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randombullseye avatar 7:51 PM on 09.06.2008  (server time)
Old School Games: Castlevania

You like Castlevania don't you? I certainly do. Especially the first one. It holds such a warm place my heart. Here are some thoughts on the first one on regular Nintendo!

Remember when I spoke before about my aunt loaning me some games from a bargain bin in her store? Along with Bubble Bobble, Metroid, and a few other classics, there was Castlevania! I loved horror stuff as a kid, most thanks go to monstervision. There was just something about Castlevania's cover just screamed "pick me up!" Little did I know that this was the start of one of my favorite series. I've since gotten my own copy of the original game as well as some of its many remakes. Castlevania is one of the best on the nintendo, at least in my opinion.

The first Castlevania is a linear action platformer set in count Dracula's castle. I don't know about you but the whole game just has this cool Transylvania monster movie atmosphere for me. Soon as you start the game you see an incredibly awesome intro where Simon Belmont walks up this giant gate and looks up at the castle. I imagine him gritting his teeth and gripping his whip as he prepares for this brutal adventure.

The gameplay is simple and awesome. You've a jump button and a whip button. Pressing up and your whip button lets you throw out a secondary weapon. All of which are also cool. Pick ups include: holy water, the boomerang crosses, some throwing axes, knives, and a stop watch that freezes time. You can only hold one at a time. They all consume a few of your heart count at the top, which is separate from your life meter. You pick up big and little hearts after defeating most enemies or from the various light fixtures that everyone instinctively destroys.

As for your enemies, you'll face all manner of ghouls. Various types of skeletons, flying Medusa heads which killed me pretty often, walking armors, dinosaur skulls that shoot fireballs at you, and more await you inside Castlevania. The really cool monsters are the boss ones. The first level has a giant bat. The second level has a giant medusa's head come off a statue. Stage three has two mummies! Stage four has arguably the most difficult, Frankenstein monster and Igor. stage five has you battle Death himself. In the sixth and final level, you go up against Count Dracula. Beating through levels in this game really makes you feel like you've done something. Like you've accomplished something. Even when I played it today I was anxious as ever.

The level design is another of my favorite elements. Every screen feels well thought out and for a Nintendo game, its among the best and most beautiful to look at. Most stages have you jumping bottomless pits, climbing stairs, or just walking around battling Dracula's evil minions.

I used to ALWAYS get killed at the Frankenstein monster boss battle, but now these days I get stuck on the level. There are these descending columns that constantly murder me. They eat extra lives for breakfast. You've got unlimited continues, but still its annoying to lose all your extra men then continue back to the start of the level. This morning I got killed by the medusa heads twice IN THE SAME SPOT! I just had to realize that even though I'm on a timer I don't have to rush. I can just relax, take my time, whip the bad guys and jump from platform to platform.

Today when I played I managed to make it further than I have in months, maybe years! Considering I like to play the first Casltevania once every other month or so. I made it all the way up to the grim reaper boss battle, got killed, and was too frustrated to fight him again. As if Frankenstein wasn't bad enough with the little Igor jumping around shooting fireballs, Death has three scythes flying around. I managed to kill Death, but his dang scythes remained after him and then killed me. I was so angry. Oh well!

Dracula himself is no easy ride either. You can only kill him by jumping and hitting him in the face with your whip. He opens his coat and fires out three fireballs. Then just when you think its over, he transforms into a giant bat monster. Such an epic boss and he's in every single Castlevania in one form or another.

Finally the last element to make a great nintendo game is the music. I actually played with the sound on for once! Some of the tunes are just so appropriate for the levels and the sound effects. I love that "splish" sound that the whip makes. Its so much fun. The boss battle song, the little intro cutscene has some really iconic sound. A lot of these music tunes get remixed in the later games for even more awesomeness!

There are a ton of remakes, ports, and sequels available. Castlevania 2, which I'll write about soon, is a direct sequel. Then there's Castlevania 3, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Castlevania: Dracula X, Castlevania Symphony of the night, and after that I start to get confused. The time line of the "story" confuses me to no end. As for remakes, Castlevania IV is something of a remake. There was an arcade version released in Japan, called "Haunted Castle." Another remake called Castlevania Chronicles was available for the playstation one. I've also read that its available for the virtual console. Probably more ports and remakes exist that I'm not aware of.

This is one of my favorite box arts ever! I wanted to segway it in at the start, but here it is at the end, in all its glory!

Tomorrow: Rock & Roll Racing

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