Castlevania, known as Akumajo Dracula in Japan (translated as Devil's Castle Dracula) was published on the Famicom Disk System in Sept 1986. A year later it was ported to the NES and released in the US before ultimately getting a release in Europe for Nintendo's all conquering grey behemoth in 1988.
22nd October 2012 KingofMetal79
The player takes control of Simon Belmont in the year 1691, who must defeat the vampire Dracula. Before you can defeat the 'prince of darkness' you must traverse 6 levels that take you from the deepest caverns of Draculas Castle to the highest ramparts. Each of the levels concludes with a classic boss fight during which the player must defeat one of a handful of classic creatures culled from literature or legend that includes Frankenstein's Monster and Medusa.
The game itself is an action platformer - a classic staple of the 8-bit generation. The goal is to progress through Dracula's castle while using your trusty whip to dispatch enemies. There is also a host of secondary weapons that Belmont can utilise by simultaneously pressing the 'action' button and 'up'. The weapons range from a dagger or axe to holy water or the ability to freeze time.... The game is a classic of its kind and I personally put it on par with the likes of Ninja Gaiden, in terms of level design, combat and difficulty.
The three things that I remember mostly about the game is the character of Simon Belmont (yet another classic character from the Nintendo/Konami stable), the setting and last (but certainly not least) the music. I really enjoy video game OSTs and especially music from games I played when I was in my youth (as there is definitely a hint of nostalgia involved and the soundtrack (to Castlevania) is an excellent example of some of the amazing 'chiptune' soundtracks of the time. Not only did each level have its own theme and motif but every track was memorable from the opening "Vampire Killer" to the amazing "Heart of Fire" - all bona fide classic video game soundtracks. Hunt it down and give it a whirl, you won't be dissapointed.
Like many games of the era, it is challenging, and there are parts that will drive you mad. For me the penultimate level, that climaxes in a tussle with Death, is the hardest part of the game. However after a few play throughs, battling the various creatures of the night will hopefully become second nature. Playing it recently was a great reminder of how challenging and unforgiving games used to be. The only new game i've played recently that had a similar ethos is Tokyo Jungle.
My Experience of the Franchise
I have to admit that i first discovered the franchise on the Gameboy with Castlevania: The Advneture and it was a few years until I played the original NES game. However since that very first playthrough of the first hand held iteration I have been a fan of the franchise and while I havent played all of the entires (almost 40 games!) I have greatly enjoyed the ones I have . One of the things I love about the franchise is its ability to reinvent itself just when you think its 'had its day' - from the intial platform/action/adventure of the original games to the 'Metroidvania' vibe of the likes of Symphony of the Night to the modern 'hack and slash' template of 2010's excellent Lords of Shadow. With 2 new games coming out in 2013 (Lords of Shadow 2 and Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate) it looks like the series, even after 25 years, still has the power to impress.
This was not the only entry in the franchise on the NES. Two sequels were released, Simon's Quest and Draculas Curse, in (Japan) 1987 and 1989 respectively. As I never played these on release and they can go for a pretty penny on auction websites I am yet to play the aforementioned games. However that said when I do manage to get hold of a copy of either I will review it.
For me Castelvania is one of the reasons the NES was so great. The game still holds up today and I find myself going back to it occassionally even after all these years.
If there are any games you want reviewed then leave a comment or post a request on the forum and we will try our best to get a copy.