, who will upgrade it as long as Simon has the morning star.
- Dagger: A basic throwing dagger, purchased from a merchant in Veros. Simon can throw the dagger a short distance.
- Holy Water: One of the more useful sub-weapons in the game, purchased in the town of Jove (the starting area). The holy water can be thrown a short distance to attack, but is most useful for destroying and revealing special blocks.
- Silver Knife: Similar to the dagger, but is stronger and has more range. Obtained from a mysterious man in the cemetery. One heart per use.
- Sacred Flame: A weapon that creates a pillar of fire in front of Simon when thrown. It is hidden in Aljiba Woods.
- Diamond: A small projectile that ricochets off of walls, and damages enemies. One heart per use. Hidden in blocks east of Berkley Mansion.
- Golden Knife: A very powerful throwing dagger, stuns enemies and can hit multiple enemies. Obtained upon defeating Death.
- Oak Stake: Very important items, used to break the glowing orbs in each mansion to obtain a piece of Dracula's corpse. Only one can be carried at a time, and they vanish once used. A new one is obtained from a vendor in each new mansion.
- Garlic: An item used in cemeteries to reveal to old men who will give Simon tools to use on his quest. It can also be used as a weapon. Purchased in Aljiba and Aldra, 2 pieces for 50 hearts.
- Laurels: When used in a poisonous swamp, Simon briefly becomes immune to harm from enemies and atmosphere. Can be purchased in many towns, and obtained in Laruba Mansion.
- Magic Cross: An item Simon must possess (or "prosess") to enter Dracula's castle. Obtained after defeating the Weeping Mask in Laruba Mansion.
- Silk Bag: An item given to Simon by a man in a cemetery near Aldra. It allows Simon to hold more garlic and laurels.
- White Crystal: Reveals the invisible platform in Berkley Mansion. Purchased in Jova.
- Blue Crystal: Simon exchanges his white crystal for this blue one in Aljiba. It will allow him to see beneath illusory ponds.
- Red Crystal: Obtained in Aldra through trade. Has the same power as the blue crystal, and will also summon a spirit to help Simon progress.
- Rib: Obtained in Berkley mansion, grants Simon a shield to protect him from fireballs.
- Heart: Obtained in Rover Mansion. When equipped, the ferryman will take Simon to an alternate location.
- Eyeball: Obtained in Brahm Mansion. Reveals hidden clue books.
- Nail: Obtained in Bodley Mansion. When equipped, allows Simon's whip to destroy blocks even his holy water cannot remove.
- Ring: Obtained in Laruba Mansion. The final part to aid in reforming Dracula, and removing Simon's curse.