Castlevania… I hate you…
No, I don’t really hate Castlevania. I’m just cursing it because of its intense difficulty.
Castlevania takes up a huge part of my childhood. It was one of those games, that when you saw it, it looked like it was only made for adults. That’s mainly what made me want to play it. I had never owned Castlevania as a kid, but my friend did, so of course I spent many afternoons at his house trying to, navigate through the Medusa Heads, or figure out a pattern to make it through a hallway. Castlevania was one of those games that I couldn’t get enough of because there was always something new around every corner.
Castlevania was localized in North America in 1987, and was published by Konami. The game was well known for its platforming and classic horror icons, such as Frankensteins Monster and Medusa. It was a game that had everything for a horror fan such as myself.
You are Simon Belmont, the hero that will vanquish Dracula himself. But what’s this?? You don’t jump on your enemies heads, or shoot them with a gun, like in Super Mario Bros. or Contra. This was a sort of new platformer, something we haven’t seen. YOU WHIP YOUR ENEMIES!!! How awesome is that! There is nothing more gratifying than whipping some skeletons or flying Medusa Heads. It was a great element that, for me, made this game into a great series. Not only do have just a plain old leather whip, you get to upgrade it, to a long chain whip, allowing Simon to whip his enemies less, before they are defeated. I’ll talk more on weapons later, but now for the story!!
The Story — Not much here!! Yay!
There is a story but I love the fact that you sort of just jump into the game. That’s it. The reason I like this is because it’s just about the game. There are so many times where a game tries to make an elaborate story, and it just gets boring. I mean its for a younger generation and if it had a long story and cut scenes, I would probably get bored of it.
Graphics — Now graphics back in the NES era were nothing to write home about. But that’s one of the reasons I want to do retro reviews, because most of the time you have to use your imagination. Many times when I was a kid, I would find my friends and myself getting into arguments. “That’s a –” ” No it’s a –”, then we would bust out the instruction booklet to confirm what it really was. That’s the beauty of it, it’s up to your imagination.
Now with Castlevania, it is darn near perfect for that era. The color palette goes perfect for the game. Every levels theme was great, and it was very easy to distinguish what objects and enemies were. Also when sprites move it’s very fluent. Overall Konami did a fantasic job on Castlevania.
Music — Okay, so music is a huge thing with me, as far as setting the tone and getting you pumped while playing the game. Kinuyo Yamashita composed all the music for Castlevania, and it is mindblowing. Every levels theme is amazing, and I often catch myself humming or whistling the tune for the first level. It is by far one of the best soundtracks to a video game to date. I would love to know which video game soundtrack is your favorite. I’ve included the original soundtrack as well as a version done by Vomitron below.
Weapons/Items — Like I mentioned above, I love me some whip! Along with the whip, Simon is armed with some pretty impressive secondary weapons. He can obtain the dagger, holy water, axe, boomerang, and stopwatch. Each play an important roll throughout the game, but I always find myself spamming the holy water whenever I have the chance. Depending on your play style, you will be favoring a certain secondary weapon. Other items to mention are the double-shot and triple-shot. When using the secondary weapon, you can only shoot it once at a time on-screen. Once you get a double-shot (and eventually a triple), you can shoot two on-screen at a time. This is a huge element of the game that will have you pondering on what weapon to use throughout the level. Now you will lose some health from time to time, but luckily you will get your health back by getting some porkchops, or as I like to call it wall meat. The reason I call it that is because the primary source of porkchops, is from the wall. To find it, you have to whip at the wall in areas and you just might find a secret or some wall meat.
Gameplay — Now this game is a platformer, but not like your average Super Mario Bros., this game is HARD. So many insta-deaths, pits, spikes, you will be seeing the continue screen many times. The enemies have erratic patterns, and throw different items at you. One enemy in particular, the Medusa Head, has had me cursing at the TV screen. The biggest problem you will encounter is the ‘Castlevania Knockback’. Yes, this game has its own coined phrase for what happens when you get hit by an enemy or object. When you do get hit (and you will), Simon gets knocked backwards, resulting in many cases falling into a pit to your death. That will be your toughest enemy. But stick to it and you will eventually overcome many of the difficult areas this game has to offer.
Overall Castlevania is a grueling game, but is very satisfying, once completing each level. Even today, I find myself beating the current platformers with ease and coming back to Castlevania just for the challenge. Most people have played this masterpiece but for those who have not, I highly suggest playing it.
If there is something you would like to add, share a story, or suggest a game for me to do, please do so below!