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// article by Jeff

Someone in the world had a vision. A vision to take one of horror's leading figures, the great and delightfully frightful Count Dracula, and insert him into a dismal stair-climbing platformer. But wait! The kids won't go for this vampire nonsense for another seventeen years, not until Kristen Stewart starts biting into random necks. (I haven't seen the Twilight films; do forgive me for my presumption.) So, in order to lure in the youth of today, they needed what all good entertainment media need: a product endorsement!

Would Dracula drink Pepsi? Nope. According to the 1971 Canadian children's show "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein", Dracula would only drink his own private brand of cola, Dracola. Would Dracula shop at Forever 21? Probably not, considering that although I'm sure the old count would simply adore being 21 years old again, he's more likely to seem incredibly archaic shopping for sequined halter tops that read "2 Hot 2 Party".

There's only one natural item for Dracula to endorse: Reebok Pumps.

Now we have the premise for Drac's Night Out, an NES game developed by Microsmiths, a company who had once worked on games for Amiga, Atari, and the Sega Master System, and published by Parker Brothers... or at least it WOULD have been published, had it not been cancelled at the last minute for reasons unknown to mankind. But what it would have been...is pretty average at best.

You're Dracula (if you couldn't already tell) whose main goal is to make it down his extremely tall castle by way of a long vertical corridor of stairways to the outside world in search of his beloved Mina. Drac has to make his way down, avoiding a slew of pacing raving townsfolk who want him put back in his coffin permanently. Along the way, there are a series of levers that, when pulled, will spring some traps that can immobilize or outright kill the humans, allowing our bloodthirsty hero to pass further downward. Of course, should that not be enough, Drac can hypnotize a few of them with his...let's call it a "masculine gaze" to pass by them.

Eventually, if you can escape the grips of your own castle (which is pretty difficult enough, considering how rough the first part of the game is), there's still the rest of the angry townsfolk to deal with, and this is where Drac's Night Out turns more into an open-worldly explorative adventure. Mina is hidden in one of many, many houses in the town of... I'm assuming Transyvania, but it could very well be Boston. I don't know where the upbeat Dracula lives here. But as to which house she's in is a complete mystery, and with no map to start with and no hint of where to go, Drac's really on his own. He'll just have to bite passersby to get items such as keys, little map chunks, and magic lanterns to survive, provided he's not getting chased by angry mobs upset that he bites people for sustenance. Eventually you can find Mina, but more time is spent skulking about, hoping for the best, that the game loses its edge rather quickly. And even once Mina is found, the game doesn't end. You just restart in a new castle. It's like the second quest of the Legend of Zelda, except you never asked for it.

Oh yeah, and did I fail to mention that if Drac acquires an illustrious pair of white Reebok Pumps, he runs more quickly? This is what shoes — nay, only Reeboks — do to you: they give you the power to run faster, as though they inject some sort of steroid into your legs and vastly increase your athletic ability. Seriously, has anyone worn or even spoke of Reebok shoes in the last two decades? ...w-wait a second... It's a subsidiary of Adidas now? WHAT?! When did THAT happen?

A bit ugly for its time (these graphics are drab for this point in the NES' lifespan), Drac's Night Out also suffers from some seriously off-key music that'll definitely crack your windows, as well as a few teeth and the cat. The game was indeed cancelled and is now relegated to being a notable prototype floating around on the Internet. Have fun suckling throats, folks!


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