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Castlevania (NES) artwork

Castlevania (NES) review


"As you enter the castle; the door shuts behind you. Now you realize that thereís no turning back. Suddenly, groups of zombies come charging at you. Your pulse begins to quicken, but you remain calm and ready your weapon. You swing your whip just in time to turn the zombies into dust. Watch out! Another one is approaching from behind, and heís far too close to swing your whip at. Getting hit seems inevitable. However, you arenít going down without a fight. Just as the zombie is about to strike; y..."



As you enter the castle; the door shuts behind you. Now you realize that thereís no turning back. Suddenly, groups of zombies come charging at you. Your pulse begins to quicken, but you remain calm and ready your weapon. You swing your whip just in time to turn the zombies into dust. Watch out! Another one is approaching from behind, and heís far too close to swing your whip at. Getting hit seems inevitable. However, you arenít going down without a fight. Just as the zombie is about to strike; you hurl a razor sharp knife at him. He howls in pain as he dies, and you realize that this is going to be one hell of a night.

The intro should serve as a fine example of what this game is like. The word ďintenseĒ fits this game like a glove. As Simon Belmont(a descendant of a legendary line of vampire hunters) itís your duty to brave the perils of Draculaís Castle, and strike the vampire down for good. The story doesnít have much to it, but letís face it; NES games never have good plots.

Now the creepy atmosphere easily makes up for the lackluster plot. Castlevania is one of if not the first game to ever have a horror-like atmosphere. The castle is infested with all your favorite horror movie monsters; from skeletons to the almighty Dracula himself. The castle itself is a spooky environment; even though the color palette is a bit too bright for a dark game like this. All in all the graphics were superb for their time, but a few darker shades and a little more detail on Simon would have been nice.

The music is another area where this game is a complete success. Just try and get through the first level without humming ďVampire KillerĒ. The tunes arenít the best in sound quality, but they are extremely memorable and fitting. The score definitely sets the mood for the game. The music comes across as a mix between an action and horror soundtrack. While that may seem like a weird combination; the game actually pulls it off quite effectively. The songs really get you in the mood to beat down some monsters, but at the same time thereís a sense of doom. Itís really one of those things you just have to experience for yourself.

Now the game play established the foundation for every other game in the series. However, itís lacking the tweaks of the later installments. Itís hard to flaw this game for that alone, because it was only the first game in the series. Still, thereís somewhat of a design flaw in this game. Right off the bat youíll notice that thereís barely any healing items lying around. In fact, almost all the healing items are hidden in breakable walls. Considering that some of the later bosses are nearly impossible to defeat without full life(Death in particular will rip you apart); Iíd consider this a tiny flaw.

The main flaw lies in a few of the level designs though. The infamous level 2 stairway will have you ripping your hair out. The problem is that whenever Simon gets hit, he falls back about 3 feet. If youíre on a small platform or stairway, expect Medusa heads to come by and knock you plummeting to the ground. You canít really dodge the Medusa heads either; there just isnít enough room. This could have been remedied by giving Simon more precise control over his whip. The Medusa heads zigzag up and down the screen so the ability to swing your whip in multiple directions would have been a nice touch. Unfortunately, Simon can only swing his whip directly in front of him. Another tiny gripe of mine is that the game is a bit too unforgiving. Iím all for restarting at the beginning of the level when I die, but do they have to take away the 3 crosses Iíve been stashing up all game?

Despite its obvious flaws, Castlevania is a great action game. It started a phenomenal franchise that still sells well today, and created a unique atmosphere. It may be a bit too difficult for some gamers, but those of you brave enough to challenge the Count; will definitely have a blast. Itís still fun 20 years after its initial release, and that my friends; is the sign of a true classic.

Rating: 8/10

brightshield's avatar
Community review by brightshield (March 28, 2007)

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