Well here is my first review on what some say is a great installment on some old classic NES games. This is the first installment of three on the NES. To my knowledge you are some dude named Simon Belmont and you have a whip, which later powers up to a flail. Your one bad*ss who enjoys slapping ghouls, ghosts, bats, cats, rats, and whatever else gets in your way. So here we go!
I like the idea of power ups being hidden in some blocks, kind of like Mario Brothers. You can break the random candles on the walls for hearts, money bags, and also find certain items. Each item has a unique purpose, at a cost of 1 heart each use. (Nothing is free!) An example of a great weapon on the first boss is the axes. The axes can be lobbed to help you kill the boss, a flying bat. Each item can be utilized in certain areas to help you out, but at other times be completely useless. For a prime example, you get the Blue bottle, (seems like a Molotov cocktail) and you toss it on the ground and it makes a flame. That is extremely useful against flying enemies. (Sarcasm) In that case, the Cross, (acts as a boomerang) would be more useful in that situation. Another one of Simon's power ups look like a flail which you can get to increase your whips damage and range, are quite easy to stumble upon. Without some of these you would be dead meat in some situations.
I like the idea of ascending and descending on the stairs. This is quite a unique function to have for a game of this time (1986 on the Family Computer Disk System in Japan, which was ported to the NES Cartridge in North America in 1987.) Alot of older games were more simple than this game, I can see why for its time it was a favorite among many NES gamers.
The controls seem a bit sluggish, as in when you need to be critical in timing all the time. There seems to be no midair control at all. Those flying horsehead Medusa things that knock you off ledges and downstairs, you need to be critical in hitting those. It almost seems that they will always knock you off a ledge so that you die. One of the flaws I have noticed in the overall gameplay is that, if you proceed up a set of stairs, and get knocked back down them, you die! It’s as if you fall into a bottomless pit and just, well, die. Maybe Simon falls down and cracks his skull open how do we know?
The graphics for this game are not too shabby. They seem to utilize the color red a lot. Then again this game is older than I am by 2 years! Majority of the other backgrounds are well done.The Enemies all have a unique look which is good. They do not seem to recycle the sprites which is good. Many of the older games do this which is a lazy game designer’s way out. I am colorblind so the colors always mess with me. Red/Blue/Greens are the worst for me. So the red backgrounds, as I am told, really mess with my eyes. These older games really rack a toll on my sight after gaming them, but all in all this games Graphics are not too shabby!
|The axes, best for slaying this Bloodsucking Rat!|
|This is the "Red" color I am talking about!|
The music for this game is alright. It gets annoying after a while though. The SFX when you collect things is pretty cool; it makes you want to collect more and more items. The sound of the whip is pretty accurate for the age of this game. The noise it makes when enemies die is ok too. Makes kind of like a boom noise. The other thing that is annoying about when you die is it’s almost like the Price is Right jingle they play when you die. It gives you that sense of feeling that you’re a failure, you suck, and you need to end it NOW. Why even keep trying? All in all this games Sound and SFX are pretty solid.
Uniqueness/Creativity:I might catch some flak here but this game is very much like a typical Dracula/Zombie/Undead killing game. There is some superstition in the background of this game with the crosses and such. This game probably is one of the best side scrolling games for its time. The adventure aspect of it is quite good too. I also give this game thumbs up for the stairs being implemented and being functional. This is why it is set apart from other side scrollers where you can only jump on blocks to ascend or descend.
Closing thoughts/Statements:All in all I give the first Castlevania credit for being a solid game for its time. It’s not a bad game, it’s just the controls are clunky and sluggish. If the controls were a little more responsive, the game would have been a lot better. I would strongly suggest this game to anyone with a love for sidescrolling good old ghoul bashing madness!