Review by DarkSaiyan20

"How can such a simple game be so perfect. (fanboy review)"

Castlevania. The mere thought of the word triggers so many thoughts and memories everytime it's mentioned in a game magazine, message board, or even by your friends. This series means something to almost every console gamer, old and young. Many gamers who caught on to the series with Symphony of the Night and it's likenesses have no idea how the series really started. It's unbelievable that in a few years it will a 20 year old game. Who would've thought that a young hero rising up to defeat Dracula and his cronies would ever have went so far. But here we are in 2004 and people are still playing these games. Konami is known for their top notch games and the original Castlevania is no exception. It may be short and sweet but it gets to the point no matter how hard it is. Let's take a look.

Story - 7/10
Normally for a game like this I wouldn't put up a story section but for this one I feel like I'm obligated to. Dracula and his minions are spreading havoc across Transylvania and it's up to our hero, Simon Belmont (Belmondo in some circles), to rid the country of his evil. Sounds pretty simple but hey, this was the mid to late 80s here. No game from this era has a deep and involving storyline. Back then the gameplay had to be good enough to warrant a purchase from gamers. Still does in my book. Anyway this simple to understand storyline was left wide open for the many sequels and prequels to follow. As the story goes the Belmont bloodline is famous for being vampire hunters so Simon is drawn to this confrontation by destiny. Using the whip handed down throughout the generations of the Belmont bloodline, he goes forth to smite (I love that word) evil. Well enough rambling on about the story let's get to the good stuff.

Graphics/Sound - 8/10
Let's not forget this is a late 80s era game so we're not going to see anything innovative in terms of looks. The game can be quite colorful in places and there are plenty of backgrounds to see throughout Castlevania. I do like the stage where you can see in the background where the final battle takes place (not sure if that was Block 3 or 4). The enemies and bosses are not really of the best graphic sprites on the NES but it all gets the job done rather well. Speaking of sprites check out Simon's. His walking animation looks like he's walking all hunched over. Another interesting fact is that his jumping animation is the same as his crouching one. Kinda funny to look at nowadays. But the real gem in this department is the sound. The music in particular. Who could ever forget Vampire Killer. That cut has been in almost every Castlevania to date. It may not be CD quality but even here it's still a memorable theme. As for the rest of the music I find myself humming these themes everytime I play. And yes I own the complete soundtrack. The 8-bit music sounds kinda cool on a high end car stereo. Wicked Child in particular sticks out as another recurring theme along with the Dracula's theme from the last stage. Excellent job in both sound and graphics Konami.

Gamplay/Control - 7/10
Well.....what's to say? It either works for you or you throw your controller against the wall in frustration (like I did before I beat it). Simon's main weapon is an upgradable whip. It starts as a regular whip, goes to a chain whip, and maxes out as a longer chain whip. At first it feels hard to play like this considering you can only whip left and right plus even fully upgraded it still doesn't have very good range but after many long hours of practice you develop really good timing. You can find other subweapons which are used by pressing Up and B they consume hearts but don't worry. A good Castlevania veteran always has enough hearts on hand. These weapons include holy water, the axe, stopwatch (time freeze), dagger, and boomerang (best). Also by finding special double and triple shots you can increase the amount of subweapons you can throw. These special icons are found in walls and by defeating 10 or so enemies with your subweapon. Of course the stopwatch is not affected by these upgrades. But you'll need all the help you can get because this game can be brutal for a novice player. The further you advance the more damage you take from even the simplest of enemies. And the jumps get even more insane in some of the later levels. The jumping system is hard enough to master as is. Especially considering you have no air control during mid jump. But as hard as the challenge is the patient player will find that perfect balance and eventually master the game. I played this as a kid in the late 80s and originally hated it. Upon going back into it a few years ago it still chewed me up and spit me back out. After much practice and patience I can now finish it without dying in under an hour. So yes the challenge can be intense but it's not impossible. This game set the standard for later games to be frustrating but addictive as well.

Fun Factor - 10/10
I love this game and it's many sequels. I always pop this one in on a snow day or when i have nothing else to do. It's still just as good as it was when it came out. Like Super Mario Bros this one never dies with age but gets better. Upon mastering it you'll always want to come back periodically for more. So I feel it holds a high replay value.

To buy or not to buy?
BUY IT!!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!! You won't regret this purchase. It belongs in any collector's library. It can be had for under $10 at any game store or on Ebay. If you won't then I'm afraid you don't know what you're missing out on.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/29/04

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