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Critic Reviews 83% add missing review

The 'Tude Dude ( )

One of my earliest gaming experiences, Castlevania certainly whips the nostalgia factor for me square in the face though it's high points stand the test of time like a stubborn vampire who just keeps getting resurrected again and again specifically the simple premise, excellent soundtrack and satisfying challenge. Just slam it in and you'll be lashing 8-bit zombies and bats to super-cool rhythmic-style beats in no time which really is as great as it sounds though its longevity in the minds of gamers is stooped in the overwhelming test it represents to reach its conclusion with your sanity intact - a staple of the "NES-hard" days. Besides that though, its built-in cast of classic horror film all-stars (including mummies, Frankenstein's monster and Death himself) supply a "ready-to-eat" narrative that's as easy for minds to comprehend as there has ever been in gaming, ensuring a 'tudey output in the maximum range that virtually guarantees visual real estate to any interested prospectors.

2019 · NES · read review

Questicle.net (A)

Beautiful atmospheric graphics, mostly tight controls, and some of the best music found in gaming, then and now, provide an all-around excellent experience. Complaints? When enemies hit you, they send you flying backward. Since there are a lot of flying enemies and a lot of precarious jumps to make, simple hits can lead to many instant deaths. If you’re a fan, you know all of this already. If you’re not a fan, why are you still reading? Go play Castelian or something.

Jun 2011 · NES · read review

The Retro Spirit (5.5 out of 6)

Sleng deg foran skjermen, kobl i en gamepad og fyr opp en god, gammel klassiker som fortsatt biter fra seg. Dette er plattforming som de som setter pris på en utfordring, dog svært urettferdig til tider. Men man, følelsen av mestring blir nesten ikke bedre enn dette. Vi legger vår «Golden DOS Spirit»-utmerkelse sammen med hvitløken og korsene i sekken til Herr Belmont, det fortjener han.

Dec 3rd, 2013 · NES · read review

Pixel-Heroes.de (9 out of 10)

Abschließend kann ich sagen, dass man auf jeden Fall zum Castlevania-NES-Modul greifen sollte, denn damit habt ihr einen zeitlosen Klassiker in der Hand, der auch noch nach so vielen Jahren seit dem Erscheinen immer wieder zum Spielen einlädt und für eine lange Zeit motivieren kann. Die C-64-Version ist dagegen wohl nur was für echte Hard-Core-Castlevania-Fans, die alle Teile und Versionen dieser Serie unbedingt durchspielen wollen. Alle anderen sollten lieber die Finger davon lassen.

Aug 2003 · NES · read review

Retro Game Reviews ( )

Castlevania is an early NES classic and it nailed a number of elements that define the series to this day. There's probably too much reliance on special weapons to proceed but the game is so much fun that you'll keep playing until you come up with the best strategy to get you just that little bit further.

Jan 2nd, 2015 · NES · read review

Game Freaks 365 (9 out of 10)

The most common complaint about Castlevania is the difficulty. Bear in mind this game was released back before there was voice acting, cut scenes, item collecting, and anything else aside from the stages to entertain the player. Castlevania is difficult because that's the only way it knows to get you to pick up the controller again. I've always been a fan of what I call, "games that hate you" and Castlevania is fairly close to the top of my list there. The game is not impossible, however, and killing the Count has to be one of my all time greatest gaming moments. If you are an easily frustrated gamer, well, you have been warned. If you have yet to play the grandfather of all Castlevanias, I really would suggest a purchase, as it is available for the NES, Game Boy Advance and now the Wii Virtual Console.

Nov 1st, 2007 · NES · read review

1UP! (88 out of 100)

Vous voudriez lui dire que ce fouet n'est pas ridicule, vous aimeriez même lui en faire tâter, lui montrer que toutes ces heures passées en compagnie de Simon vous ont appris comment manier l'arme avec une précision mortelle. Et puis qu'il y a aussi les bonus pour en améliorer la force et les autres armes, le boomerang, la hache, le sabre, l'eau bénite, ou même la montre, pour arrêter le temps.

Apr 7th, 2006 · NES · read review

Retro Archives (17.5 out of 20)

Entré dans la légende par la grande porte, Castlevania peut se vanter de jouir encore, plus de trente ans après sa sortie, d’un capital sympathie pratiquement intact en dépit d’une maniabilité très exigeante qui demandera un peu de temps pour être apprivoisée. Si le titre imaginé par Konami ne fait absolument aucun cadeau, son ambiance impeccable, largement portée par une musique faisant partie des plus marquantes de la console, aide immédiatement à se prendre au jeu et à s’accrocher pour espérer venir enfin à bout de Dracula et de son terrible château. Les passages cultes succédant aux passages cultes, avoir joué à Castlevania représente aujourd’hui un passage obligé dans la culture vidéoludique de n’importe quel joueur digne de ce nom. Une épopée à accomplir au moins une fois.

Oct 19th, 2018 · NES · read review

GameCola.net (8.6 out of 10)

If you have a NES or a GBA, pick up the original Castlevania. It'll piss you off to no end, but in the end, it feels totally rewarding. Also, if you could kick a couple of those Medusa head's asses for me, I'd appreciate it... I hate those things.

Feb 4th, 2006 · NES · read review

The Game Hoard (6 out of 7)

Castlevania may be guilty of the cardinal platforming game sin of rigid jumping, but that stiffness is mostly accommodated for by smart level design that requires the player to respect dangerous leaps over pits as true hazards. Castlevania is a tough action game where monsters constantly come at you and you must keep them at bay with an effective whip weapon and secondary items that add an extra layer to consider during the deadlier battles with resilient horror movie bosses. It would be better if you had greater control in the air, but Dracula’s castle is just as much a threat as its inhabitants, making for a quick and action-packed journey with no lulls. Your relationship with the controls will be what cinches your enjoyment, but if you do acclimate to it, Castlevania will deliver on an easily replayable and enjoyably challenging adventure.

Oct 11th, 2018 · NES · read review

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) (857 out of 1000)

A neat platform collecting game that keeps you coming back for more, Castlevania has all the touches that make a good arcade game. Sensibly, when you die the game allows you to start again at the beginning of the current level rather than forcing you to hack all the way through again. Plenty of puzzling routes to learn - and there's a small strategic element involved in the collection of the extra weapons: you can only carry one, and it's important to have the appropriate add-on at the right time.

May 1989 · NES · read review

Power Play (82 out of 100)

Die sehr detaillierte Grafik und das Riesenangebot an Extrawaffen machen Castlevania zu einem "Muß". Viele Extras sind versteckt; auch wenn man öfters spielt, entdeckt man immer wieder etwas Neues. Dank "Continue" bekommen auch weniger gute Spieler viel zu sehen.

Mar 1989 · NES

ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) (9.8 out of 12)

Zusammenfassend kann man also sagen, daß man mit diesem Spiel eine Menge Unterhaltung bekommt. Hitverdächtig!

Dec 1988 · NES

Computer and Video Games (CVG) (81 out of 100)

Recommended for those who enjoy a good arcade adventure.

Jan 1989 · NES · read review

NES Times (8 out of 10)

So while Castlevania I may seem primitive to the other titles (especially Castlevanias III and IV), it still proves to be a great entry from Konami, and a worthy first chapter to the series. The game is just flat out exciting and easy to get into and has that quality that makes you want to try again and again to get to the end. You may be frustrated by the unforgiving difficulty near the end and the stiff control issues, but these gripes aside, Castlevania is still a true classic, one that should definelty not be missed.

Aug 5th, 2010 · NES · read review

Retro4Ever (8 out of 10)

If you are a fan of the contemporary Castlevania titles, don’t sleep on the original adventure. It might just take you to school if you’re expecting a stroll through the castle. I often end a review by recommending a better sequel. Well, there are plenty that are better in this case but you kind of have to play this one to find out for yourself how they took these original ideas and improved upon them, otherwise it doesn’t have the same effect. If difficult games aren’t your thing, you can skip this one. It’s pretty intense and has historically caused me to rage out while playing.

Apr 22nd, 2013 · NES · read review

Joystick (German) (8 out of 10)

Castlevania ist mal wieder eine rundherum gelungene Cartridge, die man ohne Einschränkungen empfehlen kann! Die Grafik ist gut gezeichnet und sauber animiert. Der Sound ist, wie man es bei Nintendo gewöhnt ist, überdurchschnittlich gut und läßt sich auch nach längerem Spielen ertragen. Das Spiel selbst ist abwechslungsreich und hat eine Menge zu bieten. (...) Castlevania ist wieder eines der Spiele, wo sich das klar bemerkbar macht, denn es ist nicht zu schwer, und kein Weiterkommen, an welcher Stelle auch immer, ist vom Glück abhängig. Wer also eine farbenfrohe, unterhaltsame und gute Cartridge für sein NES sucht, wird mit Castlevania bestens bedient.

Feb 1989 · NES

NES Fanz (4 out of 5)

Castlevania will always be one of the greatest games of all time. With non-stop horrified action and having the age-old battle against the prince of darkness himself, so what are you waiting for? If you already haven't, pick up this game and start slaying some Undead!

Jan 3rd, 2005 · NES · read review

Just Games Retro ( )

Going by the cheeky credits at the end, where all the boss characters are listed as "performed" by one-letter-off versions of classic horror movie actors, Konami had absolutely no idea of what Castlevania would become. It represented a rare move for them - starting on the Famicom first instead of porting over a proven arcade title - but I think it's fair to say that this turned out to be a smart gamble. Konami may have just been making a fun, one-shot home game based on classic creature features, but they unintentionally found one of their flagship titles.

Oct 22nd, 2006 · NES · read review

Gaming since 198x (4 out of 5)

Malgré une jouabilité que l'on qualifiera volontiers de "crispante", Castlevania offre toujours ce cocktail d'action efficace des grands jours et saura convaincre les plus hardcore des joueurs. Son bestiaire varié, ses pièges retors, sa réalisation de qualité et ses musiques mythiques promettent de longues heures de plaisir masochiste. Évidemment, je ne peux qu'avoir envie d'y retourner.

Nov 17th, 2010 · NES · read review

Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library ( )

The graphics are only above average, but the music shines with complex, spooky, and memorable tracks in every level. It’s a very satisfying game to play, but the extreme level of difficulty is a detriment that may turn off a good amount of players.

2016 · NES

Video Game Den ( )

But if you put Akumajō Dracula back in its original context, you get a true classic filled with the same spirit that was poured onto its numerous sequels. A piece of video game history that will bring genuine tears of nostalgic joy to the old school players among us, and tears of equally suffering pain to the others.

May 30th, 2017 · NES · read review

Lens of Truth (8 out of 10)

Castlevania brought some great action to the platforming genre. Konami went with a more battle heavy than jumping style platformer here. This was a great idea in two ways: 1) We got the framework for a great franchise, 2) Simon jumps like a lead weight. Simon’s jumping ability is the only real downfall to the game, he really has none. As I mentioned earlier though, the score is what really sets this game aside. I’m glad Konami stuck with this, always paying serious attention to the music in this series.Castlevania is a good game which transformed into great games years later. A solid start to what was to become gaming royalty.

Apr 26th, 2009 · NES · read review

Classic-games.net (8 out of 10)

Although we are 30 years removed from its original release Castlevania is still every bit the classic it has been hailed as. It can be hard to go back to such a rigid control scheme, especially as the series would evolve and the difficulty is a tad too high. However the game is still just as compelling now as it was then if you have the patience.

Oct 2nd, 2017 · NES · read review

HonestGamers (Staff reviews only) (8 out of 10)

Dracula's inaugural NES Castlevania is very hard, and looks very basic. Unfortunately, those factors might be stressed to a fault. The tunes though, are remarkable, and that certainly elevates the experience, and makes the trip seem that much more legendary. Castlevania's Simon manages to stand up well to his much younger, much better-looking children. He’s mostly forgotten, but when nostalgia, curiosity, or boredom find the original, brown-clad vampire killer on his feet, he defies you to forget him again.

Dec 31st, 2003 · NES · read review

The Video Game Critic (B)

Castlevania's simple, arcade-style gameplay is compelling but slightly tainted by its preponderance of cheap hits. Being touched by a little bat can send you plunging into the nearest abyss, and many traps spell instant death. Castlevania's graphics are better than you might expect, with meticulously detailed walls that look properly aged. On the downside, some of the creatures are not well defined, and smaller creatures can be hard to discern. But despite its rough edges, Castlevania is a fun game that stands the test of time.

Dec 6th, 2004 · NES · read review

The Games Machine (UK) (71 out of 100)

Castlevania is more arcade orientated than the MSX version, keys are no longer needed and there are short-term objectives to reaching the next level. Unfortunately, infinite continue-plays are too generous, making progressing easier than it should be. Graphically, Castlevania is among the best Nintendo games, featuring constantly changing backdrops and many highly detailed sprites. Sonically, it is a real treat: music captures the mood of each level, getting ever more spooky as you near the tomb of Dracula.

Mar 1989 · NES · read review

RetroGame Man (7 out of 10)

In summary, this action platform game is fun and challenging but feels a bit dated with its archaic jumping mechanics. It’s certainly not the best Castlevania game on the NES (I’m looking at you Castlevania 3), but still charms with its awesome music and cool bosses. Overall, I give this game a 7/10, with the caveat that it receive the historic videogame tag for initiating such an awesome franchise.

Feb 20th, 2017 · NES · read review

Retro Game Age (7 out of 10)

Age hasn’t been kind to the Castlevania’s blemishes. It was released at a unique period in gaming where most developers were still finding their legs, so to speak. We were willing to overlook the flaws to get to the creamy filling underneath. If you were to release a game like this now it would get savaged, and rightfully so. Play this with that mindset and you’ll be able to enjoy it for what it gets right.

May 30th, 2011 · NES · read review

Family Friendly Gaming (70 out of 100)

The music in Castlevania is fantastic. The level layout is has an intelligent design. The graphics look horrible today. Back in that era there were some neat things done like background graphics. There is violence in Castlevania. If you want a challenging dracula hunting retro game then check out Castlevania.

Jan 2017 · NES · read review

Indie Hive N/A

Castlevania for the NES is not an easy ride, and I have yet to make it to the final stretches of the game, despite being given unlimited continues. The music is one of the best you can hear the retro system play. If you wish to take on the game, then good luck! You’ll need it.

Jun 6th, 2019 · NES · read review

Player Reviews

Whip it good, this is an excellent action/adventure(?) game for the NES!
by OlSkool_Gamer (101)

The Good
More of an action game, this is the game that made me as a kid, want to go out and buy a bullwhip. And I did, thats no joke. I was in love with this game from the time it was released in the coin-op version. It later became my first NES game I purchased.

You start out at the castle gates and work your way through the levels until you are finally at the top of the castle where the vampire is waiting. The levels all end with a mini-boss. Some pretty cool weapons can be found along the way including a stop watch that stops time. The mini-bosses are pretty fun to fight which were a big black bat, Medusa, Two Mummies, Frankenstein & Hunchback, The Grim Reaper and then the final boss is the Vampire. There might have been one more but they're pretty fun to kill.

The difficulty was enough to give you plenty of game play time, it took me awhile to be able to win the game. Pretty good "Translyvanian" kind of music, perfect for the haunted castle theme.

The Bad
Controlling your guy was pretty sluggish and difficult.

Everytime you get hit, you fly backwards which can be extremely annoying when you are standing on ledges fighting off enemies. Actually, it was annoying at any point in time.

There was also no way to save, one could argue the game wasn't long enough to need a save method. I think it might have been. There were continues though.

The Bottom Line
Some pretty sweet whip crackin' action, definitely one of the classics of the 8bit era and definitely my favorite series from Konami.

Apr 2nd, 2004 · NES

Hurts So Good
by TheoryOfChaos (54)

The Good
Ahh, the 80's - when we wanted our games to HURT us. Make us bleed and sweat and cry and throw the controller across the room. No saving every five seconds, no health packs around every corner, a great early-generation platformer like CASTLEVANIA punished failure, clumsiness, inattentiveness, hell, they even punished SUCCESS by ratcheting up the difficulty yet another agonizing notch every step you progressed. And here you've got six levels of beautiful raggedy-Gothic 8-Bit visuals and palm-sweating jumps, capped by boss fights that demanded the best (at the time) in pattern recognition and twitch-timing. The continues, sending you to the beginning of the level, gave you just enough reason to hope you could learn from your mistakes and take that boss down this time. But you had to earn your way back.

The CASTLEVANIA franchise has always thrived on theatrical atmosphere, colorful monsters, and stirring musical themes - and that formula arrived here fully intact. Given how few colors and patterns the designers had to work with, the pacing and foreboding sense of place they managed to coax out of the old Famicom is a marvel, one that pointed the way towards a more mature breed of gaming.

The Bad
The clunky controls have been voluminously documented in more comprehensive forums than this, and the Medusas and Hunchbacks put up a good fight against the birds from NINJA GAIDEN as "Most Annoying 80's Game Scrub Monster Ever". But you could argue that without these agonies, the triumph wouldn't taste so sweet.

The Bottom Line
The doesn't-need-to-be-humble start to one of the greatest franchises in video games, and a masterful artifact of the time when platform games were designed to take on in one brutal sitting.

Mar 1st, 2006 · NES

The whip-wielding franchise-starter
by Multimedia Mike (20688)

The Good
Ah, the game that kicked off the whole Castlevania franchise. This true classic remains as fun today and it was when it was first released.

I really liked the unlimited continues, and the fact that when you got to the final showdown with the Count, and failed, the game would start you just down the stairs from the Count's chamber. This is particularly advantageous since the first time I ever met the Count, it took me the better part of an entire day of trial and error to beat him.

I enjoy the fact that Castlevania plays like an encyclopedia of classic monsters and horror movie adversaries: You have your basic ghosts, ghouls, zombies, and bats. There are the fish monsters, Medusa heads, hunchbacks, Frankenstein monsters, and unkillable skeleton warriors. Even the Grim Reaper makes an appearance pulling sentry duty for the big Drac-man.

It's amazing to play this game and appreciate how well all of the best gameplay elements came together. Not only were the graphics top-tier, they were incredibly well-designed and consistent. At the start of the game, you scan Dracula's castle, including the tower that you must eventually hike up to. During level 3, you hike across a long bridge and you see the tower again in the background. I just think touches like that are genius in graphical design.

The tunes are all classic, which explains why they seem to be re-used in every subsequent Castlevania game. Hey, don't mess with success!

The Bad
Hunchbacks and floating Medusa heads. I did not like the hunchbacks or floating Medusa heads in this game. They had an alarming tendency to knock you around at the least opportune times.

Simon has also been rather difficult to control during his NES adventures. He's very slow and clunky, has no jump control, and his whip only goes in one direction (forward). At the very least, the designers took this into account and programmed the game's enemies and challenges accordingly.

And I was always frustrated that using the boomerang weapon depleted hard-earned heart points. The thing comes back to you, right? So you should receive some kind of reimbursement on your heart points. It only seems fair.

The Bottom Line
Experience the creepy glory of the original Castlevania.

Aug 5th, 2005 · NES

its you versus the count in a thrilling duel to the death!
by benjamin grimes (10)

The Good
this is a video game legend. this game is what every platform game should be-entertaining, and enjoyable. you must journey through the counts castle, in a bid to make it to the tower-where the master of the house, the count, awaits you. i find this games level design and overall layout very enjoyable to watch, as the detailed backgrounds and locations really show what the programmers can do. the music is spot on, and you,ll be humming the music from this game long after you have switched the game off. i have completed this game many times, and the playability of this game mean it is worth a re-play every now and then.

The Bad
the difficulty level. it is very challenging to the trainee and master alike, and bosses such as the grim reaper and the count himself, will test all of your game playing skill. and if by some stroke of luck you survive the game, a second, tougher quest awaits you, and this is for a master, since enemies appear more, and they get in your way, like in stage 29, you must travel across the outskirts of the castle, whilst killing bats and hunchbacks!

The Bottom Line
if you want a game that gives you a challenge, and takes all of your skill to master, then look no further , since this masterpiece is great fun to play, and offers a memorable game play experience.

Apr 15th, 2005 · NES

Just leave it to Simon Belmont, vampire hunter!
by Adzuken (853)

The Good
I’m just going to put this out there so you know exactly where I stand: I love Castlevania. I don’t mean the series, as I haven’t played many of the titles. I’m referring to the original Castlevania. It sits quite high on my favourite games on the NES list, though I don’t keep track, so I can’t say how high exactly. I’m not really sure what it is about the game, I just get sucked into it. It’s an impressively designed game, especially when you take the date it was released into account.

Castlevania, at its core, is a simple side-scrolling action game. You play as Simon Belmont, descendant of a long line of vampire hunters, who must enter Castlevania, armed only with a whip, to defeat Dracula. Along the way, you face off against a large variety of classic movie monsters. You power up, you defeat waves of lesser enemies, you beat the boss, and then you move onto the next level. It’s nothing unique or overly creative, but it doesn’t have to be. It does what it does so well, and above all else it’s extremely fun.

For an NES game that came out in 1986, Castlevania has excellent graphics. Even more impressive is its outstanding atmosphere, something that is understandably difficult to pull off on the NES’s limited hardware. The game’s stages are all wonderfully well done. I’m especially a fan of the third level’s skylines and crumbling walls. It’s especially surprising how well the game’s huge variety of levels flow together. If the boss battles weren’t there to bookend each level, they would connect and transition in a way that is very unusual for the console.

Castlevania’s music is some of the best on the NES. Many of the songs are real standouts. The song that plays over the third level is especially catchy and I found myself humming along and tapping my foot to it, as corny as that sounds. The soundtrack does a lot to compliment the gameplay too, as it makes it easier to get into the role of the heroic Simon Belmont as he trudges along. This is probably the reason that many of the later Castlevania games feature remixed versions of these songs. It’s really quite impressive.

Castlevania also features that very specific NES brand of difficulty. The kind of difficulty that is more often found in the Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man series. Not unfair, per se, but very, very challenging. It can certainly be frustrating when you find yourself killed instantly simply because you were unable to avoid a medusa head while standing on a ledge. When frustration builds, Castlevania starts to feel cheap. A number of times I found myself cussing at the screen, confounded by my life being whittled away by a hunchback who I just couldn’t seem to land a blow on. Don’t be surprised if you wind up trying to break your controller, but remember that if you do manage to beat Dracula at the end of the game, victory will taste all the sweeter.

The Bad
Simon Belmont moves very stiffly, it’s like he suffers from arthritis. The only pace he can move at throughout the entire game is a slow march. Once he jumps, there is no correcting his course. Stairs are fickle things, once you start up them, you can only get off at the top or bottom. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe it’s just me, but I love how Castlevania controls. I think it complements the feel of the game, once you get used to it. It really helps me feel like I’m single-mindedly trudging through the waves of baddies, with no thought of failure in my head. Though, maybe I’m just strange like that. You might just find it feels stiff.

Castlevania has a big reliance on pattern enemies. You’ve probably heard of them: bats, medusa heads, and hunchbacks. They’re mostly nuisances, but they’re big nuisances. Simon also has this strange habit of leaping back a few feet every time he’s hit. This can lead to a lot of frustration when one moment you’re standing on a ledge with full health, and the next, you’re plummeting to an instant death because you got hit from above by a hunchback. I have to once again say that I feel this adds to the feel of the game. A lot of tense moments are created from the knowledge that at any moment, one of the games easily defeated pattern enemies could zoom in from the side of the screen and kill you in a single hit. However, you may just find it frustrating.

Boss battles are also a minor weak point of the game. There is a large variety of them, and they are all very different, but there’s little strategy involved in defeating them. Many can be vanquished quite easily using holy water. Some of them just require a lot of whipping at the right time. On top of that, a few of them are outrageously cheap. Death, for instance, spawns a room full of homing scythes that deal massive damage. Dracula himself is less cheap, but he does require a great deal of practice to finally overcome.

Lastly and least of all, I hate the secondary item system in this game. More than once I found myself nearing a boss battle with level three holy water in my inventory. I break a candle and what should land on me? A throwing dagger, which instantly replaces my upgraded holy water. I really wish secondary items would stack and could be selected, or at the very least you had an option not to pick it up. It’s very frustrating when something that you’ve been cultivating for an entire level gets replaced by an item you didn’t want, and indeed never intended to pick up. Of course, being careful about what you pick up is always an option.

The Bottom Line
Castlevania is a remarkable game. All the polish that has gone into it shines brightly, and it’s hard not to be charmed by it. Almost everything in the game is completely standout. It’s challenging, atmospheric, and well designed. Sure, the storyline is barely there, but such was the case in most NES games. As I said earlier, I love Castlevania, and it is among my favourite titles for the NES. That said, I haven’t spent a lot of time with the third game in the series, but I plan to. For all I know, I’ll enjoy that one more. Also, I haven’t played a single port of Castlevania, so for all I know, there’s a more definitive version out there. In any case, in my experience, Castlevania is an AMAZING game, and I recommend it to anyone who owns an NES. Incidentally, Simon Belmont was my favourite character in the cartoon, Captain N: The Game Master. Though, they did take a lot of liberties with his character.

Nov 23rd, 2009 · NES

Whip it, baby!
by Katakis | カタキス (43228)

The Good
The NES came out in the Eighties, the same era that game companies began to shine with classics that spawned many sequels. One of these classics was Castlevania, Konami’s popular series that survived for eighteen years before being reduced to pachinko machines. I am reviewing the first game, which was released in 1986, first for the Famicom Disk System and then the NES a year later. It introduces the world to Simon Belmont, who I believe was the main protagonist for the first two games.

Armed with “Vampire Killer”, a whip given to him by his ancestor Christopher Belmont who defeated the Dark One many centuries ago, Simon must venture inside Dracula’s Castle and search every floor, killing a lot of creatures and defeating Dracula’s henchmen that will try to stop him every step of the way. Candles are scattered along the way, and whipping these will allow Simon to collect power hearts that may be used in dangerous situations.

Castlevania was unique to the other platform games that were in the same era, where you only have a single weapon to destroy enemies. More than one weapon can be used, such as dagger, axe, and holy water; and these weapons can be collected by whipping candles. Also, the game draws inspiration from classic horror movies from the early twentieth century. The creatures that attack you and the guardians you face are taken from horror movies. At the end of each stage, you will fight movies icons louche as Medusa, Frankenstein, a couple of Mummies, the Grim Reaper, and Dracula himself.

As I just said, Castlevania was first released on the FDS. It has a name entry screen reminiscent to The Legend of Zelda. I have no idea why there is one, maybe it is to used for a high school table; but it makes a return in Dracula’s Curse. There is also a version for the PlayChoice-10, Nintendo’s Arcade system. It is much harder than the normal version, and continues can be obtained by inserting coins.

The game's soundtrack is brilliantly composed by Kinuyo Yamashita, and some of the tunes are easy to remember, especially the ones in the first two states. Each piece is unique to each stage, but there is always the one piece reserved for boss fights. Stage six features three different pieces: one for Simon climbing up the stairs, another that plays while you are doing battle with Dracula in his crypt, and another one that plays after Dracula turns into a hideous monster. I really like what you'll hear during the end credits.

The castle consists of indoor and outdoor sections, with the majority indoors. some of these sections look quite nice. The animations are great, especially Simon walking up and down stairs and using his whip. I like the opening cutscene where Simon overlooks the castle, with the dark sky and crescent moon blending in with the game’s theme.

The Bad
There are two annoying aspects of the game. First, when you get hit by an enemy, Simon will jerk back -- to his doom in most cases. I actually lost count on how many times where I tried to jump on a series of short platforms, only to have some creature knock me down into the water or chasm. Also, some situations require strict timing, with an example of this dealing with the damn hunchbacks you meet in stage three. In most situations, these things take away part of my health just before I hit them with my whip, since they are so damn fast. And don't get me started on the final boss.

The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Castlevania has everything that fans of platform games would want - a simple plot, nice graphics, and excellent sound. The game is unique for its time as it contains elements that other platform games at the time didn't have - the ability to use more than one weapon, movie references, etc. Sure, there are certain situations in the game where one hit by an enemy will lead to your doom. But once you overcome this problem, the game will be much easier to complete. Anyone who decides to play a game in the Castlevania series should at least play this one.

Sep 25th, 2017 · NES

Plus 123 player ratings without reviews

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by The 'Tude Dude, RhYnoECfnW, Alsy, Riemann80, VGManiac101, coenak, RetroArchives.fr, Big John WV, jumpropeman, Jo ST, Dietmar Uschkoreit, Patrick Bregger, Alaka, Tim Janssen, SlyDante, Ryan DiGiorgi, Baron79, chirinea, firefang9212.