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Part VI: The Playful Side of Dracula

Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-kun
(Famicom, 1990)

Just as Parodius served as a parody of the Gradius space shooter series, Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-kun takes a satirical look at the Castlevania series, exchanging the hardened appearance of Dracula's castle and its accompanying serious tones with a more comical cast of characters and more light-hearted cartoonish environments. Playing as Kid Dracula (quite possibly the son of Dracula, whose mother has yet to be announced), you learn that Galamoth (or Garamoth, depending on the translation) has challenged you, so you must fight your way to his castle and defeat him. It's a neat little platformer; as Kid Dracula progresses, he gains many new powers, such as the ability to transform into a bat or fire off homing bullets. It's too bad the game was stuck in Japan. Maybe the first boss' uncanny resemblance to a Ku Klux Klansman had something to do with it. Hmmm...

Kid Dracula
(GB, 1993)

Although Kid Dracula was shackled to the Famicom over in Japan, he made a surprising appearance overseas in 1993 on the Game Boy. The plot is basically the same: Garamoth has challenged Kid Dracula to a rematch, obviously a task no self-respecting vampire boy can refuse. Unfortunately, Kid Dracula quickly discovers he has forgotten all of his abilities from the Famicom game, leading his skull-faced master to scold him. Relearning those skills becomes part of his quest as well. The game is just as pleasant on a handheld, and Castlevania fans with a sense of humour would be wise to take a peek at this cute side-story.

Akumajo Dracula The Medal
Pachislot Akumajo Dracula I, II, & III


All of these are not standard video games, but instead are slot/pachinko machines bearing the visages of Castlevania characters. Pachinko is a very popular pastime in Japan involving droves of small metal balls falling from above; the goal is for them to land in certain spots to win. Think pinball but without paddles... and with dozens of smaller balls simultaneously hopping around. Gambling machines with licensed characters on them are quite common in Japan, so it comes as little surprise that even Konami is in on the deal with several of its franchises, including Ganbare Goemon and Castlevania.

Akumajo Dracula: The Arcade
(ARCADE, 2009)

Now this is interesting! Imagine a first-person Castlevania game where you actually pick up a prop whip or gun and use that to fight enemies as they approach. Instead of just pressing a button, you can actually flick that whip and kill a skeleton! It's a similar experience to that of Time Crisis or Silent Scope. This would have been a nice concept for the Wii, but it looks like the arcade setting won out. The coolest part? If you have a special card, you can even save your progress for when you come back later! Whoa!

Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night
(iOS, 2010)

Here's an odd one. Encore of the Night is, essentially, a retelling of the storyline behind Symphony of the Night but not with any classic whipping action. Instead, it's a... puzzle game. Yeah. And a generic-looking one at that. You're basically matching coloured tiles to try and make them disappear in a similar fashion to so many other puzzlers out there. Yes, there ARE other elements: your character, Alucard, earns experience points to improve his abilities (or skills to help destroy your opponents in battle) and can snag some money for making purchases, but should that really be important for a puzzle game? I'm not exactly sure who this game was designed for, but it definitely wasn't Castlevania fans.

So there you have it — a nice gander at one of the finer series in video game history that hasn't been excessively branching out into unwelcome territory (I'm looking at you, Mega Man Soccer). So what's next for the Castlevania series? Well, now that the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series has been considered a "revival", perhaps more games in that vein will be next. Here's hoping that, like Dracula, this series will not die anytime soon!

(Screenshots of Pachislot Akumajo Dracula II and Akumajo Dracula: The Arcade provided courtesy of The Castlevania Wiki)
(Screenshot of Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night provided courtesy of GameFAQs)

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