The game is the first in what would become a long standing franchise, spanning across the decades and a range of different consoles.
In this first game, players control the vampire hunter Simon Belmont, in his mission to traverse Castlevania and defeat Count Dracula.
Released first in Japan in 1986 and releasing in 1987 and 1988 in North America and Europe respectively, Castlevania is a fan favorite for good reason.
Castlevania is one of my personal favorite 8 bit video games, not only because it’s a fun platformer, but because it introduces you to an amazing atmosphere and set pieces.
The game introduces Simon Belmont, on e of the most famous of the Belmont clan and a master vampire hunter.
His signature weapon is the renowned Vampire Killer whip, which is passed down through the generations to assist in defeating Count Dracula.
The original Castlevania game takes place in 1691, in Transylvania, where a cult of evil man resurrect their mast Dracula.
With his new rebirth, so did his castle and his legion of monsters, including the undead, beasts and demons.
Simon knew it was his duty to enter Castlevania and fulfil his legacy at returning piece to the land of Transylvania.
Relatively simple premise, but it was so damn cool as a 10 year old.
It’s the classic tale of good versus evil, and is the first chapter in what would be a large, encompassing universe and story timeline.
When it comes to the actually gameplay, Castlevania requires a combination of patience and precise platforming.
Using his trusty whip, the player makes his way through six stages, avoiding traps, pits and fighting a large assortment of deadly creatures.
Floating candles (which will become a staple in the series) can be whipped to reveal power-ups and hearts. The later are used as currency to use an assortment of sub-weapons, such as daggers, axes and holy water.
Like many 8 bit games, Castlevania has some punishing difficulty.
It’s a game where memorising enemy and boss attack patterns, becomes very important to get to the later stages of the game.
Castlevania has been released on a range of different platforms over the years.
This includes the Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and re-releases on Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance and mobile devices.
Stages in Castlevania are broken into six sections of castle with three stages in each one.
Boss enemies are very powerful and can kill the player in just a few hits, especially later on in the game.
The goal is to get to the top of Castlevania and fight Dracula in his throne room.
Starting off the game, Simon will walk through the gardens of Castlevania before entering through the main gate.
The player will then have to work their way through a ballroom hall facing off against bats, ghouls and panthers.
Heading down a flight of stairs, Simon will fight dreaded fishmen who jump from the water to attack.
The boss of the first trilogy of stages is the giant Phantom Bat, who swoops down to assault the player.
Players will then progress to a ruinous tower, complete with crumbling walls and stone columns.
Initially, players will be introduced to a new main enemy featured in this stage – the spear knight armour which will feature in future Castlevania games.
Another reoccurring enemy in the series will also fly at the player – medusa heads, that hover in a pattern that can be hard to strike.
Of course getting to the end of this section of stages will reveal the main source of the medusa heads – Queen Medusa herself!
Coming to the outside wall section of the castle, these stage sections start to ramp up the difficulty with harder to hit enemies.
This includes the infamous fleamen that bounce around and make for a very hard target to strike to consistently.
Towards the end of this section, the player will have to cross a long bridge. The new raven enemy harass players here and require precise jump whipping to avoid Simon dying.
Entering the final room at the end of this bridge will reveal not one but two bosses – the Mummies. They stalk from left to right throwing bandages that wave towards the player.
Simon falls all the way to the bottom of the castle. Here, fishmen return as the player makes their way through the underground depths of the castle.
Your skills will be further tested as the player must ride plateforms across bodies of water, while enemies attempt to knock you in to drown.
Exciting the caverns, Simon makes his way through a long outside section. At first there doesn’t seem to be any monsters, until large eagles fly over dropping fleamen on the player!
Then comes the next new enemy, the bone dragon that will duck and weave while shooting fireballs. Kill it to proceed into the sewers.
Here more bone dragons before the tunnel opens up to a room with the next boss Frankenstein’s monster and his ‘fleaman’ companion Igor.
Simon makes his way to the upper dungeons, complete with chained skeletons and the pile of bones from passed prisoners.
Here the player faces a new thread – red skeletons that cannot truly be defeated as they reanimate after a short period of time.
Progressing further through the dungeon, it opens to some sort of laboratory and another future staple monster in the series appears in greater numbers – the axe knight.
The final leg of the stage has the player progressing through a portrait gallery before the fight the mighty Grim Reaper himself – Death!
This is it! Simon has climbed the castle and is in the final stretch. The player starts by crossing a guard house bridge where the first boss, Phantom Bats, assault them from above and below.
Finally crossing, Simon enters what will be an iconic franchise location of the castle – the clock tower. Moving vertically up and down by traversing spinning gears this is one of the hardest platforming sections of the game.
And then Simon is at the final staircase that will lead him directly into Dracula’s quarters and coffin.
As the final boss of the game Dracula does a massive amount of damage, teleporting across the screen and shooting three fireballs.
While this will take learning the proper patterns and timing to defeat, the player (and me at the time) will be shocked to find Dracula transforms into a mighty demon.
In this form he is significantly harder to dodge and requires again precise timing of dodging and your own attacks.