Halloween, a time for ghosts and ghoulies to slowly creep out of their hidey-holes, and who better to review than the biggest ghoul of them all, Dracula. There have been many games based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula cannon but a lot of these are so mind-numbingly horrible I just can’t bring myself to play these ‘monstrosities’ again. For instance my least favorite would have to be the Dracula on commodore 64, a horrible text adventure in which I couldn’t even get out of *** bed without consulting a guide first. No, instead I’ll be reviewing one of my all-time favorite NES games, castlevania.

Now I started playing this game about 3 Halloweens ago and I only just beat the damn thing, and they expected kids to finish this stuff. Castlevania also doesn’t have a built in battery to save so they were expected to do this in one sitting, one sitting! And this *** ‘aint easy, Nintendo designed it so you can’t just run through the whole game, oh no, you had to stop and take a minute, but if you stopped you could get pummeled from all sides by bats, skeletons, zombies and even flying Medusa heads.

Castlevania shows no mercy and aside from contra and ninja gaiden is, as I see it, one of the hardest NES titles to date. As a platforming game a lot of the game involves progressing forward till you reach a goal or boss (I’ll get to them later) but If you do it constantly you will lose. Another thing is the slightest tickle from an enemy throws you sideways like a boulder just flew into you, this causes all sorts of problems as most of the game involves jumping from tiny platform to tiny platform but the slightest sneeze from a medusa head causes your character, Simon Belmont (or Simon Belmonto according to the credits), to fling himself into the closest hole, and believe me a lot of controllers have been smashed against things at these particular moments. Regarding storyline there isn’t much, the game starts with Simon approaching the gates of Dracula’s castle with a bad-ass whip in hand called the vampire killer and an extra bottle of holy water. Along the way you can pick up upgrades for your whip making it stronger and longer as well as picking up throwables such as holy water, axes and even flaming crosses. These items come in very handy for the bosses of each stage. The bosses are by far the most fun part, each being unique and fun to fight. Once you work out their pattern you feel like a boss defeating them. The boss’s range from a big medusa head to Frankenstein’s monster and even Death himself. I have to say I do love the design each and every one of these bosses except the last one, Dracula himself. He’s just so incredibly hard you start to grip the NES controller so hard it snaps in two. Then when you beat him and think it’s all over he turns into a giant bat monster, the *** has two forms to fight.

There is only two ways to gain health, beat the boss and grab the orb to fully heal or whip random bits of the wall to find cooked chicken inside. So assuming you make it through the whole of the level before him you then have to fight him, not once, but *** twice! I had to kill myself on him because I had one life but even so it should not be that hard. But after you beat him the credits start to rol… Oh no, wait first I have to grab the orb for some reason even though this is the end of the game. Now the credits roll, and the castle collapses. You finally finished it and get to watch the normal Japanese names flash up, maybe a second name with aki at the end. But no you get Trans Fisher as the director. Trans Fisher, do they mean Terrance Fisher the director of many Hammer films? Wait who’s Vran Stoker, Bram stoker?

Christopher Bee? Boris Karloffice? What the hell is this, a bad joke? So wait after all that work and stress of finishing the game Konami gave us a bad joke. *** this.

Ok, so in the end castlevania is very good game just very, very hard like ninja gaiden hard. But the music is good; the colours are well put together and complement each other creating a colourful but spooky atmosphere and the game mechanics and controls are well put together also the level design is devilishly clever stopping people from rushing through the game and instead having to stop and think. The only downside is the difficulty and bad jokes at the end that are just as a middle finger to the triumphant player. So the story gets wrapped up, pieces of Dracula get spread across the world and it ends. Well until…

…Castlevania 2: Simon’s quest. Oh for the love of…

– Will


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