Title: Haunted Castle
Rom Player: MAME
Reviewer: ItalianStereotype

Synopsis: To every gamer at least one game or game series is sacred. They have played and/or own every one and can recite the storyline without hesitation. They know all the characters, own the merchandise, and really don't care if one or two of the games are the most painful experiences of their lives. Their dedication runs so deep that their particular object of affection defines their gaming experience and they are made completely gay for it. For me, the quintessential gaming experience is Castlevania. As for Haunted Castle? Well...

Obviously, Haunted Castle is part of the Castlevania family, if only the inbred cousin that nobody likes to talk about. I've only seen HC in two arcades in my life and I have never seen anyone play it, other than myself of course. After popping in my quarter (keep in mind that it is one quarter per life) and mashing the buttons to start the damn game, I soon realized why it was so unpopular. THE DAMNABLE THING IS IMPOSSIBLE. You are given the standard Belmont lifebar at the top of the screen, but it is basically worthless as you will most likely die in one to two hits anyway and almost anything will hurt you. Remember that ant that bit you at the start of the level? Yeah, it had AIDS and you're about to die. See that tombstone directly ahead of you? It is more than likely going to explode for absolutely no reason, riddling your body with granite fragments and killing you instantly. Well, there is no way around it, so march on soldier. Yes, I quickly found out that this game was designed to be money pit, but instead of walking away I became more determined to beat this Castlevania game. Little did I know how much more HC had in store for me.

Game Play-Ok, this is the other reason this game will have you crying and trembling with rage. The controls, the same familiar NES controls, are almost completely worthless. One would expect that pressing the attack button once would cause you to whip your enemies once, but no. You are forced to bash the button at least twice to whip once and then hope that you survive the horrendously long recovery time. Seeing as how most enemies take three to four whip strikes to kill, you may not be so lucky. The best hope that anyone would have in combat would be relying on the secondary weapons, but that is a whole other headache in itself. A few things haven't changed though; this Belmont can hardly climb the stairs and is terrible at whipping and jumping at the same time. It's comforting to see that some problems stay the same.

Graphics-This is one of the areas in which HC truly shines. Although HC is more colorful than other Castlevania games and is even seems a bit like a cartoon at times, it still has some beautiful visuals, especially considering when the game released. The monsters have much more detail and the environments are stunning, easily comparable to Super Castlevania IV in my opinion. The new Belmont, however, looks a bit shitty. His method of walking is more than a bit awkward and the Vampire Killer is a shameful counterfeit that sullies the good name of the real whip.

Music-Konami does not disappoint with HCs music, especially in this games version of "Cross Your Heart" and "Bloody Tears." The sound effects in this game are notable as well, the various grunts, groans, squeals, and screams are clearly audible.

Originality-This game is not original at all. It doesn't even follow the regular Castlevania storyline. Would you like to know the story? You're a Belmont. It's your wedding day. Dracula has stolen your woman. Pathetic.

Overall-I'll admit that I stayed at that damn arcade and pumped quarter after quarter, dollar after dollar into Haunted Castle until I finally beat it. I loved it at times and hated it at times, but stuck with it because of my love for Castlevania. If you are a hardcore gamer like me, by all means play this game. If not, stay as far away from it as you possibly can.

Best Cheats: Right. Like they would give you such an easy way out.

Game Play: 2
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 8
Originality: 4
Overall Rating: 5

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