Released in May of 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, Castlevania was Konami’s addition to the action platforming genre that took over the NES. Castlevania starts the Belmont’s family tradition, a tradition that consists of killing the immortal Dracula every couple generations. You play as Simon Belmont — now a well known legendary Vampire killer. Your mission is to storm Dracula’s castle and put an end to his dark deeds. During the 80’s — this was considered a scary game.
The graphics in Castlevania are well designed because their quality is not exactly exceptional — sounds odd, right? Hear me out. For example, the enemies animate quite frantically, and backgrounds can look messy sometimes. While this does add to the spooky feel, and screams limitations, it does give us a piece of the 8-bit 80’s flaws we love… or maybe I’m speaking for myself. Don’t get me wrong, the colors are bright and the game can look nice at times. My only issue with the graphics is that sometimes enemies can blend with the background and cause you to get hurt or get hurt and fall into a pit. Castlevania’s small graphic era is easily forgotten when you take into account how great the music is. The music alone had me coming back to the game even as frustrated as I was with it’s difficulty.
The gameplay in Castlevania is not exactly perfect, Simon Belmont’s controls are anything but flexible. While controlling Simon, the first thing you’ll notice is how slow he walks and how clunky the attacking and jumping is in this game. This can pose lots of frustration when trying to dodge enemies over pits such as flying Medusa heads. (I can’t begin to explain how irritating those enemies are in this game).
In many ways Castlevania is a simple game: no save function, can be completed in a single play through, and strict linear stage progression make for a short game. This game has style — and that style is a welcome refreshment from the constant hauls of Mario clones and frequently uninspired platformers that make up a large segment of the NES library. By keeping things simple, Castlevania manages to be a game that is fun to pick up and play and repeatedly challenge until you eventually become skilled enough to beat the entire game. It won’t provide the length or depth that a modern game is able to provide, but what it does give is a heck of a lot of fun despite it’s immediate follow-ups greatly improving upon the formula. The original Castlevania remains a terrific game to play and certainly one of the best action-platformers on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try to finish the 5th level in Castlevania that’s been making me pull my hair out of my head for a month.
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