Monday 29 October 2012

Castlevania Review (NES)

Set in 1691, the first NES Castlevania has Simon Belmont taking on the evil Dracula as he rises from the grave. Simon comes from a long line of vampire hunters who wield the magic whip ‘Vampire Killer’. He heads off into Dracula's huge castle armed with his trusty whip vowing to take down the master of Darkness once and for all.

The game is set over six incredibly difficult levels of platform slashing action. The levels do not differ a great deal and just become harder with enemies getting ridiculously tough and more precision being needed to make death defying jumps. By the time you reach the bosses later in the game expect your hair to be well and truly ripped out as Death, and then Dracula prove to be two of the hardest creatures ever seen.

Graphically the game is horrible. Looking back now all the extra detail just goes to make the screen seem cluttered and confusing, we really do not need seven different shades of brown displayed at once. The fascination with brown continues with Simon as well, giving him a very strange detached look. Animations are basic to say the least with characters consisting of two or three frames.

In terms of gameplay, Castlevania fairs better. The controls are slow and awkward but there is definitely a solid game engine behind it. The main problem is that you cannot change direction in mid air which leaves no room for error when jumping. Furthermore, the whip is not the most easily used weapon. Simon can only whip forward, no diagonal or upward strikes here, which adds even more difficulty to the boss fights.

Overall Castlevania is a solid start for the franchise, though not a game that anyone other than fans will stick with. The controls are too slow, and the difficulty level is extreme to the point of madness. Criticisms aside there is some fun to be had and it is interesting to see the story unfold. However, Castlevania IV on the Super Nintendo is more or less a re-make of this. Given the choice we would always recommend you play that instead.


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