Review by wolverinefan
"Where it all began"
I remember the exact moment I bought Castlevania for the NES. A local video store was closing and it was one of the best games ever I explained to my mother. Even though at that time I had never played the game. Granted I was young and I never beat the first boss. Well, 15 or so years later I have finally beat the game. Is it as godly as some make it out to be? Should one hunt for the NES original, the port for the Gameboy Advance or what?
Simon Belemonte (wtf) is heading into Dracula's castle to stop him once and for all. Yep, that's it. It's funny that when compared to the new titles that this game even fits in a time line when it has no in game text, not even for the ending. Don't go into this game expecting a plot because you really won't find it here and to be honest even the newer games have very little plot going on.
Graphically this game has left me rather disappointed. The character models look either squashed at times or just way too blurry. The skeletons really looked bad and are some of the worst sprites I've seen in a NES game. I understand that this is a NES title but even when compared to others this game really doesn't look too hot. The animations are almost non existent. The colors in the game go from bleak (level 3) to oddly bright (level 3). And yet the castle and locations do nothing exciting visually. The clock tower holds some hopes and it's obvious why the location always comes back in the series. But in the end they felt under detailed. Some of them do look okay like the castle interior at the start of the game and as mentioned above the clock tower. Other wise it was kind of boring to look at.
No matter what I must admit that for its time Castlevania has one of the best soundtracks. I just love the theme and it's one of the few that really stick in my head. The audio in the game is maybe the best part of the game. Sound effects do leave a little bit to be desired but it can be forgiven for the time period.
The game uses a simple control set up since the NES has a d-pad and two buttons. Jump and attack is all you have. It's fairly responsive and even the jumping didn't give me a delay. Sometimes the game did lag a bit when too many enemies were on the screen but it never messed up my control. I do dislike how you need to hold up and hit attack to use your sub weapon. A pain when trying to fight bosses.
Castlevania is split up into many different levels. Or so the game may want you to think. There are actually 6 locations in the game. They vary from roofs, to clock towers to a cave. Nothing overly exciting or original but you can tell some effort went into the level design.
There is a lot of jumping to be done in this game. You'll notice right away that when you get hit your character bounces back. You'll quickly learn that this will be why you die a lot. The enemies tend to teleport in when you least expect it so that empty ledge just might be inhabited by a skeleton or imp.
Cheap deaths like that will haunt you the entire game and later on when enemies scroll the entire screen it can be a real pain. The enemies have no real AI. They stand and attack. The Bosses are the same way but they consist of a set move pattern so once you learn that you'll have no problems. The later bosses do have some interesting patterns though.
So the main focus of the game is to travel to the end of each area and fight a boss. You'll jump and whip your way there. Along the way you'll notices candles on the walls. Hit these with your whip to get sub weapons or hearts. You need hearts to use the sub weapons. The sub weapons are useful in tight situations but not very helpful for boss fights. You get a boomerang of some sort, a knife, an ax and holy water. One would have thought the holy water would have worked better on the final boss.
The game is fairly short. It can be beaten within 15 minutes or so but you'll be replaying it until you learn those boss patterns. It's a rewarding experience as it does test what gaming skills you have but the ending is a bit of a let down, even for the time period.
Either way the game itself plays fairly well. It is full of cheap deaths which brings it down a whole point. It also hasn't held up very well when compared to other games from the time period. Still, in its own right Castlevania is a classic. Is it perfect? No but it's a nice addition to any collection and it's interesting to see where it all began. Just don't go in expecting the new castlevania style that started on the original Playstation.
Story - 4/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Control - 9/10
Game Play - 7/10
Replay value - 4/10
Final Score - 7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/22/07
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