Also available on Famicom Disk System, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, Game Boy Advance; Wii, Wii U, and 3DS via Virtual Console; MS-DOS, and Windows.
Castlevania is one of Konami's late 1980s NES masterpieces, and it's easy to see how it spawned such a prolific series, even netting itself a recent Netflix series. Even more than 30 years later, the game remains extremely playable and addicting. While the events of the game are different from Stoker's novel, the game's antagonist is clearly inspired by the book's villain. You know, having the exact same name and all.
Castlevania stars the protagonist Simon Belmont on his quest to rid the world of the evil vampire Count Dracula. Dracula had been slain by Simon's great-grandfather, Christopher Belmont, a century prior to the game's events, but every 100 years, faith in God weakens in Transylvania, and Dracula is resurrected by evil men who long for chaos and destruction. Thus it fell to Simon, a member of the Belmont clan and current wielder of the legendary whip Vampire Killer, to fulfill his clan's sacred duty and slay Dracula once again, returning Transylvania to peace.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Castlevania is an action platformer. For most of the game, you're moving in a side scrolling fashion, although there are many staircases to ascend as you make your way to the top of Dracula's castle. During the game's six levels, you'll fight hordes of Dracula's minions as well as five bosses before you face the vampire lord himself. As challenging as most of the bosses can be, with the exception of Frankenstein and Death, I found the levels to be more difficult than the end bosses. The levels are generally well designed, but there are a few parts where enemies leap while you're trying to get across narrow platforms over a death pit can induce controller throwing since you flinch back whenever you're hit. Those parts are obnoxious, but they're fair; the part of the game that would piss me off would be the occasions when enemies would fly through walls or platforms (the latter is common) that are supposed to be solid. I understand that it's a design choice, not a bug, but that sort of thing always pisses me off.
While I generally found the levels more challenging than the bosses for the most part, the bosses provide some real challenge, especially the last three. One of the bosses - Death - is guilty of my OTHER major design pet peeve. In addition to flying around the level and attacking you, he always has four smaller scythes flying around the stage. These scythes can be (and pretty much must be) destroyed, but they respawn quickly. Now the bullshit part that I hate is that when you kill him, his scythes keep flying around for a bit, so even if you kill him, you can still get killed by a scythe and die. I almost broke my controller when that happened to me because he's a hard boss in general.
Castlevania truly is a classic game. It's a damn hard game - even with save states, it's hard until you really memorize some of the enemy placement and boss attack patterns - but it's a damn good game. There are a couple of design choices that I found questionable, and there's a good bit of sprite flicker in parts that gets annoying, but all in all, it's an extremely enjoyable game and a must-play for fans of the NES.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.