The Nintendo Entertainment System has many iconic titles available for it from the Mario series to the Mega Man games. One series that is just as iconic and also started on the NES is Konami’s Castlevania series. Today, in 1987, gamers were introduced to destroying vampires with a whip and a classic was born. Castlevania is one of those hard as nails games that set the feel for NES games in the 80’s and gamers ate it up.
Much like the movies that featured Dracula in some prominent position, he is not alone in Castlevania. Frankenstein’s Monster, Mummy Man, a giant bat, Queen Medusa and even the Grim Reaper have followed suit with the first son of the night. There is only one place big enough to house this “monster mash” and that is Dracula’s castle which only appears once every 100 years. This just happens to be Simon Belmont’s unlucky night as the castle has appeared and there are a lot of baddies that need returning to the grave.
Those of us that remember playing Castlevania way back in the late 80’s, up to any time before the Internet was prominent and guides weren’t a click a way, will remember the frustrating challenge that this game represented. This was the hardcore of the hardcore gaming right here and it was on NES, not Atari 2600/7800, computer or Sega Master System. If you wanted to play Castlevania in the home, at least for a little while, it was going to be on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Judging by the friends I kept at the time, this meant a lot of gamers were asking for NES’s for birthdays and Christmas presents and a copy of this game to go with it.
I remember the first time I played Castlevania. I had a hard time getting through it because it was ingrained in my brain to jump on enemies. I had trouble learning the time needed to actually break out the whip and have it hit the enemy (that thing had a slight animation delay). There was a lot of stuff going on in Castlevania that was different and game changing for those of us that came up from the Atari 2600 days. Breaking the light fixtures may seem like second nature now but back in the day, it was a new and original addition that added a little bit of depth to the proceedings. It felt cool to vandalize Drac’s castle (property damage) while whiping out his party guests in an unholy attack on this evil party he was throwing.
If you think about it, Castlevania is one big party pooper romp with you in control of the guy that was not invited. I mean, once every 100 years, Dracula is able to throw a party and some guy from the nearby village takes it upon himself to break in and crash the party?
Betcha never thought of it that way did you?
Computers Castlevania has been released on include Commodore 64, IBM PC, Commodore Amiga and quite a few others.
We covered a Castlevania port for the ZX Spectrum, porting being handled by fans, in our second issue of RGM, available here.
Want more Castlevania? Check out our other articles on this classic series.