Friday, 13 April 2012

Retro Fridays: Castlevania

Castlevania, a word that brings so many nostalgic memories, love filled times of whipping horror icons. This is a 'Retro Friday' on the NES classic Castlevania, a game whom launched a whole franchise, which has in some sense fallen from grace from its sprite days.

Castlevania first showed up on the NES in 1987 and for its time, it was the pinnacle of 2D action adventure. Good enough to stand toe to toe with other classics like Megaman, Contra and Metroid, Castlevania was unstoppable. The game centres around character Simon Belmont who must stop Dracula by invading his castle with nothing but a whip (watch out Indiana Jones, you got competition).

Its similar to a horror movie in which the character would be scared and careful whilst going through each corridor in this wretched castle. This horror movie feel is complimented by the graphics, the gothic art of the castle, all the use of the horror iconic enemies (Frankenstein, mummies) and the music. Music is a key element of Castlevania, its one of the only soundtracks I listen to in my own time. This completes the horror movie feel and adds an extra eerie-ness to the game. If I ever had to make a comparison, I would compare this to Bram Stokers Dracula with a mix of every Hammer horror film from the classic era of horror. 

One difference always present in early Castlevania games is the fact that Simon is a bit of a crap fighter. He is no Megaman, no Samus, hell even Mario could kick Simon's as* if he wasn't careful. This is all due to his controls, he has a slow walk, he can only whip in one direction and when he jumps, you cannot control him in mid air. Also one more beautiful flaw to add to Simon is his reaction to attacks, when attacked he jumps backwards and you cannot control it. Many a times you will fall into pits and die, recoiling from a hit. Hell he can't even swim so every bit of water in the game should also be treated like a pit. Why is Simon a badas* video game character then? Why is he fun to control? Why is this game fun? It comes down to strategy. Konami nailed the strategy in this game, whilst games like Contra have shown fast paced action with its quick controls, Castlevania is a 2D action adventure game where slow thought out strategy helps more. When faced with enemies, your forced into thinking about their patterns and choosing how to attack them. This handicap on Simon works great with the carefully placed weapons in the game. Using the weapons such as daggers, crosses and holy water, you use strategy to attack enemies, you use strategy to go across areas and you use strategy on bosses. This slow thought-out action really builds the atmosphere in Castlevania and going back to the horror feel, slow though out action adds an eerie feel to the game, building atmosphere.

Castlevania music I recommend: Vampire Killer, Bloody Tears, Simon's Theme

Castlevania is filled with replay value, each series has hidden pork chops you can find in locations for health, the hearts which you use to attack can be found in candles which you can find and the location of special weapons can be memorised as you replay this gem. Each replay can be as fun as the first, this is a brilliant game and is one I sitll play today.

In the end, its a truly remarkable title, one which became the flagship series for Konami before Metal Gear and the polygon days. Castlevania is one I will always hold close in my heart, I recommend it to everyone. It can be found on Ebay, amazon, the wii virtual console and please don't think twice.. Just try it :)

Try out the other Retro Fridays:

Gameboy :

Gameboy Advance :

1 comment:

  1. I love the Castlevania series! I have a digital copy of Symphony of the Night and have blazed through it a couple times now.