Review by Van Veen

"Castlevania is born"

This game is a real classic. It pioneered the idea of using dark graphics and foreboding music for a nes platformer. Everything about it just oozes style. For the first time on the nes, people just stopped for a second and stared at the level background, and listened to the music, and said ''hey, this is pretty cool'', rather than just whizzing through to die. It also spawned the rest of the castlevania series, a group of games I hold in very high esteem, with only the mario series overtaking them as the best platformers. Of course, being a first generation nes game, Castlevania is also prone to make players weep in frustration just about everywhere after the halfway point. The saving grace is that it is only six levels long, so just about anyone with enough self loathing to force the task of finishing it upon themselves can eventually succeed. Categories!

Graphics: 9
These are some superb visuals for such an early nes game.
Each level looks vastly different, and some have multiple segments with different looks to them. Levels 1 and 3 look especially good, with 3 taking place on a series of bridges with many crumbling and moss covered statues around, and a great long shot of dracula's chamber in the background at the end. Everything looks to be decaying, and most of the bosses are impressive and well animated. The unique gothic style makes everything look that much better.

Music: 8
Excellent music for the nes, it fits the mood of the game perfectly. Level 1's music is classic, and the music of the later levels will not be easily forgotten either, though unfortunately this has nothing to do with its quality. While the composition isn't that much more complex than most nes games, the use of sounds that sound like something remotely approaching actual instruments is a big step over the beeps of mario.

Gameplay: 7
Using the whip to take out enemies works well, and all the different side weapons are useful and inventive. All of the levels are well designed, stepping up gradually in difficulty as you go along. There are parts here and there where it is far to easy to be stupidly knocked into a pit by something almost unavoidable, but this isn't a big deal. The big deal is the bosses. The first two are average. The third is hard, and cheap, but not a catastrophe like the fourth and fifth. The likelihood of getting past either the first, fifth, or fiftieth time you try frankenstein or the grim reaper is almost nil. Unlike most of the other games in the series, Death is not an obstacle on your way to dracula, he simply does his job and kills you no matter what. This makes the game significantly less fun, because you will either give up, or if you decide to persevere and waste an entire day continuing and get past them, you'll never want to play it again.

Concept: 10
This is one of the best concepts for a platformer, ever. You play a vampire hunter whose mission is to go into the castle of dracula and rid the world of him. The ideas of using a whip to hurt enemies, and having secondary weapons to choose from, are brilliant. The entire game is portrayed seriously, and creates an intense atmosphere. The enemies and bosses come from all areas of horror folklore; you even get to fight Death himself!

You should play this game if:
you like platformers but hate the cutesy-ass themes of mario and megaman.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/04/01, Updated 02/04/01

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