Review by Ofisil

"For hardcore Vampire slayers only"

Castlevania is an Action\Platform game developed by Konami. The first in the now legendary series, is mysteriously popular with the fans of the series, something that I don't really understand. It has that magic NES\8bit retro charm, with atmospheric graphics, great music and relatively fun gameplay, however it's far from perfect. Lets analyze it a bit more…

Story: N/A

Every 100 years Dracula gets resurrected and a vampire hunter must kill him to stop him from reigning terror upon the world. The time has come and Dracula's immense castle has risen up from its ashes waiting for a hero to enter it. Simple as hell but try to picture the whole thing with the innocent eyes and imagination of a young gamer. If you manage that you will enjoy the game more because many of these old NES games worked that way. Just like Metroid: Almost no in-game plot but through its atmosphere and the imagination of the player it would suddenly become something more than a game. Of course Castlevania ISN'T a game you play for its plot… you knew that didn't you?

Gameplay: 6.4/10
Replay Value: 2/10

In Castlevania you'll have to traverse through various areas full of traps and unfriendly creatures and finally kill Dracula… after killing his subordinates of course and that only if you manage to reach them. Yup, Castlevania can be quite a tough game, but more on this later. By all means a typical Action\Platform game but a very good one too despite its simplicity. You move around jumping from platform to platform and killing enemies with your whip. Apart from being able to find items that extend your whip so that you can reach further, you will also find some special secondary weapons that can be thrown if you have enough hearts, the most basic item in the game. These secondary weapons can turn a hard spot upside-down if used cleverly since each one is used in a different way. For example one is thrown like a bomb, another one flies straight ahead, another one flies back like a boomerang and so on.

Now, why is the game so tough? We have various kinds of enemies who can be a real pain, like the famous medusa's heads who fly around, making it hard for you to hit them but even more importantly making it hard for you to avoid them, resulting in you getting hit and dying from falling into a pit, which is by far the most common way of dying in this game. Challenge #2: Boss number 1 & 2 = Piece of cake, boss number 3 = annoying but no big deal, 4 = very tough, but you'll manage and then the problems start. Death: Literally one of the hardest bosses around, extremely annoying and almost impossible to avoid his flying weapons, which brings me to the main problem. Controls… you know let's forget the traps, enemies and challenging bosses, what breaks the game is its very bad controls. Its not broken, in fact its quite responsive and all, but oh, so flawed. Our hero is a very slow cretin who jumps very low, falls like a BRICK and most importantly CAN'T BE CONTROLLED IN MID-AID!!! This is the numero uno problem here. You'll die… and get annoyed… a lot!

Graphics\Design: 7.4/10
Sound\Music: 7.5/10

I see some people going like, “Castlevania's graphics SUCK!!! They look so NES… err… ish!”. Well yeah, they look so NES-err-ish because they are in the freaking NES!!! However, do they suck? No. In fact they are pretty good! Why? Well I usually don't like 8-bit games with dark, “dirty” and “realistic” graphics. For me 8-bit games need a simple and colorful cartoonish look, like in Super Mario, Kirby and so on… everything else just looks a tad bad. But not always! You see Castlevania looks good exactly because it's dark & dirty. Its quite an atmospheric game given you the impression that you are really traversing through a titanic castle of a powerful vampire getting closer and closer to your purpose. The scenery changes very often, even in the same level and each separate area is quite detailed. We've got underground caves, dark and gloomy hallways, very old and half-ruined outdoor areas, dungeons and many more all looking very, very good and all inhabited by the usual suspects: bats, skeletons, ghouls and so on. Sure everything is so damn typical but what the hell you expect?

[+]:
-For fans of challenging Action\Platforms
-Great “dark & dirty” graphics

[-]:
-Very flawed and annoying controls
-Somewhat too challenging at times

Also Play:
Batman (NES)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (NES, SNES, Mega Drive)
Castlevania 3 (NES)
Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (Playstation)

Overall: 5.8/10

Castlevania is a great oldie. I can assure you that I've enjoyed for the few days I've tried it. Why the low score though? Well, in my opinion it hasn't aged so well and that combined with the game's flaws, (and some vastly superior sequels), makes Castlevania a game that has more nostalgia value than actual gameplay value. I'm sure that most people would disagree, but hey, that's my take on the game…


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/11

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


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