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Castlevania (NES) artwork

Castlevania (NES) review


"Zombies? Killer bats? Out-of-place panthers? Screw that, it's the candles Simon hated, and yet he eventually grew to love. Only by destroying them could he find random weapons and the sliced-out human hearts needed to give him the strength to throw said weapons. You see, Simon also hates close combat. He likes his space, and doesn't like murderous and nightmarish creatures penetrating his bubble. He'd rather throw a knife than stab a zombie, or toss an axe in an arc than chop down a harpy."



Castlevania asset


Transylvania, 1691

All who dwelt there lived in the shadow of Castle Dracula. For not only was it a creepy-looking old place, but a public safety hazard without any wheelchair access. Many had died trying to give Dracula housewarming gifts, most of them accidentally impaled on spikes or ripped apart by the hundreds of beasts infesting the castle. These beasts were also known for disturbing the peace in many nearby villages. Plenty of locals had filed noise complaints on the baying werewolves or had vandalism issues with the zombies.

It took one man, a courageous young fire-blooded specimen who never took off his leather armor, to finally put a stop to Dracula's tomfoolery. His name was Simon Belmont, and he hated candles!

Zombies? Killer bats? Out-of-place panthers? Screw that, it's the candles Simon hated, and yet he eventually grew to love. Only by destroying them could he find random weapons and the sliced-out human hearts needed to give him the strength to throw said weapons. You see, Simon also hates close combat. He likes his space, and doesn't like murderous and nightmarish creatures penetrating his bubble. He'd rather throw a knife than stab a zombie, or toss an axe in an arc than chop down a harpy.

He knew he would need these artifacts as he entered through the gate and beheld the legions of undead rising up from the crumbling marble floors. No matter how many he took down with the crack of his whip, more came. As he crawled down a level near the moat he found a horrid infestation of nightmarish monsters--of hybrid fishmen who spat fireballs--he found no safe haven. He didn't want to know how fish and men came to be crossed, and couldn't get the horrid visions of the possibilities out of his head. He whipped, threw knives, destroyed candles, consumed hearts...

Castlevania asset


The beasts and environs grew grizzlier. He moved from the ruined entry hall to the crimson tower and met something he hated more than candles: medusa heads. These bodiless bitches flew in wavy patterns and had a knack for sending a mid-jump Simon back a few steps and into a pit. He lost count how many times he had climbed the same stairs and hopped over the same pitfalls only to wind up at the bottom again.

Even despite the heads he found his quest to be fairly simple at first. He crushed a giant bat, sent the true Medusa screaming to hell, and unraveled a pair of twin mummies. But when he fell into the torture chambers at the bottom of the castle, he found true pain. Beasts appeared at inconvenient areas. Mermen leaped out of the water while Simon rode a floating platform, frequently knocking him into the moat. Poor Simon never got the hang of swimming. Common bats appeared, sometimes in clouds, and always thwarted his progress with the slightest bump. Pillars made of fire-breathing dragon skulls lie in wait for our hero, ready to burn his body to blackened ash.

Dracula's castle wasn't a straightforward romp, but a twisted and dangerous playground. Platforms lay in a strange order, requiring Simon to time his leaps and wait for flying creatures to pass. Pitfalls were common, traps lay around every corner, and beasts loved making him fall into these things. It's as though they allowed him to succeed for so long only so they could watch him fall from lofty heights.

Castlevania asset


After a long and arduous haul, Simon arrived at Dracula's chamber. He withstood the horrid fleamen, who jumped at awkward angles and high speeds; he toppled Frankenstein's monster and pissed on the corpse of his pesky servant Igor; he survived a long hallway filled with medusa heads and axe armors, a frustrating and taxing test of perseverance and skill; even locked horns with Death himself, having dodged the thousands of flying sickles that came from ever angle. What happened between he and Drac is legendary, but some say that Dracula cursed Simon that day, and told Simon that his next quest would be significantly less fun a true test of valor.

Simon's first adventure on the NES, Castlevania, is a blast. The dark environments and horrific atmosphere combined with challenging gameplay make it a great platformer. Konami crafted each level with care and consideration for gameplay, and be damned to realism. Each platform and every enemy is expertly placed. The only drag is that there are no passwords, even if you do get infinite continues. They expect you to complete this task with such skull-crushing difficulty and without hitting the power button.

The difficulty is part of what makes it addictive. You wind up trying to see how much further you can go without throwing a fit and turning it off. Every time you triumph, you feel you can't quit. That and you don't want to lose your progress.

Thankfully, Virtual Console has a suspend feature.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (June 23, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Feedback

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dagoss posted July 25, 2012:

This review was thoroughly entertaining. I loved the bit about hating candles and the dig at Simon's Quest.

I was playing this game recently and got further than I've ever gotten (I beat death and that !@#$! stupid cock sucking mother f... *approximately 50 more curses go here* medusa hallway--the hellway....!) I didn't actually beat the game yet, but I'm inching closer. It seems to require a totally different skill set. This looks like an actiony game, but if you play it that way, you just die at nausium.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted July 29, 2012:

Thanks, dagoss! I have never actually beaten Death (at least not without Game Genie), though I came very close a few times. Honestly, I think I enjoy the Death battles in Rondo of Blood and Dracula's Curse much more. Still, great game!
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SamildanachEmrys posted July 30, 2012:

This was a fun read. I like the way you wrote it, with a different slant on Castlevania staples.

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