Game: "Castlevania"
System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre: Action
Published by: Konami

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 9/28/2008

Review: Castlevania is one of those games that's so insanely, frustratingly difficult that it will make you want to pull all your teeth out so you can use them to scrape out all your hair. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I died and cursed and slammed the controller down on my seemingly futile quest to destroy Dracula. But I kept on coming back to play more, which says something about the quality of the game.

Sure, the play control may be extremely frustrating at times, when you're being attacked by a flying creature on a staircase and you can't just quickly jump off, or when you accidentally get a special weapon you don't want and can't get back to the original one in time to switch back, but the level design and creatures are interesting enough to keep you wanting to come back to see what else is coming up. The game is short, but this was back in the early 8-bit days where you were supposed to beat the game in one sitting. The shortness adds to the replay value though, as you can try your hand at fighting the Grim Reaper again to learn if it was skill or merely good luck that allowed you to pass him the first time.

This is by no means the best game in the series, but there's a simplicity and purity to the original that none of the other games quite capture. The graphics are certainly dated (and the "faded" look of Simon in the first game always bothered me--he looks much better in the sequel), but the music still holds its own as one of the most recognizable and iconic video game themes of all time, which is something that perhaps eases some of the pain of the frustrating difficulty.

If you've never played this game before, it's available on the Wii's Virtual Console, and you really owe it to yourself to check it out and see where one of the most successful game franchises of all time got its not-so-humble beginnings.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Fookin' up planets!
Sep 30th, 2008, 05:11 AM
Just thinking about how damn hard this game for me was makes me want to find my old cartridge and take a big smelly shit on it.

Sorry bad memories.
Greasy Bacon of Villany
Sep 30th, 2008, 06:36 AM
This was one of my first experiences with a Nintendo game and I probably enjoy the series more now that I'm much more experienced. Maybe I should go back and finish this beast. I actually beat Bloodlines on the Genesis. I would suggest playing Bloodlines personally because it's one of those games that justifies the existence of the Genesis and happens not to be Sonic.
drifting in the void
Sep 30th, 2008, 06:43 AM
I never played it when it was new but the music has always been a trusty companion throughout the years to come, up to now even.
What Video Games?
Sep 30th, 2008, 08:18 AM
Funny I never played the original for the longest time until a few years back. Forget the reaper, that whole STAGE is hard!!
Everyone's Arch-Enemy.
Sep 30th, 2008, 09:04 AM
Once I learned how to chump EVERYTHING in this game with holy water, it was a piece of cake. I made the reaper my eternal bitch by (literally) setting his ass on fire.

Now Castlevania III.... THAT game was even worse.
1.21 Gigawatts!!!
Sep 30th, 2008, 10:16 AM
I never really got to play the original and went right into Castlevania II, which I heard was a lot better all around. Castlevania III was good, but it started getting weird when you could have companions fighting for you, so I think II may have been a little better. Either way, it has always been a pretty fun series and I have always been tempted to track down the original and play it. I guess it kind of suffered the MegaMan syndrome, in which the sequel is so much better that people never want to play the original.
Doctor Caliente
Sep 30th, 2008, 11:25 AM
Castlevania and Metroid were literally the first two Nintendo games I ever owned. I bought them on the same day, and I actually owned them about 3-4 days before I bought the actual Nintendo system. NES Castlevania still remains as one of my favorite games ever. Despite all the newer Castlevania games that have come out over the years, I still would rate it 3rd best in the series, only behind Symphony of the Night and Dracula's Curse.
Retardedly Handsome
Sep 30th, 2008, 12:26 PM
F THIS GAME...a 7 year old child should not be exposed to such frustration. This is why kids punch other kids at school. Apparently I had a bad game and it would get so glitchy when I was fighting Dracula that it would end up freezing more often then not with about 1 or 2 hits left. I rememeber one time the game crapping out on me just as the axe was over his head to defeat him.
Pickled Patriarch
Sep 30th, 2008, 01:14 PM
As far as the Castlevania series goes, I think Castlevania II: Simon's Quest will always be my favorite. That was the game that introduced me to the series, and I think it improved upon the original quite a bit.

And yeah, the music in the Castlevania series is easily some of the best you'll ever find video games. No doubt about it.
Sep 30th, 2008, 01:29 PM
As a Sega Backer, I only played Bloodlines. Now that was a great game.
Doctor Caliente
Sep 30th, 2008, 01:58 PM
Bloodlines was one of the best games ever on any Sega system.
Forum Virgin
Sep 30th, 2008, 05:05 PM
I'm gonna second on Simon's Quest being the best.

I actually have my emulator on save state right before the fight with Death, with full health, and I still can't beat him.
Former Virgin
Sep 30th, 2008, 09:13 PM
The first one was always my favorite. I played both the NES and arcade version which I really enjoyed.
Forum Virgin
Sep 30th, 2008, 10:04 PM
Was it just me, or did the game always freeze up on the battle with The Grim Reaper for anybody else?
Sep 30th, 2008, 11:41 PM
The first Castlevania was evil in it's most vile form. No matter how short it was it was a real pain in the neck to get further ahead and the energy was never too abundant.

I don't think that Simon's Quest was all that superior. It was quite frustrating to see that damn screen of "What a horrible night to be outside" and "The sunlight has vanished the horrible night" or something like that every now and then. Also, I never understood why you were allowed to carry only 255 hearts when the counter clearly indicates four zeroes... Talk about some nasty programming.
Star Man
Sep 30th, 2008, 11:47 PM
I've got ahold of the 3 original NES games this summer and they're all extremely fun and difficult. It was actually my first time playing Castlevania 3, and it may be the best of the original trilogy. The first one is in my opinion equal to Simon's Quest for different reasons. It's more straight-forward and less confusing, which is neither a good or bad thing, as they're very different. The music is great, the action is sweet, the graphics are still alright for what the NES can do, and your review was most excellent.
Doctor Caliente
Oct 1st, 2008, 11:19 AM
Don't get me wrong, I like Simon's Quest, but Dracula's Curse was a far superior game. The replayability was outstanding for the time and the graphics and music actually pushed the limits of the NES. In fact, some of you may remember that Drac's Curse wouldn't play correctly on many emulators due to this fact. (It's been fixed now that better emu's have come out.) Overall, an excellent series. I think they should continue to stay away from the 3d versions however. The best of the series continue to be their 2d installments, in my opinion.
Star Man
Oct 1st, 2008, 12:22 PM
Yeah, if they're gonna do Castlevanias on current gen consoles (not handhelds), they should take a look at how Capcom remade Bionic Commando. I wouldn't mind a 3D Castlevania that plays like this.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Oct 1st, 2008, 02:17 PM
For my money, Simon's Quest and Symphony of the Night are the two best; the fact that every single 2D game that's come since has tried to copy them says a hell of lot.

Oh, and Proto: Once you pick up a new weapon in earlier Castlevania games, your old one is lost until you find another; we didn't get the ability to retrieve weapons until Rondo of Blood/Dracula X came along.
Battle Network Fan
Oct 1st, 2008, 03:42 PM
Is everyone here delusional? Simon's Quest is the WORST of the 2D Castlevanias. The only good thing to come out of Simon's Quest is Bloody Tears. Also, even though it's been said millions of times, Symphony owns.
Doctor Caliente
Oct 1st, 2008, 04:07 PM
Yes. Symphony of the Night is the best. NO question.
Oct 1st, 2008, 07:20 PM
I loved every Castlevania game that wasn't on the N64, and I merely liked the N64 ones :P
Oct 1st, 2008, 08:34 PM
I agree with Rog. Castlevania 2 was the first ever Casltevania game I ever had the pleasure of owning and playing. It was also the first Castlevania that more closely resembled an adventure game than a straight forward platformer.
Oct 2nd, 2008, 02:03 AM
h8 castlevania
Everyone's Arch-Enemy.
Oct 2nd, 2008, 09:14 AM
Cv2 was my first as well, but I never really got that far. I eventually beat it years later, but I'd already played the hell out of I and III so I'd already formed a bit of a bias. CV2 was definitely ahead of its time, but Symphony definitely perfected it's formula.
Oct 2nd, 2008, 02:52 PM
I always liked how you could avoid the giant vampire bats before the clocktower by just steadily running across the bridge.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Oct 2nd, 2008, 05:09 PM
"I actually have my emulator on save state right before the fight with Death, with full health, and I still can't beat him."

Just drop a garlic, let him float into it, and go make some nachos; it takes a while to kill him that way, but he won't be able to touch you.
dead end
Oct 2nd, 2008, 07:52 PM
this game is great. the remake on x68000 an the reremake for psx were kickass too
Forum Virgin
Oct 5th, 2008, 08:10 PM
The Mummies always made me their bitch. It was sad...