Review by Emptyeye
Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 01/13/01
Great start to the best Action series on the NES
Castlevania was a game released by Konami in 1987. In it, you played as Vampire Hunter Simon Belmont, and your task was to destroy the evil Count Dracula and restore peace to the realm of Transylvania. Pretty simple plot, but let's see how the game fares...
Graphics: 9/10- The graphics are incredible for a game released in 1987. Just take a look at the peeling paint in the background of level 1 if you don't believe me. Simon is faceless, and he and the enemies move with 2 frames of animation, but this can be forgiven considering the era in which the game was released. The water is also nicely done (Check out the mold growing on the underside of the platforms later in level 1), and you can actually see it splash off of the fishmen in levels where they are present. Very nicely done.
Sound: 9/10- these are also great. The level 1 theme is an all time classic, and the soundtrack as a whole is very errie and puts you in a vampire killing kind of mood (Though the level 3 music is a bit upbeat, it's still done very well). The boss theme is also great as well, it puts a kind of urgency into you. Sound effects wise, you have your whip cracking through the air, the sound of it connecting with its targets, and the sounds of the various special weapons as they hit their targets. Oh, and there's the death themes...get used to those, you'll be hearing them a lot....
Control (Parts of this are paraphrased from the NEW NES Days website): 9/10- In general, done very well. Simon responds very well, and though the whip you start with is pretty useless, it gives way to stronger whips before long. You also feel like you have total control over him, something that can be very rarely said about video games. There are, however, several minor complaints. There's the slight delay between the time you hit the whip button and the time he actually whips (To be expected; after all, it is a whip). Also, you can't change the direction of your jumps in midair, nor do you have any control over the height of the jump (This gets annoying when you misjudge the length between platforms and you overshoot your target). Finally, you can't leap directly onto stairs, which isn't usually a problem, but it CAN be done in later CV games (IV for the SNES).
Story: 5/10- It really is your basic "Save the world from the Evil Meanie(tm)" plot. Playing as a vampire hunter, and having to defeat a vampire, rather than your basic dragon like in so many gaems before it, was and is pretty cool though.
Challenge: 10/10- It may start out easy enough, but soon the enemies are taking off 4(!) energy points per hit, and this isn't good when you have to face Death (One of the toughest bosses of ALL TIME) and his randomly appearing sickles. It's a really tough game, especially later on, like I said. Thankfully, you get unlimited continues to help you through.
Replay Value: 10/10- You WILL come back to this game, and you WILL play it until you can finally beat it (Which may take the rest of your life). There isn't much to do once you beat it though, but that's okay, because just going through the game is so fun. You will be back.
Overall: 9/10- It's a great game, and only some minor control flaws and its difficulty keep it from getting a perfect 10. It's a great game both for it's nostalgia factor, and for its great gameplay, which stands the test of time even today, 12 years later. Buy it if you find it. You'll love it.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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