This is what NES value games were all about
The game had a lot of variability which was cool for a game of that era. You build your character a-la Metroid, Zelda and Mega Man; in a style that was not resurrected in the Castlevania Franchise until the immensely popular Symphony of the Night on PS1. This game was way ahead of the franchise time; but ultimately proved to be the granddaddy of modern Castlevania in my opinion. The day and night conditions and free-roaming gameplay are a cut above the rest, not showing up until later titles such as Ocarina of Time.
1.) Simon doesn't look like the guy on the cover! Since when is brown hair blond? And why is Dracula waiting for Simon when Simon has to put him back together? The packaging for this game sucked and I bet that's why a lot of you apparently missed it.
2.) While I was ultimately very satisfied with the game; the ease of defeating Dracula and the subsequent death of the hero (in a very brief ending; one of 3 possible endings -- another novel feature of this classic); was mildly disappointing to the eight year old reviewer at time of completion.
The Bottom Line
One of my favorite NES games of all time and something I would recommend as a predecessor to many of the video game innovations that we still want developers to incorporate.