What a horrible night to play a remake. The second chapter in the Castlevania series, Simon’s Quest, is indeed back from the grave, through a fangame remake courtesy of WarMachine Studios. The original NES title from 1986 is definitely one of the more divisive titles in the long running vampire series. While some consider it an interesting addition, along with anticipating the RPG flavors that the series would take on after Symphony of the Night, others consider it a botched attempt by Konami.
The fangame, called Castlevania Chronicles II, aims to bring back the experience of Simon’s Quest but with a few added bells and whistles that make the game more palatable for modern audiences. Among its various new features, the remake adds a currency system, instead of the old hearts, along with updated mansions with actual boss fights (in the original the boss fights were a bit strange, let’s say). Gone also is the password system, in its place a classic modern save/load system quite similar to the one in Symphony of the Night. New subweapons and controller support, along with a remixed OST and actual FMV cutscenes for intro and endings.
Naturally, one of the biggest issues in the original is also fixed, namely the NPCs giving you cryptic and strange hints. That was not the game’s fault, but rather the consequence of a botched translation job from the original Japanese version. In the remake, the NPCs provide the player with useful tips and will be the key into figuring out where to go and what to do no next. Let us also not forget a World Map which helps you easily figure out where you are heading to next.
We reached out to Matt Thompson of WarMachine Studios to pick his brain about the remake and about his future plans. He says he originally started the project all the way back in July 2022, with the work taking seven months for the first playable version to be released for the public. Thompson mentions how Simon’s quest holds a special place in his heart: “it was the first Castlevania game I ever played and, from then on, I was hooked”.
His plans were about keeping what made the original special - atmosphere, music, gameplay and difficulty - while tweaking the several major issues. The fangame in particular aims to fix the bosses, the overall length and, naturally, hearts being both currency and used for the subweapons. That double role of hearts definitely made things harder than they needed to be. Thompson mentions how he went about addressing these issues first, while also tweaking subweapons like the laurel and garlic, which are now passive items and are always equipped.
Thompson tells us how the work on the remake is basically finished at this point, with only a small list of things left to do. “I want to fix a few bugs and add a few Quality of life improvements, but that’s it. I’m considering adding a fast travel feature, so players can warp to save points they have already visited.”
The biggest obstacle in creating the remake, he remembers, were the NPC interactions. “I have previously worked on a remake of Castlevania III and that one - as we all know - is as straightforward as it gets. [In Simon’s Quest] the NPCs gave the game more of an RPG element that I wasn’t used to working with. And while it has been a bit difficult in that regard, it has been a fun learning process.”
Thompson also mentions being thrilled with the community response to the game. “Fans of the game and the series have been flooding my YouTube channel as well as several different Castlevania Facebook groups, leaving some great feedback and appreciation. They have been sharing their feedback, as well as troubleshooting any issues they come across. It really makes it feel like we are all making this together.”
Thompson says he's so excited about continuing to work on the remake that he took a break only to answer our questions. For the future, along with fixing a few technical issues and adding a fast travel system, he mentions fixing the volume and a couple of small adjustments.
He does, however, scold Konami for being too fixed on re-releasing old titles instead of getting to work on some newer games in the series. As soon as he’s finished with Simon’s Quest, Thompson is off to work on more Castlevania remakes. Since he did name Super Castlevania IV as his favorite title in the series, could that be a hint for the future? We shall see.
In the meantime, you can try the remake for yourself with a free download over on Archive. It might be a horrible night to have a curse, but there’s definitely no better time to go back to Simon’s Quest than the present.