Infuriating! And yet I keep coming back for more.
Dark Castle is a platform game that relies more on timing and careful planning than quick reflexes and shooting things. It's clever--a thinking man's platformer.
One thing that contributes to this is a completely 360 degree firing direction. When you throw a rock, you can rotate your arm to any angle. This takes time to learn effectively, but after about half an hour, it really helps knock out some enemies threatening to get you.
I don't usually talk about ports, since games should really be evaluated amongst their peers on the same platform, but I feel I really must talk about it: It must have been a herculean effort to port this game to the PC.
The entire game was first created on the classic Macintosh, which is a 512x384 1-bit (black and white) screen, while the PC at that time used a 320x200 2-bit (4 colors) screen. All of the playfields and sprites needed to be redrawn and the game logic rewritten to fit the smaller resolution of CGA. But even with those obstacles, the PC port really shines.
The game physics feel identical to the Mac, and the solutions to each screen remain the same. In fact, some screens are improved, as they use some color which the Mac didn't have at that time. They even managed to include the same digitized sound.
The digitized speech went the opposite direction from the graphics, from 8-bit sound to 1-bit sound through the PC speaker. It is very distorted, but audible.
Some of the areas you need to get through are extremely difficult and frustrating. For example, you can spend 5 minutes getting to a jump that must be timed properly, then missing the jump, then having to do it all over again.
The Bottom Line
Dark Castle is clever and funny. You owe it to yourself to try it out.