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Community Discussion: Blog by Nyktharas | Castlevania Retrospective Part 1: NESDestructoid
Castlevania Retrospective Part 1: NES - Destructoid




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It was 1989 and my parents had just got me a NES for Christmas. As a 5 year old child I was understandably excited (not quite this excited). Mario / Duck Hunt came with the system, and the only stand alone game I got was Castlevania. My dad helped me hook it up, and after about 30 minutes of playing Mario / Duck Hunt, I finally got around to Castlevania, this is where it all started...





 

I was hooked, I even dare say the Castlevania trilogy on NES was the very reason I love games so much today. I literally would spend all of my free time whipping skeletons, hunchbacks, knights, and the undead. For me, Mario was for the weak, I was a young Castlevania  fanboy.

 

As a relatively new writer, this is probably going to be the biggest review I've taken on to date. I'm going to do my best to go through every Castlevania game I can play, good or bad. I figured I'd start with the obvious, the NES trilogy. S
It was 1989 and my parents had just got me a NES for Christmas. As a 5 year old child I was understandably excited (not quite this excited). Mario / Duck Hunt came with the system, and the only stand alone game I got was Castlevania. My dad helped me hook it up, and after about 30 minutes of playing Mario / Duck Hunt, I finally got around to Castlevania, this is where it all started...

{{page_break}}



 

I was hooked, I even dare say the Castlevania trilogy on NES was the very reason I love games so much today. I literally would spend all of my free time whipping skeletons, hunchbacks, knights, and the undead. For me, Mario was for the weak, I was a young Castlevania  fanboy.

 

As a relatively new writer, this is probably going to be the biggest review I've taken on to date. I'm going to do my best to go through every Castlevania game I can play, good or bad. I figured I'd start with the obvious, the NES trilogy. So let's get at it. Let's take a look at the early 8-bit beginnings of the series that changed the way I look at games.

 

    

 

Castlevania

Developer: Konami

Released: 1987

Platform: NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)

 

This is where it all started, Castlevania. This is one of the pillars of strength for the NES, arguably one of the best platformers ever released. I do not know anyone that was a male born in the 80's, or even early 90's that did not like this game. It was so brutally hard, yet so fun you couldn't put it down.

 

You are Simon Belmont, Vampire Hunter. The game starts out with you walking up to the gate of Dracula's castle. Then one of the most memorable 8-bit tunes ever starts to chime in, and then it's time to start your quest in hunting down Dracula.

 

The graphics still hold their own against any 8-bit NES game, they simply looked fantastic for the time. The controls are a bit sluggish, and the way Simon "jumps backwards" when hit can be one of the most frustrating things to ever be included in a video game (this is in every game in the NES trilogy). After a while with the game though you can learn to use these to your advantage. For example, getting Simon hit at just the right time, in just the right place can get you "bumped up" to a platform that would normally make you fight your way through a horde of monsters to get to.

 

The game itself consists of 6 stages, each loaded with monsters galore, and a Boss to challenge your skill. On your way through the stages you will collect multiple different "special weapons" such as holy water, daggers, throwing axes, ect. You will also come across many hearts, but in Castlevania hearts do not = life. They are used for "ammo" for your special weapons. The more hearts you have, the better off you'll be.

 

If you're good enough, you will eventually make it to Dracula. Only to face one of the hardest 8-bit bosses to ever grace the NES. If your successful, Dracula's castle will crumble into the ground, and the day will be won!

 

9.5/10

 

                        

 

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Developer: Konami

Released: 1988

Platform: NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)

 

As the second game in the series, Simon's Quest had the almost impossible task of trying to live up to the original. Konami pulled a complete 180 with this game (kind of like the Zelda series on NES) and changed the fundamentals of the game so it played like an RPG of sorts.

 

In Simon's Quest you have a central town that acts like a base. You can purchase upgrades and items here..... during daytime. That was another huge change that Konami added. The game periodically changes from day to night. During the day you have free roam of the city, and monsters seem docile and weak. At night the town is full of monsters and the shops are locked. Monsters also appear to usually take twice as many hits to kill.

 

It was a neat idea. The only thing that ruins it for me is the frequency of the changes, and how long it takes for the transition between day and night to take place. Having to read "What a horrible night to have a curse" or "The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night" over and over, without any way to skip just detracts from the over all experience. It even down right started frustrating the hell out of me at times.

 

                                      

 

The game has a fantastic musical score as far as 8-bit music goes. The night theme is still one of the most memorable NES songs for myself.

 

Konami also kept the way Simon controls from the first game. Which even though sluggish, it was definitely the right thing to do. I can't imagine playing Castlevania for NES any other way.

 

This was also one of those games that almost seemed like it required you to have a subscription to Nintendo Power to figure out. What I mean by that is there are certain times in the game where you have no idea what to do, and there are absolutely no hints (the books you find don't help, no matter what you say).

 

For instance there is a particular area where you come to a dead end, seeing as nothing is there you'd assume you went the wrong way, or you missed something. What you really need to do is select a "Red Crystal" from your inventory, kneel against the wall at the dead end for about 10 seconds, then a tornado comes and takes you to the next area of the game. How I figured this out as a child I don't remember, probably word of mouth, but there was absolutely nothing in the game that tells you to do this.

 

The game has its faults, but it doesn't really detract all that much from the game play. The first game was brutal, and this game is just ridiculously hard. I would say this game is still very enjoyable, but it definitely is not for everyone.

 

Me personally, I like it, just not as much as the first.

 

6/10

 

                                                    

 

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Developer: Konami

Released: 1990

Platform: NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)

 

This game features a different member of the Belmont clan, Trevor, as its main character. This game is a prequel, taking place before the other two NES games. Dracula is back as the main protagonist, terrorizing all of Europe this time. Konami also went back to the original Castlevania formula, ditching the central city, and RPG ways of Simon's Quest. This game is just a pure, unaltered Castlevania platformer, and it shows.

 

This game does add some "new" to the original concept though. Trevor has 3 "assist" characters that can help him out. Also the game dropped the linear path of the first game, and allowed the character to branch out at certain points letting the player chose their own path through the game. There are a total of 15 levels almost tripling the 6 from the original.

 

The difficulty in the game seems to be between the first, and second game. Not as easy as the first, but no where near the difficulty of the second. The controls stay true to Castlevania, but feel a tad less sluggish.

 

This is my personal favorite game in the original NES trilogy. If you get the chance, play this game. It's almost Halloween; games like this should be a staple in your Halloween gaming diet. There simply isn't anything as good for me platformer wise on the NES other the maybe Super Mario Bros. 3.

 

Throughout the game you'll find many power ups, including ones to make your whip more powerful. Every time you die though, you will lose these, so be careful!

 

If you haven't played this gem and you're over the age of 20, then I fear for whatever rock you've lived under your entire life. This game is an 8-bit master piece, and should be enjoyed by all.

 

10/10



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