Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Whip it....whip it good!"

One game that started a platform legend has to be Castlevania. With several stages of jumping, whipping and all around action, Castlevania is a game that will forever be one of the best action games that the Nintendo Entertainment System ever released! Konami took an idea of placing a vampire hunter by the name of Simon Belmont in what would become an epic struggle spanning across several different home console systems, various sequels and even a slight cartoon variation. Taking the role of Simon Belmont, you’re charged with the task of destroying the evil Count Dracula in Castlevania through several stages that take you through a dark and evil world. You’ll face off against countless enemies, slay several well-known monsters and in the process complete and adventure that was truly cutting edge for the NES time!

The game play run around controlling Simon Belmont through the halls and areas of Castlevania, a huge fortress type castle that is controlled by the evil Count Dracula. Through your adventure, you’ll fight off enemies that range from low level zombies and bats to monsters such as the Grim Reaper and Frankenstein in fights to the death! Your character is armed simply with a whip that you must use to slay the various creatures, but along the way, you can pick up enhancements to your items such as Axes, Daggers and Holy Water, all of which can be used to help you in your quest. To use these lovely implements of destruction, you’ll have to find small hearts that allow you to use your item and can be found in the different areas or through killing off zombies and other small creatures.

Your whip can also be upgraded from a standard leather whip to an extended morning star, which allows a higher hit on your enemies. You’ll find that keeping Simon alive is your hardest goal, as there are traps, numerous enemies and several platforms that you must span and complete in order to continue though the game! An excellent feature that the game has to offer is that you can receive a password once you’ve beaten a particular boss creature. Therefore, you can start in the portion of the game just after you’ve defeated it. This allows for gamers to work through the stages without becoming too distraught from losing and having to start over from the very beginning! The challenge of the game goes from medium to insane after the first three stages, so be prepared to work through on your timing and your strategy once you’ve made it to the later stages.

The control in Castlevania takes plenty of practice in terms of timing and jumping from place to place. Because the game is set around platform jumping, you’ll have to learn just when and where to jump, or you’ll end up dead and have to start over from the beginning of the room! This adds to the challenge that the game has to offer, because your timing is critical in places where enemies come from the side of the screen and aim to hit you. Be prepared for several cases of frustration and probably some controller throwing, because unless you have your timing down, you’ll be continuing move often than you really want to. Using the whip is easy enough to do, and the control set up works on this system: You use one button to jump, one button to whip and then the directional pad and the action button to throw your extra weapon. It really is that simple to learn and use once you get into the game, so veterans and beginners to the series should have no problem easing into it!

Visually, Castlevania is a stunning and expansive world that has plenty of detail and locations to go around. The mood of the game is dark, and the way that the game looks, it is meant to stay that way throughout the game! You’ll find that depending on what part of the castle you’re in, you’ll be looking at just what the game has to offer when you’re roving through the main hall, or in the caverns beneath the castle itself. Some of the most impressive visuals come from the late stage bosses, in which you’ll go up against Frankenstein and the Grim Reaper, both of whom move, act and look like the monsters they are recreating! Special effects are limited mainly to what you whip and how it reacts. When you whip a candle, you’ll see a flame and then an item where as when you throw Holy Water, you’ll have a pillar of blue flame to engulf your enemy {or enemies depending} and turn them into floating hearts.

Audio wise, Castlevania has some of the best NES adventure music to offer anywhere. The opening theme to the game is something that can not only keep the pace of the game, but also stick the overall tune in your mind that you can’t get it out! Music in an NES game is usually very limited to what it can offer, but every area and every stage has plenty to offer and listen to, with all of it flowing together nicely and creating a great listening experience. The sound effects are pretty much average, with the real effects coming from small explosions of your enemies as you whip them or the overall sound of your whip as you throw it around!

Overall, Castlevania is a game that is legendary in many accounts. The overall adventure of the game and the craze that it has created is something that is nothing short of amazing! Even though the game has had its fair share of good and bad sequels, the original Castlevania has yet to be topped by any other Castlevania other than Symphony of the Night. Adventure gamers, platform gamers and NES gamers in general should find a copy of the game and keep it simply because of the value of the game. With the amount of action contained within this little cart, there is little else that can match its style, let alone its addictive quality!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/26/01, Updated 11/26/01


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