Review by ice beam

"The first game in the series is frustrating beyond belief!"

If you are reading this review, then I'm pretty sure you have heard of the Castlevania series. Castlevania has always been a very popular and respected series, and it continues to show with the newest DS release Portrait of Ruin. Their are usually three games that fans hold the highest regard to. These are Dracula's Curse (NES), Super Castlevania IV (SNES), and Symphony of the Night (Playstation). But before its extreme makeover in Symphony of the Night (which borrowed the Metroid formula), Castlevania had always been a rock-hard action-platform series. But the original Castlevania has gotten ton of respect form people everywhere for starting the series. But is this game as good as its future games?

First of all, I would like to say that I really like the music in this game. I REALLY REALLY like it. I cannot even think of one bad track in the game. Probably the best music in the game is the first track. It has been remixed into several songs over the past twenty years. I think Bloody Tears is the name of the track. Other noteworthy tracks in the game are Level five, three, and two.

Also the graphics in the game were top-notch for it's time. Everything looks solidly colored in the game and the backdrops look great. The only thing is that Simon looks very blurred all the time. It just the same thing with most NES characters (I personally call it the NES protagonist syndrome).

Like I said earlier, before SotN, Castlevania was merely a platforming series. The whole point was to get from point A to point B. At the start of the game, you will simply start off with a weak leather whip. But with little effort, you can, by whipping candles, upgrade your whip to be longer and stronger. I need to mention the candles. In the game, candles you can whip will be spread all throughout the level. These candles hold many things, from special weapons to hearts (these don't heal you) to money bags.

Don't think when you get a sub-weapon you can just start using it recklessly. You need hearts to use these and many of these are found in candles. The sub-weapons are pretty cool to say the least. The first sub-weapon you will find will probably be Holy Water. These act like bombs and can hit opponents multiple times. Next is the axe. It's a fairly useful weapon that can be thrown upward to hit enemies from above. Next is the dagger which is uh.... pretty useless. The best weapon is probably the cross-boomerang. You can throw up to three of these at a time and hit the opponent several times! Then you have a stop-watch. A fairly interesting item that stops time for only a few seconds. One bad thing is that when you die, you will lose your special item.

Which brings me to my main point in this review, the difficulty. To be frank, Castlevania is one of the hardest games in existence. Due to insanely strong enemies, annoying controls, and a very slow and weak hero, you've got a pretty frustrating game.

First off is the hero himself, Simon. Unfortunately, unlike Mario and Samus, Simon has the dexterity of a brick. Simon walks like someone glued his shoes to the ground. When attacking with his whip, he can only aim in one direction which is in front of him, despite the fact that you will be attacked from ALL directions. Unlike most platformers, every pit is a life-threatening danger. Simon will not change his jump in mid-air. So you are stuck jumping in place or doing a moving jump, and if an enemy comes flying to you, your pretty much dead.

Next are the enemies. In the first level, enemies don't pose much of a threat, except the fish men. In the second level you will encounter the infamous medusa heads. These things fly in a up and down pattern that can knock you to your death very easily. It is the same for the rest of the game, except their are crows on the third level and giant bats in the final level. The most annoying enemies are possibly the flea man. They constantly hop around and shooting fireballs like they have had one too many Red Bulls. In level five, the skeletons throw bones like their getting paid for everyone they throw. The giant knights are probably the worst of them all, since they can can kill you in about three hits and can take a lot of abuse.

And then there are the bosses. They are probably the most brutally difficult part of the game. Sure the Vampire bat and Medusa Head are easy, only with the right items. Past level three, all bosses are next to impossible to beat. You can probably beat the mummies without too much difficult, but it is impossible to defeat Frankenstein without the Holy water. Death is considered to be one of the most difficult bosses ever. I can really say that much about him because I haven't even reached him. I know nothing about the last boss Dracula though.

But despite the major difficulty this game gives, it is a very fun game to play. I recommend that you get this game if you have and NES. I haven't played Dracula's Curse or Simon's Quest yet, so I don't know how good they are compared to this. Oh, when you play this, please don't blame me for the controller sized dent in the wall :).

Final score = 8.1


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/01/07


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