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RELEASE DATE (NA): May 1987 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Stingray

The original whipped topping.

Dracula. The strongest of the vampires. A blood-sucking terror of the night. What better villain, what better evil entity to put your gaming skills to the test, than Dracula? Through the ages many books and movies have been made about this seemingly invincible creature. Little did Konami and Nintendo know about the franchise that would soon develop when they came to release Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.

Castlevania is a 2D side-scolling platformer that puts you, controlling Simon Belmont, up against Dracula and his minions as you travel through Dracula's eerie castle in Transylvania. Dracula's castle in divided into 6 sections, each ending in a boss battle. Each section is divided into 3 smaller stages for a total of 18 stages. With a limited amount of time, you'll have to hop, skip, and jump over those skeletons quickly to save your hide!

Simon has a health meter that will is depleted each time he is hit. His primary weapon is his magical whip. Several items can be found throughout the level which help Simon on his journey. Two whip upgrades can be found which increase the length of your whip. The most common item found, a heart, is consumed each time Simon uses one of the secondary weapons that can also be found. Other special hidden items are a Cross, which instantly kills all enemies on the screen, an invincibility potion, food to heal with, and secondary weapon upgrades which allows you to fire double or triple when using an applicable secondary weapon.


Along your way you will run into a plethora of citizens of the night. Some are easy to dispatch while other will infurate you to no end and possibly make you throw your controller or the whole NES out the window. Oh, those Medusa heads. How I loathe you...

Simon controls a little stiff, but it is not too hard to get him to do what you want. Stairs can be a bit tricky sometimes as you have to go all the way up or down. You can use your whip or items on the stairs, but lining up the shot will often cost you more hit points. The music has a nice creepy tone to it which fits perfectly with the theme of the game. The graphics are a bit basic, but it IS on the NES after all and does have a nice background that fits with each section.

This game is full of great whip-cracking action, but there are a few frustrations. Medusa Heads!! And those stupid jumping hunchback creatures of death. While each stage or section is well-designed, the whole path through the castle is not well layed out. The first half has you traveling up a tower. After beating the boss in the top of the tower, you are unceremoniously dropped back down to the bottom floor before beginning the next section. ...which has you traveling up into a different tower. Medusa Heads!! You have three lives and infinite continues, which is nice. But each time you die you start back over at the beginning of the stage that you died in. Some stages start right before a boss battle which gives you little time to gather up what is needed. My last complaint would be about difficulty. It is a difficult game, but, for me, it does not seem to scale well. There are really hard parts... Medusa Heads!!... surrounded by a pretty easy level.

Despite some frustrations, this game is a fun game to play. There are a lot of little secrets that you can find along the way to help you out. It is a great take on Dracula and calls to the hero in all of us. Good vs. Evil. And what bigger evil can you have than Dracula himself?

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