Sadly these days vampires have been turned into creepy sparkling teenagers that moms and their daughters drool over instead of being the amazing villains they should be. Vampires should fill you with fear of having your blood drained and not fill you with some sort of glitter. In Castlevania for the NES, you get just that, a badass vampire. The series revolves around the Belmont family, who is called upon whenever Dracula comes around, to snuff him out.
The original Castlevania is honestly an awesome gaming experience. In this installment, you play as Simon Belmont and work through six levels that would become staples of the series as it moved on. Using a whip known as the Vampire Killer and a number of sub weapons from holy water to daggers you battle off a plethora of classic monsters. You’ll find yourself beating up zombies and mermen in a number of different parts of good old Drac’s castle, but one enemy stood out as the worst. Medusa heads. They fly across the screen in a wave pattern and still haunt many of my gaming nightmares to this day. The fact that the medusa heads were always placed in a jump heavy section didn’t help matters.
The soundtrack is great and you hear a lot of tunes that will become a part of the series as it goes on. It is hard not having the first level’s song stuck in your head after playing this game. Of course it is silly to think you’re going to play a perfect game here. Come on man, it came out in 1986. One huge issue is how Simon jumps in this game. You know “jump” probably isn’t the right word. It’s more of a leaping kneel. Either way it is awful especially when dodging those medusa heads. Other than that, the controls and attacks are pretty fair. The sub weapons are great and evenly powered. And visually it looks just how you’d want a classic Nintendo game to look.
Overall, the first Castlevania is a whole lot of 8-bit fun. This game sets up for an amazing series that only gets better over time. But the best way to experience it is to start at its foundation with the original. It is a must play for anyone that loves side scrolling action games and hates how awful vampires have become.