Last year’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was a loving tribute to the PSone classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and its beloved successors, which were developed by Koji Igarashi. However, a year before the release of Ritual of the Night, Inti Creates released another game under the Bloodstained banner that took a more in-depth look at Castlevania’s past for inspiration. Now Inti Creates is back with Curse of the Moon 2, an incredibly straightforward sequel that feels broadly similar to the first and unfortunately suffers from many of the same flaws. As with the 2018 entry, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 lets you control four separate Monster Slayers. You switch between these heroes as you take on a host of gothic beasts. Naturally, each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses. Zangetsuto feels like the traditional hero of Castlevania; it has a short attack range but compensates with fast movement and a large health pool. On the other hand, Robert is physically weak, but he’s also a talented sniper who stamps out enemies on the other side of the screen. Each hero brings something new to the battlefield, and matching their talents to the challenges ahead gives a unique twist to the traditional side-scrolling action. For example, Dominique was rarely my favorite in combat thanks to her slow spear attacks, but her extra high jumps made her instrumental during difficult platforming sequences. The levels in Curse of the Moon 2 feature multiple branching paths and a good variety of locations. Some routes offer a lighter challenge, while others offer a more direct path to the boss. I love the variety it offers when replaying a level, but other than a handful of health and attack buffs, there’s not much reason to explore every path through a level. level. In the classic 8-bit style, some areas allow you to avoid toxic smoke clouds, while others have you skate on frozen ground. And it wouldn’t be a side-scroller if you didn’t jump from rock to rock on a river of lava. These sequences match the tone of the game perfectly, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had been here and done all of this before. Curse of the Moon 2 doesn’t give these classic tropes an interesting twist – it just recycles them. After hitting the credits for the first time, you unlock Episode 2, which asks you to replay each level to unlock the true ending. This rehearsal is boring, but I appreciate the opportunity to unlock new characters, and was happy to see the bosses remix, which makes them harder to take down. At the same time, even in my first game, Curse of the Moon 2 provided a tall order, largely thanks to a knockback effect whenever you get hit. You can turn this effect off, but only by playing on the easiest difficulty. Understandably, this setback is a tribute to the old Castlevania games, but it results in more than a few cheap deaths. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 might as well be released in 1989. It looks like a game from three decades ago. If that was the only goal, he succeeds brilliantly. Sadly, that’s not a very high goal, as the market is full of side-scrolling 8-bit inspired gems that cleverly blend genres and use modern gaming conventions. Curse of the Moon offers a few hours of silly action, but there are better nostalgia trips out there.