Review by Neon_Knight2

"Welcome to Castlevania"

Castlevania is a NES developed game by Konami; it is a game that tells an epic struggle between the humans and the dark forces of the evil. With the antagonist coming from the old Dracula novel and a handful of other creatures from different legends and mythologies, you're bound to see something you know.

Storyline
With his trusty Magic Whip in his hand, Simon Belmondo is ready to step into Castlevania. He's there to duel the Count of all evil, Dracula. He needs to destroy Dracula to dispel his curse and bring peace to the land for another 100 years. Dracula rises from his death each 100 years. Unfortunately for our hero, Dracula has a legion of undead and inhuman monsters ready to destroy you.

Gameplay
Castlevania is all about destroying monsters while jumping from platform to platform. The game is designed to be more or less a platformer. Half the levels are more platforming oriented, made for precise jumping and careful timing. While the other half is on solid ground where you fight and dodge monsters. There are also some monsters during the platforming parts of the game; they are always out there to get you. At the top of the screen there are two life bars, one for the hero and another for the guardian of the level. The monsters won't always take away one life bar, the further you venture into Castlevania, the more aggressive the monsters will be. Even though Simon's weapon of choice is his whip, he can stumble upon upgrades in Castlevania. He also has a bunch of secondary weapons. He can find a time stopping watch, a swift throwing dagger, a powerful axe, a deadly fire bomb and a boomerang that comes back in your hand. Each of those weapons has their positive and negative side. Ultimately, they are all efficient at some part of the game. Where can Simon find all these items? Throughout Castlevania there are candles, when broken, they provide various items. Either, money bag worth points, hearts, healing food or weapons will come out of the candles. The hearts are used for the secondary weapons. Every time you use a secondary weapon, it uses a heart, but luckily, there are plenty of hearts.

Dracula's lair, Castlevania, is divided in 6 main parts and each one has a guardian at the end. Each guardian is a specific monster from different legends and stories. Each level is a different part of the castle. At the very beginning, Simon is a t the front gates and then the game starts. The end is at the top chamber of the castle. If you look back to it, you'll a nice progression of levels.

Controls
The B button is used for the attacks. If up is pressed at the same time of the B, it will use the secondary weapon; the B button alone is for the whip. Simon moves well in the game but he's a bit sluggish on his jumping. The A button is used for jumping. Simon is on a set trajectory when he jumps, he can't change his direction when he's off the ground. It sounds like it's a nuisance, but it's easily adaptable. One thing that is infuriating is how stairs are used. When up is pressed at the base of the stairs you will start to climb them, it's only annoying when you use the secondary weapon and you start climbing them. Another thing, you don't move too fast when you're climbing the stairs but fortunately, Simon can defend himself with his weapons.

Graphics
One thing you'll notice immediately is the amount of details of the backgrounds and scenery. Every part of Castlevania is formidably done. There are skeletons around, huge windows inside the castle, the walls and pillars have cracks in them. At on of the earlier level you'll see the last part of the castle in the background. It really makes you think its' going to be a long journey. On the bad side, there are a few issues with slowdowns and sprite flickering. If there's too much happening at once the sprite will start flickering or the whole game will slow down.

Sound
Right from the start you know the music is going to be great. The song for the first level has that powerful and melodic feel to it. All the levels have their unique music and they are almost always as good as the first level. The underground level is a good example for the music, it nicely express the dark and evil sensation of the monster-filled underground.

On the other side of the sound, the sound effects are well done. Each time Simon gets hit he will let out a painful grunt which sounds real enough. The sound when a candle is destroyed is the same one when you hit an enemy, they should've put more thoughts into that one.

Challenge
The boss fights are unquestionably the most frustrating part of the game. The first few ones are easy but after the difficulty ramps up rather quickly. They always follow the same pattern, if you are lucky you might defeat them in a few tries. There's even an infinite amount of continues for those who really needs it.

Lasting Value
For those who won't use continues, they can go on the second quest after they watched the credits. It's all the same level but with extra difficulties, more monsters, especially flying ones, they also do more damage. Throughout Castlevania there are some walls that hide points, weapons or hearts, I suggest looking everywhere and trying to break walls that may contain items. There are other hidden items but those are harder to find, most of the time you must stand or crouch at a specific place to make the item appear. They are like treasure, if you want to hunt for a bit more points.

Conclusion
All in all, Castlevania is a must have action title for all the enthusiasts. Even if the controls are a bit broken and there are a few minor graphical slowdowns, it's not enough to put this remarkable game down.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/08

Game Release: Castlevania (US, 05/31/87)


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