Good Eeeevening! Step into the shadows of the deadliest dwelling on earth. You've arrived at Castlevania, and you're here on business:
To destroy forever the Curse of the Evil Count. Unfortunately, everybody's home this evening. Bat, ghosts, every kind of creature you can imagine. You'll find 'em all over the place, if they don't find you first. Because you've got to get through six monstrous floors before you even
meet up with the Master of the House. Your Magic Whip will help, and
you'll probably find a weapon or two along the way. But once you make it to the tower, you can count on a Duel to the Death. The Count has waited 100 years for a rematch. He's ready. Are you? - from the manual
All great series have to begin somewhere, and for many people it began with the "first" game (excluding Vampire Killer) in the series titled, appropriately, Castlevania. Released in 1987 by Konami for the arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, Amiga, and Commodore 64, this is the game that introduced us to Simon Belmont and his family's mission to destroy the vampire Dracula.
The game is divided into seven stages, each with several subsections which are contained between doors. Passing through a door moves Simon to the next subsection. If defeated he will return to the last door he passed through. At the end of each stage is a boss based on a classic monster (such as Medusa, Frankenstein and Igor, the Mummy, etc.) and defeating the boss allows Simon to move to the next stage. This game is a classic side-scroller with some vertical elements.
Simon's weapon of choice is the whip, and that can be powered up twice by collecting better whips. Each successive whip has a longer reach and can do more damage on each strike. He also can use secondary weapons, such as the boomerang or axe, at the cost of one heart unit each. Luckily hearts can be collected almost everywhere, and picking up a double or triple multiplier allows for two or three secondary weapons to be on the screen at one time. The complete list of secondary weapons:
Other items to be discovered include...
While it might be considered quite primitive in today's gaming landscape, the old Castlevania has stood up well over the test of time (and was even remade for the Super NES as Super Castlevania/Castlevania IV). There are a few irksome annoyances, however. Simon cannot change direction in midair, meaning that if he's smacked by a flying baddie at a crucial moment he'll fall into a pit. Plus as the game goes on it becomes increasingly difficult. It took me nearly ten years to get past the Frankenstein and Igor boss combination, as getting hit four times depletes the life meter. Thank goodness for unlimited continues.
The game was released in Japan as Akumajou Dracula for the Famicom Disk System where it sported a name entry screen and game save abilities. In 1993 this version was rereleased in Japan as a cartridge and included an Easy Mode that allowed Simon to take more hits, included fewer baddies, nine lives per continue, and removed the recoil when taking a hit. The Normal Mode of the game is the classic Castlevania.
Castlevania has been out of production for years and has become increasingly hard to find. Your best bet for finding the NES version includes the usual places: eBay, used game stores, etc. The game was re-released for the Game Boy Advance as part of the Famicom Mini/Classic NES collection in 2004. Also keep an eye out for the arcade version, Vs. Castlevania.
Produced by Konami
Directed by Trans Fishers
Screenplay by Vram Stoker
Music by James Banana
Dracula: Christopher Bee
Death: Belo Lugosi
Frankenstein: Boris Karloffice
Mummy Man: Love Chaney Jr.
Medusa: Barber Sherry
Vampire Bat: Mix Schrecks
Hunch Back: Love Chaney
Fish Man: Green Stranger
Armor: Cafebar Read
Skeleton: Andre Moral
Zombie: Jone Candies
And the Hero Simon Belmondo
You played the greatest role in this story.
Thank you for playing.
The game itself, given to me as a present by my parents on Halloween 1988. Thanks Mom and Dad!