Review by RageBot

"Not enough meat on this zombie."

I've noticed a pattern with many games of a series, and sometimes even music bands. The first of a series is many times different from all the rest, and it's either one of the best or one of the worst. For the former case, Ratchet and Clank is a great example. You're always low on health, so the challenge is always there. However, this game belongs to the latter case.

This is an old-school side-scroller, primitive as it may be, very short, very difficult, and quite fun. Your name is Simon Belmont, you wield a whip, and you step into Dracula's Castle to kill the Count. Along your way you will encounter every horror of the night, from zombies and skeletons to hunchbacks and vampire bats. There are six stages, and at the end of every one of them is a boss. Those bosses return time and time again on the following games. Those are the phantom bat, Medusa, mummies, Frankenstein's Monster, Death, and finally the Dark Lord himself.

The controls are very simple. A jumps, B attacks, the D-pad moves you around. Classic platformer. However, there are two things to be aware of. One of them is the stairs. Pressing up makes you go up the stairs, pressing down makes you go down the stairs. It is the only way to move by stairways, even if they are at the edge of a platform; If you don't press up or down, you'll just fall to your death. That is a flaw that had not been fixed throught the NES trilogy.

The other thing is the use of subweapons. Simon can whip candles, and sometimes weapons fall from the candles. Don't ask me how. Among those subweapons are the dagger that is thrown straight ahead, the axe that is thrown in an arc, the holy water that are thrown to the floor, the cross that is a boomerang, and the stopwatch that stops time. All those weapons consume hearts as ammunition. Those, too, can be dropped from whipped candles. Again, don't ask me how. You press up + B to use those weapons, but try that near an ascending stairway, and you'll just go up the stairs! That is another flaw that had not been fixed in five years.

The last flaw is the lack of jump control. When Simon jumps, he jumps. He cannot change his direction or velocity in midair. Add to that platforming section with bottomless pits and everlasting swarms of enemies, and you'll see that it's a major subject of frustration. Again, a flaw that is present in all the NES games.

Last thing to discuss is presentation. This game definitely takes 8-bit graphics to the max, but there is not enough variation. You're in the castle all time, and the backgrounds all look very similar. The sound is amazing for NES standards, and many tracks have become Castlevania classics.

This is a must for every gamer on the world, but there is just not enough to satisfy. Two hours and that's it. Oh, and of course, now that Castlevania 3 is out, this game, just like Dracula X for the SNES and Castlevania 64 on the N64, is redundant.

Final grade: 7.2/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/20/11

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

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