Review by GameSultan3
"A classic horror platformer"
Super Castlevania IV was the first game in the series that I have played. After playing through it three times and thoroughly enjoying my playing experience, I decided to play the original Castlevania on NES. This is the game that Super Castlevania IV was a remake of. Before playing the game I was afraid that because I liked Super Castlevania IV so much, I might not like this game. I was pleasantly surprised and I can see why this game is such a classic.
It is the year 1691 in Transylvania, 100 years have elapsed since Christopher Belmont has destroyed Count Dracula. Dracula has been resurrected and it is up to you, Simon Belmont, descendant of Christopher Belmont, to defeat Dracula again. Considering that there are so many different movies, books, and other forms of media all about Dracula, Castlevania still manages to be original. Knowing the story beforehand really makes you feel like you're on a mission to defeat Dracula, and while the story is very simple, it has its own unique charm that has made it a classic for years.
Castlevania is a platform game. As Simon you must make your way up 6 treacherous floors to reach Dracula's keep to engage him in the final battle. On your way up a plethora of enemies try to stop you including from vampire bats, zombies, fish men and skele-dragons, each giving you a different amount of points for killing them, usually related linearly to how difficult they are to kill. Simon's main weapon is his whip called Vampire Killer, which can be upgraded to a morning star whip. Simon also finds several other weapons in Dracula's castle including a watch that stops time, a throwing dagger, and a boomerang. These secondary weapons have limited ammunition and drain hearts, which Simon finds by destroying candles and sometimes enemies. Small hearts give you one use with the weapon whereas large hearts give you five. Your health is refilled by eating pork chops that you... uh... find in the walls occasionally. At the end of each level you fight a boss based on classic horror monsters such as Frankenstein or the Grim Reaper. This game can be very frustrating at times. When I first started playing I died more times than I could count, but it really is worth pressing on until you reach the final level. Once you defeat Dracula the game is over.
For an 8-bit game released in 1987 it looks rather nice. You can tell what everything is supposed to be without having to reference the instruction manual and the backgrounds really enhance the intended horror feel. My only complaint is that Simon's face is completely featureless, which I guess is negligible considering you don't really ever concentrate on his face while playing but it's something that has caught my attention nonetheless. The enemies all look very good and are nicely animated, the only thing I found strange was that the smaller bats that attack you look like they have a halo around them of some sort, but again, completely negligible considering how well done everything else is. Bottom-line, very nice for an NES game.
I love this game's soundtrack to be completely honest. Each level has it's own music, and it's very catchy and really amplifies the effects of the environment and enemies creating one epic NES horror game experience. After playing Super Castlevania IV and this game I went as far as buying the Castlevania 20th Anniversary soundtrack collection from iTunes. Words really don't describe how well done this game's soundtrack is. Sound effects are also pretty nice. Including the sound played when you die, which you'll likely be hearing all too often when you first play the game.
Playtime/Replay Value: 8/10
My first play through took me a little over 2 hours including having to start over half way through after expending all of my lives. My second play through was a little over an hour and a half. Not too long as far as games go and I would definitely play through it again in a while. While not much changes from one play through to the next, it's nice to see how fast you can do it and the game is just fun to play so it doesn't really ever get old... At least for me.
Get it. I paid a little over $10 for my copy and it's definitely worth it. To be honest though most copies I've seen have been around $20 which is still worth it in my opinion. That's the thing about games that stand the test of time, so do their prices. For what it's worth, I think it's worth the buy whether you're a classic game fan, a Castlevania fan who still doesn't have it, or simply a collector.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/22/09, Updated 01/04/10
Game Release: Castlevania (US, May 1987)
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